Confessions of a Former Coke “Addict”

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Beverages like Coca-Cola can feel like their addictive

This post was originally published on November 30, 2011.

Yes, I’ve battled a Coke “addiction” a couple times. Just when I think I have it beat, a couple years later it worms its way back into my life. No, this Coke isn’t that white, powdery stuff. This Coke comes in a can, and my particular “drug” of choice is Cherry Coke Zero.

Do you ever wonder why soft drinks and processed foods have such power over us? Are we just weak? Or are our bodies simply outmaneuvered by slick Big Food companies? An interesting 60 Minutes episode entitled “The Flavorists: Tweaking Tastes and Creating Cravings” sheds some light on the subject. If you haven’t seen it, you should definitely check it out here:

It’s no surprise that processed foods and beverages are designed and engineered to taste good. But as you listen to Morley Safer interview several employees of Givaudan, the world’s largest flavoring and fragrance manufacturer, you quickly realize that’s delicious is not the only goal of Big Food companies.  Here’s a brief part of their conversation as they talk about the creation of fruit flavorings:

Givaudan [Dawn Streich]: In our fruit flavors we’re talking about, we want a burst in the beginning. And maybe a finish that doesn’t linger too much so that you want more of it.

Givaudan [Hassel]: And you don’t want a long linger, because you’re not going to eat more of it if it lingers.

60 Minutes [Morley Safer]: Aha. So I see, it’s going to be a quick fix. And then–

Givaudan [Hassel]: Have more.

60 Minutes [Morley Safer]: And then have more. But that suggests something else?

Givaudan [Hassel]: Exactly.

60 Minutes [Morley Safer]: Which is called addiction?

Givaudan [Hassel]: Exactly.

60 Minutes [Morley Safer]: You’re tryin’ to create an addictive taste?

Givaudan [Hassel]: That’s a good word.

Givaudan [Streich]: Or something that they want to go back for again and again.

Pretty scary conversation if you ask me. Do the flavorings that Givaudan concoct make our food addictive? I don’t know. But I am confidant that whether it’s artificial or natural flavors they’re creating, companies like Givaudan are contributing to the obesity epidemic by helping Big Food companies manufacture processed food and beverages that we crave and “go back for again and again.”

Beyond the consequences of eating food you just can’t resist, what’s so bad about processed food? Well, as I explained in my blog post “All Food is NOT Created Equal”, flavorings are just one of the ingredients in the processed food pantry. Fats, salt, and sugars are all layered on top of cheap, nutrition-poor ingredients to give the appearance and taste of real food. Over time our bodies eat more and get less nutrition, creating a downward health spiral that can be disastrous.

So what’s the solution? You guessed it … eat less processed food and beverages. By making simple changes to your diet and replacing the boxes, cans, and bottles of pre-made food and drinks with real food and water, you can make noticeable improvements to your health.

And what about my addiction? Well, over Thanksgiving I decided to go “cold turkey”—no more Coke Zero. Thanks to plenty of distractions during my vacation, it really wasn’t that hard to quit. But when I returned to work and fell back in my daily routine, those cravings were pretty loud. Thankfully I stayed strong and didn’t cave, but it can be difficult.

In case you’re also trying to break a soda habit, here are some tips I suggest:

  1. Keep a bottle of water nearby at all times. If you even feel the tinge of desire to drink a soda, drink some water. Being fully hydrated can help keep a lid on the cravings.
  2. Substitute an occasional flavorful drink during your transition. Drinking juice or sweet tea isn’t a long term solution to giving up your soda habit since these drinks have lots of calories. But during your “withdrawal” indulge a little. Just remember to ease back on these transition drinks after a week or so.
  3. Sparkling water can help if you miss the carbonated refreshment of soda.
  4. Have support. One of the reasons I chose to quit over the holidays was that I knew I’d be around family. Even though some family members drink diet soda, I knew they’d be supportive of my effort to quit.
  5. Find ways to give your water some zip. If plain water just isn’t enough for you, find some ways to spice it up by using lemons, limes, oranges, or mint.

Are there processed foods are beverages that you just can’t beat? Or have you vanquished some processed food gremlins from your diet and want to share how you did it. Please share your thoughts and comments below. I know we all have something to learn from each other.

As always, if you’ve enjoyed this post, please share it by pasting a link on your Facebook wall, liking it, or emailing it to a friend. And for more inside scoop on the world of food, please subscribe to my blog.

 

I’m happy to say I’ve been completely soft drink free for over a year now. I can honestly say I don’t even crave it now, but those first couple weeks were a challenge. So if you’re still “addicted,” do something for yourself and kick the habit using the tips I suggested above. And if you have a friend or family member that’s addicted, share this post with them and help them make a simple step towards a healthier life.

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71 comments… add one

  • A L D November 30, 2011, 7:46 pm

    I too have a “coke” addiction. I did cut back on what I was drinking but it again has slowly creeped back into my daily life. I have been better but living in the south has caused me to go to sweet tea on occasion. Keeping water handy at all times when working has helped me out more than I thought. I also keep lemon juice in my fridge all the time as well to give it a little flavor.

    Reply
    • Bruce Bradley December 2, 2011, 5:06 pm

      I totally hear you on the “creeping back into my daily life” comment. That’s what happened to me. Several years ago I started drinking an occasional soft drink in meetings. As my stress from various things at work and home increased and my willpower sank, I started buying soft drinks for consumption at home. I’m hoping this is the LAST time I’m going to have to quit. Best of luck!

