Posted | 4 comments


I have an addiction. No, it’s not to drugs illegal or prescribed. No, I’m not drowning my sorrows in tequila shots. There’s no gambling problem, nor am I shop-a-holic. I don’t hoard, though with three dogs and a cat I might be toeing the line on that one. Even though I have a serious love affair with coconut covered doughnuts (Hostess all the way, baby), my weight falls in the normal range. I would like to be able to say I’m addicted to running and yoga and strength training, but my running times, tight hip flexors, and pitiful biceps beg to differ. My addiction is to Coke Zero.

I adore Coke Zero. Coca-Cola, ever the masterful marketers, ad campaign “Happiness” sums it up for me. Nothing makes me happier then a 20 ounce bottle of Coke Zero. If I can find one with the tiniest bit of ice shavings on top, it’s all the better. I actually know the specific coolers in various stores that yield this little godsend. One of my favorite sounds in the world, ranked just after my children’s laughter and my husband’s voice, is the sound of the lid being twisted off one of those 20 ounce beauties. I love the burning sensation you get when you take that first sip. Crushed ice covered with Coke Zero is just like no other in my world. I’ve actually driven miles out of my way to go to the restaurant that carries both.

I have quit the Zero on many occasions. I was Coke Zero free for four months in 2011 and for six months in 2010. But when push comes to shove, I give up. I say I’ll have just one, but within days I’m right back to my 32 ounce plus a day habit. Here’s the deal, drinking Coke Zero, relaxes me. It’s a break, a respite from the day, a touchstone. Everything else in my world may change, but Coke Zero is always the same. I drink it when I’m thirsty and bored and tired and stressed . Then there are the triggers, certain foods and situations where I just crave it.

So, let’s break it down.

First, my habit is an expense. At the least, I buy one 32 ounce cup from QuickTrip (my favorite dealer) a day. That runs me $373.80 per year. Add to that Coke Zero from restaurants, the occasional twelve pack, a few 20 ouncers every week and I’m easily looking at a $1,000.00 per year habit. Not chump change in my universe. I spend less money annually on my clothes. Then there’s the time involved in acquisition. I will get in my car and make a special trip to the store just to get one. This is easily twenty minutes of my time a day or 118 hours a year or 4.9 total days a year. Time I will never get back.

While the Coca-Cola Corporation might beg to differ and as a daughter of the South I feel like a bit of a traitor even uttering these words (after all, Coke is in our blood), there is a lot of evidence that diet soft drinks, especially ones with aspartame, aren’t good for you. My health conscious friends regularly forward articles telling me all the reasons why I need to stop. Just this week Karen sent me a chart discussing how aspartame alters your body chemistry to make it a good breeding ground for cancer (yikes!), and Linda pointed out that she’s had an easier time maintaining her weight since she stopped drinking diet beverages.

Finally, there is my son who has asks me to stop regularly. I can see the concern in his eyes and hear the irritation in his voice. This should be enough. He should be enough.

But I keep on drinking it. In spite of the cost, the mounting evidence that it’s not good for me, and the pleas of my child, I keep picking up the bottle and chugging it down. I tell myself that it’s no biggie. I make deals. I make excuses. After all you can’t really be addicted to Coke Zero, can you? Over the past several months, I’ve been turning this situation over in my mind. After much contemplation, the question I have to ask myself is this: “Why do I continue to do a thing that I clearly know is not good for me?”

Last night, I sat waiting for my daughter (the ongoing saga of my life). I finished off the large cup of water I had with me. It was late. I was tired. The book I was reading had lost my interest. Spotting a Kroger, I knew what was in the cooler at check out lane 6. A frosty 20 ouncer was calling my name. I wasn’t thirsty and I didn’t need the caffeine at such a late hour. I thought about the money I could spend more meaningfully. I thought about cancer. I thought about my son. Then, I went into the store and bought the Coke Zero. I unscrewed the cap and shuddered as the first swig burned my nose. According to Webster, this is addiction.

So, I quit. I’m done. It will not be easy. I will drink more water. I will break out the herbal teas I love. I will avoid trigger foods and situations. I will add an afternoon cup of coffee. The solution is simple.

The other thing I’m going to do is to keep asking myself the question, “Why do I continue to do a thing that I clearly know is not good for me?” This answer is the key.


  1. This was a hard post for me to read. Because what you say rings true: when it comes to addiction, there is not middle ground. You’re either slave or free. I am proud of you. For me, the question is why do I choose bondage instead of claiming freedom? You are truly an inspiration.

    • I believe we choose bondage because we don’t love ourselves. You can’t mistreat what you truly love.

  2. You lay out the evidence so convincingly.
    I love Diet Coke, and little by little I’m breaking my love affair. It’s not quite an addiction, but like you, I walk away from my lover long enough to almost forget him… but a sideways glance months down the road and I leap into his arms with reckless abandon.
    I too know the risks… the STDs of this love affair. Yet I drink.
    I’m happy to say I drink about 60 oz of water a day, trying to crowd out the thirst trigger, at least.
    But I’m not militant. I will have one at a movie {water with popcorn doesn’t sound the least bit magical}, and I like a peach fresca with rum or vodka {wine gives me migraines, although I’ll sip one here and there}. I am trying to switch to organic fruit juice concentrate {like pomegranate juice} with sparkling water and dash of agave if needed. Still… it ain’t diet coke or fresca, but it is healthier-ish.
    Wishing you the best as you kick this bastard to the curb. You know he’s not good for you. Best to walk away.

    • I think your approach is perfect. I’ve recently been introduced to the idea of adding more good to your life to slowly squeezing out the bad. This works for me on a lot of levels, just not with Coke Zero. I can drink one glass of wine, I can eat one piece of cake, but this is the one thing that I have no choice to be all or nothing with. I ate out yesterday and almost talked myself into a Diet Pepsi (it’s not my favorite) but finally good sense kicked in. Diet Pepsi is a gateway drug for me.

      These days I do a lot of water with lemon and herbal teas. So far, so good. Other then the little run in yesterday, I’m standing strong and Coke Zero free.


  1. Healthy Living Isn’t Enough | - [...] I have made so many changes. I eat eight or more servings of fruits and veggies daily. I gave up Coke…
  2. Tools In My Box or Embrace the Woo: Introduction | - [...] not the case. While I extinguished this one particular negative habit, there have been others like this one and…

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *