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Diet Coke addiction easy to swallow

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Hi, my name is Jody, and I'm a Diet Cokeaholic.

(This is where you all greet me with a cheery "Hi, Jody.")

Thank you.

Anyway, sometimes I'm a Diet Dr. Pepperaholic or a Diet Mountain Dewaholic or — if budget times are tough in the Genessy household — a Costco Kirkland Brand Diet Colaholic.

But Diet Coke is my thirst- and crave-quenching beverage of choice. I know it's calorie-free, but I actually like it, um, just for the taste of it. A friend of mine calls it the "nectar of the gods," but I imagine the gods would be able to drink the sugar-loaded real-deal flavor if they got parched, so I'm not so sure about that.

A few other people I know think Diet Coke is about as good for you as drinking Drano. Pick your poison, they say: aspartame, caffeine or that distinct aftertaste.

All I know is I'm hooked. I call Diet Coke my "Mormon coffee" — just don't tell my bishop, please. I'm part of the perplexing group of people who orders it with burgers and fries as if it were somehow going to magically make up for the other fat-laden calories.

It doesn't, of course. It just makes you feel less guilty for supersizing.

I used to joke that I'm not really chubby — my body just has a large reservoir of Diet Coke stored up inside. Now I just worry that I'll be the first person whose obituary lists the cause for death as being complications from Diet Coke consumption.

A recent purchase might make that possible. I joined the 64-ounce mug club. I'm pretty sure it now takes more to fill my cup at 7-Eleven than my car's gas tank. Another downside, car manufacturers don't make cup holders to fit containers the size of a football team's Gatorade jug — at least not this side of the trunk. But I'm never thirsty.

My acquisition comes much to the delight of Coca-Cola shareholders, who should get a hefty bonus; much to the amazement of co-workers, who now see me spend more time in the restroom than at my desk; and much to the dismay of my wife, who really wishes I'd drink that much water a day instead of pop.

She doesn't buy my argument about how I actually get more than the recommended eight glasses of H2O a day. Supposedly, because my agua comes carbonated and includes a few fine ingredients like caramel color, phosphoric acid, potassium benzoate and phenylalanine, it doesn't count toward the tally.

And you know what?

My wife might be right.

Heck, there is a first for everything.

(In case my wife reads this — the first was me admitting that she was right, not that she was right for the first time.)

I'm actually considering trying to give up Diet Coke again, but thinking about those nasty headaches is enough to drive me to drink another 64-ouncer. Any suggestions?

I've tried going without Diet Coke before. Just don't tell my wife that I did it to impress a different girl back in the old days, and I might be able to get out of the doghouse.

But if I don't kick the habit, I at least feel a little safer now that I've perused www.dietcoke.com. The drink probably won't kill me. The site claims "the safety of all ingredients used in the products of The Coca-Cola Company — including aspartame — has been established, and the use of these ingredients complies with relevant regulations in all countries (90) where our products are sold." What a relief.

It didn't, however, say whether Lemon Pledge was used to flavor the nasty Diet Coke with Lemon.

Jody Genessy's weight-loss column runs the first Friday of every month.

E-mail: jody@desnews.com