I’m Off the Coke

In 1986, my mother went in to my high school for parent-teacher interviews. She met with my science teacher, Mr. Collins, who greeted her and remarked “ah, Darren, the boy with a Coke in his hand”.

I don’t drink alcohol, coffee or tea. I don’t do drugs, eat red meat or put other potentially nasty things in my body. I am, however, serious smitten with Coke. It is one of my few vices.

It’s time to grow up and accept that drinking a can of Coke a day isn’t particularly healthy. For the month of February, I’m not going to drink any soft drinks. Cold turkey. The whole enchilada.

The last half-can sits beside my keyboard, waiting to be savoured. If I or my posts turn grumpy and incoherent, it’s because I’m coming down. Forgive me. More updates as events warrant.


  1. Hey Darren,

    Good luck with that. I ended my habit last fall. Was doing a “Coke” a day+ and found that a) missing a day gave me nasty headaches and b) it was starting to eat into my stomach. A few weeks later I was good to go … but do enjoy the few days of pounding headaches.

    I have now had about two Cokes in the last few months, and don’t find I enjoy them anymore.



  2. One a day is nothing. I drink a lot more, and … I probably need to actually think about this before going ahead, but maybe I should try a month cold turkey as well. I found that apple juice is a good sweet drink substitute, though it’s definitely a bad fizzy caffeinated drink substitute. I’ve taken to drinking tea and fancy coffee *in addition* to my Coke habit, so maybe that’s the excuse?

    I’d be interested to hear how it goes, say, halfway. But hey, isn’t choosing the shortest month of the year cheating? Whatever. If you go the whole month of February without a Coke, I’ll go all of March without one.

  3. I was drinking 2+ cans a day up until June 2004 when I decided to quit cold turkey. Similar to you, I’d been on a steady consumption program since early high school. Now here’s the cheerful news: I went from drinking nearly a litre a day to NOTHING with absolutely no side effects (unless you count weight loss). I just switched to drinking expensive yuppie soda waters (Perrier Lime was the favorite) and didn’t really notice the loss. And now I can drink one glass of it without falling off the wagon.

    So.. good luck. Anyone who is as successful in business as you are will certainly succeed where building good health is concerned.

  4. By strange coincidence, the top link on the Sentinel page has to do with substance abuse.

    Does “no soft drinks” mean you’re only drinking water?

    I switched from Coke to Diet Coke in late 2003. I dropped coffee about nine months ago and suffered bad headaches, despite having only consumed one mug a day. I probably still drink 200 – 355 ml of Diet Coke. However, this is 45 mg of caffeine, compared to about 300 mg in a mug of coffee. (Most people don’t drink 250 ml of coffee; mugs are much bigger.) Since Health Canada says 300 mg of caffeine is safe and I drink 2L of water and a litre of milk a day, I think I’m okay to drink Diet Coke. (Health Canada says it’s safe to drink 11.5 cans of apartame-sweetened pop a day.) But I do feel a little guilty…sort of like there’s an addiction going on.

  5. I’ve actually heard the same tale from a bunch of people lately — people who are far more strict than I am about what they put in their bodies, and yet Coke, in particular, is a daily habit they just can’t break.

    I don’t understand pop addiction … I drink it now and then but I can’t imagine drinking that much pop every day. It would give me a bellyache. I can’t even finish a medium-sized soft drink without feeling sick now.

    I have other vices though. I am a coffee- and tea-drinker, and I enjoy the booze.

  6. Back in undergrad, my diet coke pace was around 6-8 cans a day and I quit cold turkey.

    The experience was similar to what David and Andrea describe – a week of nasty headaches and caffiene cravings and then fine.

    It certainly helped me sleep a lot better afterwards.

  7. I used to be so addicted to Diet Coke that if I didn’t have money in high school, I would stand by the coke machine and ask people for quarters to buy one.

    Now I can’t drink Coke. It makes me unbelievably jittery. I can drink coffee, and that does not have the same effect.

  8. Congrats on the commitment and good luck. I stopped cold turkey 24 days ago. It has been very hard. The place I work offers free “fountain” soda and cans of soda for a nickel. I had been in the habit of drinking 2-3 cans per day. Now I mainly drink decaffinated tea or hot water. I admit that it certainly does not have the same feel of those lucious bubbles, but it has worked for me so far. Good luck.

