Face it; Coca-Cola is not a basic food group nor does it have any redeeming nutritive value. It is a combination of elements – citric acid, sugar and caffeine with some fruit extracts and caramel coloring – that rot your teeth, jitter your nerves and put you on the road to Type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular problems and other unpleasant problems. Giving up Coke, with its one-two punch of sugar and caffeine, requires the same determination to survive withdrawal as any other addiction. And it garners similar benefits.
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Recognize the signs of dependence. If you must always have Coke in the fridge, drink one or more Cokes every day or can't go for two days without heading for the vending machine, you're hooked. Unless you accept this fact, you'll never overcome your desire for just one more Coke.
Control the urge. Forget cold turkey. Keep track of your intake for a week and reduce it by half. Once the headaches begin to abate, cut your intake by half again. Once you get down to a one-a-day habit, start counting by the week until you can get by on a six-pack a month.
Replace Coke's refreshment with more nutritious or benign items. Keep a box of cantaloupe cubes or grapes in the fridge to feed the need for sweets and hydrate as well. Drink iced tea from a jug of green tea that you brew each morning. Drink plain water to remain hydrated – caffeine and sugar both affect water absorption by the body. Avoid adding sugar to tea; try lemon or mint instead. Ask for plain iced tea at restaurants.
Identify triggers that initiate that trip to the fridge or soda machine for a Coke and substitute another behavior that calls attention to your decision or, perhaps, puts the brakes on it. Tax yourself for each Coke you purchase: Do pushups before consuming a Coke. Follow up with rewards: Put the cost of weekly purchases not made in a jar and enjoy dinner on the Coca-Cola Co.
Consciously distribute carbohydrates over the day by limiting portions and eating five or six small meals instead of three big ones. Start with a nutritious breakfast to stave off the 10 o'clock droop that often leads to the first Coke of the day. Spreading out your food consumption levels out blood sugar and allows fewer openings for cravings.
Cut down on the amount of Coke you consume by purchasing smaller “snack-size” cans. Check a local Oriental grocery to see if it carries the 6 oz. size sold in Japan. Your aim should not be to eliminate all sugar and caffeine, just the added sugar and caffeine provided by Coke. Guard against replacing them with other empty calories such as sugared drinks and more coffee to elevate your caffeine levels.
Never replace sugar with artificial sweeteners in your diet. You need to decrease your need for sweetness, not support it with alternatives.
- "Psychopharmacology"; A Critical Review of Caffeine Withdrawal; Laura M. Juliano, et al.; 2004
- Snopes; Have a Cloak and Smile; Barbara Mikkelson; 2011
- Center for Science in the Public Interest: Soft Drinks and Health
- First Ourselves; Sugar Addiction Escape Plan; Karly Randolph Pittman; 2009
- Johns Hopkins Medicine; You Deserve a Break Today; Bill Brody
- MayoClinic.com: Added Sugar: Don't Get Sabotaged by Sweeteners
- MayoClinic.com: Caffeine Content for Coffee, Tea, Soda and More