A MUM who spent £50,000 on her 30-cans-a-day Coca-Cola addiction has finally kicked the fizzy pop habit after 20 years.
Donna Gunner, 51, from Woolavington, Somerset, consumed 1kg of sugar and 4,170 calories a day in full-fat coke alone – more than double the 2,000 calories-a-day recommended for women by the NHS.
PA real life Donna Gunner spent £50,000 on her 20-year 30-cans-a-day Coca-Cola habit
Donna, a former benefit fraud investigator, saw her health suffer because of her soda obsession – she ballooned to a size 22 and was diagnosed with type two diabetes.
She said: “I was totally addicted. When I tried to come off it I literally went cold turkey. I got the shakes, headaches and cravings, like a druggy, but I knew I needed to change.
“I’d down 30 330ml cans a day, having two cans an hour. I had no idea I had a problem, but I’d wake up a couple of times in the night and crack a can open, craving the sugar and caffeine.
“Looking back, I feel disgusted at how much money I wasted and what I did to my body.”
PA real life Donna, pictured before she beat her addiction, saw her weight balloon to a size 22 and she was diagnosed with type two diabetes
Donna overcame her addiction 10 years ago – but she still wakes up in the middle of the night with psychological cravings.
She said: “I used to get on at my mum Bet, 74, about how much she spent on cigarettes, but my coke habit was just as bad, if not worse.
“I’d buy Coca-Cola in multi-packs at £7 a-go during the week. I’d do my weekly trip to the supermarket and then pop up to the shops a couple more times to top-up my coke supply.
“I can’t bear to think about all the holidays I could have been on with that £50,000. Thinking of all the things I could have done with that money makes me want to weep.”
PA real life Donna, pictured now, has ditched the coke and keeps fit and healthy by running
During her two decade-long addiction, Donna admits that, from the moment she woke up, Coca-Cola was the first thing on her mind.
“I’d have a can as soon as I opened my eyes, another two before I even left for work, another one on the drive in and then another with breakfast at my desk,” she said.
“The day would go on like that, having a few cans every couple of hours. Most people in the office had coffee, but I had coke. I kept massive boxes under my desk and would give in every hour or so.”
But drinking 70 litres of the fizzy pop every week – enough to fill a bath – or nearly two cans per waking hour, took its toll on her body and at 5ft 2ins, she ballooned to 14 stone 7lb and a size 22.
Even her now ex-husband, who she separated from in 2015 and does not want to name, told people how much slimmer his wife used to be.
PA real life Donna, pictured now, kick-started her fitness journey by jogging with her dog Dexter
Donna started going to the gym, in a bid to lose weight and get healthy, but was given an embarrassing wake-up call.
She said: “The exercise machines just switched off when I went on them and put my hands on the blood pressure tester.
“I asked the instructor what was happening, as I thought there was something wrong with the treadmill, but he said it was my blood pressure. I was so embarrassed and really realised I needed to do something about it.”
Donna visited her GP in 2008 and was told her blood pressure was off the charts and, after blood and urine tests, she was also diagnosed as type two diabetic.
PA real life Donna, pictured then, at the height of her addiction, downed a can of coke the minute she woke up
She said: “It was a huge wake-up call for me. I was told I needed to stay away from the gym while my blood pressure came down, and that I needed to cut back on my caffeine and sugar intake – which meant giving up my beloved coke cans.
“I didn’t tell the doctor how much of it I’d been drinking, as I was so ashamed, but I knew I had to do something about my habit.”
Donna initially swapped full-fat for Diet Coke, but then went ‘cold turkey’ – giving up the coke cans entirely – she says she felt “horrendous”.
She said: “I got really bad migraines, had the shakes and felt really ill. I was like an addict coming off drugs. Cans of coke were my drug and it was not easy giving it up.”
Last year, Donna marked her 50th birthday by making a ‘bucket list’ of everything she wanted to do.
PA real life Donna, pictured now, enjoys a hike with her daughter Kayleigh
She said: “I wrote down, ‘fly an aeroplane, visit every continent and run a half marathon’. That’s when I realised I had to do something about my weight as, despite giving up coke, I weighed 14 stone and wore a size 20.
“I was eating four takeaways a week without even thinking about my waistline. So, I started jogging with my dog, Dexter, but, despite doing more exercise, I wasn’t losing any weight.”
Donna visited her GP, Dr Peter Foley, at Somerset’s Polden Medical Practice, who suggested she try a low carb diet, called the Low Carb Program, which is specifically designed for type 2 diabetics.
Her weight plummeted and she went from a size 20 to a 10. Donna now also jogs for three miles every day and has completed both the Bridgewater and Exeter Half Marathons.
Donna’s Coca-Cola habit in numbers
£7 a day
£2,548 a year
£50,960 over the last 20 years
139 calories per 330ml can, totalling 4,170 calories a day – that is more than double the recommended calories intake for women on coke alone
5m calories a year
3m calories over the two decades
35g per can which equals 1,050g a day
382kg a year
7,640kg over 20 years
Almost two cans per waking hour (based on 16 hr day)
10 litres a day
70 litres week – enough to fill a bath tub
3,640 litres a year
72,800 litres over 20 years