The addiction started in college, and only accelerated as I entered the workforce.
Morning coffee? I’ll take Diet Pepsi instead, thank you.
Lunch beverage of choice? Diet Pepsi.
Afternoon crash? Diet Pepsi.
An excuse to get a quick breather from work? Diet Pepsi.
Can anyone relate? Whether Diet Coke or Diet Pepsi, I’m betting that you or someone close to you has or has had a similar addiction like myself.
Why did I love the crisp, carbonated sweetness so much? Why did it become such a necessity; something I NEEDED to get through my day?
I had always heard pop (or soda for those not in the Midwest) wasn’t the greatest thing in the world, but I chose the DIET kind.
Anything with the word “diet” seemed perfectly healthy and harmless to me.
Diet or regular, though, our nation has had a love affair with soft drinks that has been steadily increasing, along with our waistlines.
According to facts reported by the Public Health Advocacy in 2009:
- The average American consumes 50 gallons of soda & other sweetened beverages per year
- Sweetened beverages are the largest single source of added sugar in the American diet
- A 20-oz serving contains 17 teaspoons of sugar
- Each American consumes about 22 teaspoons of sugar on average (TONS higher than the recommended 5-9 tsp/day!)
The Truth About Soda
As I became curious about whether or not this substance I relied on was harmless or harmful, I did some research and slowly began to phase out my habit.
And I slowly began to realize how much BETTER and less bloated I felt without it!
So… what’s so bad about soft drinks?
1) They are loaded with either sweetener (usually high fructose corn syrup) or sugar substitutes.
Sugar in soda is anti-nutritious and nothing but naked calories, and fake sugars do not reduce cravings.
In fact, according to Scientific American,
“…[the] hypothesis is that Splenda has less of a feedback mechanism to stop the craving, to get satisfied.”
- They are associated with many health problems, including headaches, dizziness, visual impairment, severe muscle aches, pancreatitis, high blood pressure, depression, retinal hemorrhaging, amongst others. 
2) Methanol, a known poison, is 15 to 100 times higher in soft drinks than that of fruit juice.
When digested, aspartame is broken down into amino acids phenlalanine, aspartic acid, and methanol. Though methanol is found in fruit, regulatory agencies neglect to point out the content of diet soft drinks is WAY, WAY higher!
3) Soft drinks contain phosphoric acid, which:
- Blocks the absorption of magnesium and calcium in the intestines, contributing to easily fractured bones in children & bone loss in adults
- Magnesium deficiency contributes to impairment of the immune system, fatigue & high blood pressure
- May be a major cause of kidney stones 
4) Caffeine affects the body like sugar, irritates the lining of the stomach, and causes an increase in stomach acid.
The buzz from drinking caffeine is attributed to a release of blood sugar from the liver. Chronic ingestion can cause the blood sugar mechanisms to overreact, causing low blood sugar, chronic fatigue, dizziness, depression, allergies, behavior disorders, insomnia, etc.
Prolonged use of caffeine is tied to cancer, bone loss, mental disorders…(I’ll bet you re-think that next soda or coffee!).
5) Finally, a concoction of chemicals – artificial flavorings, colorings and preservatives – are typically included in soft drinks.
In a Nutshell
So, what to do if you or someone you know is addicted to soda, coffee, or another caffeine source?
- Start small; reduce your daily intake. If you’re drinking 3 sodas each day, start drinking 2 each day, and then down to 1 each day.
- Switch to non-caffeinated sources like herbal teas or La Croix, a caffeine-free, sodium-free, artificial flavoring-free sparkling water!
- If you are relying on caffeine to get you through the day, re-think why you are so tired in the first place. Adjust your sleeping habits, work in a 10-minute refresher nap, boost endorphins by exercising, and/or focus on making better food choices to maximize energy!
Coming from a recovered diet soda and coffee addict, it IS possible to wean off of these substances, and your body will thank you!!
Fallon, Sally and Enig, Mary G. Nourishing Traditions. New Trends Publishing, Inc: Washington, DC, 2011.