Saturday, 7 April 2012

Soda and Caffeine - My Old Vices

Wow, it's been 3 months already! April is the start of my fourth month without soda or cafffeine, which for me is a pretty big deal. I used to live off of diet coke, pepsi max (low cal version) and stupid amounts of tea with milk and 2 sugars - I'm glad those useless calories have gone now.
Back in January I decided to give up caffeine as part of an experiment; this wasn't just a new years resolution, this was to see whether caffeine was actually helping my fatigue or not in the long run. The short answer is no, it was not helping me in the slightest and I actually feel a bit better coming off the stuff.
Back in January when I decided to quit the stimulant I was assessing my lifestyle to see if there were any places I could work on: there were plenty. This evaluation came about when I was reading a book given to me by my Sensei (karate instructor). The book in question was Tony Horton's 'Bring It!' and contained an extensive database and vast amount of knowledge relating, not only to his P90x program, but to being a healthy, happy person. Tony explained how caffeine effects the body and I immediately thought to myself 'damn, this stuff [caffeine] really is not for me, although it does taste pretty good...'. But, I gave it some thought and decided that I should at least try it for a month and see what happened.

Caffeine Withdrawal
When you rely on caffeine to get you through the day and suddenly go cold turkey it is quite a shock to the system. I had some nasty side-effects that really played havoc on my body but not so badly that it couldn't be controlled by pain relief (something else I need to cut down on, but one thing at a time) so I could still get into work.
I felt pretty rough for the first couple of weeks and I kept thinking to myself that it was never going to end and that I should stop this torture and go back to the sweet, sweet soda and relaxing tea. Here are some of the symptoms that I had to go through to kick this stuff:

  • Headaches
  • The shakes
  • Sweats: both hot and cold, day and night
  • Appetite changes: ravenous to not standing the sight of food
  • Irritability
  • Constipation
  • Changed in sleep patterns: insomnia and excessive sleeping - this might have just been a normal episode but it seemed a lot worse without the caffeine
Once I had made it through the first two weeks I actually started to feel a little better and realize what Tony was talking about. Everything just seemed that little bit better and it was worth the extra suffering in the short term to get a little bit healthier.

Benefits of Giving up Caffeine
  • Increased alertness and concentration: my brain fog has improved, I am able to think quicker and clearer than I have done in quite some time
  • Baby skin: I rarely have a break-out now, my skin is so much better and surprisingly not as greasy
  • Better quality sleep: I've actually had a couple of days were I have woken up refreshed! This is amazing for me as that hasn't happened in years
  • Weight loss: whenever I went to the vending machine for a soda or cup of tea I would nearly always pick up a chocolate bar or packet of crisps. Now that I have no reason to get my caffeine fix I've dropped a few pounds and if I'm hungry at work I'll eat the fruit that I have with me or drink more water.
  • Increased sense of smell: Tony explained that caffeine can block up your sinuses and go on to cause pressure, infections etc. I didn't believe that my sense of smell would change but it has, not by much but I can definitely smell better.
  • Increased defenses: I'm normally picking up colds and sickness bugs left right and center but since quitting the caffeine I've only been ill a couple of times. I'm not sure whether this is because of the caffeine, my improved lifestyle or just chance but I'll take what I can get.
  • I've actually managed to save some money because I'm not spending in on the junk.
Although I'm now in my fourth month I still get cravings for soda (rarely for tea) when I'm really thirsty or stressed - that's one of my triggers - but I think to myself 'what would be the point of ruining all my hard work for something my taste buds probably wont even like anymore.' It's just not worth it.
My next task is to incorporate more fruit and vegetables into my diet and less meat to see if it helps with my digestive issues, mainly IBS (irritable bowel syndrome).
Now that I'm feeling like Superwomen - Ha, I wish - I would urge everyone to take a look at their lifestyle and see if there's anything that's potentially harming you or perhaps there's still something that can be tweaked just to make you feel a little better. 

Have any tips on giving up caffeine or other food/substance? Leave a comment to let us know your stories.


  1. Rebeccas... my name is Adam Hewitt and I am also someone with Factor V Leiden. I have the worst genetic mutation which has led to 2 blood clots. The second almost killed me... two weeks after my first daughter was born. Not a fun way to welcome being a parent. I am in the health industry and it so happens that the oriental medicine that I practice specifically focuses on the human circulatory system. There are A TON of factors that cause the circulatory system to be slow and poor in how it flows, which will of course factor to people like us having blood clots. One of the, if not THE BIGGEST, factor is the consumption of caffeine. Caffeine is a vasoconstrictor. I repeat... A VASOCONSTRICTOR. That's the last thing anyone should be putting in their body, especially if you have a clotting factor. You'd be surprised how many things come from poor circulation. The "withdrawls" you discussed after giving up the caffeine... aren't actually withdrawls. The caffeine masks those issues, so when you go off them... the body starts to finally feel it. I help people get off caffeine all the time and they are always surprised that they don't have "withdrawls". I tell them simply it is because what is causing them, a full body circulatory imbalance, is now gone. I can promise you, giving up caffeine is the one most singularly important thing you can do. Would love to talk more with you about this. My email if you're interested can be found on my own blog site:

    1. Hi Adam, it's always great to meet someone who has the same/similar condition and can relate. I'm sorry to hear about what you've been going through and I hope you are now feeling better and on the road to recovery.

      I've now successfully been off the caffeine for 18 months now and I feel so much better and my post thrombotic syndrome has improved somewhat too. I actually found that on the odd occasion that I ingested some caffeine my body rejected it almost immediately and I felt ill.

      I'll be checking out your blog in more detail soon when I've got some more time but it looks interesting and I'd like to know more. By the way your kids are lovely!