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Aspartame Withdrawal Symptoms: List Of Possibilities

Aspartame is an artificial sweetener (non-saccharide) that is often used as a substitute for sugar in drinks such as diet sodas as well as foods like chewing gum. Aspartame was first created under the name NutraSweet in 1965 and is made up of three specific elements: phenylalanine, aspartic acid, and methanol. There is much controversy surrounding its use in food products since being approved by the FDA in 1981. It has been reevaluated multiple times and 2013 research suggests that consumption of the sweetener at current levels is safe for humans.

Due to its breakdown that includes phenylalanine, aspartame should not be consumed by individuals that have been diagnosed with PKU (phenylketonuria). A majority of people consume aspartame in large amounts when they drink diet soda. Some researchers suggest that aspartame can actually be an addictive additive, which tends to result in withdrawal symptoms when a person discontinues consumption. Chemically speaking, it is believed that aspartame has addictive properties because it affects the neurotransmitter dopamine in the brain.

When withdrawing from aspartame, people often report an array of different withdrawal effects. Many individuals though who withdraw from drinking diet soda end up dealing with caffeine withdrawal symptoms, which can have some similar effects to the discontinuation from aspartame. In fact, many people going through “withdrawal” from caffinated beverages are more likely dealing with the caffeine withdrawal as it has a greater effect on our level of arousal and cognition. That being said, there is some evidence that cutting aspartame consumption can also lead to withdrawal symptoms.

Factors that influence Aspartame withdrawal

Aspartame itself can have an effect on the way the brain is functioning, therefore when it is discontinued, people may experience withdrawal symptoms. These withdrawal symptoms are usually influenced by the time span over which aspartame was consumed, amount consumed on a daily basis, individual psychology, and whether you taper off of it or quit cold turkey.

1. Time Span

How long have you been consuming aspartame? People who have been polishing off 6 cans of diet soda per day for years are likely consuming a pretty high amount of aspartame. The longer the time over which you have been consistently consuming this additive, the more severe the withdrawal process will likely be compared to someone who randomly has a can of soda.

2. Daily Consumption (Amount)

In the average carbonated beverage, there is 180 mg of aspartame. If you drink several of these per day, your aspartame consumption is likely pretty high. In a powdered soft drink there is approximately 120 mg of aspartame, while in a stick of gum, there is only 6 to 8 mg per stick. It is thought that if you consume a lot of aspartame on a daily basis, you may experience more significant withdrawals than someone who consumes a very low amount.

3. Individual Physiology

Much of the withdrawal experience will be based on individual circumstances. Some people will naturally have a more difficult time coping with the cravings that they experience when withdrawing. People who have consumed large quantities of aspartame for an extended period of time may have a tougher time with the withdrawal.

It should also be noted that some people tend to have nervous systems that recover at quicker rates than others. If you are on any other drugs, it may affect your ability to notice a withdrawal and/or minimize symptoms.

4. Cold Turkey vs. Tapering

Most people do not bother tapering off of aspartame – they just quit “cold turkey.” Compared to other drugs, this is not something that necessarily needs to be tapered off of. However, most of the time when people gradually taper off of a drug or something that is having an influence on their physiology, tapering results in less withdrawal effects. You could conduct a gradual taper if you think it will help or if you cannot handle quitting cold turkey.

Aspartame Withdrawal Symptoms: List of Possibilities

Below are a list of possible symptoms that you may experience during withdrawal from aspartame. Keep in mind that compared to serious drugs, these symptoms are likely not going to be nearly as intense or severe. Aspartame is known to have an effect on the brain’s pleasure center – specifically influencing dopamine. It is thought that when this dopamine influence is initially removed, a person may experience some sort of discontinuation symptoms.

  • Anxiety: One symptom that people may notice in a subtle way is some anxiety. Aspartame can have an influence on moods and affect anxiety levels in sensitive individuals. In various self-accounts, people have noted excessive anxiety when she stopped drinking her powdered aspartame drinks.
  • Appetite changes: In some individuals, aspartame can subtly increase appetite and cravings for junk food. In other people, it may reduce appetite. When you stop your consumption, do not be surprised if your appetite changes.
  • Concentration: Many individuals report that they feel mentally foggy for a short term during withdrawal. However, eventually many have reported experiencing increases in concentration and less deficits in attention and hyperactivity.
  • Cravings: Perhaps the most common symptom to experience is that of cravings. Anything that has an influence on dopamine in the brain can lead a person to crave more of the substance. Be mindful of any cravings that you have during your withdrawal.
  • Depression: When people aren’t getting their fix of aspartame and withdraw, they can sometimes end up with a low-grade, mild depression. Keep in mind that this isn’t going to be the case for everyone, but stopping it may result in a temporary mood dip.
  • Dizziness: If you experience dizziness when you stop drinking diet soda, it may be more due to the caffeine withdrawal than that of aspartame. However, some individuals have reported experiencing minor dizziness when they quit aspartame.
  • Fatigue: Aspartame may have an influence on your energy levels and excitation in the brain. When you stop consuming it, you may become temporarily lethargic or notice that your energy levels are low.
  • Headaches: Another commonly reported symptom during withdrawal is that of headaches. Some have gone on to say that they’ve experienced painful migraines as they’ve come off of aspartame. Stay hydrated, rest, and consider headache relief medicine if your headaches are severe.
  • Heart palpitations: With increased anxiety during withdrawal can sometimes lead to palpitations or sensations of abnormally loud or racing heart beat. These should subside as soon as your anxiety diminishes.
  • Insomnia: Do you notice that you cannot fall asleep at night now since cutting aspartame? This is something that may affect you in the initial few weeks of quitting. Your sleep cycle should recover and your arousal should drop.
  • Joint pain: Some people have noted joint pain when they quit using aspartame. You may also note some degree of muscle weakness and/or body aches.
  • Lightheadedness: There is no specific reason for feeling “lightheaded” when quitting aspartame, but it is a symptom that some people experience. Ironically some people actually get this symptom when they drink aspartame as well.
  • Mood swings: As was mentioned, you may experience both anxiety and depression during withdrawal. These alone can lead a person to have mood swings during the acute phases of withdrawal (i.e. first couple weeks).
  • Panic attacks: This isn’t really a common symptom, but some individuals have noticed that when they withdraw from consumption of aspartame, they experience significant anxiety and panic. If you notice yourself becoming panicky, take the time to realize that it’s likely due to your withdrawal. Practice some deep breathing and relaxation techniques to help calm your nervous system.
  • Restlessness: Certain people may notice that they feel especially restless for the first week or two after they cut aspartame. This may have to do with aspartame consumption actually keeping an individual calm. When the aspartame is cut, it may make a person temporarily restless until their brain gets used to not having the additive.
  • Sleep changes: If your sleep cycle changes, it could be due to the aspartame withdrawal. If you are also cutting caffeine, it is more likely due to the caffeine than the aspartame. Any changes in sleep patterns should subside in a week or two.
  • Weight changes: It has been noted that aspartame can influence food cravings and hunger. Some people may lose weight when they come off of aspartame. Others may experience more normal cravings for food if aspartame acted as an appetite suppressant.

