Mormon Coffee

Andrew Humor, LDS, Mormon, mormon, Mormons 92 Comments

Hi, my name is Andrew, and I’m a diet Coke-oholic.

For those of you who’ve never attended an addiction recovery group meeting, that’s your cue to enthusiastically respond: “Hi Andrew!” It’s important for you to welcome me and make me feel part of the group as I prepare to bare my soul and tell you the heartrending story of how I became an addict.

My addiction started in junior high, which is where I first gained daily access to inexpensive caffeinated sodas. My parents never had caffeinated drinks in the home, and when I was in elementary school my drink choices had been limited to milk (plain or chocolate) or some sort of juice. But when I moved up to the big leagues of middle school, we had a cafeteria where students could purchase Coke, Iced Tea, and other caffeinated drinks.

Give a thirteen year-old a couple bucks and a full range of junk food options at school and guess what he’ll do? I’ll tell you what I did: every day at recess, I bought a Coke and an It’s It ice cream sandwich for 50 cents a pop. By the time lunch rolled around, it was time to chug another Coke.

I became creative in finding ways to finance my addiction. Every couple days, I’d leave the house earlier than usual and ride my bike to the Von’s supermarket on the way to school. There I’d buy a few ten-packs of Juicy Fruit chewing gum for $1. Then I’d sell each pack of gum at school for 25 cents, for a profit of $1.50 per 10-pack of gum, which was enough to buy three cans of Coke.

When I reached high school, I gained the freedom to go off campus for lunch, which enabled me to hitch a ride with friends who could drive to a local McDonald’s, Taco Bell, or other fine eatery. Because these fast food restaurants provided their customers with unlimited refills, I was now able to consume at least two 16 ounce cup-fulls of Coke per lunch, or maybe three cups if I was especially thirsty or thought I’d need extra boost to stay awake in Math.

But my access to my drug of choice was greatly hindered when I went to college at BYU. I remember the first time I got to the end of the cafeteria line where the drinks were located at the Morris Center. I saw the choices: Sprite, Rootbeer, and a rainbow of Fanta fruit flavors. They even had Postum, for crying out loud! But I didn’t want a roasted barley coffee substitute, even if it was true that the Word of Wisdom commends the use of grains for making “mild drinks.” I wanted my Coke, my Mormon coffee!

When I went to the main cafeteria on campus, the CougarEat™, I found the same thing: an array of every fountain drink imaginable except the one I wanted: Coke or something with caffeine. There was obviously a conspiracy afoot, and I quickly learned that caffeinated sodas had been banned from campus to save addicts like me from ourselves. And save me it did. Being largely campus-bound as a freshman, I was able to break my Coke addiction for an entire year at the Y.

But when I got into the mission field, I backslid and turned back to my former ways like a dog returning to his vomit. While serving a Spanish-speaking mission in Colorado, I had easy access to the Devil’s Juice at the local Hardees, 7-11, or any other watering hole. And it was there in the mission field that I discovered other addicts like me. I once had a companion who was completely unable to function in the morning until we went down to the 7-11 at the corner and picked him up a Big Slam of Mountain Dew. He was a pathetic, empty shell of a man, but he made me feel better about myself simply by virtue of the fact that I wasn’t him. And because I could indulge my habit with him without feeling the least bit judged, it was really the best of both worlds. Sometimes when we were gearing up for a long afternoon of tracting in the Summer heat, we’d get hopped up on a couple Jolt colas. “All the sugar, Twice the caffeine!” read the slogan on the bottle.

But it wasn’t until after my mission that I hit rock bottom. It’s a period of my life I don’t like to revisit, but I feel compelled to point out the rocky shoals upon which I was wrecked in hopes that my fellow mariners of life might avoid my mistakes. It was the summer after I returned from my mission, and I was working two restaurant jobs. One at California Pizza Kitchen in the mornings and afternoons, and the other at a mom-and-pop Italian joint in the evenings. The biggest perk of both jobs was my unlimited access to all the free Coke or Pepsi I could ever dream of. I felt like I had won a Golden Ticket to the Wonka factory. I guzzled between 8 and 12 glasses a day, which had the unfortunate side effect of keeping me so wired that I couldn’t fall asleep at night. The upside was that I got a ton of late-night reading done that summer.

Fortunately, one of the books I read that summer, Lord of the Flies, so perfectly illustrated the dark, downward spiral in which I was caught that it awakened me to my awful situation. And as I read Orwell’s 1984, I think I secretly longed for my days at the Y when Big Brother removed my every opportunity to sin. One night as I read into the wee hours of the morning, I committed myself to go cold turkey the next day. I did, and it was miserable. I was a zombie, I couldn’t stop yawning the whole day, and I had a splitting headache. But fortunately, this only lasted a couple of days. And I was clean in no time.

But just a few years later, I had a total relapse. I was in law school, and I was experiencing the chronic sleep-deprivation of young parenthood. I couldn’t stay awake in my daytime classes, and somehow couldn’t manage to stay awake while reading my Civil Procedure textbook at night. In that moment of vulnerability and weakness, I turned to Coke to solve my fatigue problem, rather than relying on faith and prayer. My addiction was only further ossified when I began working at a law firm where, just a short walk down the hall from my office, there stood a refrigerator stocked with orderly rows of Coke, diet Coke, Dr. Pepper, Diet Dr. Pepper, and a whole panoply of verboten suds. These quickly became my crutches whenever I had a late night at the office, which could be quite often.

Today, I continue to wander this desolate path of sin. Only now I’ve moved on to the hard stuff, Diet Coke, which has significantly more caffeine than regular Coke. And oddly, my weekly Saturday trip to the grocery store to pick up a 2-liter of “Happy Juice” for consumption after church each Sunday has become a warped act of religious devotion for me. “Saturday is a special day, it’s the day we get ready for Sunday.”

Some interesting caffeine facts:

8 oz. Coffee: 100 mg. caffeine (may vary)

8 oz. Iced Tea: 47 mg. caffeine

12 oz. Diet Coke: 45.6 mg. caffeine

12 oz. Coke: 34 mg. caffeine

8 oz. Green Tea: 15 mg. caffeine (same tea leaf as brown or black tea, only not oxidized yet)

8 oz. Hot Cocoa: 14 mg. caffeine

8 oz. Decaf Coffee: 4 mg. caffeine

Based on the foregoing, it’s clear to me that I drink the caffeine equivalent of two 8 oz. cups of Iced Tea per day, and almost one cup of coffee. So do I and other Mormons like me need to be worried about that as a Word of Wisdom violation? We’ve been plainly warned:

Never let Satan or others lead you to think that breaking the Word of Wisdom will make you happier or more attractive. (Strength of Youth, 2001.)

The breaking of the Word of Wisdom is often the beginning of the breaking of many other commandments. (Principles of the Gospel, 1976.)

Despite these plain admonishments, I often see other Mormons flaunting their Word of Wisdom violations at church social functions, and in the church building no less. We once had a sister in our ward who, without fail, showed up at every church social event with a Big Gulp of Diet Coke in hand. I suppose she thought it would make her happier, or maybe make her look more attractive in our eyes. But we could all see through her facade. She ended up moving from Southern California to Utah, which ought to be a sobering warning to anyone who so mocks the sanctity of the church building.

At this point I’m just taking it one day at a time. It’s all I can do to stay balanced with this monkey on my back. I can now say I completely understand what Robert Downey Jr. meant when he told the judge: “It’s like I know I have the barrel of a loaded shotgun in my mouth, but I love the taste of gun metal.” I hope to one day find the inner strength and resolve to overcome my addiction. Who knows, if I get desperate, I may even have to book myself into rehab by becoming one of those thirty-something year-old guys living in the freshman dorms at the Y, which was the only place I’ve ever been able to stay clean for long. Fascism feels so uncomfortably restrictive, but you really can’t argue with the results.

