Sometimes the trick to breaking a bad habit is finding something else that’s equally enjoyable, but not as bad for you. Read how OmahaHa! contributor Jessica did just that in order to kick her Diet Pepsi habit.
I’m willful. I’m stubborn. If I put my mind to it, I can do it. A few years ago, I gave up a pack-a-day, decade-long smoking habit and never looked back. It was hard — really hard — but I did it. More recently, I’ve lost 40 pounds and become more active, strong and physically fit. It was tough and the road ahead is long, but I did it. I’ve eliminated most preservatives and additives, as well as artificial colors, flavors and sweeteners from our pantry, shifting toward minimally processed, naturally-derived, real food. I lament the absence of junk food sometimes, but I did it. And I feel better than I have in years – maybe ever.
I’ve turned over a new leaf and committed to a healthier lifestyle, with one glaring, chemically-laden exception: my addiction to Diet Pepsi. For nearly 20 years, I started my day with an ice-cold can straight out of the refrigerator, cracking it open, filling me up with sweet bubbly diet cola love. One first thing in the morning, a shot of caffeine to get me going, and a couple more to follow, to get through the slumps of the day. But along with each shot of caffeine, I’ve been gulping down aspartame, phosphoric acid, potassium benzoate and acesulfame potassium. Frankly, I don’t know what that $#!% is, and there’s some research out there to suggest it might be rotting my insides. It was time to say goodbye.
Not quite satisfied with the prospect of facing a lifetime of sipping flat, tepid tap water, I sought alternative beverages. First, I needed to find a fun portable beverage, lightly and naturally flavored, and bubbly. An ice-cold can, straight out of the refrigerator. Lo and behold, sparkling just under my nose in the soda aisle, I found seltzer. In nearly every flavor conceivable, seltzer has proven to be a terrific afternoon treat, a fizzy carpool companion, and a beautifully calorie-free cocktail accompaniment, especially when paired with a shot of vodka and a splash of juice.
Then, there was the matter of caffeine replacement. Sure, the option to kick caffeine completely did exist. I could surely endure the withdrawal, cope through the headaches, drag myself through the day, and eventually, one day, be functioning normally, rising gratefully and happily with the sun … oh, who was I kidding?!? I want it! I need it! It’s the very last remaining
addiction vice drug natural, healthy stimulant I’m allowed! So shall I start my day with a steamy cup of joe? Blech. Ick. No. Too bitter, too hot. My thoughts turned to joe’s cold, mild-mannered, sweet cousin, the iced latte.
The ‘net is teeming with home brewed iced latte recipes and techniques, from extensive cold-brewing and straining processes to simply stirring instant coffee granules into sweetened milk. Through much research and experimentation, I emerged jittery and wise, with the perfect iced latte recipe (shared below). Whatever brewing method you pursue, starting with cold, concentrated coffee is key for iced latte success; try it with the warm, fresh-brewed stuff and you’ll end up with a sad, watery mess.
I found using an inexpensive French press to be the best tool for my brew, yielding the richest flavor with consistent results and minimal mess. The French press uses coarse ground coffee — one tablespoon to every cup of hot water — brewed in mere minutes, then plunged and strained as you pour. Make multiple batches at once, then cool and store in the refrigerator for quick assembly later. Best of all, you have a lusciously smooth, decadent drink that clocks in at under 60 calories and is far more delicious than anything you’ll find at the coffee shop.
Doubters are welcome to skip the coffee drive-thru line and swing by for a sample. If I’m wrong, you win an old, neglected 12-pack of Diet Pepsi from the back of my pantry, because though breaking up is hard to do and long-held bad habits are not easily broken, I did it – and I don’t miss it one bit.