Pick Me!

A weblog by Laura Moncur


Carbonation, Soda, Aspartame and Caffeine Withdrawal

Filed under: Health and Fitness — Laura Moncur @ 5:00 am

My Weight Watchers teacher is back on the soap box about soda. She has stopped drinking soda about five weeks ago. Her flatter stomach and the absence of weight swings have been attributed to the carbonation fast. She is drinking only water now and she is adamant about the benefits of getting off pop.

I leave her meetings thinking, “I guess I should stop drinking pop.” I’ve stopped drinking pop before. I was testing it for myself. I wrote an entry on how to quit soda. I didn’t notice any improvements in my running. I didn’t notice a flatter stomach or absence of weight swings. I DID notice the caffeine withdrawals, though. All of this, and I still leave her meetings thinking, “I guess I should stop drinking pop.”

I found myself planning a weekend of headaches so I could quit cold turkey. It takes me about four days of caffeine withdrawal headaches to get “clean.” I was thinking of sacrificing an entire weekend to “coming down” off Diet Mountain Dew and gourmet coffee. If you could look me in the eyes right now, I’d look sheepish. Yes, I have started drinking coffee. Just two cups a morning, homebrewed. I’ve found that those expensive tiny little packages of coffee that are in the coffee aisle at the grocery store aren’t as bitter as Folgers and I’m able to almost mainline my caffeine.

Maybe that’s why I’m tempted. Maybe I feel out of control. A few months ago, a Diet Mountain Dew felt like a treat. Now, it’s a treat I give myself every day with my lunch. I stop drinking soda after five in the evening so I can sleep, but other than that, I’ve gotten really interested in my daily caffeine dosage.

If I don’t get a good dosage of caffeine, I end up with a mondo headache. If I get a little bit of an over dosage, I end up writing three or four blog entries in one day. If I get an over dosage, every day, I end up needing it to prevent those headaches, at which point, the creativity spurt that used to come from the over dosage is long gone and I need even more caffeine to have that hyper-real writing experience.

All of that sounds like addiction to me and I hate to think that I am addicted to anything. Ok, I’d be happy if someone said that I was addicted to writing or exercise or healthy living. Those are addictions that I could live quite well with. Addiction to caffeine is such a item of contention in Salt Lake City that I feel like I need to be free of it.

Then again, there are all of those studies that say how great caffeine is. They say that caffeine makes us alert, increases physical stamina and makes us hyper-aware of our surroundings. There are just as many studies that say it’s bad, bad, bad, however. I just don’t have the attention span to research this issue and I don’t trust anyone enough to take their word for it, not even my Weight Watchers teacher.

So, what do I do? Well, I’m not quitting next weekend. I can tell you that much. I’m not pinky-swearing that I won’t drink pop/coffee. I’m not increasing my intake. I’m just going to lie low and make the decision later. Right now, I’m enjoying sampling all the fancy coffees in the grocery aisle.



  1. Gotta tell you….I’m a 5 Mt. Dew-a-day-girl. My stress level can be gauged by how many Dews I end up having outside of that number. I don’t drink. I don’t smoke. I don’t maim small animals. I don’t grow marijuana in my basement. I drink caffeine (to my mother’s dismay). It has taken me 31 years to accept that fact. I am for all intents and purposes addicted to caffeine. I’m an addict……and that’s OK.

    Comment by conni — 9/23/2004 @ 9:48 pm

  2. I drink 1 cup each morning, but as I look back, I composed 2 great pieces of music, 1 for my college audition and 1 during my first semester, while I was completely free of caffeine. Then during that winter break I started drinking 1 cup each morning, and have almost dropped out. It’s not the only thing that has changed in my life, but it is the only thing I can’t seem to control. Maybe I’m just hypersensitive, but it isn’t just the quantity of life that has changed, it’s the quality. You don’t notice that innoccuous feeling when it’s constant. I’m quittin.

    Comment by Chuckk — 2/10/2005 @ 2:39 am

  3. Hi everyone.

    Interesting stuff this. I gave up booze about 6 years ago. I was hitting it too hard. In its place I started knocking back diet lemonade. I needed something to satisfy the routine of pouring a liquid into a glass while watcjing TV. It must have worked because I have been diet lemo total ever since.

    The thing is, lately I have had lots of problems with bloating and acid and general discomfort and I decided to do a little research into the possible long term effects of carbonated drinks.

    I was surprised at the amount of concern there is. Who’d have thought it? Anyway, I have been on the still bottles water, with a cordial flavouring, for two weeks now and I feel lousy – almost as if I am withdrawing from something. I feel shaky, panicky and sweating with headaches and listless. can you withdraw from diet lemonade? Is this what’s happening? I am normally quite energetic and alert. I cycle for a hobby. I feel knackered. What do you guys think?

    Comment by Ray — 9/22/2005 @ 9:16 am

  4. I’m in my second day off of Mountain Dew. I’m more concerned with the 1400 calories of soda I was drinking a day than I am about the caffeine. In any case, it’s miserable, I’m definitely getting headaches and I’m tired as can be. But there IS light at the end of the tunnel. I quit smoking 9 months ago, and it felt similar. We just very badly want those comforts in our life, but they’re shallow and hurthful comforts. My advice to you is to do it, and keep doing it, and before long you’ll realize you haven’t craved in weeks, and then the ahah of wow, I don’t need that comes. Sometimes you’ll still long, but you’ll feel better. Good luck!!

    Comment by Jacob — 2/19/2009 @ 5:50 pm

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