So what about you? Any caffeine addiction confessions you want to make to unburden your soul? Have you been crawling into a bottle of Mr. Pibb to drown your sorrows with false promises of happiness? Are you one of those people that thinks drinking Coke makes you look more attractive? Has your caffeine addiction led you to violate other commandments, like breaking the Sabbath with a drive-thru run after church because you had to get your caffeine fix? And if you abstain from coffee out of religious principle, what makes you think your Mormon coffee is any better?

(Click here for an autobiographical musical summary of this post. The chorus says it all.)

Comments

comments

Comments 92

  1. Hi, my name is Nathan, I’m a caffiend, and it’s been about six months since my last drink.

    I didn’t start in on the habitual caffeine until after my mission, and I REALLY didn’t get into it until after I left school. I kept trying to stay up late for any number of projects, and the quantities of caffeine had to keep going up. At one point, I was drinking enough Mountain Dew that it was making me doughy around the midsection. So I switched to diet drinks.

    By the time I quit (the most recent — and most effective — time), Iwas up to a couple of cans of diet cola through the morning and TWO VIVARIN, because my body had acclimatized to it. And then often an energy drink on the way home. And I was still ready for bed too early. The caffeine was doing me no good, and a world of evil if I found myself away from home without a couple of bitter yellow pills at hand.

    So I took a couple of vacation days from work and went through withdrawals. Now I can stay up for just as many hours on my own steam as I used to be able to do with caffeine. (Granted, the stroke I suffered two months back sucked out a lot of that energy, but I’ve pretty much come back from that.)

    Now if only they would make a caffeine-free non-diet Mountain Dew. Sweet, sweet nectar…

  2. Hi Andrew,

    I remember walking into the Missionary’s apartment as a new Ward Missionary Leader and seeing a huge row of Mountain Dew dead soldiers up over the cabinets in the kitchen. When queried about it, one Elder said, “We are asked to refrain from cola drinks.” I did a lesson in EQ on the Word of Wisdom where I brought in a bunch of drinks and asked which had caffeine and which did not. To the surprise of one of the most straight arrow members, his family’s two favorite drinks, Sunkist Orange and Barq’s Root Beer, both had caffeine (Apparently, Barq’s does not have caffeine in Utah).

    BTW, are caffeinated drinks prohibited by the WoW? I don’t remember reading that. Also, no one askes that question in the TR interview. having said that, anything which is addicting, is probably harmful.

    My drink of choice is Diet Dr. Pepper.

    BTW Andrew, very cute.

  3. I was raised in a LDS household that allowed coke in all its glory. Everyone in my family drank it – we could even drink it and go straight to bed with no ill effects. I don’t know if its because the “taboo” was removed or not, but none of family are addicted to caffeine nor to the best of my knowledge have they ever been. We all can take it or leave it to this day. I might have several a day for a week and then none for a month with no side effects at all.

    Food is our coffee. We eat way to much of it. Actually now that I can stand back Id say Mormonism is my families coffee – as my non-LDS partner likes to tell me – they cant do anything without bring up Church, even eating:)

  4. This is not technically breaking the letter of the law of the Word of Wisdom, and so until the Church actually makes a statement about it with teeth, it will go unheeded. I need to go get another Rockstar for my next hit.

  5. I start each day with a Diet Coke with Lime. I consider it unhealthy, but not a WOW violation. I always make sure, on Saturday afternoon, that I am stocked for Sunday, particularly if a Sunday visit to the in-laws is planned. My dad was a cola drinker his whole life, through many a high-level church calling. The only thing I never understood was his change from Coke to Pepsi.

  6. I was raised by Coke guzzlers, and they didn’t share, so that made it hold even more mystique. My mom had been raised by a doctor dad who would bring a little glass of Coke to her bedside whenever he woke her up extra-early.

    I too got into Coke big time in high school, where my daily lunch (after having eaten no breakfast) was always a Coke and a Ding Dong. Strangely, I am a person who does not recognize any effects from caffeine. It does not seem to help me wake up, and I do not get headaches when I don’t partake. So my addiction has not been as bad as yours, at least on the pharmaceutical level.

    I was able to take or leave Coke on my mission and early adulthood, enjoying it fairly often but not overindulging. Later, when I got into long commutes from Provo to Salt Lake, I got in the habit of smuggling a 32-ouncer onto the bus (it spilled a couple of times, and rivulets of Coke would run back and forth under people’s feet). Then I would often get another Coke mid-morning. It wasn’t to wake me up—I just really enjoyed the taste and the quenching of the thirst. So I spent my thirties drinking 60-90 ounces of regular Coke per day.

    Now that I’m middle aged, I allow myself only 22 ounces per day. I have been starting to see trouble with blood pressure, triglycerides, sleep quality, etc. and the first thing the nurses at the health fair always say is, “If you’re drinking soda, you gotta quit.” I’ve noticed a definite upswing in my sweet tooth for candy, dessert, and fruit juice since I decreased my intake of brown sugar water. I hope I can get through my 40s and 50s without the need for further cola deprivation, but I suppose it’ll be the first thing to go if my metabolism needs more intervention.

    I really only enjoy Coke out of the fountain, so my latest step has been ceasing the purchase of any bottled or canned Coke, which I never enjoy as much as fountain anyway. But since I eat out for lunch almost every day, that’s still most days with Coke.

    Another reason I am no longer stocking Coke at home is that my little boys always whine and beg for it, and I can’t enjoy a glass in peace. Failing to learn from my mother, I made the mistake of letting them take occasional sips, and it turned into a monster. And now my older kids sneak cans and I find the empties hidden around the house.

    I wish I could do Diet Coke, since I’m more worried about the sugar than the caffeine, but it burns! It burns! If a restaurant mixes up and gives me a Diet Coke by accident, I get horrible aftertaste on the first sip and immediately send it back or even just throw it away.

    Meanwhile, my mom still sometimes tells me about certain fast-food places that serve more potent Cokes and alerts me when stores stock Mexican-made Coke, which contains real sugar instead of corn syrup….

  7. No pseudo-WoW addictions here. (or is it neo-WoW?) I don’t like how soft drinks make my teeth feel fuzzy.

    “We once had a sister in our ward who, without fail, showed up at every church social event with a Big Gulp of Diet Coke in hand. I suppose she thought it would make her happier, or maybe make her look more attractive in our eyes.”

    LOL

  8. Over the years, I’ve been a huge guzzler of any drink that tasted good. I would have drank coffee, but I really don’t like anything hot. I don’t drink coffee because I don’t like the taste, and I don’t drink hot-chocolate because I don’t like the heat. It is a convienance to me that I don’t like coffee and the church doesn’t want me to drink it. I think I might have a problem if I actually liked it. Actually, I tried a hazelnut lattee the other day and it was pretty good. If they could just get rid of the coffee flavor.

    Now… on to the subject.

    I have a 36 pack of Diet Mt. Dew in the garage and I have a fairly ready access to Coke products. My current coke of choice is diet coke with lime.
    However, I keep reading about the dangers of cola, so I do try to stay towards the clear, diet varieties. I love them. I need the boost and it helps me wake up. I teach early morning seminary and by about 10am, I’m really needing the kick. I’ll have 2-3 cans during the day, and then I’m done.

    There have been many church functions, or just social functions with friends in the church where I’ll bring coke or pepsi products. I don’t make a big deal of it. If my family is the only ones drinking, that just means there is more for us.

