Cutting down on the caffeine…

I’ve been a rampant soda drinker all my life. As a kid and young adult, my flavor of choice was Dr. Pepper. In recent years, to fight the mid-life spread, I’ve switched to Diet Coke. I like the taste of soda, but, for me, it’s mostly a caffeine-delivery method. I don’t have too many fears about caffeine itself, but putting down all these sodas was getting to be ridiculous for a number of reasons:

  • Cost: remember when you bought groceries to save money? Seems like now they’re almost as expensive as eating out. But keeping my supply of diet beverages was costing me quite a bit per week, so much so that I only bought them when they were on sale and stockpiled them in my garage. Grocery stores regularly put the twelve-packs of aluminum cans on sale at four for eleven dollars. That’s about .23 cents per can, which is certainly cheaper than the .80 cents they cost out of a machine. But, when you’re drinking six or more of them a day, it adds up. And it adds up a lot quicker if you forget to bring one and end up buying some at the Quickie Mart. The economy, after all, is in terrible shape right now. And I’m not alone in trying to find ways to tighten my belt.
  • Environmental impact: even though I recycle all of my cans (and I do mean all of them), recycling all that aluminum is still not nearly as efficient as simply not using it in the first place. The companies themselves spend a lot of energy carting the syrupy liquid around, and liquids are heavy. So, though I’m far fro the greenest person you’ll meet, I started to feel genuinely guilty about this element of my overall consumption.
  • Sleep and health: historically, I always ramp up my caffeine consumption when I’m overtaxed. And the first few months of having Haden around meant that sleep was a luxury. I’ve never needed as much sleep as most people, and I have the ability to get by on very little for extended stretches of time when I feel it is necessary. And that–the loss of sleep–is bad for you, far worse than any side effects of caffeine itself. There’s also the disturbing idea that excessive soda intake might be linked to bone loss and osteoporosis. So, even if that ends up being a wash, why risk it?

While going cold turkey has a nice tough-guy appeal, I’ve decided that the better bet for me is to reduce my consumption to a reasonable level and eliminate the cans by switching from soda to tea. I’m not great with fuzzy limits. So I decided that two cans of soda (or 32 oz of tea, as that’s the size of the container in which I brew it) would provide a nice morning jolt. And, for the rest of the day, I drink water. As an added bit of convenience and energy savings, I found that you can cold brew tea. Most people do this with loose-leaf tea, but I find a few Lipton tea bags steeped in water overnight produces a perfectly drinkable tea that’s ready for my morning commute.

So, I’ve been doing this for a few weeks now, and I’m feeling a lot better about it. In fact, tea is much more refreshing than carbonated drinks (so much so that I wish I didn’t have to drink up the Diet Coke I’ve already bought).