Quitting Coke

Not the stuff you snort – the stuff you drink. And not just Coke – all fizzy sugary drinks. And quitting it cold turkey. This is the story of the battle 4 years ago that I fought to get this horrible stuff out of my life and what has happened since…

I allude to this in my post “Sugary Shenanigans” and I have searched for the article that gave me the impetus to stop drinking so much Coke. This article I found today: https://therenegadepharmacist.com/what-happens-one-hour-after-drinking-a-can-of-coke/ has plenty of reasons why these fizzy sugar drinks are bad for you. People love a story though so here’s mine:

After reading that magical article (I wish I’d saved it somewhere) I sat down at work to have a real think about coke. After all, I had my own fridge well stocked with beverages next to my desk that I sold to finance my habit. I think I was probably drinking upwards of 4 cans per day plus a mocha with 3 sugars in it. To say I was ingesting a lot of sugar is a gross understatement. I was also experiencing severe ups and downs energetically through the day to the point where after lunch I was so flat that productivity was as close to zero as possible while still being at work. I work in IT and was a consultant/manager at the time so having this huge lull in the middle of the day was an immense impact to my efficiency. That’s really where it started. Finding out about the effects of Coke on the body was enough to generate internal motivation to get off it.

But stopping this habit is really really hard! In fact without a system it’s virtually impossible. No matter the strength of will, the chemicals and the behavioural hurdles to leap are significant. So it was an interesting test case for me on how to approach it. I really wanted off, but I didn’t want to get nearly done with it, then relapse. That would be a nightmare and I was already under enough stress. So how to do it? I liked to drink it at certain times so I needed a healthy substitute. I struck on a simple one – fizzy mineral water or soda water. At 75c for a 1.25L bottle it was much cheaper, had nothing in it but carbon and water and I could “trick” my physiology into letting me get away with it. I did not say “Let’s do it for 30 days and see how we go.” No get out of gaol free card for me. Hardcore all the way.

The withdrawals were intensely unpleasant. The massive reduction in sugar in my system corresponded with headaches, nausea, irritability (more than usual) and a desire for the death of everything (it got extreme). Plus the physical sensations were really unpleasant and despite maintaining a certain amount of coffee intake so I was *only* withdrawing from sugar and not caffeine as well, this did not mitigate the symptoms much at all. Having a sparkling, fizzy water definitely helped the behavioural side of it, while simultaneously supporting my system through this reduction in sugar. It was a big change to hit Maccas and ask for water not a lemonade or a coke with my burgers and this held true for anywhere I purchased fast food. My sleep patterns were interrupted as they slowly reset to normal and this was difficult. This was the bad part of it all. The good part? Most importantly it didn’t last, and presently the symptoms abated. My water intake increased greatly and I lost about 5 kilograms over the next couple of months. Sleep improved and my irritability levels approached a more normal status.

Three years on and I realised that even mixed drinks – like a Scotch and Coke were horrible so I was well off them too. Not that I drank them a lot – but the occasional one while out became zero. I was in New Zealand and had a lemonade with a burger – that’s all they had – and couldn’t finish it.

Another 6 months on and my tolerance for sugar is so low I get a sugar hangover from too much ice cream or sugar. Sometimes it makes you wonder if life is worth living! No chocolate?! AArgh!! The benefits are still on the positive though – weight is down, sleep is better and that after lunch slump is more or less gone. I’ve actually noted that when I have different foods how it affects my after lunch performance and moved to avoid carbohydrate laden tucker. Previously there was no way to manage this – I was just tired no matter what.

Finally today – I’ll still drink a sugary drink if there’s nothing else, but for me, it’s my ole faithful water. I mix it up with a sparkling mineral water if there’s one available but getting past the behavioural stuff has meant that it’s not hard for me to avoid fizzy drinks. The habit of saying “a pie and a coke” at the canteen has been replaced by “a pie and a mineral water”. There were a few raised eyebrows and some jokes at my expense. Fuck ’em I reckon. It’s my life and that sugary shit was screwing it up. One day I might eliminate alcohol too but let’s not get too crazy. I like beer and I’ve managed it’s effects for some time. Plus I never drink on a school night. So there it is.


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