Mindful Mama

Is Diet Coke (or Artificial Sweeteners) Bad for You? You’re Asking the Wrong Question

Picture of ice cold Diet Coke can. Many people wonder if Diet Coke is bad for you because of the artificial sweeteners and other ingredients. Giving up Diet Coke has helped me eat cleaner.

This post isn’t actually about whether or not Diet Coke, diet soda and other artificial sweetener laden drinks and food are bad for you – I mean of course they probably are but what isn’t “bad” for us these days? Besides that’s boring and useless if you haven’t been motivated already to give up Diet Coke and artificial sweeteners because of the fear they may be bad.

Also, I’m sick of having to think about what is “bad” or “toxic”. I find I’m most motivated when I find that if I give up something, I will get something far greater in return. For example, are added fragrances in cosmetics bad for me? Probably. But I’m more motivated that without extra scents in my life I’m less stressed and irritated.

My last Diet Coke was in August 2015. Yes, my last sip of Diet Coke was over a year and a half ago. I had quit before for about 6 months about 4 years prior, and I was clinging to the memory of how good I felt when I did. I was also acknowledging that the enjoyment I got out of a Diet Coke was very fleeting – that first sip or 2 of a cold can of Diet Coke was amazing, but then after that, I brought nothing good to my life. Truth be told, it was an email from my friend and health motivator Erika that reminded me that for me in particular, the artificial sweetener in Diet Coke was not good at all for my insulin issues. So that day in mid-August, I had my last sip. 

Don’t ask yourself “Is Diet Coke bad for me?” “Are artificial sweeteners harmful for me?”

You should truly ask yourself: “Do I want to feel better by eating cleaner foods? Do I want to make clean eating easier? Do I want to end a cravings roller-coaster? Do I want to have less annoying bloating and digestion issues?”

The thing with Diet Coke was, I wouldn’t just have a Diet Coke. At my height I was only having less than 1 Diet Coke a day. Always around 2pm. The Diet Coke was so sweet that afterwards I needed something salty. But REALLY salty. So often I would reach for Sunchips or Snap Pea crisps in the work snack bin. But then that would be too salty so I needed something sweet. So then I’d go for a “few” Peanut M&Ms because it had the peanuts for protein right? Get the picture? It was an endless cycle. Diet Coke was really my gateway to stress eating and processed foods. I ate much cleaner outside of that Diet Coke window. 

If you want to more easily eat cleaner and eat less processed foods, it’s simple: Put down the Diet Coke. Resist the Diet Dr. Pepper. Say no to Crystal Light or “sugar free” treats and drinks.

Notice I said “simple“, not “easy”. 

The hardest part for me was breaking my Diet Coke habit. I did stop craving them….11 months later. That’s how powerful artificial sweetener is. It took 11 full months for me to not want a Diet Coke most hours of the day (when I was previously only having maybe 4 oz a day). It took 11 full months for me to not perk up and salivate every time I heard the click of someone opening a soda can at work every day.

Eating cleaner by avoiding Diet Coke actually was the easy part!

In my personal experience, removing artificial sweeteners like aspartame, Splenda and even “natural” sweeteners like Stevia and xylitol have transformed my taste buds and make eating more vegetables and less processed foods a piece of cake. The super sweetness of Diet Coke and other sugar free foods and drinks had warped my sense of sweet and salty

What Life is Like Post-Diet Coke

  • It’s so much easier to eat cleanly and I eat way less processed foods. And the less I eat processed foods, the less I want them.
    • If i do eat processed foods or artificial sweeteners, my stomach makes me immediately regret it 🙂
    • Processed foods have so much crap in them like additives, flavors, colors etc that smell. The scent of M&M’s bothers me now. A coworker let me try some tea she had, but I couldn’t even handle the scent of the “natural” flavors. 
    • Processed foods tastes way too sweet or to salty now that my taste buds aren’t confused by the hyper-sweet taste of Diet Coke. And the sodium is too much to handle!


  • My cravings for sugar have diminished greatly…..and the sweetness of a date is about all I can handle (well except for if Sweettarts are in the vicinity, then we have a problem 🙂 ) Actually my craving for super salty things has improved significantly too. My food desires are much more balanced.


  • I eat whatever I want. Because I mostly only want good things. Which makes my life much easier because I do have to consider timing, portion control, carbs and calories to an extent. But I can trust what my body tells me it wants. 


  • In my Diet Coke free world, a grape is too sweet. Honey is too sweet. Agave is waaay to sweet. Processed foods taste too weird and overly salt or overly sweet so I don’t crave them often (most days 🙂 ). I rarely want the crunchy snap peas in our work kitchen whereas before I really needed them or chips to balance me out after having Diet Coke at 2:30pm. But then of course I had to have a few peanut m&ms to balance the chips or crunch peas out etc etc.




How can you make the Diet Coke free transition easier?

  • Try sparkling water. I realized part of what I missed about diet coke was the fizzyness so I started drinking more sparkling water and La Croix. 
  • Stay hydrated – spiking my regular water with coconut water helps me.
  • Eat a lower carb breakfast to keep your cortisol higher in the morning so you are more alert and need less or no caffeine. This will also help control your stress response throughout the day. 
  • If you just have to have caffeine, try a nice organic mango black tea
  • Every now and then I allow myself to have a few sips of my husband’s regular Coca-Cola. Yep. I’d rather give my body a little bit of processed high fructose corn syrup than artificial sweeteners (but we try to get him the Coca-Cola with actual sugar when we can).

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