This morning I drank my last root beer. I know this as much as I knew that my last Diet Coke was my last Diet Coke three years ago, and I never looked back.
I was deeply addicted to aspartame and caffeine back then, and at the time I was drinking anywhere from 1,000 to 2,500mL of caffeinated Diet Coke every single day. (And yes, Americans, I just went metric. I am trying to think outside the box!) I ignored the various warnings about aspartame, the artificial sweetener used in many diet sodas (sorry, I’ll still call them sodas, I’m firmly thinking in the box on that one), causing cancer because it seems like there’s a study linking anything made of molecules to cancer these days. I knew aspartame was “bad” in the same way career smokers know that smoking is “bad.” Knowing something is bad does not always motivate someone to change.
Diet Coke filled a psychological need for me as well. Growing up with type 1 diabetes meant watching people around me eat what they wanted in the quantities they wanted while I spent mealtimes counting starch and protein exchanges. When diet sodas came along, the diabetic communities of the 1980’s cheered! Finally! Something that tasted good that had no calories! We could consume at will, without counting anything, just like our pancreatically functional peers! And consume we did!
As an adult with type 1 diabetes living in the age of information, I have learned that maybe it wasn’t such a great idea to consume aspartame products with such abandon. I mean the stuff attaches itself to your DNA for fuck’s sake. It is metabolized as formaldehyde in your body. That is Stephen King shit right there.
Not only that, but there are multiple studies now show that large amounts of aspartame in the body increase depression and anxiety symptoms, cause insulin resistance. Maybe not a great product for an insulin dependent diabetic?! Reading those medical studies…like three or four times…was enough to convince me that my life long love affair with Diet Coke would have to come to an end. So one morning (because I drank it for breakfast, just like the root beer) I drank a can of Diet Coke and said to myself, “That was my last can.”
And it was.
I immediately, within the first three weeks, lost 9 pounds, my glucose control magically stablized within a couple months, and I got to reduce my antidepressant doses within a year. I have never looked back.
…Except that not I have replaced one addiction for another. Granted, I only drink 354-709mL, a long way from the thousands of yesteryear, but my inability to stop drinking it just because I decided to made me realize that I am addicted. I’m not only addicted to caffeine again (Barq’s root beer has caffeine!), but I am likely addicted to high fructose corn syrup, or at least on my way there.
Recent studies show that HFCS addiction manifests itself in the brain in similar ways as cocaine addiction. Root beer is way cheaper than cocaine, if you’re going to pick an addiction, but still. A chemical addiction is not something I need considering my brain chemistry is already fucked on its best day, and is uberfucked as of the past several months. I’m also getting a lot of help gaining weight from my psychiatric medications, which, as far as I can tell have chemical properties that tell my body it needs to eat the world, and I don’t need a daily stream of empty calories by the half-litre.
So this morning I realized, more than consciously decided, that I drank my last root beer. I’m no longer “trying to give it up,” or “want to give it up because I know I should,” I drank my last root beer, and that is that.
Bring on the withdrawal headaches, irritability (watch out *points directly at you*), whining, and battles with my psychological demons! I estimate that all of this will start around 11am today, when the first craving hits me like a Mack truck.