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I am trying it for years now and can't free myself from drinking products like Coca Cola (or Red Bull). I just love the taste and the feeling while drinking it. It wakes me up and makes me feel better and more alive.

I am doing sports at least 2 times a week (badminton or squash and swimming or jogging) but I am not able to lose weight since 4 years (my weight is 130 kilograms and I am 185 cm high). I consume too much sugar (1 liter Coca Cola per day).

How do I stop without that bad feeling that I miss something out? I think I can't live without the taste and the feeling I get from drinking it (which makes the whole addiction a sickness to me).

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I am attempting to reduce my soda intake and now purchase carbonated water when I would normally buy a soda. HTH –  user6128 Jun 23 '13 at 20:41
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Stop buying it. You can't quit in a day. But start now. Slowly won't feel its need. –  Robot Boy Jun 27 '13 at 13:25

5 Answers 5

up vote 28 down vote accepted

Focus and determination

Sugar is addictive, and while is moderate doses it isn't harmful the effects of high doses of sugar lead to insulin spike and dependence, with removal or reduction in sugar leading to withdrawal symptoms similar to of opioids.

Sodas (and most juices) are even worse, as not only do they contain sugar, but caffeine which is also addictive, as well as well engineered flavour palettes that neither quench your thirst, make you full or actually satisfy you.

I hate to talk in absolutes, but soda is absolutely bad for you.

So enough of the scary stuff, you can quit soda, but there are a few obstacles.

  1. Soda tastes great - No, it really doesn't. It tastes sweet there is a difference. You think it tastes nice now, but thats because of conditioning. You body is used to a set level of sweetness, and soda sets and meets that need.
  2. I can switch to diet soda though? - No you can't. Diet soda has far fewer calories, but we are starting to see that artificial sugars keep that desire for sugar at higher than normal levels, so people continue to seek out high sugar foods.
  3. Ok, so fruit juice then? - No, these are just as bad. Sugar is sugar no matter where it comes from. Sodas and fruit juice are a sometimes treat, not what you want to hydrate you.
  4. But what about withdrawls? - They will suck, but its worth it. I am going to guess that at the moment things like fruit don't really seem to have the same kick as Coke, and you'd be right.

I'm not going to sugar coat this - going onto a low sugar diet is going to suck, because sugar withdrawal is a real thing. For about 2 weeks everything is going to taste bland, because you aren't getting the same response you are used to.

So how can you beat this addiction?

  1. Get a journal - go out and buy some some soda, some milk, a little cake and some fresh fruit. Have a little of each, and in the book, write how these taste. Drink some soda, write about it, then have a piece fruit (strawberries are the best for this), write about them - they taste overly tart probably. The milk probably tastes fatty. No need to be overly scientific, but what we want to do is log how the taste of these things makes you feel, and rank their sweetness.
  2. Spend at least a month sugar free. No soda, no fruit juice, no sugar in your coffee or tea, no overly sweet biscuits, cake, etc. Even try and limit your fruit intake, but eat more fresh vegetables to replace the lost vitamins. For the first few days or even weeks, this will suck. The goal here is to get your body accustomed to having much less sugar, we want to reset what your body thinks of as sweet.
  3. During that time hydrate with water only. When you feel "thirsty", drink water - I put that in inverted commas because its probably not thirst its your body craving a soda.
  4. After at least a month, we are going to repeat step 1. Don't look at what you wrote, but try and eat the same things. Does the food taste different? How much sweeter do the fruit and milk seem? If you didn't say quite sweet, go back to step 1. Milk is loaded with sugars.
  5. "Normal" foods taste sweet again? Great, now we can reintroduce sugar into the diet - in moderation, but evaluate everything. Do you need sugar in your coffee, or does the milk make it sweet enough? Not everything and not every drink needs to be sweet. Tea, especially green tea, is lovely without sugar and great to drink all day long.

The key thing to remember, is that removing soda, or limit sugar doesn't mean a world without taste. By this stage, you should find that small amounts of sugar are enough to satisfy you. But by limiting your sugar, you'll start to notice how pleasurable other flavours such as the tartness in a strawberry, or the subtle bitterness of tea and coffee are just as satisfying as overly sugary sodas.

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+1 Amazing answer. And I would give another +1 for perfect usage of "sugar coating"! –  sm4 Jun 23 '13 at 5:40
    
+1 for resisting the urge to say "Just stop buying it" or similar. You are a better man than I. –  Tom W Jun 23 '13 at 15:58
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@TomW Its real isn't that easy. I lost 10kg by doing the same as I suggested, and though I didn't know it at the time, I had literal withdrawals. Sugar is crazy addictive, and its a matter of control. –  Lego Stormtroopr Jun 24 '13 at 8:24
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@TonyStark its sucks but you can do it. Pop into chat and you can tell us your brave and harrowing story there. Live up to your namesake damn it! Would it help if we threw you in a cave with a box of scraps? –  Lego Stormtroopr Jun 25 '13 at 23:32
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@LegoStormtroopr put 'chat' in square brackets '[]' and it will be easier for people to find our Physical Fitness Chat. Great answer by the way, although for me personally it is too extreme, but I am not that addiction kind of person. Different people different approaches I guess. –  Baarn Jun 27 '13 at 12:53

Lego pretty much gave a perfect answer, however I would like to add to it by giving you a few tips from my experience(ex-heavy soda drinker).

Basically you just have to drink lots of water, like just drown yourself in water. You have an addiction to drinking, just try replacing sodas with water. It is going to be extremely difficult, but slowly you can overcome it. Take one day at a time. Drink no other fluid other than water at least 3 days a week and your're well on your way to recovery.

