To Coke, or not to Coke

Surprisingly, I’ve done well. Today is day 43 sans Coca Cola, and I have survived. Last year I made it through ten days before I caved. This year, I just didn’t do it.

What has improved: My teeth are whiter, I’m sleeping better, I have more energy, my kidneys are no longer screaming, pain at the site formerly known as my gall bladder is gone, I’ve saved money, I’m eating better, I’ve had fewer headaches, and I’m no longer having occasional heart palpitations. I was expecting to lose more weight, especially coupled with my half-marathon training, but alas, the scale hasn’t budged much. I will say that my ass is shrinking and higher than it has been in a while, and there is evidence of the abs I once had. WOO!

What has not improved: There is no negative to this. This was supposed to be a Lenten sacrifice, but I didn’t miss out on anything. I had cravings, which I found to happen at times of high stress. Either I wanted a Coke as comfort, or as an act of defiance, but in both cases I knew it wasn’t helping the real issue. I made a positive change for myself, and managed to set a good example for my kids as far as setting a goal and meeting it, as well as taking a step towards modeling healthy behaviors.

My kiddos were fantastic through this. Though they were bummed that when they were with me there was no chance for them to get their daily sip of pop. For so long they watched me drink it every day, and I would let each of them have one sip because I didn’t want them having too much because it’s bad for them. Yet I was easily drinking 36-48 ounces every day. So, they watched me put something in my system that I told them was bad. Great parenting, Sara!! They encouraged me to drink tea and water and reminded me that I was NOT SUPPOSED TO DRINK POP! Unfortunately, I think Zach suffered the most. One of his favorite toys was an empty 20 oz bottle of Coke. Now he has to play with toys and books. Shame.

The cravings aren’t gone. There were several times when I was ready to cave. The worst was when the 1.25 L bottles were on sale at the grocery store for less than a buck. I mean, come on, that’s just good home economics! I earned a gold star for not buying any. And I soooooo wanted to. There were times when I tried to reason “did I just give up Coke? Or all pop? Does root beer count?” And those ideas were shut down quickly. What helped was seeing a picture on Facebook that showed the sugar content of a variety of beverages. I could see what I had been putting in my body (though not in the form of sucrose, but high fructose corn syrup). A friend of mine sent me a link to a YouTube video that highlighted the metabolism of sucrose and HFCS. Fascinating stuff. I’m glad I haven’t been consuming this stuff.

So now, the question is, do I have a little bit on Easter? I would say yes if I thought I could be moderate. Sure, with the big Easter meal I could have a small glass and be fine. And then later next week while grocery shopping, I might pick up a 20 oz bottle, just to enjoy it. Then I’m back to buying 24 packs, telling myself “oh, just one per day.” Some days I might have two, on a bad day I’ll tell myself I deserve three. And then I’m back where I started. While not as severe as most, this is an addiction. Drinking Coke won’t break up my family, cause me to lose my license, or put anyone in danger, but it’s still an addiction. I love the taste, but as I mentioned earlier, the times I wanted to cave weren’t about seeking the flavor. I wasn’t drinking three cans a day because it tastes that good. Actually, after a while, it didn’t taste good at all.

Thinking back to when I started drinking it regularly, it was during one of the most stressful times I can remember, the first time my marriage nearly failed. I used it as a coping mechanism, and never got away from it. That carried on through other stresses, like my difficult pregnancy (yes I know that’s bad), Zach’s illness, moving, and more. So now that my marriage is ending and I can let go of all that went with that, maybe it’s easier to give up Coke again. Maybe I’m reading too much into it.

So, the mature, responsible, logical, health-minded decision is to keep avoiding it, because one glass could be the beginning of a slippery slope. Yes, I agree moderation in everything and everything in moderation, but that’s the key. I don’t know if I can do this in moderation. The best thing for me is to keep this up. I don’t want to start over again.

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