A Guest Post: Why I’m Kicking the Diet Soda Habit

What follows is a guest post from a long-time friend, Larry A. Mathias. We invited him to write this after seeing him discuss it on Facebook. All our best wishes are with him.

They say “everything in moderation.” I wish I would have followed that sage advice.

Two weeks ago, one of my doctors strongly urged me to completely forego diet soft drinks. For anyone who knows me, they know that was no small request. On average, I’d drink 6-8 24-oz. bottles of Diet Pepsi a day. That started in the late 1970s when I was a late night disc jockey in college, and I didn’t like coffee. Soft drinks with caffeine became my beverage of choice. I’d start as early as 7 a.m. with a Diet Pepsi at breakfast and continue through the end of the day.
Surely, the daily volume of consumption was as much or more damaging than the ingredients.

Larry A. Mathias

Nevertheless, some of the damage had already occurred. In 2001, I had tightness in my chest that felt like a heart attack. After an overnight hospital stay for observation, I was diagnosed with gastroparesis, a condition often connected to diabetics that mirrors acid reflux. The ER doctor prescribed Prevacid, and I’ve been on that drug ever since. On the few occasions that I tried to wean myself off the drug, the acid reflux sensation returned.

Through a series of endoscopes and colonoscopies, it was discovered that I had multiple polyps – albeit all benign – in my stomach. My gastroenterology told me that new research that showed a connection between long-term use of Prevacid and the development of stomach polyps.

Lately, I’ve been experiencing trouble with my teeth and gums. Despite pretty good dental hygiene habits, several teeth are loose and ready to fall out. And of course, it appears that there’s a connection between the acidity in diet soft drinks and the elimination of the enamel in your teeth. I literally melted the bone in my teeth from the acid in the soft drinks. It also depletes the calcium in the body and could increase the risk of heart attacks.

So, for all these reasons, it is finally time for me to quit.

When I announced this to a friend whose wife recently had her own cancer scare, he told me he had seen additional research connecting diet soft drink consumption to cancer. When I got home and Googled it, I found study after study showing that link.

The irony is that two weeks into the soft drink-free journey, I have had little issues with dropping the habits. I experienced a headache after the first 24 hours that I figured was caffeine withdrawal. But since then, it’s been easy.
If I only knew then, what I know now.
Larry A. Mathias


Filed under aging, diet soda, life challenges, men's health

2 responses to “A Guest Post: Why I’m Kicking the Diet Soda Habit

  1. Cherry

    I know this post is a year old already but I’d like a follow-up to Mr. Mathias’ health after he kicked the soda habit. How much weight did he lose? How’s his blood pressure? How’s his energy level? I stopped drinking soda over a year ago and lost 10 pounds. I didn’t drink nearly as much as Mathias did, maybe 1–3 16 oz. bottles a week. But I noticed a difference in my body and health soon after quitting. I think if most Americans cut out this item from their grocery list — soda pop — there wouldn’t be an obesity crisis. Some health guru once said “Never drink your calories.” Wise words to live by!


    • Cherry – Thanks very much for your comment. Glad to hear that you stopped drinking diet soda and that you perceived positive changes in your body and health after quitting. I think you have a good plan there about eliminating this item from U.S. grocery lists. I tried to reach Mr. Mathias for a follow-up, but he said no. Sorry, I wondered if he had been able to keep up his discipline, too.


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