30 Day Cleanse: Breaking the Habit of Coca-Cola

I love Coca-Cola — honest to goodness love it. I used to drink it so much that I sometimes felt like those vintage Coca-Cola advertisements: you know the ones, with the pin-up-inspired girls in their bathing suits, always accepting that refreshing glass of high-fructose corn syrup and caffeine…wait. What?

Yes, Coca-Cola is bad for you. In fact, it’s something I frequently struggle with: I already have bad eating habits, and there’s no reason I should augment any health problems I might encounter in the future by over-consumption of …

By over-consumption, let me spell it out for you: before I underwent this challenge, I would often drink 3-4 cokes a day. Sometimes, more. It got out of hand, to say the least. Not only did I prefer the taste of coke, I was in the habit of ordering it. The habit was my real vice: it was the only thing I ordered, because it was the only thing I knew I would like.

To combat my habits, I underwent a 30 Day Cleanse.* Technically I eliminated all soft drinks — but in reality, I was just eliminating coke from my diet. The purpose was to not only eliminate something unhealthy from my diet, but to change my habits — to find other drinks which I liked, and to become more comfortable ordering them in all types of situations.

The first week was the hardest — but strangely, I didn’t suffer from any caffeine headaches or trouble staying awake. Instead, I just didn’t know what to buy at restaurants, and I was overcome with an intense urge to purchase a coke every time I saw a vending machine — not a craving, as far as I could tell; just an urge.

After the second week, the desire to order coke became significantly less and my comfort with other drinks increased significantly. I found that I actually almost enjoy tea, and will probably love it as soon as I find one or two which I really enjoy the taste of. I also re-discovered a love of lemonade, and I found that water is considerably cheaper in restaurants (and who doesn’t love saving money?).

A couple quirky anecdotes:

  • I did not weigh myself to see if I lost weight (as many people predicted), but I did have a couple people comment that I look thinner. While I do not necessarily feel healthier, but I am cognizant that I probably am.
  • I had the strangest, most intense dreams the first week of this cleanse. In one, I was even denying myself coke in a gas station — I was in tears that I couldn’t have a coke, in fact. It was crazy, and I’m glad my sleep patterns evened out after the first week or so.
  • I must have had 20 people ask me if it was Lent. Uhm…what? I mean, I’m not religious myself, but I’m pretty sure that Lent is in the spring. You remember that holiday called Easter? The one where you get peeps and chocolate? That’s your signal that you’ve missed Lent, and that a whole bunch of people you know are re-indulging in their vices. Just a heads up.
  • I’ve never attended a dance event without coke before. It was a real challenge. I was tired and sluggish, and honestly almost indulged. Of course, it could have been the late night dancing and early morning classes, as well. But I hadn’t discovered tea yet, so hopefully avoiding coke at dance exchanges won’t be a challenge in the future.

Before you ask, I do plan on going back to drinking cokes again.** In fact, I had my first coke in 30 days today, and it was glorious. However, I would rather approach coke as a treat — not as a standard. Maybe, in the future, I will phase it out of my diet entirely…but I honestly enjoy the taste of Coca-Cola too much to do that right now.

In conclusion, I’m incredibly glad that I’ve completed this personal challenge / cleanse. I’ve tried quitting drinking coke in the past, and never succeeded because it always seemed too daunting a task. Going thirty days at a time (and with the support of friends) made it much more manageable. Now, however, I have seen success. And more than that, I’ve discovered other drinks that I honestly like, and I no longer have to go back to coke as a standard.

***

*While most people would say a cleanse needs to clean out every toxin in your body, I think it’s up to you. If you have a particular habit or vice you want to kick, go ahead. In fact, challenges like this tend to be easier to conquer if you take smaller steps.

**A short rant: I am actually really frustrated with the people who are trying to convince me not to drink it ever again, which seems to be every other person with whom I celebrate the success of this recent challenge. Seriously — I know it’s not the healthiest drink, I know it has High-Fructose Corn Syrup, I know it has caffeine, and I know there are healthier drinks. Mind your own fucking business. And if you’re still going to be nosy and spend your energy trying to convince someone to be healthier, try starting on people with real vices — those who are smokers, alcoholics, or pill-poppers, for example. My vice is legal, I only plan to indulge occasionally, and it doesn’t inconvenience or harm those around me. Please take your do-gooder advice elsewhere.

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