      Reply
  • Karen November 30, 2011, 7:50 pm

    Thank you for sharing your personal struggle as well as the truth behind food industry practices. A long time ago I had a diet Sprite addiction. (They say the clear stuff is better…) I drank coffee in the morning and diet Sprite the rest of the day. That’s it. Thankfully, I discovered vastly improved health through a real food diet. The soda addiction was hard at first, but thankfully it eventually goes away (and even became repulsive to me, when I understood what it does to health). I promote real food to anyone who will listen (and occasionally to those who won’t) and appreciate others who do the same. Sometimes I wonder how people survive on processed foods. Then I look at the statistics for things like cancer, heart disease, diabetes, etc., and I’m reminded that it’s a slow killer.
    By the way, I’m not saying anything negative about coffee up above. I still have that addiction. :)

    Keep up the great work! People need to know the truth!

    Karen aka Being Conformed

    Reply
    • Bruce Bradley December 2, 2011, 5:08 pm

      Thanks for your kind words. Glad you are enjoying my blog, and congrats on whipping your soft drink addiction.

      Reply
  • Kathy November 30, 2011, 8:14 pm

    I am convinced there’s more to it than just flavoring. My particular addiction is Diet Pepsi. Three things I’ve noticed…it tastes great going down but doesn’t actually quench your thirst. After it’s gone, you want more because you’re still thirsty. Also, it makes me hungry even if I’m drinking it with food. (I suspect that’s the aspartame.) And, it has a major diuretic effect. (Maybe that’s the aspartame too, I dunno.) I have managed to tame the addiction some – I used to drink the stuff all day long but have cut it to 4 or 5 2-liter bottles a month. Would like to kick it completely since it has no redeeming nutritional value and I certainly don’t need to be giving any of my money to a multi-national corporation owned by the 1%.

    Reply
    • Bruce Bradley December 2, 2011, 5:09 pm

      You can do it, Kathy! Just kick those 2-liter bottles to the curb!

      Reply
  • Vanessa November 30, 2011, 8:24 pm

    I wouldn’t say I was “addicted” but I loved Diet Pepsi. To spite my husband who said I couldn’t quit, I did. July 4th. I wasn’t drinking a ton but a few 20 oz. bottles a week. When I quit diet pop, I quit anything and everything that contained aspartame, including gum, mints and anything else this hides in. I wasn’t experiencing side effects from it, however with a mother with Lewy Body Disease and a family history of Alzheimer’s disease, I want to do all I can to protect my brain. I wrote about my experience on my blog as well.

    Reply
  • Food Babe November 30, 2011, 10:11 pm

    WOW Bruce – I had no idea you were a Coke Addict! I am so happy you have broken free! Just remember – Vote with your dollars and don’t put another dollar is Coca Cola’s pocket. I am in the process writing a similar article about Givaduan too – Can’t wait to see what you have to say! BTW – what do you do at work? Are you a writer full time? I am curious – because I currently career soul searching… I’ve been working for the BIG Banks for all my life…sigh…..

    Reply
    • Food Babe November 30, 2011, 10:12 pm

      And apparently I forget words and should edit my posts before hitting reply. It’s late :)

      Reply
    • Bruce Bradley December 2, 2011, 5:11 pm

      I’m a consultant for my “day job” and do my blogging and writing in my “free” time. It’s hard to keep up with it all, but I truly love what I’m doing.
      Thanks! Bruce

      Reply
  • Mark November 30, 2011, 10:34 pm

    You can surely do this. I think I drank coke in place of water since I was probably 10 or so. I just turned 50 this year and haven’t had a soda in maybe two years. I tried one after quitting for 3 or 4 months and it tasted terrible. So sweet you couldn’t stand it. Get off all the sugar you can and it’s amazing how much it will help your health. The cravings will subside…I promise:)

    Reply
    • Bruce Bradley December 2, 2011, 5:18 pm

      Almost 2 weeks down and feeling great! Thanks for your encouragement!

      Reply
  • Lori December 1, 2011, 8:56 am

    I used to be a diet Coke junkie. And yes, junkie is the right word choice as this stuff is as addictive as other drugs. I had ot have my ‘fix’ in the morning and throughout the day. So much so, that I got hooked on the fountain soda and would make a trip to McDonald’s every morning (7 days a week!). would leave my kids at home (they were old enough) and for at least 2 hours I’d be chugging my diet Coke, then I’d fill up before leaving and often have to have another before the day was up. On Thanksgiving and Christmas when stores are closed (unfortunately most stores are open on Thanksgiving now), I’d plan which convenience store I was going to hit so I could get one of their HUGE Cokes to drink on most of the day. It controlled my life.
    I did not lose weight, sometimes gained weight, lived in the bathroom (between the caffeine and the aspartame), and finally had to stop drinking any soda by 4pm or I’d be up all night with insomnia from the caffeine.
    I ended up with a swollen foot/ankle/leg that pained me terribly and lasted for over 9 months. I could barely walk as it hurt so bad, including shooting pains up my calf. My tennis shoes left marks on my foot (including where it was sewn!), and I could not get my feet, especially my left foot into a regular shoe as the swelling was so bad. Driving was painful as the top of my feet would spasm (way I was sitting?), and I was in pain hell for 9 months, then sporadically after that. I did not go to the doctor as I did not want to go on pharmaceuticals or have a shot in my foot (cortisone as it hurts so bad).
    I’d heard that aspartame was bad for you, blew it off, but then one day I recieved an email all about aspartame poisoning. I did not open it as I was going to the library at that time and I only had 2 hours on the Internet. Finally, the first week of April, I thought maybe I should read it. That article changed my life. I read how addictive aspartame is (I was addicted), how it caused all kinds of health issues, including….swelling in the legs and feet! Besides cancer, MS, Fibromyalgia, and a host of other health problems. I knew I was going off of Coke for life.
    That day I drank all the Coke I wanted because I was going cold turkey. I was a Wednesday, I got up, ate a piece of toast, swallowed 3 aspirin, and took aspirin every 3.5 hours for the rest of the day. I did not want the headache that goes with caffiene withdrawal. I never got a headache, but I did sit around on the couch most of the day watching TV with the kids as I felt like someone had beat the bejeevers out of me. I also knew this was caffiene withdrawal. It took 3 days for me to feel back to normal, and yes, I still craved Coke, but I was not giving in. Then the end of May, about 6 weeks later, I’d been cleaning closets, it was HOT outside, I was sweating and yucky and thirsy, so I thought I’d head to McDonald’s to take advantage of their a/c, get a Coke, but drink just a bit, and i’d be okay. I filled the cup up to the top with ice, then pop, and that first sip felt like heaven! The taste was familiar, it gave me a rush, and it cooled me off some. I drank the Coke, filled the cup up with ice and then Coke again, drank this down, then filled cup up with ice again and only a half cup of Coke. All total I might have had a cup of Coke, maybe a bit more, but before I’d barely put in any ice and lots of Coke. After an hour I felt cooled off and refreshed.
    The next morning I awoke to a swollen foot and leg! I was horrified. I knew then I’d really been poisoning myself, and that was the very last time I ever drank diet soda, I also avoid anything else ‘diet’. That was almost 10 years ago come this April. NOTHING could get me to go back on Coke or any other aspartame-laced foods. I began to look into eating properly and over the years we’ve drastically changed our diets to almost all real food. I say almost because we still eat bacon and other cured meats occasionally, and I still will eat some canned foods, though not often.
    PLEASE, if you are drinking or consuming aspartame in other ways, look into the dangers by going to the search engine of your computer (Google is good) and typing in ‘Dangers of Aspartame’ and then read what comes up. You will go cold turkey, too.
    And ever since that fateful May day when I imbibed the Coke and made my foot/leg swell up, I’ve not touched aspartame again, and I have NOT had anymore swelling in my foot/leg!!! I read ALL labels.
    We also avoid all MSG, HFCS, and other unnatural and dangerous products.

    Reply
    • Cindy December 1, 2011, 12:45 pm

      Lori,
      Check out Marksdailyapple.com in regard to eating bacon. Or read about the gaps diet. Just as you are misled about sodas, you’ve been misled about fats and processed foods. The FDA is wrong in their advice. I’m currently reading Good Calories/Bad Calories by Gary Taubes and it’s shocking how long our scientists and government have known the truth in the studies and still tout the incorrect information. Check out the information on wheatbellies.com. I’ve been studying because I have two (fat-free) friends who are being treated for cancer. One has breast cancer and the other stomach cancer. There’s a link to the low-fat, high-wheat diet. Congratulations on kicking the soda, but rejoice because you’re still eating bacon.

      Reply
      • Lori December 1, 2011, 10:17 pm

        Cindy~Thanks for the info, but we are huge carnivorous eaters who enjoy fatty ribeye steaks and hamburgers. What I meant about the bacon comment is the cured kind that is full of nitrites and nitrates. I sometimes buy the kind that is nitrite and nitrate free and we enjoy bacon very much. The cost keeps us from enjoying it more often. I eat mainly low-carb, with lots of meat.

        Reply
    • Joelynn December 1, 2011, 10:21 pm

      Thanks for sharing this inspiring story. And well done on kicking the habit. On a different note, Coke is also bad for skin. When she was younger, my sister had a bad acne problem. She saw the doctor and he told her to cut out all carbonated drinks.

      Reply
    • Bruce Bradley December 2, 2011, 5:20 pm

      Good for you for kicking the habit! Sounds like you’ve made a lot of progress in eating real food vs. the processed stuff big food companies like to sell us! Congrats!

      Reply
  • susan December 1, 2011, 9:02 am

    I watched that 60 Minutes show last week with my laptop on my lap – taking notes for a blog just like this – you beat me to it! I had a coke addiction too, sorry to admit that. I’ve been “off” for probably 10 yrs now. What helps when I get a craving – yes, still to this day I get them – is sparkling water with lime and some agave – sort of make my own 7-up or whatever. I swear there is something about that bubbly feeling in your mouth that just might contribute to the addiction.

    I’ve done several blogs already on the marketing “genius” of the food industry chemists, tricking us into eating foods that “taste like” real things, but are not. I say we have a choice here – eat real things as the Creator made them (fruits, veggies etc) or eat artificial chemicals created in a laboratory.

    Things I was addicted to in the past? Oreos. There is NO chocolate, the real stuff, in them. Cheetos. There is NO cheese in those things – what the heck ARE they anyway? I shudder in the grocery store when I see the phude people put in their carts – and no surprise that many are as big as their carts!

    Thanks for this – especially the video – even if you did beat me to it! :)
    Susan

    Reply
    • Food Babe December 1, 2011, 9:18 pm

      Susan – You should still write it! I did – even though Bruce beat me to it too! :) The more people who write about it, the more people will have an opportunity to be informed. I wrote my article from a totally different perspective – outlining what could really be lurking behind “natural” flavor…

      Check out my post here – Is the Food Industry Conducting Chemical Warfare on us? You decide. http://foodbabe.com/2011/12/01/chemical-warfare-with-natural-flavor/

      Reply
      • Karen December 4, 2011, 9:55 pm

        I agree that Susan should write her article. And I love the term “phude”! I guess I was lucky and never got hooked into the soft drink thing, diet or otherwise. We maybe use three or four of the big plastic bottles of ginger ale a year. I’ve been looking at recipes to make it at home and just might try it now, so I can make sure I don’t fund the nasty guys.