Aspartame Withdrawal Duration: How long does it last?

There is no predictable duration for withdrawal symptoms from aspartame. Some people have reported feeling completely recovered within one week. Others have reported that it took up to a full month for them to feel psychologically recovered with normal energy levels. In any event, the withdrawal will likely not last more than a month as this is not some serious psychiatric drug – it is merely a food additive.

Additionally, I would not be surprised if people find that they don’t notice any withdrawal from cutting aspartame. In most cases, what diet soda drinkers are referencing as “aspartame withdrawal” is actually caffeine withdrawal. In any event, it is recommended to make sure your nutrition is balanced, that you are getting adequate exercise, and are allowing your body to get some extra rest during withdrawal.

Eventually your body’s blood sugar levels and energy stores should normalize and avoid excess sugar as people have also experienced sugar withdrawal symptoms. Additionally your neurotransmission in the brain should reset and transition to functioning without the influence of aspartame. During aspartame withdrawal it is recommended to avoid all artificial sweeteners. If you end up having strong cravings, choose some sort of natural sweetener or avoid all sweeteners if you can.

Have you successfully withdrawn from aspartame consumption? If so, feel free to share your experience in the comments section below. What did you experience when you initially cut aspartame from your diet? How long was your withdrawal process? Do you feel healthier overall or did you not really notice much of any change?

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{ 190 comments… add one }
  • Shane April 13, 2018, 3:58 pm

    Truth. I battled lightheadedness, vision problems, suicidal thoughts (in the beginning) and overall lower quality of life for 9months. After many doctor tests, ENT tests, hospital visits, and being cleared on everything, doctors were stumped.

    Bottom line: Figured out due to Aspartame in my diet sodas, I was getting Vestibular Migraines. Painless migraines that were giving me lightheadedness, loss of concentration, vision problems, anxiety, and light sensitivity.

    Main trigger of this type of migraine is Aspartame. I quit drinking diet soda, and within 1 day felt better, clearer thinking, and am living life again.

  • Arletta March 20, 2018, 4:46 am

    I can honestly say that I know the gut pains, nausea, migraine headache, skin eruptions, phlegm production, swollen feet, etc. that I have experienced in the last few days is not from caffeine withdrawal. Yes, I can say that, even though I have also quit drinking coffee at the same time. How can I say that?

    Well, I’ve quit drinking coffee before and I’ve quit drinking diet sodas before, separately and together. And, while caffeine will give me a bit of a headache when I quit, if I have been drinking several cups of coffee a day for many weeks in a row:

    1) I wasn’t drinking coffee or diet soda in those sort of quantities lately.

    2) Stopping drinking coffee has never screwed up my blood sugar levels to where I felt like I needed a constant influx of snack sized foods because I don’t use sugar with my coffee or any sort of aspartame product either.

    I just know the difference between what I felt like stopping coffee, cold turkey, when I was used to drink a lot of it – and what I felt like stopping diet sodas after tapering down for an extended period of time and finally just letting it go.

    And, even with the tapering process, I got severely ill in exactly the same manner as I have most recently; but, due to the tapering I was ill for a long time, but, of a lesser degree… followed by a pretty bad illness, but, not quite as bad as this time has been.

    Coffee, if I taper off of it or am only drinking one (or less) cups, every day or less, I can simply walk away from it and the only symptom that I get is missing the taste of coffee.

  • Debbie March 5, 2018, 7:15 pm

    I’m 61 and have been drinking a lot of diet dr. pepper for years. 6 20oz bottles a day. I have been off of it for almost 3 weeks this coming Wed. I have been drinking a lot of ice tea. Trying to get water in. Tea has to be better then the pop.

    I have arthritis really bad knees, but I don’t know what’s going on. ☹️ My whole body has been aching from top to bottom. Even my fingers and thumbs ache. No headaches. Just muscle and joint pain. Had my dr. appointment last Thurs. and was telling him, but he really didn’t say much.

    Take 2 Tylenol. Twice in a store I have felt like my legs were going to go out. Is this from withdrawal? Almost tempted to start drinking the diet pop again. I added cream of wheat made with flaxseed and ricotta cheese for breakfast instead of the normal 2 – 20 oz bottles of diet pop the I had for breakfast.

