The woman addicted to Coca-Cola: Health care assistant who guzzled SIX LITRES a day says she relied on the fizzy drink to keep her going
15:55 GMT, 5 October 2012
A healthcare assistant who drank around six litres of Coca-Cola a day has spoken out about her desperate struggle to kick her addiction.
Charlene Daley, 25, was so hooked on coke that she would guzzle it as soon as she woke up in the morning and relied on the drink to boost her energy throughout the day.
‘The first thing I did when I woke up in the morning was take a swig of coke,’ she tells MailOnline.
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Always Coca-Cola: Charlene Daley, 25, was so hooked on coke that she would drink it as soon as she woke up
'I would usually have a bottle near my bed that I could reach over and grab, but if I didn’t have any I would get up and drive to the local petrol station and buy some.’
Charlene drank Coca-Cola throughout her childhood, but began to get crave it more during her late teens.
‘I started drinking it heavily when I was 18,‘ she says. ‘But it got really bad when I was 21. I began to crave it constantly and was drinking around 6 litres a day.’
Charlene, who is from Romford, Essex, compares her addiction to coke to a drug habit, saying that she feels alive when she drinks it.
‘I love the taste of coke,’ she admits. ‘It was like a pick-me-up. If I was ever feeling down it really helped me.’
She began to use Coca-Cola to keep her going while working long hours at a hospital and would drink six bottles during a shift and another two at home, costing her over 15 a day.
After recognising that her addiction had spiralled out of control, Charlene decided that she needed to to kick the habit for good and decided to seek help.
Her attempt to give up Coca-Cola was featured on Channel 4 series The Food Hospital.
New lease of life: The healthcare assistant hasn't drank Coca-Cola for two and a half months. 'My skin looks so much healthier and my nails are growing,' she said
She admits she had no idea how much of the drink she was consuming until dietitian Lucy Jones, part of the team of experts on the specialist factual series, laid out the bottles she drinks in a month in front of her.
‘When I looked at how much coke I drank, I was shocked,’ says Charlene. ‘Obviously I would usually throw each bottle away and I hadn’t really thought about how much it was.’
So what are the long-term effects of guzzling gallons of Coca-Cola every day
‘Drinking fizzy drinks has been linked to obesity, diabetes, heart disease and osteoporosis,’ explains Lucy.
‘There's also a risk to dental health as coke is very acidic.’
However those of us who are fond of the occasional can of Coca-Cola in moderation needn’t panic.
‘I'm not saying people shouldn't drink Coca-Cola at all,’ she adds. ‘But it adds nothing to your nutritional diet, so it should be looked on as a treat.’
After meeting Charlene, Lucy soon realised that her Coca-Cola habit wasn’t the only problem with her diet, she was also constantly snacking on packets of crisps and eating calorie-filled take away meals for dinner.
‘She's never had a healthy-balanced diet and didn't know the right things to eat, so we were starting from scratch. She was surviving on cola and takeaways,’ says Lucy.
In fact Charlene's diet was so unhealthy that her body was made up of 50% fat, a fact that shocked her to the core.The average person's body is made up of 25% fat.
She was consuming a third more caffeine per day than is healthy and ten times the recommended daily amount of sugar.
Tragic: Natasha Marie Harris, a mother-of-eight, died suddenly in 2010 because she drank 18 pints of Coca-Cola a day for years
Following discussions with Lucy and expert consultant Shaw Somers, Charlene decided the only way she could give up Coca-Cola was to go cold turkey and stop drinking it completely.
‘They [the show producers] poured away very trace of Coke I had in my house,’ she explains.
she was prescribed a nutrient-filled food plan to limit the extreme
side effects which can occur as a result of withdrawing from the high
levels of caffeine which coke contains, Charlene still experienced
really bad headaches for the first two weeks and started to get colds,’
she says. ‘I was feeling really tired all the time and having terrible
After two weeks her side effects went away and she began to feel more energised.
And although she admits she’s been tempted a number of times, Charlene has managed to stay away from the fizzy drink for the past two and half months and the decision has made a huge impact on her life.
‘I've got a lot more energy now,’ she reveals. ‘I've swapped coke for juices and water.
'I also drink quite a lot of water. I've started to get used to the taste.’
Since quitting Coca-Cola, Charlene has lost a considerable amount of weight and has also noticed other positive changes in her appearance.
‘My skin looks so much healthier and my nails are growing,’ she says.
‘I feel like I don't ever want to taste coke again. I'd hate to go back to the way I was before and if I even took a sip of it, I would get hooked again.’
Lucy is thrilled with Charlene's progress, and says the most significant difference has been her energy levels.
'She was using it for energy, but ironically it was doing the opposite,' she says. 'It was giving her these massive highs, which were quickly followed by huge lows.'
Coca-Cola is the world’s most popular soft drink, with 1.6 billion cans and bottles consumed across the world every day.
While developing a severe addiction to the fizzy drink is unusual, Charlene's is not the only reported case.
In 2010, New Zealander Natasha Marie Harris, 30, died as a result of her Coca-Cola habit. She had been drinking up to 18 pints a day for eight years.
The Food Hospital airs on Channel 4 every Wednesday
VIDEO: Addicted to coke… Watch the full episode here.