        It sounds like 60 minutes was talking to street drug dealers, not big business using an ingredient the dear old Donald (Rumsfeld) got passed as safe for human consumption. The more I hear about this stuff, the scarier it gets. But please don’t stop.

        And the best of luck to everyone trying to kick the stuff!

        Reply
  • dogfood December 1, 2011, 9:04 am

    I broke my addiction the February before last. It stretched from 1985 and while it was mainly straight Diet Coke, I stretched into the exotics, shooting vanilla and sometimes cherry into Zero. I was hitting the dealer (QuikTrip) almost every day for a 44 ouncer. I was pretty strung out, but getting mobilized to Afghanistan made a perfect excuse for dropping it permanently. I also became convinced some eye trouble was a direct result of my habit.

    One note: I was reading on Mark’s Daily Apple that all of the artificial sweeteners have an effect on our appetite (increasing it), save stevia. Interestingly, Coca-Cola has been working on a stevia-based drink for years, but it hasn’t seen the light of day. I wonder if it just doesn’t have the addictive x-factor this article indicates is a requirement.

    Reply
  • Tina Tuszynski December 1, 2011, 9:10 am

    Great post, Bruce, and best of luck to you in your fight against Coke – you’ll do it! I haven’t had soda in a long time, except for an occasional one every couple of months or so, so it’s hard to remember how difficult kicking it could be. But I do know, as with any junk food, it’s imperative to stay away from your temptation cold turkey. I used to love potato chips as a kid, and they are so addicting. It’s like you just can’t get enough of that salty flavor and want to keep eating more even as you are chewing your present chip. However, when I make natural baked kale chips or sweet potato chips with a little sea salt, I have absolutely no cravings like that. I can eat several, enjoy them while I am eating them, and then be done with it.

    It’s amazing to me, therefore, how those artificial flavorings are so keenly designed to make you feel that way. Have you ever read the book by Dr. David Kessler, “The End of Overeating”? He addresses this in his research. It’s really sad that we are all guinea pigs in this huge food experiment.

    Eat natural foods 99.9% of the time, as Mother Nature is real.

    Reply
  • Cherie December 1, 2011, 9:20 am

    I recommend unsweetened Tea. You can cold steep it with just water and tea bags in the refrigerator. Go to http://www.nutritionfacts.org and look up tea and all the reason why it’s even better than plain water. It’s packed with antioxidants for one good reason to drink it and it is tasty and refreshing at zero calories.

    Reply
  • Karen @ The Tamale Girl December 1, 2011, 9:20 am

    I used to have a Diet Pepsi/Diet Coke/Diet Anything addiction. I realized at some point that I had plenty of reasons to quit, but I’d still crave it every afternoon while I was at work. I was able to go cold turkey for a few months once but I craved it the whole time. What seemed to finally work was that I read a few of Michael Pollan’s books and began to FEEL like soda was bad for me. I also replaced the afternoon soda with sparkling water. Now, I can’t even imagine craving soda. Strange how it finally clicked; I think the key was the negative association I developed when I began to truly believe it was a bad thing.

    Reply
  • Piper Bayard December 1, 2011, 9:45 am

    I quit my cola addiction around the same time I quit cigarettes. In 1990. I still have food bugaboos, but I find the most important thing I can do to stick with my commitment is to not let it in the house. Its much harder to keep it out of my hands and mouth once it gets through my door.

    What I’m wondering about is potato chips. I recently visited a friend who eats them by the bag. That would be the family sized bag. I a couple. Then a couple more and a whole lot more. That was a month ago, and I’m still craving potato chips. Again, I’m having to keep them entirely out of my house, though before this trip, I was able to ignore them completely. Are potato chips now made from coca leaves?

    Thanks for a great blog.

    Reply
    • Food Babe December 1, 2011, 9:22 pm

      Check out what “natural flavor” does in potato chips on my blog post – The natural flavor in chips usually some form of MSG disguised.

      Is the Food Industry Conducting Chemical Warfare on us? You decide. http://foodbabe.com/2011/12/01/chemical-warfare-with-natural-flavor/

      Reply
    • Bruce Bradley December 2, 2011, 5:35 pm

      Yes, salt, fat, and starches like potatoes are VERY addictive. Keeping them OUT of your house is an excellent idea. If you do choose to have some in your house, be VERY aware of your serving size and place a small portion in a small bowl or cup to prevent overeating directly out of the bag.

      Reply
  • Karen December 1, 2011, 10:05 am

    Hello Bruce! Thank you for your blog. You brought up the food addiction issue not too long ago which got me thinking about it more than usual. I got into the food business six years ago and it has changed the way I look at everything. I started out selling sustainable meat (wild game, organic, pastured ‘humane’), and wound up vegan myself even as my business gets more attention. My partners are inclusive to a point and perhaps we are equally patient with each other, myself perhaps less, the more I learn. If I thought I had no opportunity to champion the changes that need to be made, to offer healthy food along with the addictive food, to focus myself on the company’s openness to positive change, I’d be out. I see most food offerings as addictive. Just look how they are sold to people, how even the most obviously bad for you foods are celebrated like the moon landing.(It is the culture, and it has played a part in bonding us as a society.) I now know that if I have to do anything to it besides wash or soak it to eat it it is not food. People are so addicted to junk food that they think their mouths tell their brains what is palatable, when it is the mind that compounds experience to train the palate. Imagine that. What we could do if we trained the palate the same as a concert pianist learns all that wonderful music. Some people do; among them are great chefs with an ethical worldview, and others manipulate palates to sell poison people use in place of food.