    Last summer, our extended family got together with the cousins. We broke out the coke, diet coke, mt dew, jolt, and of course water. My kids were laughing and having a great time drinking their nice drinks why the cousins were only allowed water by the parents. To bad for them.

  9. Great post Andrew. Cheers for that.

    I got to staying up late last year and had to give up the caffeine I was using to support this bad habit. Occasionally I will use it just as I might use dihydramine to get to sleep.

    However, it is important to weigh up the risk to benefit ratio. And caffeine does have risks associated with it.

  10. How about Excedrin which has 130 mg of caffeine or a Hershey’s dark chocolate bar which has 31 mg? You can get addicted to pain killers or chocolate easier than soda, but none of those are forbidden in the word of wisdom and that’s fine. Are we really looking for more restrictions in the Church? Soda has nothing to do with the word of wisdom and never has, same with pain killers and chocolate. The issue has never been caffeine. The D&C simply says ‘hot drinks’ which has been interpreted by Church leaders to mean coffee and tea. They have never revised that.

  11. Jews don’t recognize Jesus as the Messiah.

    Protestants don’t recognize the Pope as the head of the church.

    Mormons don’t recognize each other in the soda aisle.

    BA DUM BUM

    I’ve heard it said the difference between Mormons and Christians is the temperature of their caffeine.

    BA DUM BUM

    Coke is ‘mild’ compared to other soda options out there like Energy Drinks, Vault, Mt. Dew, etc. Soda is pretty nasty (though oh so tempting) stuff. Even if one bags the HFCS and goes diet, the body responds to artificial sweeteners in much the same way. But I’m cool with Mormons loving their Coke. I’ll take mine with lime, please. http://www.energyfiend.com/the-caffeine-database/

    My hand-made morning single-shot iced latte is 50-70mg caff, depending on coffee variety and how slow or fast a draw. With 1/2-oz of flavored syrup (sucrose) and 10-12 oz of skim milk that’s 130-150 calories total. Plus you get vitamins, flavenoids, antioxidants, minerals — naturally-occurring, healthful food value. If I do a double shot it’s only like 5 calories more. Still, this is drinkable calories, so it’s not like this is perfect vice or anything. My summer green tea yogurt smoothie is probably an even better a choice. For a pick me up, you can do a lot better health-wise than soda. And you get a decent hit of the natural caffeine, assume one isn’t opposed to stimulants. Caffeine doesn’t work for everybody.

    Time for an updated revelation, no?

  12. Why does Diet Coke raise the ire of so many Mormons, even apparently beyond Regular Coke, Mountain Dew, and Dr. Pepper?

    Simple. Diet Coke has no sugar (the Mormon narcotic of choice) but still has the caffeine (in LDS culture, the equivalent of crack).

  13. Denial is not just a river in Egypt.

    For those of you arguing that drinking caffeinated soda is not a violation of the Word of Wisdom, at least according to Church authorities, how do you explain the ban on caffeinated soda at Church-owned and operated schools?

  14. I drink Red Bull. It helps me to do important work to get my education, like the Prophet asked us to do.

    And – in my understanding – caffeine is most definitely NOT against the word of wisdom.

    BTW, Stephen – sounds like you’ve got crazy drugs for sleeping, etc! What’s the ‘risks’ of caffeine use? Nice post Andrew!

  15. #14 not many risks: check out this link http://ific.org/publications/brochures/caffeinebroch.cfm

    This is interesting too:

    According to the World Health Organization, “There is no evidence whatsoever that caffeine use has even remotely comparable physical and social consequences which are associated with serious drugs of abuse.” Some sensitive individuals may experience mild, temporary effects, including headache, restlessness and irritability when their daily intake is quickly and substantially altered. Medical experts have long agreed that any discomfort caused by abruptly stopping consumption of caffeine can be avoided by progressively decreasing intake over a few days.

  16. Andrew,
    The same way I explain Church-owned schools’ ban on walking around barefoot and on wearing shorts that don’t hit your knees: school policy.

    That said, Coke of any variety is nasty. Give me Izzies or a good root beer (not a mass-market, high-fructose corn syrup-laden root beer) any day. But it’s not a WoW thing for me; it’s an aesthetic thing.

  17. gma (18):

    I’m with ya. The BYUs enjoy a bit of autonomy from the corporate church. I think their stricter policies are more a reflection of the LDS culture, particularly the generally-more-zealous LDS cultures of Utah Valley or Eastern Idaho, than they are a reflection of the proper interpretation of LDS beliefs and practices. But in a pharisaical definition I think you could argue they are “more holy.” 😉

  18. Sam B. said, “Give me Izzies or a good root beer (not a mass-market, high-fructose corn syrup-laden root beer) any day. But it’s not a WoW thing for me; it’s an aesthetic thing.”

    A man of my own heart. I love root beer. There are so many varieties and finding a small brewer who makes a great one is a treasure. On an aside, I think it’s too bad a “hard” root beer has never really made inroads to the market. Yeasted, non-HFCS root beers are yummy.

  19. Geez,

    I should start drinking my caffeine instead of eating it occasionally in the form of chocolate. Maybe if I upped my caffeine intake, my testimony of the devil would be strengthened…

  20. The bottom line is, there is a semi-official teaching that caffine breaks the spirit of the Word of Wisdom, otherwise Temple cafeterias would serve it, and so would BYU. President Hinckley taught it on one of those interviews. I saw him. He said that we don’t believe in drinking cola. This teaching has no teeth, and there is no disciplinary action for going against it. It is tecnically against the word of wisdom, or at least, the current interpretation of it, but nobody is going to hell or going to lose a temple recommend over it. but if I were you guys, I’d prepare for the day that this teaching is stressed more in sunday school, and everyone is given a warning and a grace period to get off caffine before they are no longer able to get a temple recommend. This is my prediction. Now for another Rockstar hit. Good stuff indeed.

  21. Just for Quix, how do you define “hard” root beer? When I hear that I think of Mike’s Hard Lemonade, which I had to explain to my wife why we shouldn’t buy that for the kids as a summertime drink.

    For my root beer pleasure, I’ll take Henry Weinhardt’s. It’s sweetened with honey, has a good deeply-sweet flavor (not syrupy-sweet) with the spice and has a real head when you pour it.

    And I’ve recently kicked the Diet Coke because I was up to about 64 oz. a day. As a side note, I tend to lose a couple of pounds by dropping caffeine completely.

  22. Barqs is my drink of choice, Pepsi is my choice when I am tired.

    For three years I worked nights, without my 2 litre of Coke/Pepsi I would have been a real mess. As it was it pretty much rotted my teeth (had all my wisdom teeth out recently because of the acid on Coke and Pepsi) but that was the worst side effect.

  23. So, why is coffee and tea still even considered part of the WoW? It is apparent that soft drinks are more harmful than a glass of ice tea, which actually has some healthy benefit depending on the kind you drink. Is the current WoW antiquated and in need of some revision? If not, why not? Especially when taking into consideration other beverages such as wine, which likewise has been shown to have some healthy benefits. Or how about the whole meat thing of eating small portions? I see nothing wrong with abiding by the WoW, but why is it a required part of the temple recommend interview? Conventional wisdom today states that too much of anything is unhealthy. This was true in Joseph’s day as well, just look up the cold water societies, which had some prevalence in Nauvoo and New York in the late 18th and early 19th centuries. Healthy living is important, but it seems that one vice is merely substituted for another in the Mormon culture thereby making the WoW obsolete.

