Wednesday, April 21, 2010

How I Kicked My Coke Zero Habit and Went Caffeine Free

One of my nit picks with medicine is there's a ton of 'advice' but not a lot of strategy for implementing it.

For example, my doctor told me to 'cut back on caffeine' but then offered no information on how to go about it. Doctors need to follow the parenting advice I hear a lot which is, 'tell kids what to do, not what they shouldn't do.'

For myself, I am a huge fan of displacing bad habits with good ones. I find it to be a very effective technique to bring about change.

So when my blood pressure prompted me to start cutting back on caffeine, this is what I did to swap out a bad habit for a good one. It was actually pretty painless and a strategy that I think others might find helpful.

There are 3 steps...

1.Take an Excedrin in place of the Coke Zero for the first 3 to 5 days to manage withdrawal symptoms. Excedrin contains caffeine and painkillers which makes the withdrawal painless. I was inching up to a 3 can a day habit so 1 Excedrin was still a big drop in caffeine intake for me.

2.Transition to caffeine mints (brand name Jolt). 5 mints = one cup of coffee per the manufacturer. I would have 3 mints in the morning and 2 in the afternoon. Some days I had more. I didn't sweat it. The goal was progress not perfection.

3.Make allowances. I allowed myself caffeine free diet root beer if I was really desperate for a fix. Or sugar free popsicles. The idea wasn't to torture myself, it was to change, so if I needed to lean on a crutch to make it palatable, I did so.

Within 3 weeks, I didn't need the caffeine mints anymore. I do keep some on hand for those times I need a pick-me-up after a sleepless night caring for the toddler or tossing and turning while my brain races under the influence of prednisone. I'll also drink caffeinated tea sometimes.

I'm not completely anti-caffeine, I just don't want to be slave to another bad habit or blood pressure problems. I also don't want to pass this habit on to my daughter. Pop is not okay and I don't want to act like it is.

6 weeks later, I finally drank the last can of Coke Zero in the fridge. It didn't taste good at all. I would say that marks this as a mission accomplished.

Although it really didn't do anything for my BP, so in that respect, the whole exercise was a dismal failure.

1 comment:

  1. Interesting...are you still caffeine free? Did you notice any other health improvements from quitting Coke Zero?


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