Kicking the Can: A Diet Soda Story

It’s Monday morning and here in the Pacific Northwest, our sunny weekend has turned to gray and rainy skies. Countless people are filling up this morning – with coffee.

I do not drink coffee.

Pick your jaw up off the floor, there are a few of us on planet earth. Besides, I never said I did not drink caffeine. In fact, for the last several years, there have been very few days that I have not had at least two or more diet sodas. I rarely drank soda as a teen or young adult. When my children came along only a little over a year apart in age, things started to change.

I was tired, a lot.

Then I started spending time with a girl from church who drank soda. (She also drank a ton of water but I did not pick up on that excellent habit). Fast forward a few more years and I made the switch to diet soda to reduce the calories I was consuming. Another few years and you would have seen me working on my degree, homeschooling and working part time from home. I kept telling myself, “After I finish _____, then I will kick the soda habit.”

I finished my degree in September. We moved across the country in February. After we get settled in…

…but we were still adjusting to the time difference, and house-hunting. Then I learned my mom’s doctor had told her she had to completely stop drinking soda for her health. I started wondering if I could come alongside her (from across the country) and support her by giving up my diet soda habit. At almost the same time, I came across this story from Simple Notebook. I decided the only way for me to give up my addiction was cold turkey.

I woke up the morning of March 9th in our new home and realized it was the beginning of Lent. I was not raised in a church or home that practiced Lent, but over the last few years I have learned more and more about it. I realized this was my opportunity. It was hard to stay accountable to a vague goal to drink less soda, but it was purposeful to make that commitment as a way to increase my prayer time and focus on things God wanted for my life. I committed to giving up all soda for Lent and praying for very specific needs our family had during that time. I am so happy today that I can tell you I accomplished my goal. I am even more excited to share with you what I learned through it.

  1. I drank tea with caffeine a few times the first few days, but quickly reduced it to no more than three servings per week. My mid afternoon slump was gone within a week.
  2. I learned it is very, very hard to eat out without drinking soda or alcohol, unless you are willing to just have water. Part of this is the choices available and part of it was that I had associated many foods with my diet soda habit. I went from about 1-2 servings of water per day to at least 6-8 within two weeks.
  3. I had a habit of reaching for soda at specific times of the da, particularly around 10am and 3pm. It took a full three weeks for me to experience a day where I went past these times without thinking about getting a soda.
  4. I did not just reach for diet soda for caffeine, or even out of habit, but out of stress. I do not want to reach for any kind of chemical because of stress. It took about four weeks for this realization.
  5. I prayed often the first few weeks. Part of my intent of this change during Lent was to increase prayer over specific areas of our life: everyone adjusting to new school and work routines, the sale of our home in PA, finding a church. The further away from the ‘habit’ of soda I got, the less I remembered to pray. This particularly struck me about week five.
  6. I showed my kids that a person can change with a decision, a lot of prayer, and support.

I was not sure by the end if I should give the soda up forever. I mean, there really is nothing redeeming about a glass of water and chemicals, right? In the end, I believe the right choice for me is to treat it like I might a glass of wine: rare, with food and for true enjoyment.

What is one tip you would share for others when giving up a habit? Have you ever experienced a huge blessing during a season of Lent?