Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Breaking my addictions

I  have a confession to make. 

As you know, I am not a fan of aspartame.  I was raised by a biologist father who was deeply mistrustful of the stuff after seeing the results of a research study conducted on Nutrasweet in the 80's both before and after the FDA got their hands on it and changed it into what was actually released to the public.  I was taught by an Organic Chemistry TA in college who described going to work with his forensic chemist friend and seeing white junk (which turned out to be aspartame) just deposited in the muscles of corpses.  I have suffered exactly 1 migrane in my life so far (thank God) and I strongly suspect that aspartame was to blame.

I have no documents to support any of this, and speaking strictly as a scientist I have never seen any undeniable proof that it is actually poisonous or deadly.  But speaking as a person who is in posession of a human body that I would like to continue living in for as long as possible, I say why take chances with something that DOES break down into poisons in your body but probably not in amounts big enough to cause a problem?  Aren't I exposed against my will to enough environmental pollutants and poisons on a daily basis that it makes sense to keep out even the tiniest bits of poison when I DO have a say?

Except that occasionally I willingly consume aspartame.

I am a total diet soda addict.  It's fizzy, it's sweet, it fills up my stomach and there are no calories!  What more could a habitual dieter ask for?  Luckily there is now Zevia soda out there (and in my fridge) that is still calorie-free but gets its sweetness from stevia and erythritol.  I can't say that this is 100% natural and fine for you either, but I feel personally that it is a better choice than the more mainstream sodas.  When I am craving a soda and I don't have a Zevia around though, I will sometimes, maybe 2-3 times a month, grab a real diet soda.  I try to go for sucralose-sweetened sodas if I can, even though I don't like sucralose either, but that's not always an option.  Neither sucralose nor aspartame have any place in a clean eating plan though.

I grabbed a diet Dr. Pepper at the dance studio yesterday as a "treat" because I was irritated and worn out.  And BOY did I have a headache later that afternoon, right as I was trying to make dinner (which is incidentally right when Charlotte gets extra-screamy).  It hearkened me back to the day, a couple weeks ago, when I "treated" myself to a Coke Zero and suffered the same consequence.  So I've decided to actually walk the clean eating walk and cut this junk out completely.  I will probably stick to my Zevia sodas for a bit, but my goal is to get myself down to just soda water or kombucha if I want something fizzy to drink.

And speaking of breaking bad habits, why not tackle my caffiene addiction while I'm at it?  It feels silly to even say I have a caffiene addiction because I only drink 1-2 cups of coffee a day and maybe sometimes a cup of regular green tea.  But if my body doesn't get that caffiene in the morning I end up with a splitting headache in the afternoon, and drinking caffiene at that point won't fix things, it has to be consumed in the morning.  I call that a symptom of addiction.

On top of that, both my dad and my paternal grandmother (who used to be a nurse and therefore is a big fan of the coffee) have spent some time in the hospital in the last couple months over suspected heart issues.  Neither of them turned out to actually have anything wrong with their hearts, but my dad's "spells" have always occured right after the consumption of a caffienated beverage and have improved almost 100% since he gave up caffiene.  And drinking caffiene too fast (as I usually have to do to get my morning cup in while getting everyone fed and ready and out the door) makes my chest painfully tight.

So no more artificial sweetners, which I definte as aspartame, saccharin or sucralose.  Also, I plan to break myself of caffiene gradually but completely over the next couple weeks.  After that I will probably allow myself an occasional cup of caffienated coffee or tea on a special occasion but I really don't want to get back into a situation where I NEED caffiene to stave off a negative physical reaction.

Do you think wearing my caffiene necklace and/or shirt will help with the withdrawl symptoms?  Or would that just make me a poser now that I have decided to swear off the stuff?


Lauren @ Oatmeal after Spinning said...

Haha- seriously- it's okay to have one vice! For me, it's Extra Sugarfree gum. I know it's full of crap, but I just pretend not to notice. I've been a gum chewer my entire life, and it's better than having bad breath, right?
I had my first "real" diet soda in over 2 years during our honeymoon this summer. I was craving a fountain diet coke, so I had one! It was okay- a little too sweet.
I don't drink soda often, but when I do, I love Virgil's diet sodas- all flavors. They are so good! And I'm telling you- If you mix half diet root beer and half almond milk (stir really well) it tastes like a a root beer float!

Amber said...

I have a theory that all of the "skinny" vanilla lattes I drink each week are making me have different ailments so I am swearing them off for a while. The zero calorie sweetner makes my tongue feel dry after I drink them... I hate that.