    Reply
  • Stefano December 1, 2011, 11:59 am

    This of sodas seems to be a problem specific to the US. Let me clarify: with this, I am not belittling the problem or alleging that other cultures are immune; I am suggesting that perhaps it would be a good idea to compare the different cultures, and see what is that created a positive or negative effect somewhere, in order to understand which mechanisms are at work

    In Italy (and elsewhere, but I spent most of my life in Italy) I have met the occasional person who was totally hooked on a certain soda, but I must admit that there does not seem to be a pattern big enough to be called an epidemics.
    I wonder if this hasn’t to do with the culture of “food as entertainment”, which is an idea that big US corporations have been actively selling for several dozen years: I was surprised to see how many food commercials in the US insist on the idea of “fun”, which does not necessarily come up to me as an intrinsic connotation of food. Good taste yes, memory yes, comfort yes, pleasure yes, satisfaction yes; but fun and entertainment no. And I find it a risky association, because you weaken the hunger-food link (which would have you eat just what you need) and reinforce that of boredom-food to the point that it becomes dominant – and you create the addiction.

    Reply
    • dogfood December 1, 2011, 3:22 pm

      Excellent point; none of the other countries I’ve been to have put food so high up the entertainment totem (the small candy bars are often called “fun size”).

      Reply
    • Bruce Bradley December 2, 2011, 5:40 pm

      I agree with you Stefano. Coke and Pepsi were both born in USA, and international efforts have become a major source of growth for both companies. While I doubt soft drinks will ever attain the stranglehold abroad that they have in the states, I would never underestimate the power and influence of the companies to change culture!

      Reply
  • Linda December 1, 2011, 12:48 pm

    I watched this and even though I already knew I was still in shock. I remember well the dialog you quoted and the ending of the segment really got to me – that consumers want more salt, sugar, and fat, and flavor scientists are feeding that craving so obesity is here to stay. Sad. When we cut processed food and salt from our diet due to my daughter’s kidney disease, we couldn’t believe how bland and weird food tasted (even though we were actually eating pretty well before that). It took about a month and then something magical happened. We started LOVING real whole food. Then, we went out to eat and we couldn’t finish our meal! It tasted so salty we actually hated it. I’m talking about teenagers here too, not just me and my husband. I wish everyone could experience that moment like we did. It was more than magical it was . . . lifesaving. Thank you for writing about this. We all need to know the truth.

    Reply
    • Food Babe December 1, 2011, 9:29 pm

      Linda – I too have experienced this magic! This is why I started my blog Food Babe back in April – to help spread the news of holistic nutritious food. Food is thy medicine …. or thy poison, especially if it comes from a place like Givaudan. Check out my recent post about how companies like them are basically conducting Chemical Warfare on the uninformed….

      Is the Food Industry Conducting Chemical Warfare on us? You decide. http://foodbabe.com/2011/12/01/chemical-warfare-with-natural-flavor/

      Reply
    • Bruce Bradley December 2, 2011, 5:42 pm

      Glad you are enjoying my blog. And yes! Real Food just tastes better. Knowledge is power, so let’s keep spreading the word about better, real food! Thanks, Bruce.

      Reply
  • mary December 1, 2011, 5:35 pm

    While I never had an addiction to a beverage I found to my dismay that I was addicted to wheat. In going cold turkey off the wheat I felt like the wicked witch of the west for three days until it was out of my system. I mourned the loss of wheat for years but am finally coming to terms with it. Even a small amount of wheat causes negative consequences years later.

    Reply
    • Maggie December 2, 2011, 3:20 pm

      If wheat makes you actually sick, have you been tested for Celiac disease – an intolerance to gluten?

      Reply
  • Connie December 1, 2011, 8:16 pm

    I have been struggling with a serious diet soda addiction for years. Quitting smoking was much easier for me. I was able to cut the diet pepsi by moving on to Zevia diet cola, got down to 2 cans per day but unable to reduce any further. I did transition to Orange Zevia diet soda (has even less ingredients than the cola) but still can’t seem to kick it. My family (husband and 2 kids) eat a very clean vegetarian (near vegan) low sugar healthy organic diet. Its driving me nuts. Interesting posts and comments. Enjoying the blog.

    Reply
    • Bruce Bradley December 2, 2011, 5:47 pm

      Connie, thanks for your comment. Do your best to kick Zevia off your diet as well. Read my post about Truvia, a stevia-based sweetener similar if not exactly what’s in Zevia. Furthermore, in reading off Zevia’s website, there are trace amounts of BPA in Zevia’s cans. More and more bad news is coming out about BPA and we all need to watch out!

      Thanks for reading my blog. I’m glad you are finding it helpful!

      Bruce

      Heres the link to my post on Truvia: http://www.brucebradley.com/food/truvia-honestly-sweet-or-dishonestly-marketed/

      Reply
  • Katie December 2, 2011, 9:23 am

    Diet Coke is my Achilles heel. I’m very good at eating whole, unprocessed, foods and usually eat in moderation. But I tend to give in when Diet Coke is available. Seltzer water with a bit of juice of choice has really helped to keep the Coke craving at bay, so I’m glad you listed that as a suggestion to overcome the addiction.

    I also made a deal with myself to have tea or coffee when I feel the need for Coke – at least those options are healthier and I don’t feel so awful after drinking it (as I do after having a can/bottle of Coke – it makes me way too jittery with headaches, etc.).

    Baby steps folks. Baby steps!

    Reply
    • Bruce Bradley December 2, 2011, 5:49 pm

      I totally agree with you. Substitute tea and coffee if you can. Baby steps in the right direction will get you there, and prevent you from feeling overwhelmed and giving up along the way. Good luck, Katie!

      Reply
  • Southern Beale December 2, 2011, 1:57 pm

    Interesting. I rarely drink soft drinks of any kind, but for some reason I always crave Coke at Christmas time.

