For five years I worked in the same company, and nearly every day I had at least one can of Diet Cola (and the nearest drinking water tap was upstairs). When I changed jobs, I semi gave it up but was still drinking quite a lot of the stuff. When I started Slimming World, you’re told that diet fizzy drinks are fine. Meaning that the full-fat versions are the “baddy”. For just over a fortnight now, we’ve been on a new health kick. As Lucy put it on her IG story – “I don’t like to drink my calories”. Exactly! Why waste the calories on a can of full fat Cola when you could have chocolate or ice cream? When I was pregnant with Jaxon, I switched to lemonade or other non-caffeine fizzy to try and make a difference overall. However, sometimes the odd can of Diet Cola or glass while we were out for dinner would slip in there. I’d been told that it was probably rotting my insides and yet still drinking it was easier, even when I was pregnant.
As a mum to a small child, having that caffeine boost was needed. The caffeine boost was still outweighing any damage it was doing.
Back in May, we went to Paris and then Disneyland for just over a week. For lunch on the first Saturday, we were there, we got McDonald’s. Having had our crazy adventure around Paris, we were all hungry. Chris and I figured it was a safe bet that Jaxon would eat it. We would have plenty of time to get experimental! This was the first time I noticed that French Cola Light was definitely not the same as Diet Cola we have here in the UK. I was sure that last time we were in Paris it tasted more similar to UK Diet Cola. Chris told me later in the week that the French recipe had changed in line with the changes to French Food Law or something like that.
Well that was it, at first it was one meal, then it was a whole day and now it’s around 10 weeks. I feel like I need a reward of some kind. Maybe I’ll run that one past Chris! We also made sure we had some squash (or the closest French equivalent). Even when I was offered Diet Cola at a friend’s house, I turned it down. (She never normally has Diet Cola in her house and yet this time she did and I stayed strong and said no!!)
So what did I notice once I gave Diet Cola up?
In the past, giving up Diet Cola has often been accompanied by the mother of all withdrawal headaches. However, something I learned this time around was that most of the time when I had given up, I wasn’t replacing that fluid. I’d go from drinking anything up to a litre of Diet Cola a day (plus a few cups of squash or water) to maybe having less than a litre fluid all day total. Not only was I going through withdrawal but I was dehydrated – no wonder my head hurt!
Having gotten over those first few days when you’re in withdrawal, overall I’ve noticed that I’ve had fewer headaches. I think I can count on my fingers how many I’ve had – I think I’m on less than 1 a fortnight so that’s 5 in the space of 10 weeks. The headaches that I have had since I’ve been able to pin to a particular factor like not enough sleep or getting overheated in the crazy heatwave we’ve been having in the UK. Also when I have had those headaches I’ve tried to use 4Head or a similar product rather than reaching for paracetamol as the first stop.
More Settled Nights
As a teen and in my early twenties I would dream vividly, I’m talking about them being so vivid I could recount them in great detail each morning. But I found as I got older that’s gone away but I’ve also realised that that could have been suppressed by the amount of caffeine and sweetener I was consuming. Now the vivid dreams haven’t come back although I do dream more now than I did, but I have noticed that my nights are more settled. Minus the odd wake up for Jaxon, I am sleeping near enough full nights whereas I would often wake multiple times in the night even though I was shattered.
Before we went away, I often drinking between 500ml and a litre of Diet Cola everyday, that amount of caffeine has the tendency to keep you awake longer than normal. This was great I had extra time to work into the evenings. NOT! I would get into bed and lie there starring at the ceiling or I was downstairs doing stuff and then going to bed as late as 2am. On top of this, I would still think that I could wake at 6:30/7 for Jaxon and still be able to function. How wrong am I? When we were in France I was often going to bed anywhere between 9pm and 11pm once Jaxon was in bed and asleep. I read lots but often found that ours days had been so busy I was getting a bit of reading in and then falling asleep.
Once we got home, I tried to continue the 10 pm bedtimes. I would get in bed at 10pm, read or watch an episode of something before settling down to sleep. I would often be out for the count once I closed my eyes! They were the odd late ones that crept in when I really needed to finish something but often I’d get to 11pm and be feeling in. Would sometimes just go “that’s it” and retreat to bed, it would have to wait for the next day!
Both Chris and Jaxon are very much morning peope and I am really not. In all honesty, I’ve never EVER been a morning person. Add in the need for caffeine, along with the lack of sleep and I was really not human for the first chunk of the day. Getting Jaxon ready for preschool or to get out the house for something else was often hard work and I would be snappy. I’m not always 100% awake when Jaxon and Chris wake up in the morning now but I am a bit more human which is always a good thing with a 4 year old jumping on you!
Change of Appetite
This was one I was told about but never realised. There’s something in Diet Cola which makes you crave sweet things – not just more Diet Cola. I discovered whereas I could gobble down a lot of chocolate or something equally sweet. Once I’d given up Diet Cola my tastes have changed more. Sometimes I still fancy chocolate but it’s a small bar insead of a bigger bar. If I fancy biscuits then its 2 or 3 digestives rather than the majority of the pack. All in all, I’m eating less (combined with drinking more water/squash)
Bloating/Weight Loss/Change of Shape
This one I’m still working on. I have noticed a few changes but they are definitely slower. I think a combination of the other things I’ve noticed have given me more energy which has made it easier to exercise. I’m still not going to be a gym bunny or take up marathon running but I am definitely trying to make more of an effort.
A few weeks ago I actually walked all the way from town to preschool, normally I take a 20-minute bus right instead. This worked out as a 2-mile walk – that’s almost half my target for a day!
Overall it feels like my moods are better. I think my fuse has got longer so I’m less likely to fly off the handle at the boys. Also, I think it’s meant that my moods are more balanced. I still get upset about things but I don’t go from being perfectly happy to bawling my eyes out like I might have used to do. This has also meant that when my period comes round, I’m getting less PMT-y and not walking around with a black cloud over my head.
I’ve discovered naps! Okay so I used to have them – Sunday afternoon often became a nap slot. Chris would be on Jaxon duty and I’d doze off on the sofa. But at that point they were often necessary. Sometimes a nap was the only way of clearing a withdrawal headache enough to function. Now why wasn’t that the point that I was putting a stop to it and giving up Diet Cola. Actually, I don’t have an answer. I think again it was easier to pick up a Diet Cola from the corner shop and with a dose of paracetamol deal with the headache that way. On one occasion, I curled up on the sofa to lie down for a few minutes, next thing I knew it was nearly preschool pick up time and there was no way I was going to make it to preschool. Thankfully Dad saw the funny side of it and came to my rescue! Now, most of the time I’m falling asleep with my book in front of my face at bedtime!
BONUS: Jaxon’s Diet
Of all the things to also notice, Jaxon is eating less sweets now. Cut down/out the trips to the shop while we’re out and Jaxon is having less sweets! He’s had more sweets recently as he’s been to birthday parties and had his own birthday. However, I try to steer him to fruit before the sweets. Also tried to keep treats to meal times once he’s had proper food and at least one piece of fruit.