When I was planning my Paleo experiment week last month I had to think carefully about whether I would do it exactly as I would during the year of experiments by avoiding all artificially sweetened beverages, even my favorite diet sodas. That sounds like an almost silly challenge, but I was actually just in the beginning of trying to taper off of the stuff when I was doing the experiment. I was down to, yes down to, 4-6 cans a day. I wasn’t sure if I was going to be able to swing it but I actually kept off of the stuff for the entire experiment and then almost a full week more, until yesterday.
Just as during the experiment there were certain things that would really trigger my craving for Coke Zero. The biggest of them was Chipotle food. Why my brain has associated the two I don’t know, but every time I am finished Chipotle I want to reach out for a can of Zero. Regardless the reason, yesterday I was craving it for all sorts of things. In the morning I was wanting that over anything else, since it used to be my wake-up juice. Thankfully a byproduct of the experiment is I’ve significantly cut back on my caffeine intake as well, so I don’t need wake up juice, but my brain still wanted it yesterday. I instead had tea. Throughout the morning and even after lunch every time I wanted one I would just have another seltzer water or Perrier, thinking that perhaps it was just regular thirst being masked as a craving for this stuff. It never did anything, so in the early afternoon I broke down and had one.
I told myself I’d just have one and will sip it slowly. As I took the first sip I was hoping my brain’s week and a half break would have had some successful rewiring. It’s sort of like the former smoker that can’t stand cigarette smoke, or the former diabetic who can’t stand sweets. Over time your brain adapts around new sets of stimuli and these old triggers go away. I wasn’t expecting a full on transformation, but you’d think even a little. Maybe I’d find it to be too sweet, but I was really expecting to taste how chemically it was. That’s what it was like when I try to drink regular diet soda after becoming a full on Coke/Sprite Zero addict. I never realized how awful the other ones tasted.
Unfortunately that’s not how it played out. Even eleven days out from my last one the first sip was absolutely delightful. No chemical flavors, in fact it was a very crisp and not too sweet cola flavor. No artificial sweetener aftertaste like most diet sodas have. My sipping lasted for all of two minutes. Believe it or not, that’s probably longer that it would normally take to polish off one of those before. The idea of savoring it just wasn’t happening over a good 20-30 minutes like I had hoped, nor did the adverse taste. Being somewhat weened off of that and caffeine however I did notice I was feeling slightly off after having some. Maybe my body was adjusting after all! It wouldn’t have normally been enough for me to avoid yet another right afterward, which did cross my mind, or rationalize why I should have one at dinner even though it’d probably jack up my sleep.
I didn’t however. I just had the one. I didn’t wake up with any more appreciable cravings, but I haven’t had any Chipotle yet today either. I’m going to try to go at least another 11 days before I have another. With a road trip this weekend, yet another trigger, I’m going to have to plan ahead on how to avoid succumbing to not just one can but a binge.