    Reply
  • Maggie December 2, 2011, 3:16 pm

    I’ve never been addicted to sodas, although I know people who have. My husband drinks more of it than I’d like, but at least I have him switched over to the kind sweetened with cane sugar, not HFCS. The difference for me? My mom never allowed soda of any kind in the house on a regular basis. The occasional ginger ale as a treat, maybe cranberry juice mixed with tonic water in the summers. But Coke, Sprite, Orange Crush? Not in our house!
    Don’t get me wrong, I LIKE Coke, but not all the time and definitely not as a thirst quencher. If I’m thirsty, I drink water. The sweet stuff is for the taste, like having some candy.
    I really attribute my indifference to soda to not having much of it as a kid. I grew up on water and a little bit of juice but we couldn’t afford to buy things to drink all the time. I drank a lot of water and I still prefer it. My kids will not be allowed to drink soda or juice all the time. Water is just fine. I really believe those early patterns we develop set the stage for how we will live our lives!

    Reply
    • Bruce Bradley December 2, 2011, 5:52 pm

      Good philosophy with your kids. Getting them in the habit of eating healthy and asking the right questions is extremely important! Thanks for your comment.

      Reply
  • mk December 2, 2011, 11:06 pm

    I know your pain. I was addicted to Diet Coke for years. At one point I saw a neurologist because I thought I had Multiple Sclerosis! I had actual physical withdrawals when I kicked it. I won’t touch aspartame for any reason. I read labels with enthusiasm. I won’t buy anything suspect.
    To anyone unfamiliar with the poison that is aspartame, I suggest you do some heavy reading, it will kill you!

    Reply
  • Meli December 2, 2011, 11:12 pm

    Dark chocolate has a strong lingering taste which must be why a little goes a long way as opposed to milk chocolate or candy bars. Kills any sweet craving.

    Reply
  • majkinetor December 10, 2011, 8:41 am

    Your cravings will be reduced by taking Alpha-Lipoic-Acid and/or 5-HTP, or better, both. The first one is uber awesome for health generally.

    Reply
  • Justice Inthemaking December 13, 2011, 3:12 pm

    Coca-Cola still has traces of the cocaine/econinge alkaloids. New studies reports that cocaine is hereditary.The FDA allows Coca Cola to hide its coca leaf extract for flavor under 21 CFR 182.20. They only have to state “Natural Flavor”. Go look. The coca leaf extract has never been tested for any cocaine residue by either the FDA or DEA or any other govt. agency. The majority share holder of Coca Cola is Harvard, yes the College-called The Harvard Corporation. The majority govt officials and attorneys are all Harvard graduates. I have in my possession, 1941, 1954 and 1967, 1-gallon Coca Cola syrup. If tested, would it come back positive for cocaine? What then people?

    Reply
  • Justice Inthemaking December 13, 2011, 3:45 pm

    Cocaine distribution became illegally in 1970. Forcing the Coca Cola thru Stepan Company to clear any cocaine residue from its coca leaf extract. Before 1970, any person, company or institution, can import and sell to the consumer cocaine, with a license/registration issued by the federal government. Anyone else gets arrested fined and imprison. After 1970, only coca leaf extract w/o the cocaine/econgize alkaloids. Coca Cola still has not been tested if is still clear of any cocaine residue. The Reagan Adm. war on drugs initiatives (1984) force the Coca Cola company to produce its soda without any coca leaf extract fearing it might be tested for cocaine. the New Coke, (1985). But never tested, why?, Then obviously back to the original Cocal Cola classic. The better taste, wondering why?

    Reply
  • Justice Inthemaking December 13, 2011, 3:58 pm

    The FDA considers coca leaf extract(cocaine removed) safe for human consumption designating it GRAS. Before 1958 any manufactures was allowed to add ingredients to its food product w/o any test being perform for safety. In 1958, a law was enacted mandating that food be tested for safety before issuing a GRAS standard. However, any manufactures using such ingredients prior to 1958 would not be tested for safety and issue a GRAS if it was a routine substance not affecting the public through all those years. Between 1960-80 new laws and regulation was enacted to double check those pre-1958 GRAS substance for safety. Coca leaf extract was never tested or evaulated by any govt agencies. So til now, 2012, coca leaf extract has never been tested for human consumption much worst, tested for if the cocaine/econgize was completely removed before being a substance for human consumption.

    Reply
  • Foodie Buddha December 23, 2011, 6:08 pm

    This is a great article though I do have one supplemental piece of advice. Bottled water (in the Aquafina/Crystal Springs sense of the word) is also a major problem (for any number of reasons). Perhaps suggestion one could be modified in some way to reflect that. Regardless, still a fantastic write up.

    Reply
  • Chris Gimbel (@chrisjpg) January 3, 2012, 9:43 am

    I eat pretty clean (90%) of the time, no processed foods, crossfit 3X a week, drink liters of water through my day, blood work is borderline great… don’t drink, don’t smoke but i drink 1 diet dr. pepper per day. What improvement does cutting that make? I understand food reward and addictive taste of “sweetness” but I seriously eat clean and enjoy my 1 diet dr. pepper too.

    Reply
    • Bruce Bradley January 5, 2012, 11:22 am

      Hi Chris! Thanks for your comment. I honestly can’t say there is a definitive answer to your question. Lots of people have different opinions. My opinion would be a diet dr. pepper a day is negatively impacting your health. Do it erase all the good things your doing? No! But I’d try to work towards making it a more occasional indulgence. That said, if it is your only slip-up you have in a day … you’re doing better that most of us!