    I don’t miss having it. Just don’t like all the achiness that I have been having. Any help or comments would greatly be appreciated…thank you.

    • Arletta March 20, 2018, 4:27 am

      It may help you to know that when I give up something bad for me, I find that I get joint aches; but, I have found that this is due to the joints changing for the better. It hurts just like they are getting worse, but, over time, I notice they are looser and smaller and less hot.

      So, this may be the case with you. It is so much easier to put up with pain if you know it is part of the healing process. So, keep your eyes and mind open and see if that is what it is.

  • Raskolnikov's Trousers March 1, 2018, 6:53 pm

    I’ve been reading these comments with a mixture of horror and anger. I mean, look at some of the symptoms we’re experiencing after giving up a so-called soft drink. We’re not talking heroin here, folks; we’re talking a fizzy drink marketed as something that will give you energy, maybe even make you kinda, well, sexy. But we all know the truth, don’t we?

    Diet Coke and other diet drinks are poison!! A cocktail of nasty, corrosive chemicals that destroy the mind and body, and turn you into a junkie. After c10 years of guzzling two liters of the filthy muck every day, I have finally quit. And guess what? I feel like a new man! My skin feels soft and clear, I sleep like a baby and all anxiety is gone. I will never touch it again!

    • Arletta March 20, 2018, 4:35 am

      I wonder, how long has it been for you? I am on my 4th day, I guess. It wasn’t even intentional. I think on Thursday morning I drank a can of diet soda, but, it might have been Wednesday morning. Then, later, definitely on Thursday, I went to the store to get some things and one of them was definitely going to be a diet soda, but, I just didn’t do it.

      I got a Sparkling Seltzer Water instead. Friday I was pretty tired Saturday I was craving things like mad and tired and a little headachy. Sunday, I felt so bad I was afraid I was going to keep living. Of course, I had also quit drinking coffee right around the same time and duration. But, I know most of it was from the diet soda.

      Anyway, I am still swelling up oddly, tired but can’t sleep, headachy, feverish, but, not as bad as I was. My skin wants to break out and does a bit, but, it also does feel better.

      All that really makes me wonder how long its been for you since you quit. Because, I sure don’t feel like someone who can celebrate yet. It would jostle my head and stiff neck to try!

  • addicted to Everyhing February 22, 2018, 3:00 am

    Used to drink 40 cups of coffee a day. Discovered I had ADHD. Stopped coffee. Began sipping diet, caffeinated pop. Sipping quickly (about 10 minutes) became drinking several 2 liter bottles a day. 2 years ago stopped the caffeinated soda. Withdrawal not fun, fairly intense for a few minutes for a few days. Kept drinking pop, non-caffeinated, diet, several two liters a day. Stopped about 3 weeks ago.

    Cravings for sweets have startled me. Didn’t realize I was having them while consuming diet soda, see, because I would satisfy them before they became full blown. Thought it was simply wanting a little something sweet occasionally. (I’ve never wanted anything that felt good “a little”. Not ever.)

    Was not expecting any withdrawal from diet pop, but for me it is real and not a lot of joy involved. Drinking cold, fresh water eliminates my cravings for something sweet immediately. Bizzaro world, baby. (WW III says she can hear me walk down the hallway now. Says I sound like a water-logged elephant swishing side to side. A little crazy but hey. Not expensive, not fattening. Deadly? Maybe, but gotta go somehow.)

    • Gerry April 16, 2018, 5:44 pm

      40 cups of coffee a day!!

  • Angie February 22, 2018, 1:24 am

    I am a 47 year old woman who is 5 weeks into spontaneously ending a 20 year love affair with Diet Coke. The first week I could move better and lost 9 pounds. Now, I find myself wanting more and more food. Being diabetic, that isn’t good. I’ve really pushed the salads but then 2 hours later I want junk.

    Now I’m experiencing joint pain… hips, ankles, wrists, hands, knees. I am being tested for arthritis and a pinched nerve in my back… but I’m really not set on either of those.I know in my heart this was a good move for me. I just hope this mess ends soon. And the fatigue…OMG.

    • Michelle February 22, 2018, 3:34 pm

      Hi Angie. We have parallel lives! I’m 46 and 43 years with type 1 diabetes. Same as you I’ve been drinking Diet Coke consistently for 25 years. I am quitting Diet Coke as of today! The more I read, the scarier it gets! It has been my muse.

      I get up in the morning at 7 am and that’s the first thing I reach for. All day, all hours of the night, my cup is filled. I’ve been totally addicted for so long I don’t know how I’ll live without. I’m just feeling so lousy lately that I don’t know what else to do. Any advice would be greatly appreciated!

  • Colin Thirsk March 22, 2017, 4:17 pm

    I have been experiencing terrible headaches, neck pain, depression type symptoms amongst other things and by chance a came across a thread about Aspartame. I take a sweetener in my Tea and Coffee, about 6/7 times a day, I also chew gum, maybe 3 or 4 sticks a day. I’ve now stopped taking both (today) and will very interested to see the results.

    My doctor is struggling to understand the problem. He’s put me on low dose antidepressants but these are next to useless. His next option was a CT scan! If this cures my symptoms, I’ll be back to him to tell him the perils of Aspartame.

  • Joe March 17, 2017, 1:53 am

    Seven days without diet soda. I used to drink 3-6 cans per day. I still drink black coffee. I have been sleeping more now that I consume less caffeine (no more diet soda). No headaches. Craving sweets! Saying no, but it’s difficult. So far, I have noticed zero positive effects of quitting diet soda.

