I used to wonder about people who smoked cigarettes. Everyone knows that smoking is a terribly unhealthy habit with seemingly nothing but undesirable consequences. So why stick with it?
Then I realized that my relationship with Coca-Cola is awfully similar. It has absolutely no redeeming value other than tasting great. It’s full of serious calories, caffeine, and all kinds of other junk that doesn’t exactly help the body. And it’s super acidic. I’ve known for a long time I shouldn’t drink it, but couldn’t bring myself to quit because, well, I just liked it. A lot.
Interestingly enough, there have been at least two times where I conquered the addiction and quit Coke. But I wound up coming back to it. Actually, both times I “fell off the wagon” we had recently had a baby and I really felt like I needed caffeine (I don’t like coffee or tea).
So here’s what I’ve learned about how to quit your Coke (or similar) habit:
* Don’t quit. Sounds like strange advice, eh? Part of the problem with going cold turkey and swearing off something (a Coke, a cigarette, whatever) is that if you “fall off the wagon” you immediately feel guilty. And then, with your streak ruined and your resolve weakened, it’s very easy to slip back into old ways. Trust me, I know.
I don’t think I’ve quit Coke – I’ve just scaled way back. There’s nothing inherently wrong with enjoying a Coke. After all, most of us allow ourselves to enjoy other things that are not nutritious. The key is to do so in moderation.
* Baby steps are better than cold turkey. The problem with breaking an addiction is, obviously, the withdrawal phase. In my case with Coke, this involved some serious headaches, and when you live in a house with rambunctious little kids, you tend to not want to give yourself a headache for days on end.
So this time, instead of just mustering up the resolve to quit cold turkey, I scaled it back gradually. One a day, then one every couple days. Now it’s been a week since my last Coke and, quite frankly, my appetite for it has gone.
|My new beverage of choice –
Water with lime
* Use a crutch. When I was scaling back my Coke consumption, I allowed myself to have something sweet to eat once in a while in the afternoon. Once or twice I even got a piece of chocolate candy (a peanut butter cup – don’t tell my kids!) so I could get a bit of caffeine to blunt the headache. I also didn’t hesitate to use ibuprofen.
Will I ever have a Coke again? Almost certainly. And that’s OK – don’t judge me if you see me sipping a Coke! The goal here was not to create some kind of legalistic rule but to change my patterns and habits to be more healthful. And that’s the key principle here. Legalistic rules only work for a while, and when broken they often lead to defeated resignation. But positive changes in lifestyle will, I think, bear more fruit.
And that’s a principle that goes way beyond Coke, don’t you think?