After I discovered Diet Coke in 1982, I drank at least three to four 12-ounce cans nearly every day for the next four decades, no matter where in the world I was.
I was the person who avoided certain airlines because they only served Pepsi. Who bought out an entire store’s inventory in New Delhi because she feared she might not encounter another soda in the rest of the country. Who stashed cans in her room when she visited her parents, like an 18-year-old with a bong, except she was in her 40s.
At various times I tried to stop, but I could never deprive myself for longer than a week. As a non-coffee drinker, it was my morning beverage. Kombucha, La Croix, Zevia? Nothing satisfied my cravings. And let’s be clear: Caffeine-free soda is pointless.
Steven Walsh quit smoking 17 years ago. “That was easier than giving up Diet Coke,” said Mr. Walsh, 38, an unemployed furniture mover in Kilkenny, Ireland. He went cold turkey two weeks ago and suffered terrible headaches, along with feeling irritable and tired. “It was very tough,” he said. Aspirin helped the pain, and to occupy his mind he went for long walks and read books.
These are classic signs of addiction, said Ashley Gearhardt, an associate professor in the department of psychology at the University of Michigan and the director of the school’s Food and Addiction Science and Treatment Lab. “People lose control over it. They consume it even though they know they should stop. They’re having compulsive behaviors. They go through withdrawal when it gets removed.”
She added: “If Diet Coke — or any diet soda — was a new pharmaceutical product and we were testing it for whether people are getting addicted to it, we would be very concerned.”
Read the full article at the New York Times.