    Less burping, I guess. No weight loss. Thirsty. Have to drink more water now. Seriously disappointed so far. Artificial sweetener hysteria seems to be nothing more than just that, hysteria.

    • Rob March 21, 2017, 12:29 am

      Yeah, I hear you. I’m disappointed myself, but at the same time, I do feel better mentally skipping the artificial sweeteners. I drink a lot of water also, but unlike you, I don’t feel as thirsty all day, and water is a hell of a lot cheaper than soda. I was drinking anywhere from 3 to 6 cans of diet coke a day.

      Now I drink 4 to 5 20oz bottles of water, I shouldn’t drink soda at all, but I like to have something else with dinner, so I usually get Vernors or Canada Dry ginger ale, but a 12 pack every 12 days is better than a 12 pack ever 2 days. I do sleep a little better, but with my health issues, one being sleep apnea, doctors said “You’ll drop weight pretty fast once you get your sleep patterns regulated”…

      Nope, dropped nothing. Doctors and health articles “diet sodas hurt weight loss, stop diet sodas and you’ll lose weight faster”… nothing yet and it’s been over a month. I’m not going back though, I don’t miss the bloated feeling and the sodium in the pop isn’t good either.

  • Rob March 7, 2017, 3:49 pm

    I had an acute UTI…scared the hell out of me. I grew up on diet soda. I’m 43 and I quit drinking diet soda 3 weeks ago, and now my only daily caffeine is the 2 – 16oz cups of coffee in the morning, and absolutely no artificial sweeteners. I’ll have a 12 oz can of Canada Dry with dinner.

    I had the withdrawal headaches for 2 days, and I think think I’m still feeling the fatigue, but my other health issues and medications often give me that feeling, so I’m not sure. I’m hoping that quitting the diet soda will help get my system functioning properly and help make weight loss a bit easier. I have no change in appetite, or cravings for snacks or carbs, which is good.

    Keep your fingers crossed… this is something I did because I felt it was time, and I’m running out of options as my weight doesn’t budge, and I only eat twice a day. Metoprolol after a TIA in 2003 packed on over 150 pounds, was on the med for 5 years per doctor. I couldn’t even get my pulse rate up.

    It was awful and the weight caused all sorts of other issues. Been off that for 6 years now, and still having the weight issues, and now I have back problems which affect my ability to do cardio exercise. It’s frustrating.

  • Carlos January 18, 2017, 2:19 pm

    I also am overweight and wanted to lose some weight and started drinking Diet Coke and using splenda, over 20 years ago and have tried to quit and always find myself going back to drinking Diet Coke and using splenda. I recently have tried to give it up for good and I am having the worst anxiety, depression, dizziness, lightheadedness, etc. and with all that I come to realize why do they let them sell that poison to our kids and to us.

    It’s truly a poison and we ingest it like there is nothing wrong with it. And when we try to stop and have all these harmful side effects, we try to put one and one together. And I’ve come to realize that I have no one to blame but myself for being naive and thinking “oh no not me,” but let me tell you, it has hit me hard.

    I’m trying my best to not go back again, but I can’t stop thinking that if I just have a couple cans of Diet Coke, all this will go away. But what is that curing? Absolutely nothing, so I have to be strong for my family and myself and try my best to stay away for my health.

    • Jcotarelo April 13, 2018, 10:16 pm

      Wow I too am experiencing such severe psychological symptoms I’ve started drinking some non caffeinated soda. I stopped because of Afib, cold turkey, but the withdrawal is kicking my behind. I’m glad I read these comments, I really thought these drinks were harmless.

  • Laura Smart January 8, 2017, 10:58 pm

    Wow, thanks to everyone who has commented, I’ve been astonished reading your stories. I’m a 39 yr old female from the UK who has been saying for 3-4 years that I always feel ill, numerous tests, nothing makes sense. I drink diet coke / cherry Pepsi Max every day, maybe 2 litres +, every day, and have done for maybe 15 yrs.

    I have constant pain, sinus infections, back pain, shoulder pain, brain fog, fatigue, you name it. In the last week I’ve started to have palpitations and have an ECG booked for tomorrow. I strongly suspect this is aspartame related and will go cold turkey from this moment onwards. Fingers crossed! Good luck to you all! X

  • Annie January 5, 2017, 8:45 pm

    I’m day 5 of cold turkey – I drank about 2 litres of Diet Coke a day – surprisingly my only withdrawal symptom has been EXTREME tiredness and I mean EXTREME. Day one in the night I slept for 11 hours (I’m normally 7 hours a night max) then day 4 I had a day off work and slept all afternoon and couldn’t function like I was in a daze but today I feel a lot better.

    I’m almost sad to say goodbye to it – I’ve had the obsession for 20 years and it’s almost like a companion – I’m comparing it to Wilson in “Cast Away” if you get me – I’m never without a bottle and it feels STRANGE! But I no longer want the addiction, I’m scared about what it’s doing to me, I don’t know how long I’ll be sad for when I see a bottle in the shop but it’s almost like losing a part of me!!!

    Here’s to a healthier life though!

  • Chris December 2, 2016, 1:01 am

    Thanks to everyone who has posted here. It has really helped me. I am a 54 year old single male and have (but hopefully soon will have had!) a pepsi max addiction. I used to drink so many different drinks, but one by one they all dropped away until the only thing I was drinking was pepsi max. I would have to have an 8 pack in the car at all times. I would honestly panic if I ran out.

    My shopping trolley was becoming more and more full of this poison. It was embarrassing. I would easily drink around 8 to 10 cans per day. The strange thing was the pepsi max never quenched my thirst. I would always be thirsty after drinking it. I was eating very healthily, swimming 1 hour per day and 1 hour on the treadmill, but my weight wasn’t going down.

