Hi, my name is Chip, and I’m an addict.
11 days ago
since my last drink of Coke Zero, or any other kind of soft drink.
I’m pretty convinced that the excessive amounts of soda that I’ve drunk throughout my life have led to some serious health complications.
I had a stroke almost exactly a year ago. A full-blown, ischemic stroke that attacked the language area of my brain. I remember it all vividly:
While talking to a friend at a conference 1,200 miles from home, I was suddenly unable to form words. I knew exactly what it was that I wanted to say, yet what was coming out of my mouth was gibberish.
I spent the next three days in the hospital, not remembering my friends’ names even though I could see their faces. They gave me an MRI, and confirmed the stroke to me on the second day.
A stroke. At 44 years old. With a wife and three children.
This despite that I’ve been eating pretty healthy for a long while now: green shakes (lots of spinach, kale and other good items), healthy oils (Udo’s oil, MCT oil, chia seeds, and avocado), green superfood, Krill oil tablets, grilled fish, veggies…all of the things that you’re supposed to eat. I also drink a LOT of water. A bunch. I’ll usually have at least 60-90 ounces of it before I even leave the house in the morning.
I’ve also been weight training several times a week and walking a lot (often with sprints thrown in) most every day. I actually FEEL pretty healthy.
I have a crippling soda addiction.
It’s bad. It’s been over 6 months now since I’ve had any, and it still pulls at me. That’s embarrassing to admit, especially since I’ve publicly given up sodas before, and have even gone 3 years of my life without them at one point–coincidentally when I was in my best shape ever.
When the doctors checked me after the stroke, they said that my blood pressure, my blood sugar, my heart rate and function weren’t just good–they were OPTIMAL.
But I had a stroke.
A friend of mine, Dr. Thaddeus Gala (who was actually there to diagnose my stroke when it happened while we were at a conference together) recommends getting a C-reactive protein test (CRP) to test for inflammation.
When I did that, I was shocked at the results; but I should not have been.
The normal levels for this test are supposed to be at 1mg per liter or less for low inflammation. High risk is over 3mg per liter. Mine was at 5.5mg per liter, which means that I have very high inflammation.
That high inflammation puts me at extremely high risk of health complications. Oh, and I’m overweight, too–despite how well I usually eat and work out…and that’s pretty frustrating.
I am sure that the cokes were the reason behind my inflammation levels, and mind you the doctors told me that I was doing great.
I want to write this because you may be affected by the ill effects of sodas, too.
I’ve done a little research on them, and they are truly awful for your health.
I’ve always thought in the back of my head that they were bad, but I didn’t know HOW BAD they were. I mean, come on! They don’t have any sugar or calories!? Right?
I just read a book by Dr. Joseph Mercola, and his #1 piece of health advice–before ANYTHING else, including ‘eating right,’ and getting exercise–is STOP THE SODAS.
Doing a quick search on the web, this is what Mercola had to say about soda:
I’ve found that sodas also give you hits of dopamine and glutamate. They change your mood, your body chemistry and are (surprise, surprise) highly addictive. In fact, if you really want to be scared about how easily we are manipulated into craving these cripplers in a can, check out this article from the Renegade Pharmacist.
One of my friends, Shawn Phillips, has called sodas, “aging potions.” That stuck with me, and helped me avoid them for those three years.
In the past six months, making no other changes in my diet or lifestyle other than the sodas, I’ve dropped about 20 pounds, and my acid reflux has been a LOT better. Which means my singing voice is better, and my children are all happy for that in our daily car rides as I just love to belt out some 80’s hits for them.
I’m putting it out there now:
I’m done with these forever; and for me, it has to be a clean, 100% break.
The “I’ll just drink less,” doesn’t work, and hard lines against them are the only way to do it.
If you are drinking these, I’d highly encourage you to stop. Try it out. That was tough for me, and the first few days I had headaches and classic withdrawal symptoms. To me, that shows how bad they are.
I’m not going to lie. If you are currently drinking one or more sodas each day–it’s tough to stop. It’s an addiction, which is defined by being mentally and physically dependent on something and being unable to stop without adverse effects.
You will feel the adverse effects…and what I’ve found is that if you’re expecting them, you can deal with them more easily (not easy, just more easily).
Here are some of the things that helped me, and can work for you too:
- Draw a clear, bright line around the behavior. Tell yourself and everyone else, “I will not drink sodas.” Letting other people know that I was quitting was helpful to me, as I felt like I’d be letting them and myself down if I relapsed.
- Have a substitute for it on hand at all times. For me, this was Vitamin Water Zero Lemonade. That’s still not optimal, but it served as a bridge for me and helped in the tough spots especially.
- Drink more water. A LOT more. The more water I drank helped to crowd out the thirst for the sodas. Eventually, I got up to nearly 2 gallons of water a day and my cravings for soda have nearly disappeared.
- Know that there’s an end in sight. “This too shall pass,” and it does get easier. Don’t lose that hope during a particularly bad day.
It was very difficult at first, but like a rocket leaving Earth’s gravitational pull, it got easier and easier as I got further away from the last soda. Now, it’s nearly effortless for me, and I naturally want to drink water with everything.
If you, or someone you know struggles with this, please share this with them, and maybe we can help some folks get healthier.