Hi, my name is Toni and I’m a coke addict.
Now for the ten people who are completely freaking out, it’s Coca-Cola, not the other stuff I’m talking about.
It started when I was working my way through college at restaurants where soda was free and unlimited. I got use to having it on a daily basis. I’d quit when I was pregnant (although not every time) because I knew all the caffeine and sugar couldn’t be good for a baby.
Of course I would pick it up pretty quickly after the baby was born, justifying my daily habit due to the lack of sleep and busyness of my day. I needed that jolt of energy to keep going.
As time went on and our family grew so did my dependence on soda. If I didn’t have one by lunch I’d get a headache. Some days I’d have two or three, depending on how the day was going. It was okay, because it was the only “bad” thing I was consuming. I ate fresh ground whole grain pasta and pizza. I drank smoothies and ate lots of vegetables.
Couldn’t I have just one vice?
The problem was that I couldn’t live without it.
While driving home from the gym a few months ago I stopped to get a Big Gulp. As I sipped it throughout the day I started thinking about how much harder I would have to work at the gym to burn the sugar and calories in the soda. Since in the beginning I really, really disliked the gym the thought of anything that would make it easier was appealing to me.
I knew I had to quit, and I knew it was going to be hard. I needed to be prepared for a pretty big headache and the general irritation that comes when people give up caffeine.
I asked a few friends to hold me accountable during the first week. I gave them permission to text me, call me, message me at any time to check up on me.
To my surprised the first day was actually very easy. Day two was easy too. I kept waiting to get a headache or feel cranky but I didn’t. I believe that the only reason I didn’t suffer from these symptoms was because I was going to the gym every morning and eating a whole foods diet.
By the end of the week I felt so good I decided to cut out other items I ate that contained sugar. I’ve never had much of a sweet tooth, but I started paying attention to the foods I was eating and choosing to not eat the ones that had a ton of sugar.
The less sugar I consumed, the more I craved fruit. At a church conference I ate almost an entire bag of clementines by myself!
Not only did sweet things not appeal to me at all, I started dropping weight very quickly. I didn’t start the process to lose weight, but I ended up losing almost 20 pounds. Getting leaner made exercising easier and the cycle continued.
Since giving up soda in May I’ve had a few cokes (on road trips when it was either fall asleep behind the wheel or ingest a bunch of sugar and caffeine). I don’t like the taste anymore and although it definitely kept me awake, I didn’t like the fact that at the end of the day I couldn’t fall asleep.
I never thought I could make it through the day without caffeine. But I can. After about a week of giving up soda my energy level increased dramatically. Not only that, but I started drinking more water. Without the sugary sweetness of soda, fruits taste so much better and I find myself craving things like grapes and oranges like someone would crave a piece of chocolate.
To be honest when I gave up coke I also had to give up my gateway foods. Gateway foods were foods that “went well” with coke. I didn’t think I could eat them without drinking a soda.
Foods like burgers, fries, pizza, tacos were suddenly off limits. For those of you who know me you know that a hamburger and fries is probably my favorite meal in the world! I waited until I had been soda free for almost six weeks until I had a burger again, and skipped the fries altogether.
The biggest problem with my soda drinking is that I felt I deserved it. I worked hard, didn’t get much sleep, managed seven kids, and had a slew of other responsibilities. What started as an occasional “treat” become something I needed every single day. All my healthy eating wasn’t enough to counterbalance the soda drinking.
Giving up soda changed my entire diet and in my next installment I’ll share with you the changes I made to my diet that helped me get my life back.
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Disclaimer: I’m not criticizing people who drink soda occasionally. I still think pizza tastes best with a large fountain coke, I just know I can’t eat like that all the time and feel great. I was not an occasional soda drinker and that’s why I needed to make some drastic changes.