I have a confession to make.
I’m a Diet Pepsi-holic.
Yes, for many many years I had a huge Diet Pepsi addiction. When I say huge…I mean HUUUGGEEE!
My Diet Pepsi addiction started in law school, ironically on a mission to lose weight. Before that time, I hated any diet drinks and so I was a big Pepsi and Mountain Dew drinker. But, when I started to eat healthier in law school, I decided that I should give up the calorie filled beverages and go with something diet.
Because I thought everything with “Diet” on the label was good for me.
What I didn’t know, was that by giving up those sugary drinks and substituting them for what I thought was a healthier option, I was about to cause a huge problem for myself.
I started to drink Diet Pepsi all the time, morning, noon, and night. Late study nights, dinners out with friends, I was never far from a Diet Pepsi can.
When I got pregnant with my first child, I wanted to do everything by the book, and I read that caffeine was not good for the baby, so I gave it up . For the love of that little growing baby that would eventually become my only daughter, I tackled what was then just a minor addiction.
If only I would have just kept it out of my life.
But alas, I didn’t. As soon as my daughter was born, and I mean within hours of her birth, I remember sending my husband down out for a Diet Pepsi and a Subway deli sandwich, two things I had deprived myself during my pregnancy.
Just a few short months later (yes we did not waste any time) I got pregnant with my son, and being the good Mom I was, I once again gave up my Diet Pepsi. But again like before, I started it up the second he entered the world.
In the two years between my pregnancy with my middle child and my youngest child, my addiction grew. This was likely due to the fact that I was now a Mom of two kids 15 months apart, and one of them (I won’t say who…but HE knows who HE is) was horribly colicky and never slept. My addiction grew. I hit levels of about 10 cans a day. It was insane.
For the next decade of my life I kept popping those cans. Sure I would try and give it up every time some new article would hit Facebook telling me that I would stroke out if I didn’t stop, but I would always come right back.
So then July of 2016 came and as you know I started my journey to lose weight and become healthy. Month after month, pound after pound, people kept asking me “So are you going to give up Diet Pepsi too?”
Yeah right…I thought. I had taken away beloved carbs, the only thing I really ever ate, if I gave up the Diet Pepsi, there would be no surviving that. The weight kept falling off despite my major amounts of Diet Pepsi, and so I really didn’t see the need to give it up.
But then my journey became less and less about losing weight and more and more about gaining health and I realized that whether I like it or not, my Diet Pepsi addiction had to go.
And so, I embarked on a new health goal…Operation Kick the Habit!
About three months ago I made the decision that I would give up pop, and I am happy to say I was successful. I am now completely Diet Pepsi free. So how did I go from drinking a case a day to none at all? Here’s how:
(1) Cold Turkey is the way to go.
It is extremely hard, but going cold turkey on giving up a bad addiction like I had was simply what I needed to do. I have the kind of personality that if I have 1, I’m going to have more. So, I simply stopped all pop from day 1. It’s drastic, and my doctor told me I’d probably be happier if I just cut back at first, but cold turkey worked for me.
(2) I gave up pop, not caffeine.
Bottom line is that to avoid the headaches and general feeling of illness, I gave up pop, but kept some caffeine in my diet. Oh sure, the first few days I tried to do this without any caffeine. I only drank water. Soon I was absolutely miserable, with headaches and horrible fatigue. So, I decided to add in a little caffeine, and presto – headaches instantly gone. I allow myself 2-3 caffeinated drinks a day, and it just works for me.
(3) I looked for alternative drinks, aka my “secret weapons”.
I completely credit my success on this journey on my two secret weapons: Bai Bubbles and Zevia. These have replaced Diet Pepsi in my life, and because they are not made with artificial sweeteners they are a good option to help me step away from pop for good.
Finding replacement beverages is not as easy as it seems. There are so many things to consider. We all know the problem with diet drinks are the artificial sweeteners, but a lot of replacement drinks have artificial sweeteners in them! Others have too many carbs for this R.C. Others, like La Croix I just can’t stomach due to the lack of flavor.
Then I found Bai Bubbles.
Bai Bubbles are carbonated drinks that have very few carbs and are sweetened with Stevia, a natural sweetener. They satisfy my need for bubbles and give me a caffeine kick to help me avoid headaches. With one net carb a can, they are a great low carb option for my lifestyle.
Bai Bubbles are sometimes hard to find in grocery stores. I usually find them in a couple of different places: by the sports drinks, at the front of the store, and in the health food section. My absolute favorite flavor is Blackberry Lime. Black Cherry, Grapefruit, Blood Orange, and Lemon are others that I like. I’m not a huge fan of Watermelon and Pineapple, but they aren’t bad.