  24. I am a COFFEE drinker – GASP!(not every day, but I do have them especially when working nights in the ER). I hate soft drinks and need some caffeine. Plus I really like the taste. I doubt if I could get a current temple recommend drinking an occasional cuppa however

  25. Actually, if we’re being technical about it, a temple recommend is a personal interview, and the question is simply, “Do you keep the word of wisdom?” No more and no less. So each person will have their own little interpretations of what it means to keep this law. Some are stricter than others but since it a personal question, all who answer yes will receive the recommend. If you believe you are keeping the word of wisdom and can answer yes, then you are. Just like all who believe they are forgiven of sin are forgiven, but that is another topic…

  26. I remember well my last Coke. It was during an evening drive home when I was getting drowsy. To me, cola beverages were always like pumpkin pie. A couple of times a year was enough. And diet soda, well that was always just blech. My wife has got me into the habit of order water at Taco Bell, so the usual time I have soda is with those Root Beer Floats that are served up at church functions.

    My parents always ordered Colas at Taco Bell, and I but I was told when I tried to follow their example, “YOU do not need to start drinking these things.” Though hypocritical, it was true.

    1. My sister has been advised by her doctor to give up her soda habit because of osteoporosis.

    2. Reports abound that diet drinks do bad things to teeth.

    “Demineralization, or loss of tooth material, begins at a pH of 5.5, although under certain conditions, may even start at a higher pH.” (Acid pH of Diet Coke 3.39)

    3. Most recently I saw a headline “Diet Soda Strongly Associated With the Metabolic Syndrome”, which raises your risk of diabetes (even in the absence of sugar!)

    I’m with Sam B., #16. If I want to enjoy a rare carbonated beverage, give me one free of high fructose corn syrup. Thinking of the junk squirting out of those ubiquitous soda fountains is not pleasant. If we are going to argue about what should be on the WoW list, I think you would have to add Krispy Kremes, but it shouldn’t be necessary to provide revelation that those things are bad for you.

  27. Just when I was thinking I should give up my addiction to Coke, I find out that most of you imbibe. I guess this is one vise I can keep…Bless you all as I do love an ice cold coke after working in the yard for awhile.

    I believe it was a lack of faith that got us to the point we’re at today with caffeinated drinks. Allow me to elaborate. Mormons can’t take anything on faith alone because we’re the religion with all the answers. (I can’t believe I’m saying this) Therefore, when the brethren said that “hot drinks” referred to coffee and tea, we couldn’t accept that at face value. After all, God wouldn’t command something without a good reason. So some enterprising member tried to figure out what the problem was with these hot drinks. Perhaps science could provide a clue of what could be so nasty and common between them. Low and behold, they figured out that besides being hot, both drinks had a mild stimulant called caffeine. That must be it they exclaimed! After all, God wouldn’t tell us not to partake unless there was a really good reason. Now, the all important “they” concluded that what God was actually saying is don’t drink caffeine. Anything with caffeine in it must be by definition evil and therefore really good members wouldn’t partake of such wickedness.

    Does this kind of remind you of the Monty Python movie, The Search for the Holy Grail? How did the villagers decide if the nasty woman was actually a witch? I purpose to you that the logic employed there is about as accurate as the interpretation imposed by the all important “they” here with regard to “hot drinks”.

  28. Good analogy Doug G. I drink plenty of diet coke, although I can honestly say that I am not “addicted.” I have quit on many occasions and have no ill side effects (e.g. headaches, drowsiness). I read somewhere that people who smoke 2 packs of cigarettes a day have a higher tolerance for nicotine, so it takes more to get the same effect. Perhaps I have high caffeine tolerance. My mom drank a lot of coffee before she was baptized (about 10 cups of Joe a day). The missionaries were nervous because she insisted on drinking her last cup right before she stepped into the font. She has never had another, and that was 50 years ago.

    I agree that the WoW could use a bit of a re-write. Obesity is clearly a bigger health problem, any way you slice it. Getting worked up over diet soda while wolfing down deep-fat fried fritters and funeral potatoes with potato chip topping seems a little like straining at a gnat and (almost literally) swallowing a camel.

    Most of the ill effects of diet soda and aspartame have been de-snoped. To wit:
    – Coke is an effective spermicide (FALSE – So congratulations or sorry if that was your previous method of birth control)
    – Pouring Coke on raw meat will cause worms to come out of the meat (FALSE)
    – A tooth in a glass of Diet Coke will dissolve overnight (FALSE)
    – Coke plus aspirin equals a great high (FALSE)
    – Mormons own the Coca Cola company (FALSE)
    – Little Mikey (Life cereal) died from drinking Coke with Pop Rocks in his mouth (FALSE)
    – The acides in Coke make it harmful to drink (FALSE)
    – Drinking too much Coke can cause you to die from carbon dioxide poisoning (FALSE)
    – Diet Coke contains more calories than listed (FALSE)
    – A mixture of Diet Coke and Mentos killed 2 Brazilian kids (FALSE)

    For the aspartame conspiracy theorists out there, despite internet hoaxes and claims that aspartame causes brain tumors, cancer, birth defects, brain disease, Alzheimer’s, Gulf War syndrome, lupus, MS and seizures, according to the FDA, MIT, and the CRC there is no merit to these claims. Aspartame is safe for human consumption.

  29. A missionary recently told me that some Apostle or GA talked about how his favorite drink was Dr. Pepper. The missionaries were trying to tell my coffee-drinking woman that coffee wasn’t excluded because of caffeine, but because of other worse chemicals and acids. I thought it was funny, ’cause Dr. Pepper is one of the most caffeinated soft drinks (more than Mountain Dew).

    As someone already pointed out: Caffeine promotes osteoporosis. It kills the osteoblasts in your bone.

    While I prefer root beers and colas (Coke or Pepsi will do), I recently tried to cut from my diet my love of sugars for Lent, and this included sodas, and I’ve been trying to keep it up since. (No, Hawkgrrrl, I’m not Catholic, but my wife is!) Today I had horchata with dinner.

    My friend Jessica Logsdon paints with artificial sweetener wrappers:

    http://jessicalogsdon.com/page1/page1.html

    I was helping her empty sweetener packets one night, and I ate all the NutraSweet I had dumped out of the packets. I overdosed on Aspartame (I ate probably a 1/2 cup of powder), and let me tell you, it is not fun (talk about migraine) — but it tasted awesome!

  30. hawkgrrrl :–

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Aspartame_controversy

    “In 1998, a team of scientists in Spain conducted an experiment on rodents to indirectly measure the levels of formaldehyde adducts in the organs after ingestion of aspartame. They did this by radiolabeling the methanol portion of aspartame.[29] The scientists concluded that formaldehyde bound to protein and DNA accumulated in the brain, liver, kidneys and other tissues after ingestion of either 20 mg/kg or 200 mg/kg of aspartame.[30] However, representatives of the manufacturer of aspartame have argued that these scientists were not directly measuring formaldehyde, but simply measuring levels of some by-product of the methanol from aspartame.[31] Tephly thinks that the by-product was not formaldehyde. The researchers have stated that the data in the experiment proves it was formaldehyde.[32]”

    “Since the FDA approved aspartame for consumption in 1981, some researchers have suggested that a rise in brain tumor rates in the United States may be at least partially related to the increasing availability and consumption of aspartame.[63] The results of a large seven-year study into the long-term effects of eating aspartame in rats by the European Ramazzini Foundation for cancer research in Bologna, Italy were released in July 2005. In the study of 1,800 rats, the research concluded that aspartame administered at varying levels in feed causes a statistically significant increase of lymphomas-leukemias and malignant tumors of the kidneys in female rats and malignant tumors of peripheral nerves in male rats. The study showed that there was no statistically significant link between aspartame and brain tumors.”

