Photo credit: Flickr/Jessica Keating Photography
How much Diet Coke is too much? Certainly however much makes you hallucinate, as a British woman allegedly did after she began guzzling 50 cans of the stuff a day.
"I see strange things like oranges flying across the room," Jakki Ballan told the Daily Mail. “I dread to think what my insides look like.”
So do we. Studies have shown that drinking Diet Coke in mass quantities is harmful (as “massive quantities” of anything might be; “moderation in all things,” quipped Oscar Wilde, “including moderation.”) Last year, a study suggested that diet soft drinks might be “connected to higher likelihood of heart disease, stroke, diabetes, metabolic syndrome and high blood pressure, in addition to contributing to weight gain.”
Ballan said she suffers from headaches, and doctors have warned her that the phosphoric acid in the drink could damage her bones.
All I can say is: been there. Although I can’t claim the same impressive stats as Ballan, during my undergraduate studies I’d regularly imbibe 10 cans a day—and that’s not counting the extra ones I’d drink the night before a big midterm.
I can only attribute my Diet Coke habit to a student’s sleep-deprived addiction to caffeine and a tendency to procrastinate. I didn’t drink coffee, and tea didn’t quite cut it.
Although I never hallucinated flying produce, as Ballan does, I did experience headaches and felt generally awful. One night, after consuming a six-pack entirely by myself, my head throbbed and my heart felt like it was racing. It’s tough to say whether it was the Diet Coke or the lack of sleep (or four years of cafeteria food), but I suspect all were to blame.
Of course, drinking too much regular Coke is dangerous, too. Last year, a coroner ruled that a New Zealand woman died from drinking too much of the fizzy beverage. But whereas overconsumption of “regular” soft drinks frequently comes under the gun, diet drinks often fly under the radar.
After I graduated and said goodbye to all-night cram sessions, I drank Diet Coke less frequently. These days, I might consume only a can or two a week. (Old habits die hard.) But I can report with confidence that I feel all the better for it.
Here’s hoping one day Jakki Ballan will share that sentiment.