3 February 2016

Subtract from Diet Month - Feb

I figured February was a nice short month to test my resolve in subtracting things from my diet. This month I have decided to remove Coke related products.

I enjoy drinking Coke. Before my weight loss journey I could easily have consumed a 2 litre bottle a day. I still enjoy it, but understand it isn't exactly the best option for my health. So I came up with a few rules to stick to for all of February.

  1. No Coke or soft drinks (also called fizzy drinks, soda etc).
  2. No energy drinks or wake up sauce (also called caffeine).
  3. No sugar free alternatives such as Coke Zero.
  4. I must try a new healthy drink each week instead of the above.
So after three days in I'm going well. Instead of having a can of Sugar Free Mother (caffeine energy drink similar to V and Red Bull) every morning, I had a coconut water. This morning however, in accordance with rule 4, I tried a V8 Vegetable Juice - Low Sodium.

V8 drink
For those of you on Weight Watchers, this 1.25 litre bad boy is worth 1 point, as compared to about 16 points for a similar amount of Coke.
It tastes very similar to tomato soup, which has me contemplating heating it up.

Now to some noticeable changes. There is no sign of weight loss yet, no surprise after only a few days, however a headache has kicked in. Again this isn't a surprise as it is a common symptom of withdrawal from my caffeine addiction. I'm mostly ignoring it through a combination of work, stubbornness, and taking a swig of my V8. Headaches are simply a form of pain and the normal pain management techniques will work fine (I'll be adding some of these techniques in future posts). 

Update 5 Feb
Still haven't broken a rule yet so Yay! The withdrawal headaches that started after three days are now less severe and barely noticeable. I am feeling less tired, though have not changed my sleeping habits. This was expected.
The problem with caffeine is it only really works at first. It is a drug that activates nerves to make you feel more awake. When it wears off you need another dose. Like all drugs the more you take the more you gain resistance to it, so you need more to feel the same buzz. The more you drink the more you need to urinate. This removes water from your system and causes dehydration. Your blood thickens and thus slows down, causing your body to use less oxygen and making you sluggish and more tired.

So after a while you have regular trips to the loo, and no improvement to your tiredness.
This becomes worse when you add sugar to the mix. Whether in your coffee or as a can of Coke, you are rapidly raising then dropping your blood sugar. Apart from losing focus on everyday functioning, you are basically simulating diabetes for short bursts.
Freddo Frog white choc
Don't tell my diet I cheated with this guy

So instead of my usual hit of caffeine, today I had another V8 called Breakfast Fusion that is more fruity. I have also lost 1.2kg in just 5 days with changing nothing else in my diet. In fact I actually cheated and had a large Freddo Frog and Mars Bar Ice Cream this week.

As an added bonus my mouth doesn't feel as dry and I'm not as thirsty. That is primarily from the greatly reduced sugar intake but also from being more hydrated.

This thing seems to be working.

Update 12 Feb
Well the blog deleted my last update as I was trying to do it via the mobile site. I won't be doing that again as I lost updates to some drafts as well. This update will be short so I don't have to deal with the mobile interface any longer than needed.

Today I tried a new drink at Boost. I had the Protein Supreme which was quite tasty. Look out for the Energizer Booster as it contains guarana ie caffeine.
On holiday now so going out for dinner will be a test. But no headaches now so should be smooth sailing.

Update 29 Feb
Well today is the last official day of my personal test. The large break between this and the previous update was due to two things: I was on holiday in Fiji; and I didn't trust the mobile interface for the blog.

The holiday was a good test for my personal challenge. The large majority of drink options when dining out are alcohol, soft drinks, tea, coffee or water. I don't drink alcohol, tea or coffee and I banned soft drinks along with caffeine so had minimal options. Fiji provided coconut water straight from the coconut so was a good but expensive solution. Orange juice was diluted swill so I just bought bottled water. Considering the 30 degree Celsius days with 80%+ humidity, water was a must anyway. In case you are wondering we flew out the day before Cyclone Winston hit. The locals knew it was coming and prepared for the worst and I fully believe they will bounce back as quickly as Fiji time allows (no hurries, no worries).

This challenge highlighted the fact that the food industry doesn't want to provide healthy options for food or drink, and only care about either cheap items they can charge a lot for, or premium options they can charge a lot for. That is something that needs to change.

Kava bowl
It tastes as good as it looks
Fiji also provided a new drink to try, that of their traditional beverage of kava. Its a root that is dried, powdered then strained in water like tea. It looks like dirty water and tastes like it too.

The locals love it and get quite addicted to the effects, which include a numbing of the lips and tongue, relaxation and in larger quantities a deep dreamless sleep. It's also an effective anxiety treatment that can work as well as prescription medication, though please don't take this as medical advise. You can't buy it in Australia in powdered form but can bring up to 2kg with your international baggage. I suggest having a taste for yourself if you are in Fiji, but ensure you get the A grade stuff as low grade (immature plants) doesn't give you all the effects and benefits.

Wrap up
As this is the last day of my self imposed exile from caffeine I figured I'd take stock of how I will proceed from here. I've decided to stick with the first three rules as the norm, but allow myself the occasional can of coke. I've heard that once you stop having it for a month or two, returning to it makes it taste like swallowing raw sugar. I'm intrigued to see if this is the case. I'll try a can sometime in the next week and will update this with the verdict.

Final Comments 11 March
This will be my last update to this post. Today I had my first can of coke in 40 days. I had this more out of curiosity than any need to drink it. In the past having an ice cold coke was mildly euphoric. It really hit the spot and released pleasant feelings. My assumption is it was from the caffeine addiction and sugar rush. Since I have been without both for a while the addiction is gone. The coke tasted OK but I was disappointed. It wasn't the taste sensation I remember from the last 25 years of high consumption. I have no burning desire to drink it regularly and will mainly stick with water, coconut water and orange juice.

As an interesting aside within seconds of taking a sip I got a headache. It felt very similar to the ones I had at the start of Feb when in withdrawal. Just more indication that I made the right decision to remove this from my diet.

I've have a positive experience with this and encourage others to give it a try for just one month with the same rules. Don't cheat yourself, and be strict. I'll figure out what I am cutting out of my diet in March and post a new article tomorrow. Hit the comments with your suggestions.


  1. I likewise try to steer clear of fizzy drinks nowadays, but would have trouble eliminating coffee altogether I imagine (don't have it with sugar, so it was okayed by my PT). Another treat you might like to consider are the sunnyboy-esque smooze products (frozen fruit juice and coconut water) - i find them quite hydrating and delicious on the hot/humid days BrsVegas provides.

    1. Eliminating caffeine wasn't that hard. I was having a pint of energy drink each morning and on the weekend gaming with the guys I would easily consume a dozen cans of Coke. The withdrawals last under a week and aren't that bad and I feel more awake.
      While those smooze products might be a good snack (will look into it) they won't serve that well at work unless I bring in a cooler.