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How I Kicked My Coca Cola Habit

You have no idea how much I wanted to begin this “how I kicked coke.”

In college, I developed an addiction to Coca-Cola. I’m not sure if it was just the caffeine or the whole medley of caffeine, sugar, and God only know what else. My cafeteria enabled the addiction by providing all-inclusive meals. Once I’d swiped in, I could get anything I wanted and as much as I wanted. So my cup ran over with Coke.

I’d buy at least one more around 8pm to help keep me up to do homework and hang out with friends. There was a vending machine in the lobby and cans were only $0.65. Again the college helped me out by having a card swiper on the machine. I didn’t need change, I could just use Flex Dollars from my account.

I continued the habit over the summer by bringing a can of Pepsi to work every day (I guess I wanted a change…) and by drinking some of the Coke which was always available (though decaf) in my family’s fridge.

My habit continued until the end of September in my sophomore year. My roomie Angela, best friend Steve and I were in the cafeteria getting breakfast. I came back with my usual that fall: 1 sliced and toasted bagel with butter and 2 cups (maybe 20oz total) of Coke. Can only imagine the calories.

For some reason (since she’d seen it a million times before), Angela said, “You’re drinking that for breakfast? Ewww….” I told her that it helped me begin the day. Then Steve told me he didn’t think I could go a day without it. I don’t remember how the conversation went, but they ended up staging an intervention and stealing everything but my bagel. I was really annoyed and tried to get more Coke but Steve physically restrained me. I think he called me a coward for not giving it a shot…I don’t quite remember. Anyway, he annoyed me enough that I decided to go along to prove that I didn’t need to drink Coke.

I promised to go a month without it or any soda.

Those next few days were awful. I had migraines pretty much non-stop. I was also so annoyed with Steve that I refused to take any Advil (my drug of choice). I don’t know if it would have worked anyway. The severity of the migraines and how they impaired my ability to get through the day really scared me. They strengthened my resolve. I thought about just buying a Coke to stop them, but I didn’t want to have to go through that again. Ever.

After about 4 days, I started feeling better. The rest of the month was quite easy and at the end I actually didn’t want to start drinking sodas again. I think I went another month without bothering to have one. Ever since I’ve been a confirmed water drinker and only drink sodas now and then. Anything but Ginger Ale leaves me feeling funny anyway.

Quitting Coke had a good impact on my spending money as well as on my health. Since our dorm had good water, I just had to buy a water bottle and was able to drink as much as I wanted for free. Saved me at least $0.65 a day. When I went home for the summer, I didn’t feel the need to stock up on soda. If I’d kept drinking soda at my Freshman rate upon graduation, that would be something like 2 litres every day. So another savings there.

As for health, it probably contributed to the weight I lost that year (thought most was from being so depressed later that semester that I had no appetite). I also noticed that my stomach complained significantly less and I had a lot less gas in general. I’d previously attributed it to college food, but I think the carbonation in the soda was the problem.

Last week, No Credit Needed and Frugal Dad announced that they’re also trying to quit soda and got me thinking about all this. I wish them luck, it was a good move for me all around. The first few days are the hardest and I think they’ve gotten through those. After that it’s mostly a matter of not having it around (and free) all the time. If you have to go out and buy it and actually part with money, it’s a lot harder to get in the habit again.


{ 23 comments… read them below or add one }

Frugal Dad June 5, 2008 at 11:17 am

Thanks for mentioning my project, and adding to the pressure! LOL! First week’s almost in the books and I only had one slip – I drank a Minute Maid Light lemonade (the horror) at my mom’s house. She offered it, and I drank it, and didn’t even think of my challenge until 3/4 of it was chugged! Oh well, those things are mostly water, right?

And I’m glad you changed the title for this post…”how I kicked coke” just has an entirely different connotation.