    I don’t drink alcohol or smoke and pepsi max was my only vice. I tried on many occasions to give up, but the side effects were always insurmountable. I tried replacing it with regular fanta, but my body felt cheated and I would become like a wounded lion. So I have gone on holiday to Spain alone for 14 days and given up pepsi max and replaced it with mineral water. The side effects I am having are ridiculous and worrying.

    It’s day 4 and today I have a major headache, blurred vision, very, very thirsty, eyes very sensitive to light, inability to think straight, I ache all over, my sleeping pattern is nonexistent (sleep 4 hours, awake 4 hours, sleep 4 hours, awake 4 hours). Incredibly, my hearing has become like Superman. Most worrying is my right side (kidney?) is very painful to lie on and is ‘growling’ constantly like your stomach does when you are hungry.

    I know it’s the aspartame because I have started drinking coffee for the caffeine (even though I don’t like coffee). At the gym today I started crying for no reason. Yesterday I had a major migraine and diarrhea and was really light-headed all day. I know for a fact that all these symptoms are a direct reaction to stopping Pepsi Max. There is nothing else it could be.

    But I am determined to kick this drug, once and for all. Being away from home I can sleep, when my body needs it. Exercise. Went for a 2 hour walk today on the beach. The hotel has plenty of healthy food. I am going to take control of my life and am prepared to face whatever this drug can throw at me. But as addict for over 30 years, I do know it’s going to get a lot worse before it gets better.

    But for anyone reading this, don’t think you have control of the drug ( it is a drug. It’s an addictive drug). The longer you drink it, the worse it becomes. And if you don’t believe me – switch to regular cola for one week and see how badly your body reacts. Go on, I dare you. :) Good Luck to anyone who is trying to get off this drug.

  • JoJo November 7, 2016, 8:37 pm

    Hello all – Prior to work today, I stopped and got my normal two large ($1.00) diet cokes at McDonald’s. After arriving at work I received results via my “chart” for some blood work that had been done last week. Same concerns for the past many, many, many years. I cannot tell you how many tests and diagnosis’ I have experienced in the last twenty years! Docs can only tell me what it is NOT…not what it is. I have had enough!

    Just out of curiosity, I did a google search on ASPARTAME ADDICTION. OMG! I am addicted to aspartame! I ran across this chain, and am so glad I did. I have been dealing with so many of the symptoms that have been mentioned in the above posts for years. So often I have tried to give up diet-coke, only to feel like total crap (withdrawal) only to return to my daily routine… have a couple diet cokes, my symptoms went away!

    I had my last two diet cokes this morning… I am going cold turkey! I was getting sick to my stomach reading these posts… I thought to myself… this is me! As I read through this entire thread, I have been chugging a bottle of Ice Mountain WATER. I’ve determined that my day-to-day, long term dealing with ailments far outweighs the withdrawals symptoms everyone has mentioned!

    I have nothing to lose, and everything to gain by at least giving it a try for more than a couple days. I will keep you posted on my progress… wish me luck! Five hours and counting…

  • Kathy B October 23, 2016, 12:39 am

    I was having problems with bloating, mental confusion and difficulty in losing weight. I’m 12 years sober and have well managed bipolar. My Diet Coke Zero consumption had gotten so bad that some days, that’s all I drank. I’m sure I was getting dehydrated. I’d read about diet soda being bad for you. The doctor who prescribes my bipolar meds has been mentioning how aspartame contributes to foggy thinking.

    So I decided to quit three days ago. I’m not saying it’s worse than alcohol withdrawal I had two seizures from that and nearly died both times.
    Aspartame withdrawal feels like you have been poisoned and your body is screaming to get rid of it. Mental confusion, bloating, dull pain over my liver and gall bladder, my hands and fingers feel like plastic are clammy and my fingertips are sensitive to touch.

    My eyes feel bloated and ache. I have little appetite and my intestines are cramping. I don’t have headaches but I do have anxiety and am lethargic. I had to take yesterday off work. Tried to do data entry today and it took me three times longer than it should have plus I had to recheck my work. I know now that Aspartame breaks down into Formaldehyde and wood alcohol.

    Over time this has got to wreak havoc with your body. And It’s definitely addictive. And buying all that soda gets expensive. So yes, I fell terrible. No. I will not drink another 12, 20 or 44oz of poison. No matter how long the symptoms last I know that drinking water, eating healthy foods and exercising work. As we say in AA “This too shall pass…”

  • Jill October 22, 2016, 1:08 pm

    I’m so glad I looked into this! Diet Dew was my pal. Every morning (my coffee) I’d tell myself. Two-three a day for years. Since stopping I’ve had…

    ° High levels of anxiety, I couldn’t figure it out. Now I know.
    ° Some headaches
    ° Insomnia and sleeping very lightly, waking often.
    ° Lethargy
    ° Flu like symptoms
    ° Dislike for junk food. I love chips and dip, now not so much. That’s a nice feeling.

    Glad I read this article. No intention to go back. A Coke now and then but don’t even enjoy that like I use to. Great feeling to be done!!!

  • Lee Hart October 4, 2016, 2:53 pm

    I had a 8 to 10 can a day diet coke habit. I decided 4 years ago in January that as much as it helped me function, that it was not healthy. I knew I’d have the symptoms of both caffeine withdrawal and Aspartame withdrawal to face and I had no idea how tough that would be. It was hell. I had headaches, mood swings, headaches, full on flu like symptoms, sweats and sleep problems.

    I continued through it and after a month I managed to feel things getting back to normal. Like with some addictions you can replace it with another and I found I was left with more of a sweet tooth than I had ever had. I am now looking at reducing my sugar intake but I am aware when I reduce it too much I start to crave carbs and probably because of the sugars in them.

