One of the things they tell you ahead of having bariatric surgery is that you should not have carbonated drinks afterwards the surgery.
For me, this was potentially a big problem, because I was addicated to drinking Pepsi Max. I used to spend up to 150 euros a month buying the smaller 500ml or 750ml bottles from local convience stores. On a good day I’d have 2 bottles, and on a bad day I’d have 4 or even 5 – so I’d guess I was consuming between 1 and 3 litres of the stuff every day!
On a normal workday I’d stop at a local shop on the way into the office and buy four 500ml bottles. They used to sell them as part of a promotion as 2 bottles for 3 euros, so I was spending 6 euros at a time just on Pepsi Max. I’d drink two of them staight away when I got into the office, have another one at lunch, and often the fourth during the afternoon.
I had so many people telling me that it was bad for me, especially at the quantities I was drinking, but I loved the taste and the rush of bubbles. And I guess I was looking for the caffeine hit at well. A 500ml bottle has around 65mg of caffeine in it, one of the highest caffeine contents of all the colas.
Carbonated drinks and weight loss surgery
Bariatric surgeons tell patients not to drink any carbonated drinks after surgery. The gas they release can be very uncomfortable in the new smaller stomach pouch, and they say that the increased pressure in the stomach can possibly stretch out the pouch.
I’ll also never forget that my surgeon said to me “it’ll feel like you’re having a heart attack”!
There’s also some evidence that diet sodas – even though they are calorie free themselves – can cause people to gain weight. The artificial sweeteners in them actually make people feel more hungry for other sweet (often sugary) foods.
My road to quitting Pepsi Max
The COVID-19 pandemic helped in a way. I was working from home, and under the watchful eye of my lovely wife, who did not like me drinking Pepsi Max. On my morning commute along the landing from the bedroom to the box-room I wasn’t passing any convenience stores, so I didn’t have the opportunity to buy any soft drinks.
I would still buy the odd bottle now and again when I went out of the house, but my consumption levels had already dropped dramatically.
Then I got my date for surgery, and the preparation for my procedure suddenly became real. For the 2 weeks before surgery I was on the liver-shrinking diet, and was only having 800 calories a day. And although the Pepsi Max was zero calories, I decided not to drink any of it during this two week period. I wanted to cut out all caffeine ahead going into hospital, so that I wouldn’t have to contend with the caffeine withdrawal at the same time as recovering from surgery!
For the first 3 months after surgery, I was so focused on following the high-protein diet, and trying to get enough water into me, that I didn’t even consider having any sodas. If I was ever in a convience store and wanted a drink I would get a Vit Hit – a mixture of fruit juice, water and tea, with added vitamins.
And then one day I bought myself a bottle of Pepsi Max and brought it home. I wanted to find out whether I still loved the taste. I wanted to know if I would once again get the rush in my nose and throat from drinking it ice-cold.
And you know what? I didn’t enjoy it, at all. It didn’t taste anywhere near as good as I remembered, and it ended up being quite difficult to drink because the carbonated gas kept filling up my stomach and made it quite uncomfortable.
So I haven’t bought any more since then. And so far, I don’t miss it.