      Reply
    • Food Babe January 5, 2012, 7:51 pm

      Did you know that it takes 33 glasses of water to alkaline your body after drinking only 1 soft drink. A body in an alkaline state avoids disease. Something to think about…

      Reply
      • Becky August 7, 2012, 9:30 am

        The more I read on this site, the more I am disgusted with what big business has done with our food. I will think of that every time I am tempted to reach for a Coca Cola. Thank you!

        Reply
  • Dawar January 10, 2012, 8:47 am

    Hi, I’m a doctor. My life with coke started when I was 5 and I hated it. When I did like cola it was Pepsi. After a while Pepsi did not feel that ‘strong ‘to me so I started coke. When I felt I was having too much like 2 litres a day, I stopped it. But it gradually came. I exercise regularly. I also tried to substitute it by keeping water close by but coke has made a comeback. Without it I feel irritable and get neck ache and headache. With it, I can sometimes feel overly exhausted. I drink coke only with food. I feel ok with a total of 1.8 litres of coke a day. Is this too much? I am still an absolute fan of the drink, the way it burns the tongue, yet cools. I drink only the natural sugar variety. I would like to ask, how much of this is absolutely OK?

    Reply
    • Bruce Bradley January 10, 2012, 1:59 pm

      Dawar: I’m no doctor, but 1.8 litres of coke a day is a lot. I’ve been soda free for almost two months now, and there are times when it’s not easy. But I feel much better! As a doctor, I’m sure your familiar to what intensely sugared substances can do to your body. The insulin spikes and drop-offs can be severe, and I’m confident over the long-term that damages our bodies ability to regulate.
      Here’s an idea for you, I’m not sure if you’re drinking cans or bottles, but start buying the smallest can size you buy. For two weeks continue to drink the same amount you’re drinking today. Then for the next two weeks, take a way a can of soda. Make a reduction of soda consumed every two-four weeks. Then, when you’re down to that last one soda per day, make a decision whether you want to totally quit. Regardless of what you decide, I think you will be at a much healthier place.

      Best of luck, and thanks for your comment!

      Reply
      • Dawar January 14, 2012, 7:13 am

        Thanks Bruce

        Reply
    • Mark January 10, 2012, 3:08 pm

      I respectfully must say that in all my research, and I’m not a doctor either, but in some ways I think this is to my advantage, I can’t find a single piece of evidence that soda has any redeeming qualities in regards to good health, in fact it’s more the latter…it will destroy it. Unfortunately, very few doctors today are really trained well in terms of nutrition and it’s a detriment to them, and to their patients.

      We treat type 2 diabetes with drugs, when in almost every case lifestyle and diet modifications will cure it and most likely one day we’ll find that the same will go for a lot of other “diseases” that are rampant today. Although don’t expect your doctor to know about this because they surely aren’t taught it in school, nor will the pharma reps that do so much follow up training mention it either.

      So it’s up to each of us to look, sometimes outside the mainstream outlets of medicine, media, food conglomerates, or anything else that can be manipulated with propaganda for profits, and get back to some common sense. Natural, clean, wholesome foods with an emphasis on veggies, some meat if your into that, and some fruits, along with water for hydration, and maybe a cup of coffee or tea now and then and some exercise will probably lead to decent health for most. Soda, however is not on that list in any way, shape, or form.

      In some ways it almost sounds like you’re detoxing with the headaches and being irritable. I don’t know how long this stuff stays in your system, but I’d give it 30 to 60 days and see how things are going after that. I know for me after about 60 days I felt better and ended up being off soda for good. It’s been years since I’ve had one and I don’t miss it.

      Look for a book called “Clean” by Dr. Aleandro Junger that might provide a few insights for you on the value of detoxing.

      Best wishes!

      Reply
      • Dawar January 14, 2012, 7:15 am

        Thanks Mark

        Reply
  • Connie February 7, 2012, 3:22 pm

    I had a major Moutain Dew addiction many years ago. I had to work early in the morning and had to function mentally, so I started drinking more and more of it. When after one shift I realized I had drunk a six pack of soda, I decided I had to get off all that sugar.. so I started with diet.

    If I had known then..

    Well about a year or so after that I decided to get off soda. Not because of what “they” say about it, but because I NEEDED it. And I figured anything I needed that badly couldn’t be good for me. I went a week before I couldnt stand it any more, and like others, that first sip was like nectar of the gods. I knew it was just to ease the symptoms of withdrawal and went a little longer until the next one, etc.

    another group of “they” say that food is not addicting.. well I can tell you that watching other people drink soda while I was withdrawing was horrible. I jonesed pretty badly, my husband is very lucky I never hit him over the head (I pictured it my mind more times then I care to mention) but I kept reminding myself this was my choice.

    My last soda was about a year after the previous, and I haven’t had one now in about five years.. for the most part I don’t even want one now, which I can’t tell you how much I appreciate.

    and even better, it’s been about a year since my husband has had any in the house either.

    Reply
  • Gina in Australia February 11, 2012, 5:16 am

    This is a fascinating forum; I hope you don’t mind if I add my two bob’s worth! My husband is 70, has diabetes type 2, as well as chronic heart and lung disease, so he is on about 12 tablets a day, most of them in the morning. For most of his life, he has refused to eat breakfast, and swallowed his meds with half a glass of water. For the rest of his working day, he drank Coke, tea and coffee. About 3 months ago, he consulted a naturopath because he was always feeling bloated and ill. After hearing all the above information, she told him (a) he must have some kind of breakfast with all those tablets and (b) quit the Coke, tea and coffee, and drink water instead, to flush all the toxins from his liver and kidneys. Because he was serious about improving his health as much as possible under his circumstances, he now has a bowl of WeetBix every day, and drinks about 2 litres of water during the day. At first, he said he just felt more bloated because of all the water he was drinking, but now he takes it in his stride, and said he is feeling a whole lot better.
    Thanks for a very informative blog!

