Yes, I’m vegan.
Yes, I’m off of animal flesh, dairy, eggs, and more.
Yes, I’m off of soda and caffeinated beverages.
So what’s left to eat you ask? There is soooo much good food to eat. It’s a matter of retraining your brain and palette!
I know some of you are thinking “I didn’t fight my way up the food chain to be a vegetarian (or vegan)” and I totally get it. I’m not advocating you take on vegetarianism or veganism. This was something I wanted to do for me. My family chose not to follow suit. That’s okay. I get greatly teased in my family for being vegan.
Some of you have asked how I came to be a vegetarian, then vegan, so I thought I’d entertain you with my journey…This is Part 1 of my journey to a healthier lifestyle and if God be willing, you can too.
How Did I Get Off of Soda and Caffeinated Beverages?
Very good question! Three years ago I was a diet Coke fiend. I drank it for breakfast, lunch and dinner. It became my water. My God. I couldn’t live without the caffeine. It pepped me up. It comforted me. I thought nothing of it as I sat at my desk working and sucking down my Big Gulp UNTIL I started having fainting spells at any time of the day. I figured it was from hypoglycemia. However, one day I was in line at Old Navy when I started feeling faint and fell flat to the floor; waking up to several people swooning over me and a nurse asking me questions. Besides fainting spells, I was also experiencing other health issues: headaches, hair loss, terrible heartburn, adult acne, extremely tired, severely constipated, (I know, TMI) and other things.
I started researching my symptoms on the web to find some kind of meaning. You know how it is when you research your symptoms on the web? I was suddenly a hypochondriac. I must surely be dying. I must surely be diabetic. I must surely have cancer in my colon. I must surely have a thyroid problem. You know how it is…I’m over-exaggerating to make my point, but I decided to go to the doctor to give myself peace of mind.
The doctor took a slew of tests. All came back normal. I was not diabetic. I did not have a blockage in my colon. I was not dying. My thyroid and kidneys were fine. My vitamins/minerals came back normal. Etc.
I was disappointed–not because I was “okay”, but that nothing was found to explain my symptoms. So why was I having all of these symptoms? I thought surely I was dying! LOL. After a few moments of my doctor questioning me more intensely, it turned out that I was severely dehydrated! The caffeine that I was taking into my body was dehydrating me. Caffeine is a dehydrator. Thus the fainting spells. After a trip to the hospital to get me re-hydrated, I was well on my way to feeling MUCH better.
I had been spiraling out of control with my eating lifestyle and I knew it. I decided I would get on track to a healthier lifestyle. I would take baby steps. And the first step would be swearing off soda and caffeinated beverages. Instead of allowing myself one soda a day, like some people do, I decided to go cold turkey. I’m like an alcoholic, if I allow myself just “one” drink, I’ll cave. I knew I had to get it out of my system all at once. I’m telling you what. It was the hardest thing ever! When I’d drive by the gas station where I got my daily dose of medicine (diet Coke), my mouth would literally salivate (the classic Pavlov Dog Response). I wanted it so bad! But I kept on driving; all the while telling myself that I can do this! Baby steps. Baby steps. Each day got better. I began salivating less. :)
I won’t lie. My body did start going through withdrawals.
Here are some withdrawal symptoms you might experience if you try to get off of caffeine:
- Sleepiness or Insomnia
- Lack of Concentration
- Flu-like Symptoms
I experienced many of those, but I kept telling myself: “You can do this! Your health is more important!”.
The other motivating factor is I read all kinds of nutritional books to keep me motivated. The more information I armed myself with, the more I wanted to stick with what I was doing. I read some fascinating books that were eye openers. One book in particular that helped get me off of pop and drink more water is: “Your Bodies Many Cries For Water: You Are Not Sick, You Are Thirsty” by Dr. F. Batmanghelidj. I highly recommend it. I also read “Caffeine Blues: Wake Up To The Hidden Dangers of America’s #1 Drug” by Stephen Snehan Cherniske, which is another great read.
After 2-3 weeks, I began feeling more energy. I no longer felt the cravings for caffeine. I felt stronger. Strong enough to take the next step: Getting off of refined sugar… Stay tuned.
Tips For Getting Off Soda and Caffeinated Beverages:
- See your doctor for a physical.
- Take baby steps: Go off soda first and caffeinated beverages second (i.e., colas, coffee, black and gray teas, etc.).
- Find a healthy drink alternative you DO like: i.e., Karo (tastes like coffee but is a grain drink). Carbonated water with lemon and lime (tastes like Sprite). 100% Juices. Kombucha (a fermented tea). Herbal and fruit teas. Smoothies. Etc.
- Know what the withdrawal symptoms are and arm yourself. Have Ibuprofen on hand or natural alternative. Take a cat nap. Go to bed earlier. And tell yourself “This too shall pass” and “You can do this”! What’s the alternative? Feeling crappy? Being a slave to your addictions? You decide.
- Read nutritional books to inform, strengthen, and motivate you. I.e. (1) “Your Bodies Many Cries For Water: You Are Not Sick, You Are Thirsty” by Dr. F. Batmanghelidj. (2) “Caffeine Blues: Wake Up To The Hidden Dangers of America’s #1 Drug” by Stephen Snehan Cherniske. And many more.
- Find a support system. It always helps to TALK about your struggles, your successes, and what you are learning along the way. A best friend or spouse is a great place to start–if they are good listeners! I started a FB group.
- Pat your back. You deserve it. Each day you make it, is a step in the right direction. Recognize how far you’ve come. You may have relapses. Just tell yourself “It’s okay” and get back on the bandwagon. Don’t give up all together: Ask yourself, “do you want to go back to where you were or forward”? I think you already know the answer.
I’d love to hear your success stories and what works/worked for you!