Countdown to just one can of diet soda a week starts!

The closest thing to an addiction that I have is soda, now diet soda.  We were allowed to drink soda all the time as a kid.  That contributed a lot to me being a chubby kid growing up.  There were other factors too of course.  None of my other siblings graduated into “husky” sizes, but perhaps I just drank more of it and was more sedentary as a computer geek than they were.  As I grew up that graduated into being hooked on diet soda.  Like all programmers, I turn soda into code.  My poison of choice has always been the least revolting diet soda, until the Zero products came along…

Once Coke introduced Coke Zero and Sprite Zero I became hooked almost exclusively on these.  I actually can crave them when I don’t have them.  People make fun of how excited I get when yet another restaurant starts carrying that along with the more appropriately chemical tasting Diet Coke.  It’s what I wake up with in the morning instead of coffee or tea.  I’ll probably have one or two more cans throughout the morning, another serving at lunch, a few more cans during the afternoon, a few more at dinner and then a few more after that.  I am flush with Coke Reward Points!

I don’t make light of people with addictions to cigarettes, alcohol or drugs.  I consider this more like the habit of biting ones fingers or the like.  If it was an addiction to the caffeine I would get my fix from coffee or tea.  If it was the fizz, I’d get it from seltzer water.  It’s something about the taste, fizz and refreshingness that I just love.  I just have two problems: I consider it to be quite unhealthy (especially at the level I’m drinking it at) and all but one of the diets I’m looking at for the experiment explicitly forbid them.

Artificial sweeteners have been blamed for lots of ailments, but I think a lot of that is over blown.  That doesn’t mean it’s good for you or something that should be consumed in large doses.  A lot of the shelf stabilizers, like phosphoric acid, have quantities of minerals which may cause things to go out of whack in large doses, and don’t sound especially appealing.  Lastly, their acidic nature may lead to some adverse digestive system problems over time.

I’ve tried quitting before.  Last spring I even got down to just a few per week, but these are my psychological crutches.  One crazy stressful week and it was back to square one.  I have tried cold turkey before with little success, but a gradual ramp down seemed to work for a while.  Being the typical computer geek biohacker, I even graphed it.  So I decided I’d do the same thing here but by making a widget on the front page.  From here you can see how many cans of soda a day I have compared to how many I am supposed to have.

I start with the elevated, but sadly not too infrequently achieved, ten cans of soda a day.  Each week I ramp down by one can a day until the last week I will only have one can a day.  After that I’ll be tracking cans per week in the same way until I get down to zero cans a week even.  Assuming no hiccups that means I should be diet soda free by November, just in time to start my ramp into the diet experiment.

For the purposes of this I’m including any beverage with artificial sweeteners, not just sodas.  The point is to get off of these and on to water, seltzer water, green tea and coffee.  In the end I’d like to be free from exposure to artificial sweeteners and keep my caffeine intake to less than 100 mg.  That level is the threshold that addiction begins.  In the end I’d like that level to approach zero as well.

So, keep track of the progress chart on the right.  If you see me slipping ping me to keep me honest