I keep reading articles about how bad diet soda is for your health.
According to a new study in the Journal of General Internal Medicine, drinking diet soda every day is linked with a higher risk of heart attack and death. Which is unfortunate, because I drink a lot of diet soda. The question is: Why do I drink so much diet soda? And how hard would it be for me to stop?
One theory is that diet soda helps me get through the day, especially at work. I stay up late, and get up earlier than I'd like, so it helps to have some caffeine in my system. And I've never been much of a coffee drinker, although I don't mind coffee and on rare occasions have been known to drink it. I also think work is an activity that becomes more bearable when I have something sweet to imbibe while doing it, and that a periodic trip the vending machine is something to look forward to, especially when I've been writing for a long period of time. But I also drink soda when I'm at home, so I can't blame my addiction solely on working at an office.
Anyway, I am not the only person questioning a bad soda habit. Over at GOOD magazine, Amanda Hess has posted a piece titled "Why I'm Reconsidering My Diet Soda Addiction." She writes:
"For me, diet soda isn't an occasional treat—it's an occupational hazard, one of the few things keeping me from face-planting into my keyboard. It's my version of chain smoking.
It should have been obvious that my excessive consumption of diet soda was not a wholesome choice. But as a press release accompanying the study notes, our 'current climate of escalating obesity rates' tends to reinforce the idea that reduced-calorie options are healthier than their alternatives. I want to believe it's not that bad."
All this blather about the awfulness of diet soda is making me wonder whether I should do something drastic, like give it up for Lent, which starts on Feb. 22. It's weird that I'm considering this, because I don't normally do anything for Lent. But it would be a challenge, and maybe I could write a funny column or two for it, which is always good motivation. There's a part of me that worries that giving up diet soda will be too hard, and that maybe I should do something easier, like give up ice cream sandwiches for Lent, but nobody ever said Lent was supposed to be easy. And if I start planning for it now, I could probably come up with some healthier alternatives to drink - perhaps I'll become dependent on seltzer water.
Anyway, I think I might try this giving up soda for Lent thing. It will be an opportunity to temporarily stop drinking diet soda, and perhaps kick the habit altogether. Can I do it? We'll see.