Try to understand that feeling of freshness you get when you are completely hydrated. It's much better than the freshness you get by having sodas and you will understand that with time.

Since you already seem to have put on a lot of weight going on a high water diet is must for you. Sugar levels in your body are too high and this can be very dangerous in the long run.

Also you can have lots of green tea (without sugar).

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I edited your answer, please note that this isn't a chat, so take care when writing answers and write out your sentences. –  Baarn Jun 27 '13 at 13:02

Once you've committed yourself to weaning yourself off the stuff by modifying your diet, you might also consider a two-pronged attack of also modifying your buying habits so that the opportunity to acquire soda isn't there at times when your cravings are high. Perhaps getting your groceries from somewhere that doesn't sell soft drinks, or ensuring that you don't carry small change around when you might pass a vending machine, might help you.

I don't have much of a junk food habit, but I feel that I would do if I hadn't trained myself out of buying the stuff. When I was a student, shopping on foot with no motor transport meant that my carrying capacity as well as my available cash was very limited and therefore I could neither afford nor carry home snacks or dessert items, so I very rarely bought them - and still don't.

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This is something I didn't address, and to TomW's credit won't edit in. But yes, another important factor is just not having it available. Get rid of any remaining soda and empty your pockets at the end of the day of change so you can't raid the soft drink machine the next day. –  Lego Stormtroopr Jun 24 '13 at 23:13

I put this much detail into this post because I am concerned about your weight, and dietary preferences beyond just the sugar from soda.


Lego's answer is quite comprehensive, but to me it sounds way too painful, unnecessary and unnatural. Unnatural because your metabolism will still be dealing with carbs, doesn't matter how complex or what glycemic index they have. Just like a lot of calorie-restriction low-fat diets are unnatural. As long as high levels of carbs are there, the instinct will remain, and you will have to deal with withdrawal for ages, It's torturous.

Lego's solution implies Personality-conditioning, Personality-conditioning in the face of your body generating withdrawal and longing. You can just condition your body, a very painless process.

Low-carb diets are the answer to your problems, Your metabolic processes change and your body's hunger mechanism is completely changed, one change is insulin and blood sugar is no longer in the loop, so your body literally forgets about sugar. You don't have to stick to the diet forever, 2 weeks would be enough to break the addiction I reckon. but you are a heavy dude like me), and are probably heading to type-2 diabetes, heart disease, and high blood pressure :(, so it be worth sticking to it for longer.

There will most likely be a gap in your life if you eliminate those things which you took great pleasure from. I recommend endurance exercise to fill this gap :D

The Atkins program is quite good a good way to start.

Here is What you do :

Stop eating carbs and sugar, 60% fat + 35% protein and 5% complex veggie carbs. No bread, no pasta, no fruit. Your addiction will literally fall through the floor 6 or so days in. You'll have 2 days or so of fogginess, after that your set. Add more salt to your food because you excrete more salt when you eat like this, if you don't you might start feeling faint, eat more salt especially during exercise.

  • Hunger in general is countered by: Fat. Slow digesting, and the stream of fat entering the blood stream inhibits hunger.
  • Longing for sugar/carbs is countered by: the elimination of insulin spikes, and the stable blood sugar levels brought about by ketones, and the adaption of most of your cells to fat metabolism.
  • No, eating lots of fat is NOT BAD: (only misconception I will address). Once your body has adapted, there is actually a preferential order as to how your body consumes fat. The dangerous types of fats are burned before the healthier ones. This means that over time a person on this has SIGNIFICANTLY better bloodwork than those on a carb-based diet.

My Experience

I used to eat 1-2k worth of processed sugar almost every day. I would think about sugar when I wasn't eating it. It was almost an addiction. I switched to Atkins and started training on a bike, I have lost 9 kg in six weeks, and probably would have lost more if I hadn't been gaining muscle mass. I eat 1.8-2.5k calories a day.

Some Points:

  • After the first 3-4 days I stopped thinking about sugar/complex carbs ENTIRELY.
  • I can under eat to 1k calories (maintaining 100 g of protein) without feeling any hunger pangs.
  • I drink a double glass of coffee with 3-4 tbsp of double cream and 2 tablespoons of Splenda in the morning, I doubt any soda ever tasted as good.

P.s., to those with stereotypical unscientific negative notions on carbless diets I refer here, and here.

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These are all great tips in general, and low-carb diets are no better or worse than other diets, but your answer doesn't speak to the question itself. Also, I'm not promoting personality conditioning, as simple sugars like glucose and fructose do have a physiologically addictive properties and at the extreme it does need to be treated like an addiction. –  Lego Stormtroopr Jun 26 '13 at 3:27

There is almost nothing better you can do for yourself than to quit drinking soda. A number of recent studies have shown that the rise of obesity in less-developed countries is almost entirely due to soda! Just the availability of soda, without any other changes to the diet, is enough to significantly tip the epidemiology of a population.

Anyways, if you cannot bring yourself to forgo soda completely, you should at the very least try to have it side-by-side with high-fiber and/or high-protein food that will buffer the absorption of sugar into your bloodstream. If you want a can of soda, have an apple or a turkey sandwich at the same time. Other than the taste, the thing you are addicted to is the instant blood sugar spike you are getting from unbuffered high-fructose corn syrup (HFCS). And if you can't or don't want to cut out the sugar in soda, try to cut out the sugar elsewhere. Good luck!

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