    Reply
    • Bruce Bradley February 11, 2012, 8:55 am

      Glad to hear you’re enjoying my blog, Gina. Hope your husband continues feeling better!

      Reply
  • Becky August 7, 2012, 9:27 am

    I am so motivated to kick my CocaCola habit now! I have always had a distrust of food companies, I truly believe that any processed food has stuff in it to make you addicted and to make you fat. But that has not stopped me from drinking Coke! I have to have it! If I run out I get crabby and make up excuses to drive 28 miles to the nearest store to get more. No more! I have 6 cans left in a 12-pack, and I’m done. I have been unable to lose weight despite intense exercise 3X a week, my skin looks awful,my teeth are not healthy, and I am also having thyroid problems and feet problems and serious water retention issues. I don’t know if these are all from Coke, but I’m going to quit and see how I feel in a week or so. Thanks to everyone for all of their encouraging stories!

    Reply
    • Jared Lee Ponder September 15, 2012, 4:33 am

      Hey, Becky: I just kicked my coke habit or started to and it’s been about 3 weeks but leading up to it I’ve done a ton of research and continue to do so but I just want to offer a word of caution and advice so here it is: If you still have ANY coke left at all in the house, pour that shite down your sink and if you are thinking ”well that is a waste of money, etc” well I’ll stop you right there. It’s better to waste a bit of money then to waste your health and risk getting sucked back into the cycle before even leaving it!

      Seriously, cold turkey is the way to go. It’s as easy as identifying a good reason to quit doing something, then just doing it! You seem to have the first part down , so good luck fellow coke quitter!

      Reply
      • Jared Lee Ponder September 15, 2012, 4:37 am

        Oh and as an addendum, Becky: I don’t know if you know this but the dark sodas like coke and pepsi, etc have caramel coloring which is created in an intensive chemical process that creates a carcinogen harmful in animals and the amounts far exceed what is considered safe for human consumption. Just take a look at soda on the Fooducate blog or get the Fooducate app for android or ios if you don’t already know about it.

        This fact is one of the things that tipped me over the edge into quitting. Not to mention the phosphoric acid that robs your bones of nutrients and rots away the enamel of your teeth. I could go on but you get the idea!

        Reply
  • Jared Lee Ponder September 15, 2012, 4:29 am

    I hate to be a downer… but it seems like the more I inform myself, the more hopeless things are and keep in mind this is after reassuring my best friend last night that ”We aren’t defeated and we have more power than ever”. Honestly, I find myself asking WHAT can I eat? I am on a very limited budget (food stamps actually) because I’m between jobs in a small town, so organic food is mostly out of the question, aside from Kroger and whose to say the organic stuff really is what it says it is? I read about Hexane extraction processes used for soy in most veggie burgers and foods as well as nutrition bars (EVEN CLIF BARS FOR FFS) which further reduced my confidence and hope. I sometimes wish there was a manual to avoiding all of the crap and fraudulence all together but I know there isn’t and that kills me!

    Reply
    • Bruce Bradley September 15, 2012, 8:14 am

      Hi, Jared. Thanks for your question. Here are a couple tips eating healthier on a budget. First, one of my favorites things to eat are beans (legumes) and rice. While I always prefer organic (and they aren’t that much more expensive for beans and rice), conventional versions of these foods can provide a nutritious diet. Just remember to choose brown rice—it’s much better for you.

      Another tip is to talk to your produce manager. Most grocery stores throw out a huge amount of produce because of bruises, etc. If you tell the manager you’re willing to buy buy the damaged produce, you can get some real produce bargains.

      While eating on a budget can be difficult, it can remind us that we really don’t “need” that much. So often we forget that in this consumption-oriented world.

      Hope this help. Fee free to ask more questions! And thanks for visiting my blog.

      Bruce

      Reply
  • Cole November 28, 2012, 8:01 pm

    I have been addicted to soda (Pepsi) my entire life (I am 26 now). The grown-ups in my life gave it to me as a toddler! I struggled with weight issues and I knew that I was drinking a lot of my calories with soda. I limited myself to one soda a day and I started losing weight. Then I decided to switch to Diet Coke and Diet Dr. Pepper. I actually did start losing weight and was still able to drink soda…..but….there was a catch….please do not read any further if you are easily grossed out by “women’s issues”….I started getting yeast infections. I never had one before in my life (even though I drank excessive amounts of Pepsi before) but I didn’t immediately tie the two together. I was miserable having infection after infection for over a year! I went to the dr and was given creams and pills and every thing would clear up but then a few weeks later it would return. Well, I finally decided to give up Diet Soda and I have not had an issue since!! Mystery solved!!!

    Reply

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about.me

Bruce Bradley

Bruce Bradley

I'm a father, food advocate, consultant, and author.

Bruce is a former processed food exec turned food advocate, blogger, and author.

Before his food advocacy work, Bruce worked for over fifteen years as a marketer at companies like General Mills, Pillsbury, and Nabisco. As one of the only former processed food marketers actively speaking out about concerns over the food we eat, the media often seeks Bruce out for his honest perspective. His 2011 interview, Confessions of a former Big Food Executive, was one of Grist online's Top 10 clicked stories for 2011.

Bruce now writes, performs speaking engagements, and provides business strategy and marketing consultant services to help ethical, sustainable businesses reach their potential.

Bruce graduated with an MBA from Duke University and a B.A. from Davidson College. Born and raised in Ft. Lauderdale, FL, he now lives in Minneapolis, MN with his son and their dog, Katie.

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