  31. I can’t stand the syrupy taste of colas, and my athlete days stopped all desire for carbonation. (Hurt stamina big time, which might be why my wife doesn’t want me drinking it now. BA DUM BUM!)

    Now, my old man gout keeps me from imbibing pretty much all carbonation, although I used to use Mountain Dew when I was driving 1500-2000 miles per week, often late at night. Those were the days.

  32. Derek – cool artwork. She’s pretty awesome.

    As to the “why does BYU eschew caffeine” question – I have to agree with the commenters who’ve stated that BYU creates its own standards for its own reasons. They do not reflect what is and what is not the church’s interpretation of the actual commandments. If BYU’s practices were so indicative, you’d be breaking the law of chastity if you entered the bedroom of someone of the opposite sex or stayed past curfew in their common living areas.

  33. I grew up in a strict non-caffeinated house, and I mean STRICT. The first time I had a coca cola I was in the 1st grade and at a friends house. I will never forget the first time I sipped it, as I thought that it was the greatest thing ever. It tasted so great to me, I felt a tingling all over my body.

    My mission was in Mexico and we did have coke, but no mountain dew and no Dr. Pepper. I remember when a companion would have Dr. peppers sent, it was like blessings from heaven.

    Funny thing is, ever since I came back from the mission, I don’t really like the taste of any of it anymore, but will drink it if it is given to me.

    Ironically, my pregnant wife, who is the much more devout Mormon is the one that bought a costco pack of Coca Cola because she was having major caffeine cravings. I am the apostate and I don’t buy coke. So I had one with her just to see what it tasted like since I hadn’t had one for a long time, and I didn’t really like it.

  34. “BTW, Stephen – sounds like you’ve got crazy drugs for sleeping, etc! What’s the ‘risks’ of caffeine use? Nice post Andrew!”

    Sorry I meant Diphenhydramine which is an antihistamine found in Benadryl which is an over the counter medication. It has mild sedative side effects. I wont go into the pharmokinetics but it does have side effects like tachycardia, but again these are occasional in patients who use the the medication responsibly.

    Caffeine is an ergogenic and stimulates the central nervous system. One problem with Caffeine is that you will develop a tolerance to it making you need more and more of it to get the same stimulation…and hence the addictive nature of the drug. And there is a medical condition called Caffeinism that is described as addiction to caffeine.

    Like most stimulants, it can have side effects like heart palpatations, hypertension,nausea,atrial fibrillation and other heart complications. It can induce anxiety, nervousness, tremors etc. It can also cause mild depression and sleeping disturbances.

    An overdose of caffeine occurs at 300mg with soft drinks containing anywhere between 30 to 80mg of caffeine in 355ml. Red Bull would have about 100mg in 355ml. It can induse caffeine intoxication and overstimulation of the nervous system….the “the jitters” we call them in the UK. NOT a nice feeling for those who have been there.

    I would again consider all the positive and negative affects and then decide for yourself. If you do decide to drink caffeinated drinks then drink them responsibly. I dont see a need to drink them and would advice patients to get enough sleep, exercise and loose weight to increase energy. Avoid it if you have heart problems.

    Spider on Caffeine

  35. The choice not to drink Colas is easy for me–I can’t stand the flavor. Yuck!

    My wife, however, has a serious love for Pepsi. Like serious nostalgic addiction type thing. We both, however, love Dr. Pepper, and if we find it in decaf, we’ll buy the occasional two-liter. Our rule is, however:

    We don’t buy drinks for ourselves that we won’t share with the kids unless it will be gone before the kids can see it. That means no caffeine. My 4 year old DOES NOT NEED CAFFEINE!!!!

    More and more, though, it’s got absolutely nothing to do with caffeine for me, as a matter of the Word of Wisdom, and as a matter of migraine avoidance. Caffeine==migraine==misery. No thanks.

    Beyond that in general, however, is the unfortunate truth that most sodas have high-fructose corn syrup, which is really, really, really bad for you on so many levels, and is such a barrier to weight loss that it’s hard to even imagine. So we have started buying sodas that are all-natural. Root beer is my favorite (and if I could get Henry Weinhardt’s on the east coast, I would buy that–it is the best, but I’m not sure if it’s an ‘all natural’ or not), but we love cream sodas as well. Virgil’s is an awesome soda.

    So, you can have your diet coke. I’ll be over here with my ambrosia that is Virgil’s Black Cherry Cream Soda (all natural). Yum.

  36. Forgot to mention–you can have my chocolate bar and hot chocolate when you pry it from my cold dead fingers. The fiercest demons of hell can’t scare me from this.

  37. I also love chocolate.

    However I think it is important to remember where the cocoa comes from and how it has been harvested. Often the cocoa is farmed children and laborers who get very little for their labour. If they are farmers, their land is taken from them and sold to large corporations. It is important to find a brand, such as Fair Trade, that is ethical.

  38. I don’t drink coffee, because I’ve been told, in church, by actual people leading the church, that it is the meaning of the “hot drinks” and until I’m told the same about caffeine or cola or caffeinated cola- which is it by the way- I will continue to drink, and enjoy, and possibly even flaunt my mormon coffee.

    I, for one, live for my diet coke in the morning, you could say it’s addictive, just like you could say that my husband’s constant checking his crackberry, I mean blackberry, for an email is addictive. You could say the endorphines released during my morning run are addictive, or the ice cream I eat every night is addictive (and probably far worse for my health than the diet coke). The pleasure I experience in life without any of these would be noticeably less, why single out my Diet Coke? And double why do it before anyone with stewardship for me tells me to?

    Judging the spiritual doctrine of the church by what’s permissible in a temple cafeteria or BYU must be for the western U.S. members, since our access to these spiritual havens is far more infrequent in other parts of the country. I do know from personal experience that the temple cafeteria doesn’t offer lots of things, including vegetarian entrees for those who are following not-so-“semi” official teaching in the canonized WoW to eat meat sparingly and in time of famine. And cougars don’t do a lot of things that I don’t consider immoral – like walk on the grass. But I guess ignorance is bliss since I wasn’t aware of all the sin I was committing by my grass walking and barefeet until I went to education week one year, where I plan my classes for the day by when to leave campus to get my “fix” of Diet Coke.

  39. Hey Andrew,
    Another great story of the addiction to Diet Coke. I too was addicted to Diet Coke, to the tune of 7-8 cans and sometimes bottle a day for nearly 10 years. For awhile it was the most difficult addiction to break on my own, as the side effects and symptoms were just too much to handle. Headaches, migraines, joint pain in my knees just to name a few. I broke that addiction by accident and since being off, I have not had one side effect at all. I have not had one headache, not one migraine, no more joint pain in my knees, nothing. It is amazing to me each day how great I feel not being on that stuff anymore. I have also shared my story online in hopes that others will realize the dangers of aspartame and other artificial sweeteners.
    Thanks,Mike
    http://www.dietdrinkaddiction.com

  40. I avoid the ambiguity in the caffeine/Word of Wisdom issues by just drinking coffee. Indeed, I follow the admonition of Levi Peterson and drink coffee because “it is such a cheap and easy way to stay out of harmony with one’s church.”

  41. #40 – Amen, and Amen. It just kills me when people who are trying to lose weight drink syrup-laden sodas. (or who buy a Double Whopper with Cheese and a Diet Coke)

  42. Did you know mechanics sometimes use coke to clean car engines ? I personally feel like a cup of black coffee (no sugar/cream) is better for you in the long run.

