Thursday, May 20, 2010

I was reading the metro the other morning on the bus and there was an article on the many faces of addiction, specifically caffeine and sugar. It said that caffeine and sugar can impact the brain in the same ways as opium and nicotine. Intrigued by this, I researched this further...because if I have learned anything from school, thorough research is the best kind of research:) Sure enough, research is showing brain activity seen with non food addictions (such as drugs) with food addictions like sugar.

So that got me wondering. What are the benefits for me of caffeine beyond delicious habit? Does it actually keep me awake? Or am I addicted to it? The only time I use sweetener (Splenda) is for coffee, what would happen if I cut both out? What if I cut other sugars out too?

As I started thinking about this, I made a list of my other extracurricular sugar/sweetener sources-
- skinny cow ice cream- my 140 cal dessert substitute for when I am particularly calorie conscious.
- Iced tea- a much more subtle yet ever present culprit.
- Vitamin water- I get this when I eat sushi for lunch after my workouts. VW has 13 grams of sugar per 8 oz...but the bottles I get are 20 oz of fluid which comes out to 32.5 grams per bottle. Yeesh.
- The occasional real dessert- while sweets aren't my main love (I'll take French fries over anything sweet any day of the week...which is why I rarely have french fries anymore- moderation what?), I have been known to have desserts from time to time.
- Soda and diet soda- Non diet soda is chock full of sugar, but diet soda has other stuff (like aspartame) that isn't that great for you either.
- The sometimes more than occasional (Like when you are in VT at a school that makes amazing food...) pastries or baked good.

Another part that I couldn't ignore was cost, specifically with the coffee. I started calculating out how much I was spending when I got those random coffees throughout the day and man those coffees added up!

My list was longer than I thought it would be and I couldn't shake the idea of the challenge of cutting both out and how it might benefit me. It's no secret that over the last year I have taken greater strides to improve my overall health, and I also know more now than I used to about how different chemicals impact the body. Thanks, Nursing School!
Caffeine is a diuretic and cardiac irritant... What a great term- I can just see the coffee going through the body saying, "HAHA! Here I come to irritate you, Cardiac System!!" I don't drink enough for it to be considered a danger for my heart. I usually have one cup a day, maybe 2, though there was one incident when I had 2 large coffees within hours of each other that my fiancée will happily tell of with a hilarious imitation of me spazzing out.

As I started thinking about this as a possible self experiment, I began feeling like I was getting a psychosomatic caffeine withdrawal headache. Clearly a part of my brain was starting to panic at the thought of this significant habit transition.

So, to alleviate that part of my brain, I thought up some substitutes. I love seltzer, aka bubbly or sparkling water. That can help with my cool drink needs. And instead of coffee, I will have more tea. I LOVE tea, and will happily drink it instead of coffee. Depending on how I feel with the teas, I may or may not try a different sweetener like agave, but we shall see.

Woohoo! This is exciting! I'm pumped, ready to go!

I'll start on Saturday...can't jump into these things too quickly;)

1 comment:

  1. so I am sitting here eating lunch as part of my new deal procrastination plan and reading your blog because the lunch (blt with no l cause I haven't shopped, 1 slice b leftover from a breakfast for 90 year old man last week and the one perfect t from the pot on the porch) anyway!! I wanted to offer my thoughts on caffeine. My brother in law is what I refer to fondly as a "walking dead man" etoh addiction plus 2 pack a day smoker plus consumer of 8-9 cokes per day. has a short gut r/t IBD and is cacchetic to the max. has PVD and nearly blocked carotids.... anyhoo, he also represents a great moment in my nursing career when last 12/30/09, during a visit in OK I was summoned to his basement room by his 'girlfriend" as he was not feeling well, and he described his discomfort as "I feel like some-thing's sitting on my chest, my left arm hurts and there's pain in my neck and jaw....". Yours truly sharp tack in the box suggested he might want to head to the local ed ASAP whereupon he was in the cath lab within the hour and had a massive MI. His post MI course was made more difficult by his addiction to nicotine but more so by the caffeine. And this poster child for horrible health did not ONE lick of cardiac rehab and returned home and quickly resumed his drinking/smoking/caffeine habit. Again, his helpful family nurse assisted him with the downloading, printing and signing of the official OK advanced medical directive form so no one will labor hard over his body as he goes to leave this mortal coil as he soon will. On the other hand, I can actually palpate pedal pulses now whereas I couldn't in April. Wait, wasn't I talking about caffeine? Yes, a cardiac irritant. I agree.