I have been drinking caffeinated beverages since I was in my early teens, and I never thought twice about it. I love pretty much all diet drinks (with caffeine of course), and I absolutely hate the taste of regular soda.
My husband constantly badgers me about drinking diet drinks because he thinks they are so much worse than regular sodas since they “pretend” to have no sugar. Regardless, I love my soda for the caffeine. That’s what really matters, and liking the taste helps that along!
I have tried to stop drinking caffeinated beverages time and time again, but I always fail. During my two pregnancies, I was mostly successful at kicking the habit since I knew I was growing another human being, and somehow, that meant I had to do better.
It’s crazy to think about it because I am truly addicted to caffeine. I need my caffeine or so I thought…
Recently I encountered a pretty severe reason to finally kick my caffeine habit so I decided to share that reason along with all of the other reasons I’ve compiled for kicking caffeine once and for all!
Two weeks ago, I began having heart palpitations with shortness of breath and chest pain. This sent off red flags because my family has a long history of heart disease, and I am only thirty.
I ended up seeing my primary care physician, making a trip to the ER days later and visiting a cardiologist for the first time all in the same week. (This definitely got expensive, which makes me have a different kind of heart palpitation!)
That resulted in me wearing a heart monitor for a thirty day test to determine if I have an irregular heart rhythm, and if so, what’s causing it. (Wearing this monitor is not horrible, but it is annoying! So far so good though.)
When asked about my caffeine intake by each doctor, I answered honestly by admitting that I was a heavy caffeine drinker. Guess what…Excess caffeine can cause irregularities in the heart’s rhythm and palpitations. That was my first clue that caffeine had to go.
I’m not saying caffeine caused my problems, but in the two weeks since I quit drinking caffeine, my heart palpitations have completely stopped. It’s frustrating for me to admit that because I love caffeine and diet drinks in general, but I have to listen to my body.
When I speak about caffeine, it goes hand-in-hand with diet drinks so this one is two-fold.
When I drink diet drinks, I notice a change in the color and health of my teeth. My teeth obviously turn darker, which I hate, and my teeth also feel more sensitive with the more diet drinks I consume.
I have two young children, and I have never consumed caffeine the way I do now. Small children do not sleep very well most of the time, and that leads to one very tired momma without it.
In relation to this, I have noticed a direct increase in the amount of cavities I have with the increase in diet drinks I drink.
I have had four cavities in the past two years compared to one in the ten years prior to that. That all leads me to one conclusion…my kids caused my cavities! Well, sort of…
Their lack of sleeping caused my increase in consumption of caffeinated diet sodas, which has led to my increase in cavities. I think that sums it up!
Side note: Have I mentioned how much I hate having cavities filled? The most recent time was about a month ago. I sat down in the chair as the dentist and his assistant got things ready. I knew something was missing.
I then asked in a panic, “Am I going to get nitrous (laughing gas)?” The dentist looked at me with a straight face and told me that the plant blew up a few months back so they weren’t sure if they had any of the gas to give me. The plant what?
I thought it had to be a complete joke, but he was serious. I swear I almost got up and ran out like the roadrunner runs from the Tasmanian devil.
Thankfully, they saw that I was freaking out so they went to check for me. There ended up being enough in the tank so I was good to go. I know that makes me sound like a baby, but I have embraced my fear of dental work. It doesn’t help that I hate needles!
I suffered from painful back spasms several years ago, and they tend to come back from time to time. When I saw a specialist, the only thing he could find was a lack of water in my spinal cord. That really wasn’t a big deal, but it made me think that maybe being dehydrated was the problem.
So I decided to try increasing my water intake and limiting my intake of caffeinated beverages. Within days, my spasms decreased in their intensity and frequency.
The problem is that when I’m drinking diet drinks, I don’t drink water. If given the choice, I will always choose something with caffeine over water.
Now, when my back begins to spasm, I can change my beverage of choice, and the spasms stop almost immediately. It is one of the craziest things I have ever experienced, but it works!
I know for a fact that this is not fun! Since caffeine works to stimulate the central nervous system, stopping it abruptly, like I did, can have some not so great effects.
Headache, irritability, lethargy to name a few. My favorite is the lack of being able to concentrate for more than a millisecond. (It has taken me days to write this!)
The point is that what goes up must come down. I was told to stop consuming caffeine until we know that my heart is okay so I had to stop quicker than I would like. That is not the advised method, and it has made me realize that caffeine really does change the way my body works.
Other Health Concerns
I was diagnosed with Raynaud’s Syndrome when I was seventeen. I had, had a few episodes where my hands, feet and lips turned blue for no reason, and I could not get warm for the life of me.
My friends in high school actually pointed it out one afternoon at the lunch table so I figured it was time to get checked out. You know, since they jokingly called me Smurf!
Turns out that this issue can run in families, and my aunt had it as well. It is sometimes a symptom of lupus or rheumatoid arthritis, which I’m hoping I don’t develop.
Anyways, caffeine is a really bad thing for Raynaud’s. Raynaud’s causes small spasms in the blood vessels that lead to the extremities, which restricts blood flow to the hands, feet, nose, etc. This makes me very sensitive to cold and extreme temperature changes. Caffeine worsens these spasms making me more susceptible to having episodes.
Since I quit caffeine two weeks ago, I have only had one episode compared to more than I can count before. I’ve known that caffeine was bad for me in relation to this for a while, but I’m finally starting to listen. (I feel like someone has to hit me over the head with a ton of bricks to get me to change my ways!)
I realize that these reasons do not apply to everyone, and I also realize that caffeine is present in a lot more than just diet drinks.
I’m not much of a coffee or tea drinker so I’m really only having to watch the foods I eat to make sure I’m avoiding caffeine. Goodbye chocolate!
I also realize that in some cases caffeine can be helpful. I have asthma, and I really don’t have problems with it much anymore. When I do, it’s usually once a year and triggered by allergies. Caffeine is usually one of my go-to items when I start having asthma problems because it helps to open my airways.
The point is that I quit caffeine for several reasons that make sense to me. I know it’s not for everyone, and I certainly don’t look down on you because you choose to keep drinking caffeine. It’s a choice I had to make in order to be healthier. It’s not fun, but it is my reality!