  43. I have to echo the concerns about excessive consumption of aspartame. Nearly a year ago, I gave up my raging Mountain Dew habit, and was drinking a few Coke Zero a day (I like it better than Diet Coke, can’t quite say why). After a couple months of this, I began to be worry that I may have suffered a minor stroke, as I was beginning to have speech problems, as if my mouth just wouldn’t respond quickly to form words. I mentioned my concern to my best friend, and he pointed out my recent switch to diet sodas, along with what he knew of potential aspartame effects. Honestly, I thought that sounded a little nuts, but after some searching on the Internet, I found that “slurred speech” showed up among many other symptoms of aspartame “poisoning.” I discontinued the use of aspartame, and the speech problems soon went away. I now drink only an occasional diet soda, without such issues. Maybe the speech effect was just coincidental, but it’s made me careful.

  44. Nick Literski,

    I totally agree with you about Aspartame. Monsanto produced Aspartame. It took them 7 times over many years to get it through the FDA (without modifying it) and they were succesful on their final run with Donald Rumsfeld as Chief Operating Officer as soon as Reagan became President and Bush Snr. as VP.

    I personally avoid aspartame as much as I do caffeine.

    The evidence shows that Aspartame cannot be broken down by the liver and ends up as formaldehyde…basically embalming your liver whilst it is inside you.

    The evidence from trials does show that in rats small doses are rather safe and tumors do not come in the rats until high doses..doses that are inconceivable in diet drinks. But I have heard that nausea and headaches are common with use amongst diet soda drinkers who drink alot in a day about 6 to 10 cans day or something crazy like that.

    Personally…I stay away from aspartame and caffeine as much as I can.

  45. The only thing worse than being a Diet Coke addict is being married to a Diet Coke addict. Besides the usual, run-of-the-mill problems that come with marriage to an addict — the deception, the hoarding, the wild mood swings, the broken promises — is the problem of passing addiction on to the next generation. I’m convinced that while in utero, my three children’s diet consisted primarily of Diet Coke and Wheat Thins, with the occaisional chicken breast and a leaf or two of lettuce thrown in every third or fourth day.

    Of course, then came the formative breast-feeding years, where the difference between the outflow from the local 7-11 soda fountain and my wife’s breasts was likely neglible. The Coca-Cola company could have sued my wife for not being a licensed Coca-Cola distributor.

    And it should have been no surprise that the second and third words each of my children learned, following the word “Mama,” were the words “diet” and “coke.” “Dada” was a distant ninth, following the words “more please” and “on the rocks.”

    So what’s a father to do? Do I just accept them for who they are… after all, they were likely “born that way.” Or do I send them all to a clinic for radical shock therapy and re-wiring?

    As for my marriage, do I just accept that it has now become a polygamous threesome… my wife, the silver can, and me? Should we re-write our vows and formally invite D.C. into the marriage… and into the bedroom? Was George Costanza onto something:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LHchl4AxsE0&feature=related

  46. You don’t even need 10 “cans” a day of water in most cases. Proper hydration is important, but the excessiveness to which Americans have ascribed to water hydration have shown little to no health benefit for most persons, though it certainly benefits many bottled water companies what with the American huge preference for such products. High water cravings are often a side effect of poor nutrition and over consumption of caffeine, HFCS and refined carbohydrates — and even diabetes or diabetes early onset.

  47. Someone mentioned migranes and it triggered something for me. I forgot to mention the primary reason we keep Mt. Dew in the house at all times.

    Several years ago, I was Elders Quorum Pres and was meeting with the Stake Pres on business. My wife was at home with a migrane and we started talking about it. He reached into his desk there at the Stake Center and pulled out a 2-liter bottle of Mt. Dew. Seems he gets migranes every month or so. He finds that taking advil or tylonol, along with large amounts of Mt Dew will kill the migrane if he catches it soon enough. The theory was that that Mt Dew opens up the pathways allowing the medicine to quickly get to where it needed to.

    So… I went home and spread the word. Both my wife and daughter get migranes. They started doing this. Right on the onset of a migrane, they pop several advil and chug the Mt. Dew. Migrane turns from a 2 day knock-down fight to a 2 hour lay-down with the drapes closed. It has truly been a wonder drug in our home. We keep an emergency (I can’t use it) stash of Mt Dew in each car, the RV, and in the pantry.

    It works great and was suggested by my priesthood leader for drinking. Now, I think you can all use that advice and take it that the church now approves and encourages frequent drinking of Mt Dew. However, it was not cola….

  48. It seems that everything Americas do (and many Europeans, for that matter) is driven by advertising/consumerism messaging. Bottled water is one of those phenomenas. Over in Europe, bottled water is the norm, but I suppose it is an outgrowth of not having safe water to drink. I really don’t know.

    In the US, it has been a purely Madison Avenue-driven thing. Even though we get our own water from a well, we have a garage full of Sam’s Club and Kirtland water, just in case. Americans now can’t be without a cell phone and a bottle of water at the ready at all times, even at Church. (that was another post)

    We pay $2 (£1) for a 20oz bottle of water that has about $.05 worth of water in it. It’s nuts.

    But, you guys are scaring me into laying off the soda.

  49. The only thing worse than being a Diet Coke addict is being married to a Diet Coke addict. Besides the usual, run-of-the-mill problems that come with marriage to an addict — the deception, the hoarding, the wild mood swings, the broken promises — is the problem of passing addiction on to the next generation. I’m convinced that while in utero, my three children’s diet consisted primarily of Diet Coke and Wheat Thins, with the occaisional chicken breast and a leaf or two of lettuce thrown in every third or fourth day.

    Of course, then came the formative breast-feeding years, where the difference between the outflow from the local 7-11 soda fountain and my wife’s breasts was likely neglible. The Coca-Cola company could have sued my wife for not being a licensed Coca-Cola distributor.

    And it should have been no surprise that the second and third words each of my children learned, following the word “Mama,” were the words “diet” and “coke.” “Dada” was a distant ninth, following the words “more please” and “on the rocks.”

    So what’s a father to do? Do I just accept them for who they are… after all, they were likely “born that way.” Or do I send them all to a clinic for radical shock therapy and re-wiring?

    As for my marriage, do I just accept that it has now become a polygamous threesome… my wife, the silver can, and me? Should we re-write our vows and formally invite D.C. into the marriage… and into the bedroom? Was George Costanza onto something:

  50. I have seen this aspartame rumor run rampant on the net. I have no problem with people avoiding it (I personally don’t like the taste), but be critical of the ignorance that surrounds these rumors. For some, like Nick, it may cause a problem, just as some people can’t take aspirin or tylenol or other drugs due to allergies or bad chemistry in the blood. But these cases are minute to say the least. If a person is drinking 10 cans or more of a diet soda, then problems may occur, but again that is true with any sort of overindulgence. But then again, as is possible with Nick, it can be a case of correlation/causation fallacy, or a post-hoc ergo propter hoc, or simple coincidence.

    The Ramizzini study is interesting, but it is only one study and more need to be done in order for the aspartame controversy to be taken seriously.

    Stephen, I like a lot of what you have say, but connecting aspartame to Rumsfeld and his ilk has nothing to do with the other (argument from prior error and guilt by association). Nor does aspartame pickle the liver. The formaldehyde will be excreted from the body through the urine, just as most toxins created through metabolism.

  51. #53 – about the bottled water issue, you probably have heard this already, but it’s hilarious nonetheless:

    Evian was the premier bottled water in the beginning. Spell it backwards. Seriously; do it.

  52. #55 – Stephen, I like a lot of what you have say, but connecting aspartame to Rumsfeld and his ilk has nothing to do with the other (argument from prior error and guilt by association). Nor does aspartame pickle the liver. The formaldehyde will be excreted from the body through the urine, just as most toxins created through metabolism.”

