When I was 12 years old, I had stomach problems. When my mother took me to the doctor, we found out that I was drinking too much Coke and the doc said I was on the verge of developing an ulcer. Naturally, my mother cut back (not out) my Coke consumption which lasted about two weeks. After that, my previous love affair with my brown, fizzy, master, continued. I wasn't drinking as much Coke as I had been, but I still was taking in a lot of Coke.
The affair continued for years, unabated, until last year when I turned 35 and was diagnosed with Diabetes. That meant no more sugary drinks or foods and I had to find a substitute for my first liquid love. Thankfully, all sorts of diet drinks waited in the wings, all calling my name and offering me different and exciting taste possibilities. Most, if not all of the drinks I was interested in, were not sweetened with sugar but with a sugar substitute called Aspartame (also sold as Equal and NutriSweet and contained in almost 6.000 foods and also marketed under the new name AminoSweet as of 2007). Aspartame promised me a solution I could live with: I didn't have to live a sweetless life and I could take care of my Diabetes at the same time.
Then, I began doing research and what I found scared me. I started by watching the film Aspartame: Sweet Misery, A Poisoned World which discusses the dangers of the chemical and the back room deals that were done to get it approved in the 1970's. I also spent a lot of time on Google looking at both sides of what turned out to be a huge controversy: is Aspartame safe or not? It turns out it probably isn't.
So last year, I decided to give up diet drinks completely and cut what I believed to be a deadly poison from my body. Even while thinking that Aspartame might be responsible for everything from my eyesight problems to my Diabetes, I only lasted two weeks and went back to drinking diet, Aspartame laden, soft drinks. I slowly came to realize I was truly addicted.
So here we are at the end of 2010 and I'm once again resolving to rid my life of this horrible chemical. But this time, I'm doing it sensibly. Instead of cutting all soft drinks from my diet, I'm simply going to remove the ones that contain Aspartame. I'm probably addicted to multiple chemicals in these drinks so slowly coming off of them while eliminating their most dangerous chemical sounds like a good idea. I'm starting to wean myself from soft drinks by doing two things:
1) I'm reducing the total amount of soft drinks I consume a day dramatically. On average, I was drinking about six liters of diet drinks a day. I'm immediately reducing that to only two.
2). I'm totally eliminating Aspartame from the drinks I buy. Tonight, that meant buying a 2 liter of Diet RC Cola. It doesn't have Aspartame and taste pretty damn good at the same time.
The two points above are my starting point. My goal is to completely eliminate soft drinks from my diet within 3 months, replacing them with natural, healthy, water. No doubt, this new road is going to be hard. Not only will I be battling several simultaneous addictions, but I'm also giving up something I truly enjoy. But I'm determined to live a healthier, more natural life, as well as lose some weight and this is the first step in that direction.
So this is Day One. The first step. I'm ready for this. I'm also worried about how hard it might be. In the end though, I have absolutely no doubt it will be worthwhile. My health is worth the sacrifice.
I'll keep you all posted.