diet sodaDo you ever look at those people in the supermarket with a cart full of soda and wonder if they're throwing a party or if they're really going to drink all of that? That used to be me. It was diet soda, but still, every week I'd pull up to the register with some 10 to 12 bottles of soda in my cart. I was a diet soda addict and caffeine addict, all in one little 5'4" body.

Yes, you can be addicted to diet soda, and I'm living proof. At one point I was drinking two a day. Two liters a day, that is. I did the math once, and that's about 193 gallons of diet soda a year.

I know!! Now that I don't drink any soda at all, I look at that number, and it makes me slightly sick.

If that doesn't prove people can be addicted to soda, how about this? For years (yes, this went on for years), I couldn't function without drinking that much. I would get headaches. I would get slightly desperate if I saw our soda stock was running low.

And all for some brown-colored caramel with bubbles. And the caffeine, of course. The wonderful, wake me up and help me function caffeine.

For years, I denied it was a problem. My favorite saying was, "Well, something's going to kill me. It might as well be something I enjoy."

Which makes the fact that I finally kicked the diet soda habit somewhat shocking. At least it is to people who know me. I've run into more than a few in the months since I cut out the carbonated beverage who did a double take when I broke the news.

So how did I do it?

Maybe the bigger question is why. Since I gave birth to my daughter seven years ago, I've had issues with acid reflux (long story, but take a bulimic, add a pregnancy condition known as hyperemisis gravidarum, and you've got a ravaged esophagus). But this past summer, the medicine for it suddenly stopped working.

No matter what I ate or how much I slept or how much medicine I popped, the awful pain wouldn't go away. I was desperate -- about as desperate as I used to be when I was in need of a diet soda fix.

So when I read that caffeinated products could cause heartburn, I didn't care anymore. I was DESPERATE.

So I stopped. Just like that. I didn't even switch to caffeine-free soda (I'd tried that in the past, but like a smoker thinking light cigarettes will help wean them off, it didn't help). I just went cold turkey. And yes, it sucked. I had awful withdrawal headaches, and I wanted to sleep for days.

I knew I had to slake my constant thirst, so I started making seltzer with my at-home SodaStream (there's something about buying water that just bothers my frugal sensibilities). It helped significantly -- both the action of drinking the way I always had and the fact that I had something bubbly so it was at least somewhat similar to what I had before.

In a few days, the headaches disappeared, along with the fatigue. I've kept it that way. I haven't replaced it with coffee or Red Bull or some other stimulant. The heartburn is gone. I'm sleeping better. And to add to all the health benefits, I'm not spending all that money on diet soda every week. You never realize quite how much you were spending until you quit!

How much soda do you drink? Have you ever really done the math?