    Unfortunately NMTony, your logic is as incorrect as your biochemistry. It is important to explain both where the drug comes from, its history and its pharmacokinetics.

    Studies have shown that, in rats and subpopulations of humans Aspartame has shown to be safe when used in tiny amounts..
    http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/12180494

    However other studies have show that the formaldehyde from metabolized aspartame remains in body tissue.

    http://www.sciencedirect.com/science?_ob=ArticleURL&_udi=B6T99-3THHCW2-3&_user=10&_rdoc=1&_fmt=&_orig=search&_sort=d&view=c&_acct=C000050221&_version=1&_urlVersion=0&_userid=10&md5=29a262ffaf7d5d51a9a051bd106648de

    I am very hesitant about consuming aspartame knowing that it breaks down to formaldehyde…And although the levels are small, and the liver can repair itself, I am still somewhat hesitant given the lack of evidence and unity in the scientific community about this topic.

  53. NM Tony, I believe I was clear that I had no way of knowing whether excessive aspartame consumption was the cause of my symptom. I only know that when I stopped consuming aspartame, my symptoms alleviated over a short time period. I’ve been specifically cautious about concluding causation, though in my case the correlation was sufficient to motivate avoidance of aspartame.

  54. #61 – Nick…

    I have heard case studies very similar to yours. The most significant quantitative studies on Aspartame have been done on rats and other animals. There is no way of knowing whether they suffered from headaches or other minor neurological symptoms. Again…data has shown that in small amounts the positive benefits of aspartame outway the negative effects.

    Yes…we dont have signigicant data to prove your condition Nick, but you are very right to listen to your body.

    Aspartame should not be singled out because sugar, E numbers, phosphoric acid in Coke(that is used by dentists to erode teeth), and other additives have shown more significant evidence for being harmful to our health…and these can also be found in sugary soft drinks along with caffeine and aspartame.

  55. Again…data has shown that in small amounts the positive benefits of aspartame outway the negative effects.

    I don’t see how there are any “positive benefits” to aspartame or caffeine. They are vanity, not benefit! You cannot scientifically study the “benefits” of vanities!

    In my small town growing up, only McDonald’s would hire me at 17. Only fat people (and women) ordered diet sodas with their super-sized value meal. Nobody will convince me that a little fructose would have made these people any fatter… If anything, Aspartame was probably making these people “dumber” rather than skinnier.

  56. Opps, typo:

    “In my small town growing up, only McDonald’s would hire me at 15.”

    At 17 I was working network support for Internet Service Providers!

  57. OK, Derek, you live in the midwest, right? According to studies, 25-29% of people in the midwest are obese (BMI >30). You are seeing fat people ordering diet sodas to wash down their deep fat fried apple pies, and one in 3 people you are seeing are obese (perhaps more at McD’s).

    Health benefits certainly are there if you are substituting aspartame for high calorie alternatives. If you can cut both out, you’re probably even better off. But a zero calorie soft drink vs. a 200 calorie soft drink? No brainer!

  58. Derek…benefits=low calorie & sugar free drink that diabetics can drink when in low amounts costs=evidence showing hazard to liver and neurology and potential headaches and nausea according to limited and insignificant case studies.

    Sorry…it is science speak. Thank you for pointing it out hawkgrrrl….I just read your response after I wrote the above.

    Whenever taking any drug..cafeine included…it is about weighing the cost to benefit ratio in our minds and taking the responsibility for our choice like good sensible adults. And my choice is to hold off drinking Aspartame filled drinks as much as I can whilst the evidence is inconclusive.

    However I know other medical students and doctors who choose to drink it despite the inconclusive evidence as they are willing to bear the risks which are minimal.

  59. BTW up here in Canada Mountain Dew has never had caffeine.

    I’m someone who has given up the “recreational use” of caffeine, but still use it when I work night shifts. Take it like medicine….though I’ve been volunteering for more night shifts.

    Since Mormons aren’t real common where I’m from, I occasionally have someone at work look over and say “Are you allowed to have that?”. I say, “sure, where did you get the idea that I couldn’t?” They then say something about how I don’t drink coffee, I affirm that and then they say “so why don’t you guys drink coffee then?”

    I tell them that I could give them a scientific answer or the real answer, but that they probably wouldn’t like the real answer. (Of course they immediately demand the real answer) Which is: “God told us not to.”

    This sends the discussion rapidly in one of two directions. They either cut it off quickly, or they follow up with something like “How do you know God told you not to drink coffee?” That’s when the real fun begins. So my nightshift helper actually leads to many gospel conversations. Take that, uptight Mormon teetotallers!

  60. So what you guys are saying is that one vanity will kill you slower than another vanity. This particular aspect of vanities is certainly something that can me measured scientifically. But lets at least be honest about what we’re measuring here, which is, which vainglorious behavior will kill you slower — and let’s not call it a “benefit” either way. 😉

  61. PS: Besides having caloric intake counters (they’re really more like nutrient intake counters) in the “aging” strands of our DNA, we also have fluid intake counters. The more calories we consume, the faster we age. Likewise, the more fluids we consume, the faster we age. (Bits get knocked off the counting strands as consumption occurs; the shorter the strands become, the more aged a cell becomes.) So people concerned about health and drinking diet beverages should count fluid ounces as much as they count calories.

  62. Thanks folks for the interesting and, as always, entertaining discussion. Thought you might be interested to know that as of yesterday, you all sufficiently scared me to drop carbonated and caffeinated beverages altogether. I simply refuse to continue to consume a substance that will embalm my liver, give me brain tumors or knee join pain (which, incidentally, I’ve had for years), slur my speech, give me minor strokes, migranes, or other neurological problems, etc., etc., etc.

    Hi, my name is Andrew, and I used to be a diet Coke-oholic. I’ve been clean for one day, and counting . . .

  63. I have heard re: coffee & tea that there are other unhealthy components (e.g. tannic acid in tea). I also read somewhere that coffee can cause colorectal flacidity. I’m anti-flacidity in general, but it’s probably just more urban legend like with diet coke & aspartame. I’m just less vested in trying to disprove it.

    Right now I’m drinking bottled water. I plan to recycle the bottle after, but just in case something goes awry–dolphins, this is your warning!

  64. Re: dolphins & plastic bottles

    There is a continent-sized (at least twice the size of Texas) floating island of trash between California and Hawaii. It has been growing tenfold each decade since the 1950s.

    Speaking of urban legends, I think we should compress the toxic plastic island into that bridge to Hawaii I used to hear about in middle school.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Great_Pacific_Garbage_Patch
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dead_zone_(ecology)

  65. Re: dolphins & plastic bottles

    There is a continent-sized (at least twice the size of Texas) floating island of trash between California and Hawaii. It has been growing tenfold each decade since the 1950s.

    Speaking of urban legends, I think we should compress the toxic plastic island into that bridge to Hawaii I used to hear about in middle school.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Great_Pacific_Garbage_Patch

  66. Interesting discussion. Just last week I had the rare opportunity to be in Utah AND to dine in the cafeteria in the Church Office Building. I have never before seen a wider selection of non-diet caffeine free soda products. Utah residents will know if this is just local, but I have never seen caffeine free sugared Coke before(one wonders what the point is without the caffeine).

    As a side note, the greatest health benefit I have experienced is to drop soda in any form. The difference is dramatic. When the need arises to ‘do stupid things more quickly’ at work, I resort to Coffee or Tea.

