I will be the first to admit that I am the last person to be preaching about quitting soda. I have given up this poison time and time again only to be drawn back in. I’m sure you’re no stranger to this sensation. You want to quit but immediately after you do, you realize that it’s much harder than you anticipated. If you’re anything like me, the first time you give up soda, You’ll think to yourself It’s just a drink, how hard can it be? Obviously, I wasn’t ready for all that went along with trying to suddenly end a decade long addiction. I wound up in a hot bath writhing in pain over how badly my head hurt. My eyes felt out of focus, my heart was racing, my hands were shaking and the headache…oh it was worse than any hangover headache I’d ever had. It took one full week of feeling this way before I finally got back to feeling semi normal.
After that first week, I began drinking Dasani water like it was going out of style. Everywhere I went, I had a bottle of water in my hand. Sitting on my computer? Dasani in hand! Doing my makeup? Dasani in hand! At the pool with my daughter? Yep, you guessed it, Dasani in hand! I felt GREAT. I hadn’t felt so good in years and as a result, I wanted to continue not drinking soda! After all, how hard is it to avoid that temptation?
You have to understand that something I didn’t realize when I gave up soda was how easily accessible it was. Sure, I could go to the store and willingly buy a twelve pack, but I didn’t want to. When I went out to eat I figured I could just order a glass of ice water. After all, that sounds easy enough and it’s cheaper than ordering a soda anyways. If I didn’t feel up to that, I would occasionally order a sweet tea instead. Then slowly but surely, the cravings crept up on me. I began thinking to myself, “Well, what will one soda hurt while I’m out to eat? A little in moderation never hurt anyone, right?” WRONG! Having a caffeine addiction is no different than having any other addiction. You can’t have a taste of beer if you’re an alcoholic and expect not to want to drink again. Soda addiction is no different.
The first time I ordered a soda I was in a restaurant. I told myself that one taste wouldn’t hurt. I told myself I would nurse that drink and leave half of it on the table. By the time we had left, I had already downed 2 1/2 glasses and I wanted more. My brain had been excited and I suddenly felt very energized, but it was in a different way than I had when I was drinking water. As my daughter began refusing to sleep through the night again (around age 1) I realized that I simply couldn’t get through the day without caffeine. I hated the taste of coffee and all of my other mom friends told me their secret weapon was caffeine. “Well, if the other parents are drinking caffeine to stay awake, it must be how we have to get through this rough patch. I will quit again after we see this through.” I said to my then father in law. He agreed that without some form of caffeine there was no way that I could take care of my daughter on 1-2 hours of sleep a night, especially since I was home alone from dawn til dusk with her and was not able to take naps.
Now here we are more than four years later and I am still battling this addiction. I go through phases in the warmer months where it’s easier to quit. I get outside, I get active, I feel thirsty and I drink water. I carry a bottle of water with me when I take my daughter on walks, when we go to the trail, or when we are at the pool. It seems much easier then. But as these cold months creep around, caffeine embraces me like a warm blanket as I spend months upon months cooped up inside. When I really get serious about quitting, there is an infographic I will hang on my fridge. I will stare at it, read it and then feel disgusted with myself for allowing something so horrible for my health to be such a huge part of my life. I have been on this journey for ten years and every day it’s a battle. I want to better myself, become a healthier version of myself and do right by my body. But the moment those withdrawal symptoms start, it’s an uphill battle all over again.
I will be the first to admit to you that I am addicted to soda. One day without it sends my whole world spiraling. I am tired, groggy, shaky, and have headaches worse than I’ve ever felt. I feel unable to get off the couch and lethargic but I try to muddle through. On the days I can’t, I simply give up and decide to try again tomorrow. I am currently coming off a 6-8 can a day habit and I attempted two days ago to quit cold turkey. I couldn’t do it. I caved this morning and bought a twenty ounce with the intention of having it help my caffeine headache. I am refusing to keep more soda in the house and I am doing my best not to fall back into old habits, but as I’ve said before, one taste and you are right back where you started. I took some big steps towards decided what I want to do with my health and now I have to stand by those decisions and tough it out, no matter how much it sucks. (And trust me, it will suck.)
In order to have less soda around to tempt me, I have begun keeping many other options in the house. I have calcium rich orange juice, milk, juice, and a pur water pitcher full of crisp, cold water, waiting for me in the refrigerator. I never want to use the convenience of opening a can of soda as an excuse again. It’s just as easy to open a bottle of water or pour a glass of milk. It’s time I put my health first (again) and get back into my old habits. It might not happen overnight but I am determined to make it happen.
For all of you with caffeine/soda addictions who are curious, here is the link to the infographic and article that I often times print and hang on my refrigerator. Read it. If it affects just one of you in the same way it has me, It will have been worth sharing. And to all of you who want to quit drinking this (albeit tasty–but horrible) filth, I wish you good luck. May your journey be easier than mine has been.