  9. No BEEF????????? Gads! How? What? And most importantly…WHY?

    You can get organic beef, you know…no hormones, no antibiotics…just pure beef.

    Please rethink this one, Darren. For the love of all that is good and decent in the world, PLEASE.

  10. Oh — and good luck with the no-Coke thing. Bloody nasty stuff, I use it to clean the inside of the dishwasher. You can also clean toilets with it. Truly frightening.

  11. Good luck! I used to drink a couple of cokes a a meal a few years ago and cut down to half a coke at lunch and a full glass at dinner. I’ve quite for almost a year before too and slowly got back on the sauce. I can’t go a day without getting pounding headaches. I’m feeling the twinge of one now just thinking about going without a coke 😉

    I’ve been considering giving them up again. I drink loads of water already and just like the way cokes taste with food. But I think it’s time to quit again, thanks for the reminder!

  12. Wow, dude, that’s tough! Good luck with that! (PS, once I lost a ton of weight simply by switching from Cokes to bottled water, and made no other changes.) Take care and stay hydrated!

  13. Interestingly, I have also decided to go cold turkey with Coke. I have had to give up wine and it was so easy to throw coke in as my substitute, but sanity prevailed and I am determined to try Perrier instead. Juices are loaded with calories and rather empty calories at that. Try real oranges Darren. They are so good right now. June sent me a link (I have lost it) regarding the poison that Diet Coke is. I will never drink that again. I’m pleased you are cleaning up your insides.

  14. Me and my friends in high school were excessive coke drinkers. Not even discovering alcohol at 16 was enough to curb our 2-4 litre a day habit.

    When I started programming for a living, I was still drinking coke all the time, until I woke up after a brief nap on a sunday, during a 2 day coding marathon to find 7 empty 2 liter bottles next to my pc.

    I just had this sudden deep revulsion for the stuff, and I switched completely to fruit juices, and I didn’t have ANY fizzy drink for more than a year.

    I am not trying to get off my fruit juice habit, which is actually not that bad .. mostly because I dilute fruit juice 50/50.

    I now am trying to drink more water , by switching to flavoured water, and drinking one glass of plain water for every glass of something else I drink.

    My desires for coke don’t exist anymore, and when I do break down and have coke (on hot days usually), I struggle to finish a whole can.

  15. I never drink coke anymore, simply because I find it too sweet. I have no ethical qualms with it, or any other drug, it just tastes like ass to me. Coffee’s good during the working day, and for the nights I tend to stick to drugs that don’t leave me groggy the next day.

  16. To fight off the headaches, wean yourself down over a week with a sips of a coke a day. (half a coke day one, 1/3 day 2, 1/3 day 3, 1/4 day four, etc.)

  17. Odd, half of my comment didn’t show up.

    I went on to say that I actually tried to get addicted to caffiene once – I thought it would be an interesting personal development experience to see addiction first hand, and coffee is easier to kick than heroin ;). So when I was at EA, I drank 4 cups of coffee every day (which is somewhat necessary there, given the 70 hour weeks). After four months of that, I went to my parent’s place for Christmas. They drink coffee all the time, but I didn’t have any at all. I had no withdrawal symptons, no headaches, I wasn’t more tired than usual, etc. Hopefully you have as easy a time 😉

  18. I drink WAY too much coffee. I don’t even notice the effects of caffeine anymore, and I konw that means I’m addicted, but that’s ok with me (for now). I DO drink lots of water. My big concern is whether or not there’s going to be Coke made available at Northern Voice?

  19. Has anyone here ever considered a class-action law suit against Coca-Cola? I have been hooked on the stuff since I was a little girl. My mother only let us have it once a week, Friday nights with pizza, but every quarter I found would send me running to the candy store to buy a can of the oh so sweet nectar. Once I got my driver’s license I was doomed. I am so completely hooked… and soooo overweight. I drink a Coke with every meal. And the cold turkey doesn’t work for me… So, if anyone wants to join me in a suit against Coke… let me know.

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