Hi friends: you're a wonderful source of information and guidance, and I'm grateful for that. I'm mostly food-indifferent, but I have two things I love to ingest: Diet Coke and chocolate. Do you see my difficulty? I completed Whole 30 a few weeks ago, and managed to wrestle DC and chocolate out of my life. However, upon completing W30, I'm back to my old habits, though I'm much more into the darker chocolates now, and not really interested in most other sweets, which is an improvement, I suppose. I don't mind the chocolate needs that much, and I can just have a little bit if I need to (or cut it out for a few days at a time, if need be). But the Diet Coke, oh the Diet Coke. I feel like a real junkie with it.
Here's my question: I know that Diet Coke is bad for me. I would LOVE to not be addicted to it. But on the other hand, most other foods are not that exciting to me, so I can't replace it with other treats. I'm FODMAP sensitive, so most sweet fruits are out. Carbonated water is all right, but really, it's not even close to the same, and I feel deprived and unhappy.
So I'm not asking for reasons WHY I should give it up, I totally get it, and I swear to you, I feel bad enough about it already. I'm asking for HOW to give it up. Carbonated water is only moderately helpful (choked down my usage from 5 cans a day to 1-2), Good Earth tea also not that helpful, though it's delicious. I hate coffee, and I already drink around a gallon of water a day.
When it's the food/drink that I love most--how can I give it up in a way that is not punitive or miserable? Any ideas, or is it just a white knuckling experience for the rest of my life? I'd love advice from people who have figured it out for themselves--especially any recovering Diet Coke addicts who have found other sources of dietary pleasure to replace the place DC held.
ETA (2/21/12): Thanks to your great advice, I am at 0 DC's today at 4pm. I've had a bunch of kombucha drink, which seems to help. Headache is already crushing me, so I'm brewing some caffeinated tea right now. One day at a time, right?
Oh I am so with you on the Diet Coke thing. I love that stuff. Always have. Always will. I don't drink it anymore but I still love it. I got off it by switching first to Diet Rite (Splenda and no caffeine) with some Zevia thrown in. Then I started to switch in some Mineral Water (LOVE Whole Foods brand Italian mineral water in the green bottles...much better than most others) I just weened off of it and while I will always love it I am much better off without it. I drink it a few times a year if I'm out and just want it but otherwise I'm pretty happy with my fizzy water and very occasional Diet Rite at home.
In the end you just gotta get off the stuff. There is nothing good to say about it (other than its deliciousness of course) so just figure it out. Go slowly if you have to do that but know you end game is to get rid of it. You stand on the shoulders of many who have walked this path before and lived to tell the tale. We did it and so will you. Good luck!
I had a big problem with diet coke (and wheat thins...together) in college. It was my kryptonite. I would regularly drink 3-6 per day and more from time to time. I drank DC more regularly than I drank water. I felt my relationship with diet coke was similar to a smoker's relationship with cigarettes. Smokers take a drag, I took a sip. I could go on and on, but you clearly know the feeling.
Like you, I loved my diet coke after meals; lunch and dinner, I never became a DC for breakfast kind of guy. With my consumption being so high, I knew I was in for a challenge psychologically as I tried to kick my DC habit. So with my potential psychological freak out in mind, I allowed myself to have my diet coke with lunch and dinner only. And yes, that was STILL difficult at times. But by doing so, I regularly kept my consumption lower than "normal" and began to feel less of a desire for DC. After 6 months or so, I concluded that I preferred my DC with lunch more than dinner and from then on I would limit myself to 1 diet coke at lunch per day. I would guesstimate it took me 6-8 more months before I felt enough control to drop the one can plan.
Just as a note, all of this took place prior to my switch to Paleo. Currently I drink a cup or two of coffee before noon and a cup of coffee or green tea in the mid-afternoon. In a perfect world I would cut my caffeine intake even lower, but I am not overly concerned with my coffee or green tea consumption at this point.
What did it for me was one day I just said soda was not going to control me. I recognized the addiction, and stared it right in the face. I also read up on the affects of Aspartame, and that made the decision even easier to settle out. Every time I thought about soda, I told myself that I would drink an entire bottle of water first. If I could still drink the soda after that, then it would be drastically less than not drinking the water. By the time I downed the bottle of water, I had no intention of starting a soda lol. This is sorta like putting money in a jar every time you swear, except the jar is attached to your bank account and deducts automatically the entire balance, therefore no cussing (or drinking) of said matter.
I can't tell you how to quit it. I was a serious Diet Coke addict. I would crack one open first thing in the morning, it was my coffee. I would get panicky if it looked like I might be running out. Seriously. I knew that it wasn't good for me, but logic didn't help. I would buy in bulk, I watched for sales. It was scary.
Nearly a year and a half ago I became ill with a stomach bug or food poisoning, it was a jolly time! After two and half days of not eating anything, I decided that this was the perfect opportunity to get off the DC. I simply didn't drink it any more. I tried unsweetened tea for a while, but soon just drank water. I drink a lot of water!
I am relieved to be free of the Diet Coke hole that I was in. My adult daughter sometimes keeps Diet Coke in my fridge (I am working on her), but it no longer feels appealing. I don't crave it anymore.
Good luck!!! It is doable!
There are some sodas sweetened with stevia that might be close enough to satisfy a craving. Either go cold turkey, again, or try to wean yourself with something like that, or maybe try kombucha, which has a nice sweetness and fizz. I have a friend who used to drink six cans of Diet Coke a day...she quit cold turkey and went to water, but some people may need to transition. You can do it!
Try drinking a lot of water each day in addition to the coke. Work on getting the amount down first. Perhaps only take it after dinner. Switch to a pop that is less tasty like Diet Pespsi... Reduce the reward a bit. Eventually you will find you no lomger need it...
I'd add in some caffeinated tea, maybe some kombucha and/or water keifer and try to get it down to every other day or even once a week. if it's REALLY the only food-like-substance that gives you ANY pleasure, then you probably don't have to give it up. but you should try looking for some low-FODMAP treats that you might find enjoyable too.
It was eroding my teeth, so I had a pretty strong incentive to stop. One thing that helped me was letting myself go through the behaviors associated with drinking diet soda, but not drinking it. So I'd get up, walk across the office to the soda machine, stand in front of it, but then walk back to my desk instead of buying a soda. I'm not sure that I can explain how this helps, but it did.
Keeping myself out of situations where I normally drank diet soda for a while helped as well, but that might not be practical.
The craving I had for diet soda seemed to be separate from any cravings for caffeine or something cold or sweet, so I'm not sure that a substitute beverage would have helped.
After a certain amount of time (I think about a month in my case), diet soda started to seem disgusting again, and I lost interest in drinking it.