  67. My name is Craig and I began serious caffiene consumption during medical school. While studying for my board exams I would take NoDoze (200mg) each morning to help me stay awake on top of the diet caffiented sodas. I am currently in my residency and use the diet Coke, DP, Mountain Dew etc to keep me going during months where I work a 30 hour shift every 5 days with 1 day off per week. I rarely resort to the NoDoze now even on call because I am more accustomed to the sleep deprivation. I am currently on a caffiene holiday, which I take as often as possible, otherwise the juice won’t work when I need it. I no longer look down on my coffee drinking peers and often wonder what the difference is? Dependence, tolerance, withdrawl side effects…its all there in both. Nonetheless, I abstain from coffee and tea because thats what I was raised with and taught as a missionary. There was no committment to abstain from coke or mate cocido in the flip chart. Is it in Preach My Gospel?
    I don’t know about the neuro side effects mentioned above or the relationship to gout; which is more flared by cheese, meat and red wine.

  68. My parents were big-time Coke drinkers when I was kid, so I never had a cola hang-up. When I was teenager, however, they gave it up cold turkey and was never again seen in our home. Still to this day, my mother clucks her tongue when she sees me with a Diet Coke.

    I am 100% addicted to the stuff. Over the years, I’ve quit for periods of time. Not for Word of Wisdom reasons, but for general health reasons (as deatiled above). It never sticks. However, we have a strict “no soda in the fridge” rule, meaning we’ll drink when we eat out, but won’t stock any at home. The idea is that we don’t want out small one to get a taste for soda yet. It’s ultimately a losing battle, but we’re fighting the good fight now.

  69. I couldn’t resist a little visit to Snopes. Here’s another reason to avoid coffee. Apparently, it has been proven that a disgruntled co-worker made it a practice to urinate in the community coffee pot to get back at “the man.” Of course, if the rationale to avoid coffee is “communal access” I suppose the snack mix in the Crown room is out along with most dips at parties (and from what I have read, they should be outlawed). It would take pretty good aim and a very specific grudge to urinate in my can of diet coke. Probably impossible for a woman to get even with me this way. Also, “sun tea” can harbor dangerous bacteria. True story.

  70. For anyone interested in following the continuing saga, I thought I’d mention that tomorrow it will be two weeks since I’ve consumed any caffeinated beverage (see my comment 72 above). The first two days off the sauce was difficult. I basically had headaches for two days, and was really tired and grouchy. But after that, I woke up the next day at 5 a.m. feeling completely refreshed and ready to go, which is extremely, extremely unusual for me. I immediately began doing yard work (it was a Saturday), and by noon I was done with all the chores I needed to do that day.

    That’s the biggest thing I’ve noticed so far now that I’m off diet Coke: I wake up feeling well rested in the mornings. I used to wake up and feel like a train had just run over me. I never used to feel well rested waking up in the morning. Instead, I was always in a groggy haze until lunchtime when I’d have my Diet Coke. It’s like my body was waiting until noon to wake up each day. Now, my body wakes up in the morning when I need it to.

    I’ve also noticed that my energy level is more constant all day long, instead of peaks and valleys that are dependent on my caffeine intake.

    I also don’t get grouchy when I don’t get my caffeine fix at the noon hour like I used to.

    At this point, I’m determined to stay off the sauce for life. Not because I fear any divine consequences if I fail to do so, but just because for me it seems . . . wise.

  71. Congrats Andrew and thanks for the follow-up. I need give up late night blogging on MoMatters, and then maybe I could wake up feeling refreshed.

  72. My parents had me drinking frappuccinos from toddlerhood on, but only on hot days, as a special treat. Never had any problem with them. My mother, however, was an extreme coffee addict and one of her concerns about converting was that she wouldn’t be able to give up the drink. She used to have probably a coffee an hour, but she hasn’t touched it since she prayed about it and got the answer that she needed to stop.

    Even after I converted, I never had a problem with soda, because it gives me a painful fizzy feeling in my nose. I will occasionally have a caffeine-free root beer or shirley temple, though, and haven’t suffered any ill-effects from these, despite my high susceptibility to migraines. I’ve had a few delicious frappuccinos, too, and felt the spiritual guilt afterward. The last time I was faced with the choice of getting a coffee, I got a caramel macchiato–hold the espresso shots–basically steamed milk with caramel. I was greatly enjoying the drink and my “spiritual triumph” until I remembered my milk protein allergy. Needless to say my body did not forgive me for a while.

    What I mean to convey here is, you just can’t win sometimes. So to every man his own, I say.

  73. Life’s for living,but my bodies a temple.So,two sodas max per week and desert only when I really,really want it.I thought that was what the word of wisdom was about.I get that few of us ever get the rest we need and that we need our pleasures,but I understood this body to be a stewardship for which i have to account.Just trying to do my best here.
    Also,it’s a very long time ago now ,but in the 70s i seem to remember there being some letter from the first presidency that was read to us as youth discouraging the drinking of caffeinated and cola drinks-anyone else go back that far?
    And-I wonder how the use of coca leaf and betel nut will play as the church grows in the developing world?

  74. I very rarely have caffeinated sodas. When I do it’s used as medicine to treat a migraine or to help calm nausea (colas are great for nausea). Just wanted to share the most current word from the church that I have found (found it when I was to give a lesson on the Word of Wisdom to the youth in Sunday School).

    The most current Church literature relating to the question is found in a Priesthood Bulletin statement dated February 1972: Volume 8, number 1, subheaded 6, paragraph 2:

    “With reference to cola drinks, the Church has never officially taken a position on this matter, but the leaders of the Church have advised, and we do now specifically advise, against the use of any drink containing harmful habit-forming drugs under circumstances that would result in acquiring the habit. Any beverage that contains ingredients harmful to the body should be avoided.”

  75. Pingback: Mormon Coffee at Mormon Matters | Green Tea Fat Burner

  76. Pingback: Zelophehad’s Daughters | My Nacle Notebook 2008: Funny comments

  77. Andrew, I still take my diet coke into church functions. I just disguise them in refillable cups! I have even taken a can into a bathroom stall on Sunday to gulp down after YW. When in Rome…or Utah. Say hi to your mom.

  78. President Hinckley DID specifically say no caffeinated drinks.  Here is the link –

    He also said it again in an interview with Larry King.  The transcript is available online.  Look it up.  It’s been LONG known that caffeine IS a part of the Word of Wisdom.  No, we should never be judgmental of another person for what they do…  But I find it very sad as I read through these comments the attitude that’s consuming so many people. 

    Find yourself a copy of the 300+ page book “The Word Of Wisdom – A Modern Interpretation” by John A. Widtsoe.  AND READ IT.  (Available through Deseret Book online or Real Foods Market in Utah & also online)

    The book was officially approved by President Grant, President McKay, AND Joseph Fielding Smith.  And that information is written in Elder Widtsoe’s biography by Alan K. Parrish. 

    Maybe at the present it’s not something that will keep you from getting a temple recommend, and of course you’re not going to go to *hell* because you drink caffeinated drinks.  But it will affect your temporal self which does in fact effect your spiritual self, which will (cause and effect) – affect your personal spiritual salvation.

    It makes me so sad that so many people are justifying justifying justifying…  No one is perfect.  And it’s a process…  But why the sarcasm & “attitude” people have over things like this?   It’s great to see those who are doing all they can to get this habit out of your lives and who choose to follow the Word of Wisdom MORE FULLY.  Kudos to you 🙂

  79. Mormons also eat no meat except in cold or famine. that’s why you never see hotdogs or hamburgers at 24th of July celebrations

  80. the word of wisdom also says no meat except in cold or famine. that’s why you never see hotdogs or hamburgers at 24th of July celebrations or mormon barbecues.

  81. Can mormons not drink decaffinated coffee instead of regular coffee? Also, if cocoa has caffine, are mormons allowed to drink hot chocolate?

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