How I Quit Diet Coke and What Happened to My Body

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How I quit diet coke, and how it dramatically reduced my daily bloating, (bringing my waist down by 6 inches.) My experience is purely anecdotal (based on my personal account rather than facts or research) and not meant to be substituted for professional medical advice.

Exactly 93 days ago, after an all-day diet coke binge, I decided it was time to quit. Diet coke is obviously not good for you, and unfortunately, my health was never a good enough reason for me to give it up.

Bloating Before and After Pictures

But, over the past year, my waist has gotten bigger and bigger (from bloating), even though I’ve maintained my weight loss, and am still quite lean (under 110lbs at 5ft), my waist grew by 6 inches at the worst of it, and stayed around 4 inches bigger from July 2021-February 2022.

I always knew the excessive diet coke was to blame, even though I didn’t want to admit it to myself! Afterall, I had been drinking it for 25 years, and it hadn’t been a problem until this past year.

At 110 lbs, my waistline was bigger than when I was 122 lbs, just a few years ago. (see my weight loss story here). I believe it was all inflammation and water retention.

At the height of the bloating (July 2021)- THIS is what my waist looked like vs the same weight, 3 months after quitting diet coke (May 2022). 31inches on the worst day, and 25 inches today.

bloating gone after quitting diet coke before and after

My symptoms of drinking too much diet coke

I wanted to document ALL the physical things I was experiencing, because I didn’t know if it was connected or not. Some things that I noticed before quitting was:

  • I was tied to the bathroom. Seriously, I couldn’t go anywhere without knowing exactly where the bathroom was and going to it as soon as we arrived somewhere.
  • I felt like I had a weak bladder.
  • I was experiencing increasing joint pain
  • My stomach was constantly spilling over my pants because I was so bloated.
  • I was thirsty ALL the time.
  • I had constant bladder pressure and weak abs. I couldn’t hold ab muscles tight because it only activated my urge to pee.
  • I felt no connection between brain and ab muscles. I couldn’t even hold my ab muscles in if I wanted to.
  • I had a constant feeling of swelling in my joints. My wedding ring was always tight.
  • I constantly feeling FRENZIED- like a caffeine addict.

Some NON-physical problems I had with my Diet coke habit

  • Wasting time Stopping at the gas station.
  • Wasting landfills- GARBAGE piled with cans that I had to take out all the time!
  • I was tired of being a slave to the habit, and drinking can after can without being conscious of how many I had.
  • And I spent SO MUCH MONEY!!

Ruling out other possibilities of bloating

Last summer I started trying to figure out why I was always bloated. I bought the book, The Bloated Belly Whisper (which is a great book by the way). Then, I went to my gastroenterologist convinced there was a medical reason for my bloating. I thought I had FODMAP intolerances, H.Pylori, Celiac, Ulcerative Colitis, etc. I had lots of tests done.

I tested for

  • H.Pylori – which came back negative.
  • I had a colonoscopy test, since I have ulcerative colitis, and the test came back clean.
  • I had a full food allergy panel (IgE panel) run, and I had the same results I’ve had for the past 10 years- slight reaction to eggs, bread, and dairy- and I have no plans to cut those out)
  • a full CMP/CBC w/diff profile, which was fairy normal.
  • A giardia test (normal)
  • and several visits to the doctor.
  • I even cut out FODMAPS!

I also had a persistent pain in my upper hamstring/lower glute area. After an xray, steroid shot, accupuncture, CBD, ibuprofen and physical therapy, NOTHING made it go away. I even took 10 days off of running, which was so hard for me to do.. but it still hurt.

I suspected it could be the chemicals from the diet soda causing joint pain, but there’s no good scientific study to back that up.

Choosing to quit

After I’d exhausted all the medical reasons for excessive bloating, and spending way too much money on the habit, I just decided It was time to quit.

The problem is, I didn’t want to quit. It makes it really hard to quit when you just enjoy the habit so much. But, for aesthetic reasons, and being more comfortable in my clothes, I had to try it.

Steps I took to quit diet coke

I started googling anything I could think of, to find people who have quit diet coke and how they did it.

I read articles about other people who have quit like this one, and this one, and this one, this one, this one.

I first decided the only solution for me is cold turkey. Moderation does not work for me. I drink one can and I immediately want a second.

I also decided, I need to DRINK all the cans currently in my house (as a true addict would decide). So, a binge fest ensues. I am embarrassed about how many I was able to drink in a day. More than a human should. The thought of people thinking they had a problem for drinking 1 or 2 cans a day, made me laugh. I drink that by 7am!