    From not drinking diet coke I feel much better. I would never touch it again as for me it is like a poison. I have sparkling water as that satisfies my craving for fizz and it is cheap and legal to drive after consuming. ;-)

  • Jude Toy- Keet September 28, 2016, 5:36 pm

    Today is day 8 of my quitting drinking two to three cans of diet, non-caffeinated soft drinks with aspartame. I’ve had small headaches (Day 1-4), bouts of nausea, stomach muscle discomfort and nervousness. My stomach still feels bloated and probably will take a while to get back to normal. I’m 66 years old and have been drinking diet sodas for about 20 years.

  • Melissa September 22, 2016, 11:47 am

    I’m on day 6 of no aspartame. I was drinking 7-8 cans of diet Sunkist for years. Headaches, fatigue, irritability upset stomach, nausea, foggy brain, and noted swelling of my hands since my last drink. Has anyone else had swelling in hands and upset stomach?

  • Tenley September 22, 2016, 7:03 am

    I have been drinking caffeine-free diet sodas for years (and before that, diet sodas basically my entire adult life). I haven’t had caffeine in years. So I was shocked to learn I was having aspartame withdrawal symptoms. Headaches – severe. That is my No. 1 symptom and seems to be overwhelmingly common in these comments. Also, I was stunned by how noticeable the reduction in bloating was within just 48 hours – initially I took that to be due solely to cutting out carbonation.

  • Natasha Tarrant September 21, 2016, 7:04 pm

    Well I am now just completing day 2 going Cold Turkey from Diet Coke. I was so addicted I would have over 12 cans per day. I would carry a 24 pack in my car and always one in my handbag where ever I go. Before I go to work I would have 3 cans. This has gone on for years but I am off to Zambia canoeing up the Zambezi and there won’t be a can of Diet Coke in sight.

    I feel dreadful. I need to sleep all the time (not easy when I have work, 2 children and 3 horses to look after). My head aches and I feel my stomach is empty. I brought a McDonald’s today (my fav) and struggled to eat it! I also struggled to eat my dinner tonight but I feel hungry.

    I hope it’s stops. I feel weak and exhausted. I’m hoping I don’t put weight on. I am struggling to continue but as I live in the middle of no where and no Coke in the house I have no choice but to drink water haha! I actually feel like I have flu. I seem to have developed a cough? Did anyone else?

  • angelina September 11, 2016, 5:35 am

    I’m on day 5 I think quitting cold turkey! I used to drink tons of diet coke for over 20 plus years. Withdrawals include panic attacks, anxiety, restlessness, heart palpitations, stomach aches, feeling like I’m gonna die seriously! I felt in my heart time to quit and THANK GOD I’m trying. Its rough but I’m sticking to it! Wish all the very best, I’m much happier outside the withdrawals, and consistency in a better mood!! Determined and hoping normal nerves soon!! :)

  • Melissa September 5, 2016, 9:06 pm

    I’m so glad I’ve looked at all the posts. I tried to cut out Pepsi a few years ago I only managed 2 weeks because of the headaches. I’m now going to try again and go cold turkey. Headaches have been bad already but going to take one day at a time.

  • Arletta August 3, 2016, 12:11 pm

    A couple of years ago, or so, when the gas prices had risen to the point of the usual, non-fancy, groceries not being affordable, I cut way down on my diet soda consumption. I did this, in part, by drinking more water and more unsweetened tea (hot or cold) and in part by drinking seltzer water when I just had to have the bubbles. Eventually, for a time, I got to the point where I was only having sodas if I went out to eat – which was seldom – and, after a while, not even then.

    I noticed that I felt… well, basically… more functional. I can’t say it was such a significant change that it was even noticeable at first, but, it was an all-over being less hot, less achy, having less trouble getting to sleep, feeling more awake, being able to exercise better, being able to breathe a little easier. Mind you, I was also eating far less meat, far less processed foods of any sort, eating a lot more vegetables including leafy greens and eating a lot of grapefruit, and, because such things cost too much, I was having basically nothing like candy, cake, cookies, etc.

    I was still having some,but, very little amounts, every now and again. There was nothing I could point to and say “Ah ha! I am detoxing from…” about anything that people like to say makes one ill – not aspartame, not meat, not high fructose corn syrup – because I had significantly changed several things. I do know that, even though I was finally losing weight. I still didn’t feel real good, so that made it hard to believe that aspartame was a cause of anything.

    But, on a whim (though based on research) I eventually self-tested myself and found out I had a serious problem with wheat. So, I pretty much got rid of that in my diet. I say “pretty much” because, sometimes, if I am out with a family member or a friend and I can’t find anything else, I’ll eat a hamburger or some-such, or, I’ll eat a piece of fried chicken on occasion. And, this is something I have to work on. Bear with me – there is a point to my telling you all of this!

    The point is that AFTER I got rid of most of the wheat, had already gotten rid of dairy as fully as possible without having fully gotten rid of the wheat, quit drinking coffee, quit smoking, taking up eating a cup of berries on an empty stomach (mostly) every morning – which is supposed to help jog your lymphatic system so that you can finally lose weight on your belly – eating mostly just veggies, nuts, and occasional lean meats, besides the berries… after all this… my gut is still getting swollen up, my joints are still aching, I am extremely hot internally, I have trouble breathing and all sorts of other things.

    And, this time, I have noticed that it all directly corresponds with having an excessive amount of diet soda. Now, when I was drinking a far lesser amount, I was losing weight but not feeling any better really. When I was drinking none (but had also made many other healthier choices) I lost weight and was feeling better. When I got to the point where the drinking of diet sodas escalated to fairly ridiculous proportions – and, this happened more than once, over the last few years – I quit losing weight, and, eventually, started gaining weight.

