For the last week or so, I’ve been working hard to wean myself from caffeine, which in my life comes in the form of Diet Coke. I learned to drink soda at all times of the day when I was in college in the South and it became ingrained when I lived in VA for 9 years. Even now I have a diet soda with my breakfast, since I get my caffeine cold.
But while a little caffeine can be good for you (increased well-being, sociability, alertness among others), heavy doses can produce negative effects such as insomnia, stress, anxiety, nervousness and jitteriness. And tolerance for it builds, as with any addictive substance, and requires more and more to produce the same effects.
I found this cool chart that lists the caffeine content of a wide assortment of drinks. It’s pretty mindblowing. Energy drinks can contain many times the amount of caffeine as sodas deliver. Yoo hoo Chocolate has zero caffeine; maybe I should switch to that. But chocolate has caffeine, too, and ice cream, and candy. Check out this chart of Caffeine in Food. Even Motrin has it. So it’s not that easy to escape.
But my goal is to wean myself off of soda and soda is my caffeine delivery system, so I’m essentially doing both. At the same time is more than I can manage (I really like my Diet Coke). First I’m switching to caffeine-free Diet Coke, allowing myself one bottle or can of regular Diet Coke per day. I’ve been getting more used to that even though I don’t really like the caffeine-free stuff. That’s the whole point. I figure it will be easier to lose the caffeine first, then quitting soda because I don’t like the taste and it doesn’t give me the caffeine I remember.
And losing soda is important because, according to a 2005 study at the University of Texas, San Antonio, Science Center:
[W]hen the researchers took a closer look at their data, they found that nearly all the obesity risk from soft drinks came from diet sodas. “There was a 41% increase in risk of being overweight for every can or bottle of diet soft drink a person consumes each day,” Fowler says.
Yikes. My risk factor was 57.1% which is ridiculous and changeable. So I’m changing it, one soda at a time, until I’m back to only water. And if I do decide to have WLS, I need to be off of both caffeine and carbonated drinks before the surgery. Might as well be prepared, especially since there are other benefits.