Sallie's Niece June 5, 2008 at 11:55 am

Hi I am also struggling with my (Diet) Coke addiction. I never was allowed to have soda at home and when I got to college I was hooked! So far I’ve made a challenge to myself that if I want soda I must bring my own from home so that I avoid paying $1.25 each time at the vending machine. Baby steps…

A.J. June 5, 2008 at 12:20 pm

I’ve mostly cut out Diet Coke since I found out fake sugar is the devil. Before, I drank them like water, and 4 cans a day wasn’t uncommon. Now I just remind myself that it should be a special treat and I get by just fine.

Jeff@MySuper-Charged Life June 5, 2008 at 12:48 pm

I kicked the caffeine habit a few years ago. I was addicted much like you, but I didn’t go cold turkey. I weaned myself off over the course of a couple of weeks. It eased the pain. I do drink a caffeinated beverage from time to time, but not daily. I feel and sleep better since I’ve stopped. Caffeine doesn’t effect everyone the same, but it was a good move for me.

Luke @ Money & Fitnes Blog June 5, 2008 at 1:13 pm

I have drank pop my whole life and didn’t think I had a caffeine addiction. That was before I was not getting my two Diet Mt. Dews everyday. It was a struggle to say the least and am still drinking too much pop. I may not want to quit it but what are some good techniques for at least cutting back?

Kacie June 5, 2008 at 1:25 pm

I was there too in college. When I worked late, I’d get a 40-oz iceless coke from a soda fountain. Yick.

I kept up with drinking sodas/coffee until my last internship ended. After that, I pretty much stopped.

Now that I’m expecting, I’m glad I’ve already kicked the habit! Though seriously, I would really love some caffeine right about now. Oh well.

Nicole June 5, 2008 at 1:26 pm

Good for you kicking coke! I bought a pound of coffee two months ago for $10 and I find that having to make it at work makes me drink less then going to the local coffee shop… not to mention saves me money!

Little Miss Moneybags June 5, 2008 at 1:26 pm

I have been thinking about quitting my Dr. Pepper habit. I don’t drink much soda other than that. At most, I drink a Dr. Pepper a day so it’s not like I have a raging habit like you’re describing.

It would save me money, and would be better for my health. But it’s so tasty, and somehow I can convince myself it’s healthier than a cup of coffee between work and evening classes.

QL Girl June 5, 2008 at 1:41 pm

My parents and I are addicted to (Diet)Coke!! The good news is that we have been consciously trying to kick the habit. In the past we’d go to Costco and get those 4 packs (the big 2-ltr bottles) and they’d be gone in a little over a week!

We only have 1 bottle in the house now, and its been there for about a month! I’m proud of us, lol. (I’ll still have a soda here and there…but I try to limit it as much as I can)

StackingPennies June 5, 2008 at 2:10 pm

I used to drink a lot of Coke too. I slowly phased it out, primarily for budget reasons, but the health is a added bonus. And i was worried about my teeth. πŸ™‚

however, I still drink it from time to time, usually when it is free or on a random weekend. It is like a treat rather than an addiction. Which is what it should be, if it should be anywhere at all!

L@spillingbuckets June 5, 2008 at 2:51 pm

I also used to be addicted to coke/soda.

I cut it out because of the sugar and went through withdrawal headaches for a while too.

Now I can barely drink a full can let alone more than that. Root beer and ginger ale are ok in moderation, everything else just makes my teeth feel slimy now.

Christine June 5, 2008 at 3:40 pm

Haha. “Soda.”

Irene June 5, 2008 at 3:52 pm

I am a die-hard coca cola addict, LOL. I know it’s bad for me and I spend too much $$ on it, but so far I haven’t really tried to give it up.
Maybe I will try and take “baby steps” as a previous person mentioned, and cut back slowly….ack.
But thanks for the inspiration!

Grey June 5, 2008 at 3:54 pm

I used to drink 5 to 6 cans a day. It was horrible.

