About fifteen years ago, I was taking a break in my highly stressful job as night crew stockperson at a major retail store. I worked from 9pm to 7am — even longer hours during the holiday season. Richard Simmons was on David Letterman during this memorable break time. Little did I know that he had a message for reducing both my stress and my waist line.
Simmons revealed he lost ten pounds just by cutting all soda out of his diet. Now, working a graveyard shift, I thought I had to drink about three liters of caffeinated cola per day just to stay awake on the job. Plus, I liked the taste. I said to the TV, “Ah, Richard, what a sap!”
Fifteen years later, I bow to the wisdom of Richard Simmons. (I’d thought I’d be run over by aardvarks before I would ever type that). Not only will you have less weight, you will less stress with less soda consumption. You will also find that you will have more energy for dealing with what you need to get done.
What’s in a Name?
In order to begin drinking less soda for less stress, you need to know what I’m talking about. “Soda” is what I grew up calling the heavilysweetened carbonated beverages that are all around us. In other parts of the world, this drink is called “soda pop”, “pop”, “fizzy drinks” and “soft drinks.” I am also including diet sodas in this bunch as well as any non-caffeinated carbonated drinks like root beer or orange soda.
I’m not saying all sodas should be banned. I still drink a glass as a treat about four or five times a year. But drinking three liters a day like I did a decade ago is not recommended, unless you like twitching 24/7.
Soda may increase your stress levels; and tress can make you fat. How does this happen? When our bodies are stressed, it produces a hormone called cortisol. Cortisol helps the body maintain the “flight or fight” mode. Unfortunately, it also increases a person’s appetite. It also may increase abdominal fat in people with certain genetic predispositions.
Soda drinkers may also experience high blood pressure and an increased body mass index, according to a 2011 study by the School of Public Health at the Imperial College of London. People in the study who drank soda also ate an average of 400 more calories per day than non-soda drinkers.
Get to a Doctor
I was constantly tired and nervous. I couldn’t concentrate enough to finish complex tasks and wondered why I wasn’t getting much sleep. Soda was not the main cause of these symptoms — at least, not in my case.
Since childhood, I have suffered from major depression, which can cause all of those symptoms, but the soda seemed to intensify them. No one in my family make the connection when I was a child in the 1970s, or else I doubt my parents would have let me drink caffeinated soda. However, the Mayo Clinic notes that there is no direct link between caffeine and depression.
Also have your doctor help you put a diet and exercise plan together before doing anything drastic.
Like alcohol, soda puts on calories with no nutritional value whatsoever. This makes you fat, which can lead to you experiencing even more stress. They also really dehydrate your body, making you urinate more than your fluid intake. Dehydration can also leave you tired, dizzy and irritable.
Like alcohol, you will have some withdrawal symptoms, including depression — but not as bad as alcohol withdrawal. Taper off of the soda gradually, so eventually will come the day when you don’t drink any at all. Ask your doctor to help construct a withdrawal plan to aim for.
Drink water, herbal teas, fruit juices or milk instead. Don’t just switch to diet sodas. It will take a month or more for the good effects like better sleep to kick in, so recruit trusted friends and family members to help you stick with your soda reduction plan. You’ll be glad you did. Hopefully, you won’t take nearly fifteen years to figure that out.
“The Diet Cure.” Julia Ross. Penguin; 2000.
MedicineNet.com, “Stress, Hormones and Weight Gain.” Melissa Conrad Stoppler, MD. http://www.medicinenet.com/script/main/art.asp?articlekey=53304
National Public Radio. “Drinking Soda May Increase Your Blood Pressure.” April Fulton. February 28, 2011. (Article also notes that people who drank soda tended to have a higher body mass index.) http://www.npr.org/blogs/health/2011/03/07/134137041/drinking-soda-may-increase-your-blood-pressure
Mayo Clinic, “Caffeine and Depression — Is There a Link?” Daniel K. Hall-Flavin, MD. http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/caffeine-and-depression/AN01700
Author’s personal experience.