I used to be a diet soda addict. I was also a longtime Sweet n’ Low enthusiast. I credit gum-chewing (a habit I’ve yet to break) and diet soda-drinking for keeping me from taking up smoking in college or turning to mindless eating at my desk. As someone who writes a lot, I’m no stranger to long hours logged in front of a computer screen, and like most people with an oral fixation (there has got to be a better term), I just need something to keep my mouth busy.

For years, I thought nothing of downing multiple cans of artificially-sweetened drinks in a day. The turning point came when I was working for an acupuncturist who specialized in women’s health. Learning about Chinese medicine and the role of nutrition in overall wellness got me thinking about the mind-body connection in a meaningful way. When I took a look at what I was feeding myself, I found I had a lot of good habits but was eating way too many sugar-free, chemical-ridden products that probably weren’t going to do my any favors in the long run.

Cutting back was easier than I thought. Instead of purchasing two-liter bottles of diet coke and diet gingerale every week, I bought seltzer. Slowly but surely, I began to lose my taste for diet soda. I also noticed that in general, my sweet tooth mellowed out a lot. I had never been known to call anything too sweet, but after a few months of gradually stepping it down, my taste buds became super-sensitive to sweetness. I started preferring unsweetened soy milk and used less and less Splenda and Stevia in my oatmeal and yogurt. At this point, I can’t remember the last time I used any.

Last summer, when I found a forgotten William Sonoma gift certificate in my desk drawer, Chris and I decided to get a seltzer maker, figuring that it would pay for itself within a year (it has). We reasoned it would also be better for the environment, as it came with reusable glass bottles. Also a plus: no more lugging heavy bottles home from the grocery store!

We bought the SodaStream Penguin. It’s so easy to use.

You insert a CO2 cartridge  in the back, which carbonates the water. I’ve seen syrups for sale to make your own soda and whatnot, but it’s so good as it is, I can’t imagine wanting anything else. It takes all of a minute to make, and tastes fantastic.

While I still drink diet soda every few months, it’s one can or glass at a time, and I enjoy it rather than beat myself up about it. A few times a year is a big change from a few times a day.

Do you have a seltzer maker? What are your thoughts on diet soda? 

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