Have You Been Served Regular Soda When You Asked for Diet? Here’s How to Tell

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Dietary restrictions are absolutely no joke. If you have diabetes, being given something other than what you asked for at a restaurant—like regular soda in place of diet—could have nasty health consequences. Yet sometimes food service workers get orders wrong, oftentimes by accident but sometimes even intentionally. For example, an image that appears to be from the secret-sharing website Whisper made rounds on the internet, saying, “I work at a movie theater and when skinny b*****s order Diet Coke, I give them regular. Wahahahaha.”

Honest mistakes and even intentional sabotage like this happens. That’s why it is so important for you to be aware of these issues and stay on guard.

And think you’re safe because you’ve filled your cup yourself from a fountain machine? Think again! The back ends of these fountain machines are a complex network of boxes, bags, and tubes, making it all too easy for an employee who is tired or simply not paying attention to get things mixed up.

Adobe Stock/photogoodwin

Adobe Stock/photogoodwin

So how can you tell for sure whether your drink is regular or diet? Here are a few tips.

Taste Test

First of all, you can obviously take a sip to see if it tastes off or is sweeter than a diet drink should be. Try it right after it’s been given to you; that way, you can say something if you believe the order is wrong.

However, taste is not always a good judge of whether your drink is regular or diet, as mixes can vary from venue to venue, which can make it hard to tell. If that is the case, read on to find out other measures you can take.

Is It Sticky?

One Reddit user suggests putting some of the soda on your lips, letting it dry, and then smacking your lips together. Are they now sticky? If so, that is a result of sugar being in the beverage.

Adobe Stock/nicoletaionescu

Adobe Stock/nicoletaionescu

Use Your Blood Glucose Monitor

Yes, believe it or not, you can actually test your drink with your blood glucose monitor. For more information on how to do so, check out this article that explains what to look for, depending on which device you use.

Ask Your Server

It never hurts to ask and make sure you got what you wanted. Say, “This is diet, right?” Or alternatively, “Did I remember to ask for diet?” You can also tell them you have diabetes if there is any hesitation from staff.

Eliminate the Risk Altogether

Of course, you could always skip the diet soda and opt for something safe like water. That, or only drink soda out of a can or bottle so that you can be sure it’s diet.

Adobe Stock/Brian Yarvin

Adobe Stock/Brian Yarvin

What to Do if You Got the Wrong Drink

If your order was screwed up or you have reason to believe the fountain machine dispenses the wrong soft drinks, do not be afraid to speak up about it to an employee and request a refund or replacement. As you do this, remain calm and polite. Chances are good that the employee made an honest mistake. It happens; these employees are only human and they are are likely working in a fast-paced, physically demanding job with hundreds of customers each day. A little compassion and empathy goes a long way.


Learn about artificial sweeteners, like those that appear in diet soda, on the next page!

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Medianet DBS
A. Stout received a Bachelor of Arts in Writing through Grand Valley State University, graduating Magna Cum Laude in 2015. In addition to being a passionate autism advocate, she is a member of various fandoms, a study abroad alumna, and an animal lover. She dreams of publishing novels and traveling all over the world someday.