I took a stab at President Trump’s reported soft-drink and media diet. All I got was this lousy caffeine crash and 144 oz worth of regret
Don’t develop a Diet Coke habit.
I took a stab on Tuesday at President Trump’s reported soft-drink and media diet — a dozen Diet Cokes and at least four hours of cable news, per a recent New York Times palace-intrigue gem — and all I got was this lousy caffeine crash and 144 oz worth of regret.
My descent into carbonated hell began just before 11 a.m., as I settled in to some CNN with can no. 1. (Deprived of a soda-summoning Oval Office button like the one Trump reportedly has, I had to fetch it myself.) And what an eventful day for a cable-news binge: Alabama voters were deciding whether to elect Roy Moore, the far-right Senate candidate who stands accused of molesting teenage girls in the 1970s; meanwhile, Trump faced accusations of sexism after his early-morning Twitter attack on Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.), who’d called for him to resign over allegations of sexual misconduct.
The Trump diet: I consumed 12 Diet Cokes and four hours of cable news in a day, and now I feel like garbage https://t.co/pKcFVVMYL4
— Moneyish (@Moneyish) December 13, 2017
Around 11:30, midway through my second zero-cal beverage, my roommate stopped by the apartment to grab a forgotten item. “I don’t think it’s a good idea for you to drink 12 Diet Cokes,” he said with concern. “Perhaps you’ll make it to four.” While wrapping up can no. 2, I caught Sanjay Gupta on CNN dissecting the side effects of Trump’s alleged soda and fast-food intake. With my third can, I felt a twinge of headache. As I am an occasional soda drinker at best, I should’ve drawn the line here.
On my fourth, around 12:30 p.m., I called registered dietitian nutritionist Bonnie Taub-Dix, creator of BetterThanDieting.com and author of “Read It Before You Eat It.” “For someone who focuses so much on money, he’s drinking a beverage that has no value at all,” Taub-Dix said. “Even though it’s calorie-free, it still could be costly in terms of its impact on your body.” She told me about the “uncomfortable gastrointestinal side effects” that come with “literally pumping air into your system” (fact check: true) and the irritability associated with excessive caffeine intake (also true — I later picked fights with people and grew disproportionately enraged when my Roku’s Fox News stream cut out).
Taub-Dix predicted I wouldn’t get much shut-eye that night, advising me to “bring a pillow to work” the next day. “Am I going to be OK?” I asked her, dead serious. “Yeah, you’ll be fine if you only do this one day,” she said. “If you happen to fall in love with it and you do this every day, then call me.”
I inhaled a hard-earned, 540-calorie Big Mac around 1:30 p.m. (Trump’s McDonald’s meal of choice, according to ex-campaign manager Corey Lewandowski’s forthcoming book, consisted of two Big Macs, two Filet-o-Fish sandwiches and a chocolate milkshake.) As I already felt an unsettling mix of jittery and bloated, I opted to go easy on the fast food — but at least left on the bun, which Lewandowski claims Trump abstained from. Real news: Big Macs are excellent.
Cans five through eight — coinciding with my caffeine crash — were a genuine struggle. My eyes glazed over and I grew despondent; I muddled dimly through a phone interview for a separate story. At 4:56 p.m. I cracked open my ninth. It’s 5 o’clock somewhere, I thought deliriously. A resigned calm eventually washed over me, similar to how I imagine death’s embrace.
Meanwhile, my cable-news feast — a cumulative two hours of CNN and two hours of Fox News, whose parent shares common ownership with Moneyish publisher Dow Jones — actually proved lively and engaging, particularly Sarah Huckabee Sanders’ 3 p.m. presser. (To be honest, it didn’t feel gluttonous: The average American adult watches about five hours of television a day, according to Nielsen. Trump is reported to watch between four and eight, though he vehemently denies this.) But the TV and beverage combo still took a toll: The excess of diet soda seemed to weaken my defenses, allowing the talking heads and breathless special election coverage to manipulate my emotional levers.
As I polished off my tenth Diet Coke and started on the penultimate can, I spoke to celebrity nutritionist and registered dietitian Keri Glassman, whose initial reaction to my experiment was, “Oh my God. That sounds like the worst thing ever.” (True!) “You don’t have to be a genius or a dietitian to know that drinking unhealthy chemicals all day is bad for you,” she said. “At its best, it’s not providing you with any nutrition … At its worst, it may cause cancer and make you gain weight and increase your blood pressure.” Research also suggests aspartame, the artificial sweetener in Diet Coke, exacerbates mood disorders like depression, Glassman added. “Green juices all day tomorrow,” she quipped before we hung up.
At 7:03 p.m., I pronounced myself legally dead — I mean, I drained my final can. The Mayo Clinic says it’s safe for most healthy adults to consume up to 400 mg of caffeine in a day; my 12-can binge clocked in at more than 550 mg.
I cannot in good conscience recommend anyone drink this much Diet Coke in a week, let alone a single day. I found it taxing to survive a regular work day; one can only imagine carrying the weight of life-or-death decisions on the world stage in this state. I wish I could save the President; tell him how bad this is for his health.
But he already knows that, if one infamous Oct. 14, 2012 tweet is any indication: “I have never seen a thin person drinking Diet Coke.” (Except for me — I’m one-eighth the size of POTUS and should have scaled the challenge.)
I have never seen a thin person drinking Diet Coke.
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) October 14, 2012
© 2018 Dow Jones & Company, Inc. All Rights Reserved