Woman sheds nearly 80 pounds after switching to sugar-free soda, healthier options: 'Food was my refuge'

After losing both her job and childhood home within days of each other, 26-year-old Shannon Palmer turned to takeout food and soda to cope with the “deep depression” that ensued.

"All of my childhood disappeared with the fire. I had nothing after that. My mum nearly died in the fire and I was made redundant at work the next day —  after working there for four years,” Palmer told South West News Service (SWNS), a British news agency, noting both events occurred in 2017.

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“I was bullied a lot at school —  so for me, eating was a coping mechanism. Food was my refuge,” she added, noting her drink of choice was the carbonated soft drink Irn-Bru.

Shannon Palmer before (R) and after (L) weight loss.

Shannon Palmer before (R) and after (L) weight loss. (SWNS)

Within months, Palmer said she jumped from a size 12 to a size 24, weighing some 238 pounds.

“I ate five or six takeaways each week and drank 10 Irn-Brus. I was eating through my depression but I just wanted to be happy,” she said. “Some people have drugs, drink, gambling — I had food.”

Shannon Palmer prior to her weight loss.

Shannon Palmer prior to her weight loss. (SWNS)

Following a beach trip in September 2018 — during which Palmer said she felt “disgusted” with herself — she was introduced to the U.K.-based weight-loss organization Slimming World. In addition to changing her eating habits — which included chips, chocolate, burgers and muffins — she also switched to sugar-free Irn-Brus in an attempt to reduce her sugar intake.

“I wouldn’t have managed to keep up with the diet if I had to stop drinking Irn-Bru completely, which is why switching to sugar-free has been so helpful,” she told SWNS. “You can’t expect people to stop enjoying something they love — it’s about moderation.”

Shannon Palmer credits her weight loss to switching to sugar-free soda and healthier food options.

Shannon Palmer credits her weight loss to switching to sugar-free soda and healthier food options. (SWNS)

Palmer claims she’s lost roughly 77 pounds since changing her diet.

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"I don't go to the gym and I don't really exercise, I just eat healthily with the occasional cheat day,” she said. “I still eat the occasional takeaway and eat chocolates and crisps, but I know when to stop.”

She added: “I feel like I respect myself a lot more now, it’s important to take care of yourself. I’m the person I always wanted to be.”