Bai Bubbles do offer traditional pop flavors (the black cans), but I’m not a fan. If you are a Coke drinker, you might like the cola from Bai Bubbles. To me it was sweet like Coke, but almost too sweet to match the flavor. If you are a Pepsi drinker, I think the flavor profile is completely different.
Bai Bubbles have a strong flavor to them, so be aware for a punch of flavor when you drink. Some people have said they find them too sweet and have to water them down. For me, I think they are just right in that department.
A little R.C. warning right up front: when I started drinking Bai I noticed an aftertaste to it that although wasn’t bad enough for me to say I didn’t like them, was noticeable. But here’s the strange thing, after a week of drinking them I don’t notice the aftertaste anymore! So if you are like me and notice an aftertaste at first. Try them for at least a week.
The problem with Bai Bubbles is that they are expensive, and you have to buy them in individual cans. Check out Amazon or other online options if this becomes your drink of choice. My local grocery store offers 3 for $5.00 cans at times as well.
And then…came Zevia.
I big puffy heart love Zevia. Zevia is different than Bai Bubbles. It has a more mild flavor, is less sweet, but I find it has more flavor that a La Croix. I don’t notice any aftertaste with Zevia and it has 0 net carbs.
The best thing about Zevia…it comes in traditional pop flavors that actually taste like the original diet drinks you are used to.
My favorite flavor to Zevia so far is their Cola. It is like a mild flavored Diet Pepsi. Perfect for those meal time “I just want a pop!” moments! It is the perfect replacement if you are like me and love the flavor of diet pop. I like Strawberry and Grape, and cherry cola is a great choice too.
Not all flavors of Zevia have caffeine (they even offer caffeine free cola flavor) so if you are looking for a caffeinated option make sure and check the label.
Zevia comes in 6 packs in some grocery stores, so I’m finding it to be more economical than Bai. You can also find great deals on Amazon.
The only problem with Zevia is that the Cola flavor is very popular (probably because it is a close flavor profile) so often when I go to the grocery store I see this…
Yep…see all those Zevia? Well look in the lower left corner, that’s where the Cola flavor is and it’s ALWAYS out. It’s so frustrating!
(4) I tracked my major craving times and planned accordingly.
After a few days of going cold turkey I started to see patterns of my addictions. I had horrible cravings three times a day: During my morning commute to work, mid afternoon at my desk (like 2:30), and right when I got home and was making dinner. Those were the three times that my brain kept yelling, no outright screaming at me to pop a can and send down some caffeinated bubbly beverage.
So during most of my day I drink water…plain and simple, but during these three major craving times I go to my alternate drinks. I keep a large water on my desk during the day so that it reminds me to keep drinking.
I usually have a Bai Bubbles in the morning and afternoon and opt for Zevia in the evening. The reason I do it that way is that most Zevia I drink is caffeine free, and so to keep the headaches and “I want to die” fatigue away I opt for caffeine during my day, but I don’t need it at night. However, the farther I move from my caffeine addiction the less I really need the caffeine, and so Zevia is becoming more of an option for me.
(5) I’m becoming friends with water again.
I’m not a huge water drinker, but I know the health benefits to becoming one, and so I’m making a conscious effort. Unless its one of my craving times above, I opt for water. I fill a large glass at work and work on that during the day. At meals and at restaurants I opt for water. I have an app on my Apple watch to remind me to drink water. I’m pushing a lot of water into my diet and finding that it helps me feel full and…well just more alive. I put lots of ice in the water and I’m finding that as the weeks pass, it’s becoming more and more easy to get the water I need into my life.
(6) Be mindful of your next addition.
Often when you are giving up Diet Pop you look for an alternative beverage, like I did. However, make sure and do your research on the alternative beverages before committing. The last think you need is a new addiction of something just as bad.
(7) Take it one day at a time.
Like any addiction, it takes some time to get over pop. Give yourself some time. Realize there is going to be some not so pleasant times ahead. You will inevitably run into hard situations. For me, when I go out to eat I’m used to ordering pop, and so I’m not quite used to water with my meals yet. At my son’s baseball games I notoriously find myself craving more bubbly beverages, so on those days my Zevia and Bai consumption goes up.
I promise you that if I can give up this habit, anyone can. So, if you are struggling with a diet pop addiction, you can do this!! Comment below with any tips you have as you start your journeys, I’m always looking for tools to add to my arsenal!