    I was also more prone to eating candy or not being able to say no to wheat. So, for me, I would say that my experience is that not drinking diet sodas at all is the best way to go. Because, as soon as I made the mistake of letting them a little bit back into my life, I was on my way to drinking mostly diet sodas. Now, I don’t know how much of the problem with that is what I am taking into my body (aspartame) and how much is what I am leaving out (just good, normal water), but, in the end, it doesn’t matter – because, I know that drinking the drinks with aspartame is the cause of the problem, since, when it is in my life at all, it is in my life too much. So, at the very least, I get addicted to it and become uninterested in more healthful drinks.

    That’s actually why I am here. I was reading up on aspartame, again, and, considering the further experience I have had since the last time I read up on it and tried to decide if it was causing my symptoms (Fibromyalgia, thyroidal troubles, a belly that pretty much hasn’t changed sizes even when I lost over 50 lbs, current inability to lose weight ramping up to inability to not gain weight even when otherwise eating healthy). It only makes sense that it can’t be GOOD for humans.

    Nothing artificial is actually GOOD for us, though, some things are less bad or have some benefit that might outweigh the perceivable bad. IE: Man-made fabrics can be made to be long-lasting and wrinkle free, and, they are less likely to be eaten by insects or rodents. However, they are more likely to give you a rash due to lack of breathability, if not a worse problem. So, sometimes, the balance is to where the man-made fabric (nylon) with the addition of some natural fabric (a cotton shield), or, to wear the man-made fabrics for certain occasions, only.

    Aspartame is not good. It gives no benefits that outweigh the bad, even if all the bad there is consists of it keeping you from drinking adequate amounts of water and being diuretic. That’s enough to give one reason to say no to it. Even more so, if one feels so drawn to it that it cannot be reasonably limited to the status of being an occasional treat. And, even more than that if one finds that it is a “necessity”, but, not really an enjoyment, anymore. And, I don’t enjoy it, anymore.

    I want it, I am glad to have it so that I don’t have to suffer not having it, but, it is not a treat. Therefore, it is an addiction. But, I do believe, based on what has happened most recently – when so many other allergens and potential things I could be affected by have been removed – that aspartame does more than gets in the way of water drinking while flushing out more liquid than should be happening. I believe it makes me crave the things I am allergic to, makes me want more sweets, and, makes me gain weight even if I do not eat more sweets.

    It throws off my self-control and disrupts my schedule, so that I am eating too late at night too often, having trouble sleeping, buy greens and ignore them, etc. I believe, now, that most of my health problems, and, my lack of will power to deal with them, stem from allergies and intolerances and that I am seriously intolerant of, possibly allergic to, aspartame. And, since it has no health benefit that can outweigh even the lesser degrees of trouble it causes, because, in point of fact, there is no health benefit at all, it is time to kick the habit again and permanently.

    • JoJo November 7, 2016, 7:47 pm

      I so agree!

  • Angel August 1, 2016, 6:26 pm

    I’m on week two. Seizures are every day now. Started on day four. They were contained with medication. Maybe I should have checked with my doctor before doing this?

  • Jlyn July 21, 2016, 1:17 am

    I have been drinking diet coke since I was 8 yo. I am 43 now, and I drink a lot! I had weight loss surgery and only was able to stop for 3 mo. I drink as much diet coke as pre-surgery. I have all kinds of health issues and everyone tells me to stop the diet soda.

    I tried and had good intentions many times! I just cannot do it. I have to though. Do you think I will have bad withdrawals from all those years? I going to quit cold turkey because weaning never worked for me. I applaud all of you, great job!

  • Clara July 6, 2016, 3:19 pm

    I’ve gone wild, in the last month I’ve quit (in this order) alcohol, caffeine, aspartame (in fact ALL artificial sweeteners). I’m now looking into going organic with fruit & veg to avoid harmful pesticides & I’ve bought a fluoride filtration system which should arrive any day soon.
    The first week was hard I as exhausted, I’m in week 4 of pure cleaning eating only drinking water & cooking healthy meals and I feel amazing.

    I’m more alert, less fatigued & for someone who spent 6 months bed bound with depression I feel like a completely different person. I do believe we are being slowly killed by this stuff as if you try to look for anything without it in it really limits your choices. Almost everything you can buy now is harmful in some shape or form & that’s scary & a lonely place to be.

    I have a 6 year old who misses juice and fizzy drinks so she is going through it all with me. Well done for looking at what your consuming and not playing ignorant like the majority of the population. If we all get smart to this hopefully the sales will plummet & they will be forced to stop poisoning us! Until then I’ll stick to water & organic fruit & veg. :( Getting bored of it though!!

    • Kevin February 17, 2017, 11:08 pm

      So, no depression after quitting aspartame? Are you on any other meds?

  • Heather June 30, 2016, 4:25 pm

    Can anyone tell me how long it would take to get aspartame out of your system if you consumed several sugar-free cough drops a day for 1 year and 9 months? That was a small amount consumed at a time, but it built up in my system after less than a year, and it was only several months later that I discovered my eye problems were related. It’s been 2 and a half weeks now and I still have grittiness in my left eye, which is the one worst affected.

  • Leyna June 20, 2016, 6:19 pm

    Well it’s been several months since I jumped off the band wagon of aspartame, sucralose or any other kind of chemical sweetener. I feel great!! No more headaches, joint issues etc. I still feel my blood boil when I think about the FDA allowing this to be put in our foods. Oh and I also quit the Orbit White Gum.. since it too has aspartame…

    I order gum online and make sure it has ingredients that are not harmful. I have even quit buying drink mixes that I am not sure about their ingredients. I purchase Hint Water, has a slight taste of fruit, and now that I have been off of all the artificial sweeteners, my taste buds are tasting again!! Hallelujah!!!

