The average American drinks six hundred 12 oz. servings of cola a year. Males between the ages of twelve and twenty-nine drink an average of 160 gallons/year. That’s almost two quarts/day.
Why is soda a staple of so many diets?
Two of its main ingredients, caffeine, considered the most commonly used psychoactive drug in the world consumed daily by ninety percent of adults, and sugar, real or substitutes, can be very addicting. What’s even more surprising is that the whole cola experience is, too. The Five Soft Drink Monsters lists the following as also contributing to addiction: the feeling of wrapping your hand around a cold soft drink, the snap of opening the can or bottle, the clinking of ice cubes in the glass, the tingling of carbonation on the tongue, the cool sensation in your mouth, and the sound of gulping. While ‘many don’t want to admit it, they don’t just enjoy these beverages, they’re addicted.
Stories of addicts
(The names of the following have been changed.)
Diane was drinking two to four sodas a day before she even realized she had a problem.
Betty experienced twenty-seven years of addiction. She began drinking two cans of diet cola a day at the age of sixteen. By the time she was forty-three, she drank up to six cans per day.
After ridiculing a relative for drinking two or three colas a day, Jane soon found her intake had risen from one every two days or so to one or two every day.
An extreme case is Julie’s. She began drinking twenty ounces of cola a day but was soon consuming up to 270 liters a day.
Fran took up soft drinks when she stopped smoking. After a year she realized she’d simply replaced one addiction with another.
Are you addicted?
Here are a few questions you may want to ask yourself.
Has your cola intake increased over time?
Do you drink more than you plan?
Are you able to control and/or reduce your consumption?
Do you ever drink to avoid withdrawal symptoms? (See below.)
Do you drink even after knowing it causes or contributes to your physical or psychological problems?
How to quit
If you realize drinking cola is an issue for you, here are a few ideas to help, but keep in mind giving up soft drinks probably won’t be easy. You will most likely experience one or more of these withdrawal symptoms: fatigue, headache, mild depression, muscle pain and stiffness, flu-like symptoms, nausea, and/or vomiting.
Quit cold turkey. It works for some.
Find a substitute like water, decaffeinated tea, or flavored water. Jane chilled fresh water each day. She flavored it with fruit and served it over crushed ice. She also kept bottles handy so she could grab one on the go.
Keep a small can of soda in the refrigerator and allow yourself a sip or two a day.
Learn more about the negative side effects of colas. (Read Killer Colas.)
Let others know you’re quitting. You’ll feel more committed to the plan, and some friends might provide encouragement.
Add exercise and a healthy diet to your lifestyle. Feeling good will help you want to continue with your smart choices.