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Breaking Addiction

I've had a fairly serious addiction to Diet Coke -- caffeinated in the morning, decaf after 3pm -- for a number of years now. It's pretty much all I've been drinking, aside from a very small bit of water. Not healthy, I know, but I told myself that it was a minor vice, hitting my wallet more than anything. I was vaguely aware of reports about how unhealthy it was, but with the degree of grief and stress in my life I didn't care. What I was aware of was the psychological and oral comfort I got from consuming it, and I embraced it, given how little pleasure and comfort there's been in my life overall.

Then, sometime earlier this week, lovetakesyouin posted a link on Facebook to an article about the evils of aspartame.

Since then, my consumption of Diet Coke has gone from "way too much" to less than a can in the morning and less than one mini bottle during the course of the work day, and I'm working my way to "none at all." I'd already quadrupled (at least) my water intake, and that's been helping minimize the withdrawal symptoms. Actually, I've been surprised by how mild they've been.

I've picked up a case of Diet Rite, which I don't like nearly as well (too sweet for me) but it provides the bubbly sensation I like. (I have yet to meet a sparkling water that I like.)

It's been interesting to observe my own process with this. I'd certainly been aware of the dangers of aspartame previously -- and Wolfling, armed with her health class knowledge had been gently pestering me about it during the school year -- but I simply wasn't ready to release this crutch before. I'm taking it as a mark of the quiet but real improvement in the rest of my life: employed again in a non-stressful workplace, major progress on my big writing project, my grief pretty much over (I realized the other night that I no longer feel achingly aware of uncrowned_king's absence in bed next to me every night), and my not-as-frequent-as-they-should-be-but-overall-consistent qabalistic meditations which have been focusing on Malkuth (the Sphere of physical life) for the past couple of months.

It's not something I've done by suddenly developing stronger willpower, it's something that's become possible as I've healed emotionally and found healthier ways of making myself feel good. As I think about it, it's a very potent sign of how far I've come in the past few months. There's still a lot I want to change in my life, but I am much more stable and rooted than I have been.


( 15 comments — Leave a comment )
Jul. 15th, 2010 01:12 pm (UTC)
It's not something I've done by suddenly developing stronger willpower, it's something that's become possible as I've healed emotionally and found healthier ways of making myself feel good.

This is an important point I think we often miss when trying to change or influence change in someone else's life. Addressing the underlying wounds and offering healthy alternatives will often facilitate a change seemingly on its own. We usually point to the habit itself and say, "That's bad! I/You must stop!" without first doing the groundwork to make stopping a real possibility.

Congratulations on your growth!
Jul. 15th, 2010 01:25 pm (UTC)
~happy hug~ Congratulations. :) Strong willpower, or better headspace, whatever made it possible; giving up an addiction is always cause for congrats. :D

I gave up a serious DrPepper addiction last year, for the HFCS. It's a relief to both your wallet and your recycling bin. ;)

~steals another happy hug~ Go, you!
Jul. 15th, 2010 02:12 pm (UTC)
Good for you! I was happy to read this post.

What was the link, btw? And do you feel Splenda is safer? I'm not so sure.
Jul. 15th, 2010 08:25 pm (UTC)
From what I've read, the case for aspartame being harmful (as long as it doesn't get too hot) is unclear, but the fact that it's unclear is a good reason to avoid it. OTOH, splenda is bad news - I've known people who have had problems with it, nasty problems. The key issue with splenda is that it's supposed to be indigestible, and studies have shown something like 10% of people digest some of it. Sugars where a few oxygen molecules have been replaced by chlorine molecules isn't something you want to digest. From my PoV, aspartame is mildly worrisome, while splenda is actually dangerous.

AFAIK, the only safe artificial sweetener is saccharin, but using sugar in moderation (ie unlike most Americans, who eat truly horrifying amounts of sugar) seems preferable (to me at least) for anyone w/o insulin problems.
Jul. 15th, 2010 02:40 pm (UTC)
Two enthusiastic thumbs WAY up!!!
Way to go, you! Years ago, I was drinking no less than 3 Diet Pepsi's per day! Shame on me, considering I was working in the health industry, and had read reports on aspartame and (conveniently) refused to retain the information for myself. It wasn't until I read a report about aspartame causing migraine headaches that I finally made a switch. Granted, it was switching to regular cola, and I started reading labels and avoiding aspartame wherever it popped up (gum, teas, juices, flavored waters, yogurts). Ironically, I didn't feel like my will power was suddenly stronger, either, I just kept reminding myself of the information and now if I even taste something with aspartame in it, I hate the flavor of it.

If you're looking for alternative drinks, I've heard that some people giving up specifically Diet Coke like the taste of Celestial Seasonings Berry Zinger iced tea with a little bit of sparkling water mixed in to make it bubbly. I'm told the taste is very similar.

As of today, I am 11 days without a drop of soda of any kind.
Jul. 15th, 2010 05:14 pm (UTC)
Oooh. Thank you for the tea pointer!
Jul. 16th, 2010 05:37 pm (UTC)
Re: Two enthusiastic thumbs WAY up!!!
Definitely going to have to try this sparkling tea recipe. The eldest child and I have tried giving up soda on and off for a while, maybe this is an alternative we'll be able to stick with.
Jul. 15th, 2010 05:16 pm (UTC)
Good for you! Literally. I love my regular Coke Classic, but even that has High Fructose Corn Syrup in it, unless you buy the stuff manufactured outside the US (yay for Mexico and Canada!). It amazes me how addicting it all is.

Jul. 15th, 2010 10:36 pm (UTC)
Is the stuff made in Canada not have as much HFCS? I'm intrigued by this (seeing as I live there :) ).
Jul. 15th, 2010 10:35 pm (UTC)
This is why I never drink diet anything. Or low-fat anything. Or sugar-free anything, etc etc. There are too many "shortcuts" and generally its just loaded with stuff thats really not good for you. Yes, I drink Coke and yes I know its bad, but it's not a daily thing for me (anymore, woot!).. but I find it a much 'healthier' alternative than diet drinks (which taste weird to me, imho). Maybe one day I'll be able to kick Coke for good.

Also, those "no calorie" pop drinks. They freak me the hell out. How do they NOT have calories in them? :S
Jul. 16th, 2010 05:55 am (UTC)
Best wishes! I have found Zevia Cola quite satisfying... it's made with Stevia (so all natural) but tastes really close to the real thing. http://www.zevia.com/products_cola.html

Jul. 17th, 2010 09:58 pm (UTC)
Thanks for the suggestion!

I'll keep my eyes open for it.
Jul. 19th, 2010 05:16 pm (UTC)
I've found it at Whole Foods and PCC. Cheers!
Jul. 16th, 2010 05:38 pm (UTC)
I'm very happy reading about your progress. That is wonderful.
Jul. 30th, 2010 09:11 pm (UTC)
What is it about Diet Coke that so many people get addicted to? I know a lot of people in the same boat, including my partner, unfortunately. Personally, I can't see the appeal, even one sip just screams "chemicals!" to my taste buds. Guess I'm lucky in that way. The other benefit to quitting - less plastic wasted! I'm constantly cringing at the amount of plastic bottles in my recycling bin from just the amount he drinks at my place.
( 15 comments — Leave a comment )


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