Step 1) I Joined a Facebook support group

Since the science about the harmful effects of Diet drinks just isn’t very strong or convincing, I knew I just needed anecdotal evidence that it was a beneficial to quit.

Through reading a few articles online, I found this Facebook group. Although I haven’t been very active in the group, I found it TREMENDOUSLY helpful to read about other members success in quitting. I might have read ALL the posts in this group!

It was highly motivating for me to see other people quitting and feeling great.

diet soda drinkers who want to quit facebook support group

Step 2) I downloaded the Quitzilla app

In the Facebook group, I noticed many people downloaded and used the app, Quitzilla.

HOLY COW. I had no idea how helpful this would be for me. But it’s SO rewarding to watch the days tick by indicating how many days I’ve been abstinent. I would have NO idea today how many days ago I quit drinking if it weren’t for this app.

The Quitzilla app helped me say no to a diet soda at a friends house recently. I honestly can say, I thought about how terrible it would be to go back to DAY 1 and log it into the app just because I gave in.

I also LOVE the daily motivational quotes that it sends to my phone. It reminds me of my commitment daily.

Quitzilla app helped me quit diet coke
screenshot from Quitzilla app

Step 3) I replaced the Diet Coke with Sparkling water and caffeine pills.

When I first quit, I realized what I missed most was the psychological, habitual nature of popping open a can of soda, and the “BURN” I feel when it hit my mouth.

Although I NEVER liked carbonated/sparkling water before, suddenly I was craving it, because I just needed the bubbles so much.

While I tried many different brands (La Croix, Spindrift, Perrier, Waterloo), my favorite actually was Polar (because at my Winco it’s only $2.98 per 12 pack!), Bubly, and AHA.

And then, to avoid any headaches, I also took 100-200mg of caffeine first thing in the morning. (I just get the Jet Alert from Walmart)

Step 4) After 2 months, I replaced the carbonated flavored water with flavored drink mixes.

Lastly, for the last week at least, I’ve replaced the bubbles with drink packets and straight water. I have a bikini/bodybuilding show in 2 weeks, and I just need to bring my waist down as small as I can, and I don’t think the carbonation is going to give me an edge.

So, now I’m drinking True Lemon drink packets (sweetened with stevia), and MiO drops (sweetened with sucralose). And it’s been working!

How I feel today

I kept a journal in my phone the first few days, and here’s what I wrote:

36 hours after my last drink, I noticed:

  • Morning run was the best energy I’ve ever had! Bouncy. Better lung capacity, tight core, and didn’t feel like a slog.
  • Added 10 lbs to my kickbacks (which had previously been weak for me as I had the glute/hamstring pain.
  • More evening energy!
  • And then I got diahrrea (really bad!) Maybe my gut microbiome was changing??

48 hours after my last drink

  • lower ab measurement, down 1.5 inches.
  • AMAZING morning run, with energy to spare and fast finish. No nausea, no EXTREME post run fatigue

3 months after my last drink

  • I’m not constantly thirsty
  • My waist has gone down by 6 inches (from the first, and worst day of the bloating)
  • I’ve saved money.
  • I no longer have to constantly pee.
  • I’m not always thirsty.
  • My water retention has diminished significantly (as evidence by my ring fitting).
  • I can contract my abs again and feel the muscle!
  • I can control my bladder again.

Final thoughts on quitting diet coke

As I said in the beginning, this is my story. It’s completely anecdotal and not scientific. But I can not deny how much better I feel physically and mentally after quitting.

So, tell me in the comments!! Have you quit diet soda and seen an improvement?

6 Comments

  1. I experience SO many of the same symptoms you have and I had a sobering blood test come back to show me I’m not 17 any more (I’m 40 but have been so lucky to have had excellent health despite my bad sugar and diet coke habit up until now). I want so badly to quit and I resolve to every single night…then I wake up the next morning and am a slave to that can. Ugh. Thank you for sharing your experience – it motivates me to keep working on it (and try some new tactics)!!!

  2. I gave up Diet Coke 2 months ago today. I plan to never go back to drinking it again. I drink coffee, unsweet tea, water, and sparkling water. I don’t know if or how it will affect me as I move forward…

  3. Amy – Thank you for your story! I’m 57 and a Diet Pepsi drinker since – gosh – 9th grade!!! I found your info so informative. Who knew there was a FB page. I have cut down immensely from 7 a day to about 2. There is just something about that “burn” – I get it. I am checking out your other articles and will be following you and your journey for weight loss tips. I need to lose 20 lbs. and am starting weights. Thank you again!
    Tracy

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