Sunday, September 9, 2012

The Caffeine Experiment

I wasn't even going to write a post on this because I didn't see it as a big deal, but I've seen several other forums discussing the issue of what really is the Church's stance on caffeine after the airing of Mormon in America as well as the subsequent response from the Church clarifying its position on caffeinated beverages.

Just so you know where I'm coming from, I grew up in a non-caffeine-drinking family in Utah.  Up until 4th grade I don't really remember my friends' families drinking caffeinated beverages either, until Melissa's family.  I think I was a little surprised that they did as they were an active Mormon family also, but I must have somehow realized (maybe through a conversation with my parents?) it was okay and their choice if they wanted to drink it -- we just didn't in our family.

One day, as Melissa and I knew I'd never had a caffeinated beverage to my knowledge, we decided I should try some.  I felt okay about it as I knew it actually wouldn't banish me from the Saints.  Oh the anticipation to try a Pepsi!!  I took a sip, and it was okay.  I still preferred my root beer.

In fifth grade, after walking to the park, I had my first Dr. Pepper.  Wow, was that awesome or what.  I may have had one more Dr. Pepper some time in high school (ok, maybe more), but I really can't remember.  When I did my student teaching in Western Samoa, I did have a few Dr. Fia fia's (loosely translated:  Dr. Party) as there wasn't another drink option -- may as well enjoy it, right?

When I met the man I was to marry, I noticed he didn't tend to avoid caffeinated beverages like I did.  Although I was okay with others drinking them, I wasn't so sure how I'd feel about actually marrying someone who drank caffeine.  What kind of influence would that have on our children!!?  I'm sure we talked about it, and he seemed to not drink as much of it as he had because he saw it was important to me.

A few years later when we were at his company Christmas party, more than one person commented on his daily Dr. Pepper or his Dr. Pepper addiction.  What?!  My husband is addicted to Dr. Pepper!? Honestly, I was a little ticked and we had a talk in the car on the way home.  I told him he was probably addicted to the stuff.  He said he just liked the flavor.  I challenged him to a taste test.

We picked up some regular Dr. Pepper and some caffeine-free Dr. Pepper and went to work.  Guess what?  He liked the TASTE of the caffeine-free Dr. Pepper BETTER!  He couldn't believe it.  He stocked up on the stuff and kept it at work.  However, ironically, the cravings eventually went away and so did the caffeine-free Dr. Pepper because it just wasn't the same. After he realized how much power a bit of caffeine had over his thinking, he decided to drop caffeine altogether. He'll occasionally have a caffeinated drink now, but never frequently enough to cause addiction.

So I don't really know why I shared this story, other than it's kind of funny and now some of you know that there is another Mormon out there who (almost) never drinks caffeine.  I suppose I could add that I feel that if it's implied that Mormons don't drink caffeine, why try and find loopholes, why not try and actually not drink it?  (I guess its a little like the law of chastity.  For the Strength of Youth says to not lie down on a member of the opposite sex if you're not married to him/her, so why not try and not do it?  Why play how close can you go?)  I could also say, if you drink caffeinated beverages for the flavor, you may just be fooling yourself.  Go try a blind taste test.

And lastly, yes, I know the Word of Wisdom doesn't say a thing about caffeinated sodas or chocolate or  t.v. or the internet, or whatever else could be addictive, but I, too, probably like a lot of others am trying to live the principle taught of avoiding addictive things.  The important thing is that I'm working on the the Lord's short list appropriate for me.


Jocelyn Christensen said...

The LORD'S short list
...I like that!

swedemom said...

I appreciated your thoughts on this. You've actually helped me see my husband's viewpoint.

I drink coke occasionally, especially when suffering with migraines, which have come far more often than I would like. I also like to drink German fruit teas. My husband is not comfortable with either of these things. We've had many discussions about this because he thinks I'm being a bad example, when I don't see it that way. We still haven't resolved this issue. But we are trying.

Again, I appreciate your viewpoint and thoughts.

Bridget said...

Interesting Emily! I liked a quote in a Tribune article that basically said that the caffeine/non-caffeine choice is a great place for LDS people to practice personal revelation and discretion. I agree with this because I know that before kids I LOVED Dr. Pepper and would have one almost everyday at work. I didn't notice a huge difference, but when I became pregnant with our first I decided I didn't want to drink that during pregnancy and that's when I noticed a difference in how I felt. I definitely craved it, which to me is never a good sign for your body and so I decided not to drink caffeine again. It's not a big deal to me if others do (we have some family members who love soda with caffeine - but I love your taste-test idea), but for me I know that it affects me negatively. Justin doesn't drink caffeine either, but as he likes to point out there are foods that are a million times worse for our body than caffeine (McDonalds anyone?), so it's kind of hypocritical to point fingers at those who choose to drink it since there are a lot of things we knowingly eat that are harmful to us.

swedemom said...

I don't believe the Word of Wisdom is solely about our health. Certainly there is a component of health attached to it. I think it has to do with setting ourselves apart from the world.I also think about the statement in the D&C about this being a principle for the weakest.

None of us know if we would become addicted to those substances. It's kind of a crap shoot when you drink alcohol. Some people can drink it with moderation and are fine. Whereas others alcohol completely destroys. But no one knows at the outset (unless they have a strong history of alcoholism in their family) how they will react to the alcohol. Thus, it is a principle for the weakest.

I think we all know that just by not drinking alcohol or coffee, we set ourselves apart. This generates a lot of conversations for me and for my husband as we have lived most of our married life outside of Utah and densely populated LDS areas.

While I appreciate how we members are trying to appear more mainstream, I don't think the Lord really intends that we should ever become 100% mainstream. He talks about being a peculiar people for a reason.

Emily said...

So true, Swedemom about not just about health, but standing apart. Your comments about addiction also ring close to home, too. You hear about some people's personalities being addictive, and I wonder, really if some are more than others? Does the fact that both my husband's grandfather's were alcoholics make him more likely to be addicted to whatever? Or, am I just as likely to get addicted to whatever if I go start doing it. I don't think I'll go start whatever to find out, but I wish I knew!