I still have one on occasion (I had one today, actually), but I’ve dramatically cut my consumption. I just refused to quit buying it for the house. My biggest threat is the vending machine at work, but I try to make sure I empty the change out of my purse into a savings jar at the end of a day… which helps keep me clean. πŸ˜‰

Unfortunately, I have taken on coffee as my new bad habit. Ooops.

Lin June 5, 2008 at 3:55 pm

I used to be a cola addict, but I weaned myself off and started drinking a lot more water and sometimes iced tea. Of course, tea has caffeine in it too so I really try to watch how often I succomb to that.

I even tried buying flavored water for awhile, but those can get pretty expensive after awhile, so I’ve quit buying those.

dollar incense June 5, 2008 at 4:51 pm

Oh the flashbacks!

During my pre-teen and teen years I drank up to a dozen sodas a day (my Mom too). I didnt think much of it. Continued this habit into my early twenties.

One cold Philly morning, I started my office routine with a diet soda, as usual. And DOUBLED over in terrible pain.

I ended up having kidney stones (at age 23) and swore that morning I would never drink soda again!

I drink water, some tea and when I fly I get gingerale.

Almost 7 years later, and thankfully no more kidney stones – horribly painful!

Mrs Micah's Mom June 5, 2008 at 5:23 pm

I was addicted to tea. I decided to switch to decaffeinated tea for two reasons. First, after I had children I couldn’t count of getting tea early enough in the day to prevent a headache. Second, I didn’t want to be addicted to a mood-altering substance when my children got old enough that I would be telling them not to use other mood-altering drugs.

I switched slowly. I went from 9 cups a day to 4, then decreased one cup at a time until I got to two, at which point I decreased by 1/2 cup stages. I avoided headaches and other symptoms by going so slowly.

Now, if I drink caffeine for some reason, I get giggly and high.

PT June 5, 2008 at 5:25 pm

Great post, MM.

Later. Off to get a Pepsi. πŸ˜‰

Susan June 5, 2008 at 9:34 pm

Awesome, Mrs. Micah!!! That’s a huge accomplishment and one to be proud of! πŸ™‚

I’ve never been addicted to Coca-Cola or other sodas, but I completely understand the addiction side of this equation cause sugar is my problem I’m working to break!

Frugal Babe June 6, 2008 at 5:00 pm

Luckily I never got into the soda habit (my parents never had it around, and in the dorms I tended to go for milk or water – the stuff I was used to). But coffee was another story. I remember the first time I tried it, freshman year in college when I was up really late studying. I thought it was awful tasting. But by the next year, I was drinking it every night to stay awake and get my homework done. By my senior year I can remember brewing a pot of coffee when I got home from work at 1am, and then using the coffee to wash down a NoDoz and get started on homework. Looking back, I shudder to think about how little sleep I was getting and how much I was relying on caffeine. I quit cold turkey right after graduation, and promised myself I would never get into the caffeine habit again. I guess it worked, because the few caffeinated drinks I’ve had in the last ten years have made me feel awful. Good for you for kicking the soda habit early!

Charing June 9, 2008 at 11:18 am

You story is almost identical to mine, except I was addicted to Mt. Dew. The withdrawal was HORRIBLE, but to me it only reinforces how dependent we unknowingly become addicted to these substances! It was motivation to never drink the stuff again. It’s been five years now and I feel great. I also lost ten pounds after cutting the soda out of my life. That was a great motivator too.

IT Pilgrim June 11, 2008 at 10:03 am

Mrs. Micah, you have inspired me to try. I am a horrible addict. The problem is, that at some offices its a cultural thing. IT is generally known for its Mountain Dew addiction. You would be hard-pressed to find a desk that did not have a 12-pack of some form of soda under or in it, mine included.

You have made me think about what Junkies we are, and I am not sure the coffee drinkers are much better. I think I need an intervention πŸ˜‰

Stephen Lim August 25, 2011 at 2:58 am

We have to train/teach our kids to avoid soda as well. Now, my three kids share 1 can of soda during meal times. I think that is quite reasonable…?

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