7.22.2014

Saying Goodbye to Caffeine and Diet Soda

In the coming months there will be more posts about wellness and health. Let me say right away: if you want to read these posts, please do. If not, it's 100% okay! I'm not a health expert. Just a girl on a journey. Reading about other people's experiences has always been a great help to me. So if any bit of this can be helpful to you, I hope it will be! 

This particular post is about 7 weeks in the making. I waited to write it until I had passed the 40 day mark. 40 days without diet soda and caffeinated drinks. 

If you've known me for any length of time, you know that I used to love diet soda. LOVE. For many years, it was Diet Mountain Dew. Then it was Diet Pepsi, Diet Coke, Diet Cream Soda. I didn't really play favorites. The stuff is delicious. Energy drinks, too. Loved all the varieties of low-sugar Monster drinks. A cup or two of coffee a day, too. 

You see, dear friends. I was addicted, but I didn't realize it. If you're wondering, caffeine can cause a real kind of addiction (even at the level of 100 mg per day - the amount in one cup of coffee). 

(Side note: if you love diet soda or caffeine, please know that this post infers NO judgement. None whatsoever. Because I totally get it; I know where you're coming from. I was just there. Most of you are probably able to keep your intake in the moderate category. Maybe you don't have insomnia or migraines - two things that can accompany both diet soda and caffeine. Truly, if diet soda and caffeine bring you joy, please do not feel like I'm saying you have to give them up. Just food for thought.) 

I initially didn't think I could/wanted to give it up. I relied on caffeine for my daily energy! I was sleep deprived, so I would start the day with caffeine and continue throughout the day. And then I'd have trouble sleeping soundly....and wake up feeling groggy. So I'd ingest more caffeine. It was a never-ending cycle.

While I was in the hospital in May, I didn't drink any diet soda. So I figured that was as good a time to start as any. I knew in my gut that I didn't want to be addicted to caffeine. I didn't want to get caffeine-withdrawal headaches. Plus, all the chemicals freaked me out - although I happily ingested them for years upon years. For additional motivation, here's an interesting link mentioning several actual medical studies: "7 side effects of drinking diet soda." 

The first 5 days = REALLY hard. I felt like crap. A few tips to get through those first several days: drink a lot of water, shoot for 80-100 ounces a day. I also took 500 mg Tylenol a couple times a day. Still, though, I had a mega headache and trouble focusing. 

It was during those first few post-caffeine days that I started meditating and juicing again! Every day. 

The next 5 to 6 weeks = tough. The headaches went away, but I felt really tired. However, that wasn't just due to the goodbye I said to caffeine. I was also due to a variety of things....like infusions, transfusions, learning a new job, and a few hospital stays. There were a moments when I felt like throwing it all out the window and cracking a diet Pepsi. A caffeine addiction seemed like the least of my troubles. 

But I didn't give up. I stayed away from the diet soda and the coffee. I still felt extremely lethargic. 

(Side note: It turns out I was mildly anemic for much of the last couple years, so that's probably another reason I was so dependent on caffeine.)

Instead of focusing on how much I missed diet soda and caffeine, I started focusing on my iron intake. I made it a major priority, and it really did distract me from what I'd given up. 

If you give up diet soda/caffeine/energy drinks, I highly encourage you to find a nutrient to focus on - and then make that your priority. Iron, B12, C, Calcium. Choose whatever you're not getting enough of in your diet. You can download all kinds of apps that will help you find foods that contain that nutrient; you can look online, too. 

As the weeks rolled by and I was still tired all the time, it seemed like perhaps I was just going to be a more sleepy person without caffeine in my life. Although that wasn't ideal, I accepted that it would probably be better for my body than pumping it with an artificial stimulant. Slower to rise in the mornings. Early to bed. Sleepy girl.

But then at the beginning of last week, something amazing happened! I stopped feeling tired all the time. The good choices started to really pay off. I feel so glad that I had waited it out because I seriously feel better than I have felt in my whole life. That isn't just due to giving up diet soda; there are a variety of changes I'll be sharing about in the coming months. But saying goodbye to my drug of choice really is improving my overall health. 

I'll likely get to the point where I feel comfortable having a cup of coffee every now and then for a treat. And I do drink iced tea at restaurants sometimes. But diet soda/energy drinks/caffeine will never again be a daily affair for me, and I feel comfortable making that an actual promise. 

If you're considering giving up diet soda or caffeine, I can now say with 100% gusto: GO FOR IT! It might take a couple months, but you will eventually feel better. A lot better. 

A few highlights of this new life chapter:

-For much of my life, I felt certain that I'd always be a light sleeper with lots of wake-ups. But guess what? That's not true. I now sleep through the night just fine!

-No caffeine headaches mid-day

-I am WAY less interested in munching on snacks throughout the day and night (some believe diet soda is an appetite stimulant)

-$ saver! I was spending plenty on soda but especially on energy drinks at Kwik Trip. It's nice to be able to put that money toward healthy produce or random Costco purchases instead. 

If you're considering making this change and need a buddy to help support and encourage you, drop me an email or message on Facebook! I'll be glad to cheer you on!

1 comment:

  1. Good for you, Emily!

    A little exercise and upbeat music also help serve as quick pick-me-ups, for those looking for caffeine replacements.

    I noticed, even when down to a Coke a day, that I'd get a headache if I didn't have one. That seemed like an addiction to me, so after a Boundary Waters trip (no disposable containers allowed anyway), I continued without caffeine. This was later in my 30s than you are, and well before internet options for helping others. (Some of us are juuuuuuust a little bit older. ;-)

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