    • Heather July 11, 2016, 11:56 am

      How long did it take you to feel better? I’m going on week 5 of the withdrawal from aspartame and sucralose, and I still have a gritty, weepy, sticky eye and trouble sleeping, no energy, irritable. I consumed these for 2-3 years and wish I knew how long it would take to detox.

    • Kevin L Elliott February 17, 2017, 11:06 pm

      What gums have no aspartame?

  • Robbie June 17, 2016, 3:10 am

    I am glad I found this thread – I am almost a week in and came home from work early due to lightheadedness, congestion, etc. I am really, really thirsty! I keep on drinking water, water and more water. I eat pretty healthy and am watching my calories and realizing that any additional cravings are what I call toxic hunger. One good thing about getting sick during this detox from Diet Coke (still drinking coffee) is that I will not want to go through this again… this is awful.

  • Steve June 11, 2016, 1:20 pm

    I am a type 2 diabetic on 2 different insulins. I have drinking diet soda for years, approximately seven to ten cans a day. I quit drinking them about two weeks ago and have had a big change in my blood sugars. I have had too many low which is not good and yesterday had something happen that scared the dickens out of me. To me it was like a deep depression, everything good was now bad.

    I’ve never had any issues with depression and don’t want any. I have temporarily stop taking my mealtime insulin to stop the low sugars. Stopping diet soda is the only change I’ve made in my diet so for me aspartame is the culprit. I would like to know if other diabetics had similar results. Will never drink diet soda again.

  • William Grant June 3, 2016, 8:24 am

    I became aware of the danger of aspartame about a week ago. Have stopped all intake, cheap supermarket diet coke, and all food with it in it, my use in coffee was the real problem I think, I used it to cut out sugar, I actually put weight on over the last year (about 27lbs). In my case, the withdrawal symptoms are combined with mild hay fever, which I get at this time of year, so not sure of exact symptoms.

    Have had kind of realistic bad dreams for about four nights, also sleeping perhaps an hour longer. Had a minor problem solving thing yesterday which I resolved, clarity coming back (I hope!). Will monitor my progress from now on. Am still drinking coffee, so no caffeine withdrawal, will eat just fruit/veg and detox as best I can.

  • Courtney June 2, 2016, 2:17 am

    Today is when I had my last drink with Aspartame in it and I’ve been noticing withdrawal symptoms right away. I’ve been having a lot of cravings especially for that same artificial sweetener. I’ve experienced eye pain, mild headaches, sometimes it would feel like I was getting stabbed in the head for at least 3 seconds.

    Joint pain, and heart palpations along with some anxiety yet I struggle with generalized anxiety and I can control it so it’s very tolerable. I’ve also experienced on and off nausea as well as some mild abdominal pain. I’ve been using this stuff ever since a few days ago so I’m sure the withdrawal symptoms won’t last very long. Aspartame’s some pretty nasty stuff so please stay away from it.

  • jana May 6, 2016, 6:28 am

    I have noticed a ton of difference. I wanted to stop drinking king diet coke because I use to be 140 pounds. Over the course of 2.5 years of my normal diet, I increased the intake of diet coke and now I am 200 pounds. I am still taking caffeine pills and I have noticed that I am having a harder time getting off the aspartame than caffeine. I am having hard core cravings for diet coke.

    1 week off diet coke and also 5 hour energy shots and switched to caffeine pills and I lost 3 pounds already. My food cravings stopped. No more midnight snacks, like cookies or potato chips. Yes I am tired as hell, but I’m only on 80mg of caffeine pills. I found taking 2 pills picks me up as drinking 4 cans of diet coke an hour.

    I am still drinking soda, but I am off the artificial crap and feel much better. I’m probably going to find stronger caffeine pills. I don’t take the caffeine pills oddly enough as much as I drank the diet coke. I think the aspartame is harder to get off than anything I have ever tried. Caffeine wasn’t as bad either when I tried that for a week.

  • Julia April 22, 2016, 2:28 am

    I started with 3 weeks of just one can a day. I used to drink 8 cans a day for years. I was feeling bloated way more then usually last couple years. At first I thought it was just being 36 versus my 20s. But my friends were not experiencing the same symptoms. I knew in my heart it was the diet coke drinking.

    This week is my first week completely off.I have replaced it with sparkling water. I feel hungry,tired and slight dizziness by the end of the day. I also have noticed my bowls different colors. Has anyone else noticed that? I have to get throw this! They need to take Diet Coke’s off the shelves!

  • Plien April 16, 2016, 10:33 am

    I have been drinking 3 cans each day for more than 25 years. For sure, I was addicted to diet coke. I have been diagnosed with MS without having the golden standard for MS, although now I think it might have been the aspartame. Recently I started to have extreme heart palpitations, bandpain and pain on chest and high pulse and fluttering of the heart, I have been brought to the hospital in an ambulance.

    They could not find a cause for this, now I read all these horror stories it must have been the aspartame, that I have been using for so long! I have quit 5 days ago and I have had no heart issues anymore and I haven’t been dizzy once. I am very tired though and feeling depressed, that is new to me.

    I feel like there is fog in my head and my shoulders and neck are aching and I feel cold/warm. I think it is a crime that it is still sold, I thought it would do no harm, the dutch government here says it is fine to use. It should be forbidden.

    Thank you all so much for your honesty and please come back when you are further in the detox process. I will try that too. all the best to you all, keep up the good work.

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