We students need to ditch our addiction to energy drinks

They're gross, says Eleanor Doughty, and they make you feel bad

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The Independent Online

If you’ve been reading this column religiously, you will know that I am irritated by fairly niche things.

The never-ending list includes people that walk around with their mouths open, loud people in the quiet carriage and those insistent pavement cyclists. All of this needs to stop. It won’t come as a surprise to you that this week’s sermon targets one of my pet hates directly, and at full throttle. According to the small public opinion poll I conducted, this one is less niche-y.

Energy drinks. I could write a book about all those things misappropriated in the morning, but I’ll save that for another week. Energy drinks rank highly in my systemically arranged collective of things I hate first thing in the morning. They’re joined by post offices with no post boxes – why is this allowed to happen? – skirts with no pockets and leering men. Let’s send them all to Room 101. 

Almost everyone with a television has seen that Inbetweeners episode where Wills defecates in the exam. The scenario is indelibly marked on the silver screen’s representation of school life. And why? Because of the energy drink overdose he willingly wandered into, the night before.

Every Thursday morning of the last academic year, I have felt nauseous in a way that transcends a post-Wednesday night sports hangover. Side note: I am certain this can only have accentuated the problem. But because a dear friend is also hungover, she fights her lethargy with a cylinder of aluminum full of what I can only assume to be bleach. Or at least that’s what my nose has reported. It’s actually Red Bull – sugar free, if you must know. That suffix just adds to the suffering – if you’re going to mash up your innards, do it properly. Either way, I am lost in incomprehension concerning the appeal of the yellow fizzy liquid that seems in every way to resemble feline urine.

From my higher educational experience thus far, Red Bull seems the popular morning tipple. Sadly, they are not limited to confined spaces of gentle learning. I was writing this on a cranky Hammersmith and City line rush hour train where not just one sniveling hungover carcass was deposited next to me, but two. Both with Red Bull in hand. It was a most unpleasant coincidence, complete with putrid smell. All the way from Farringdon to Paddington, it was me feeling nauseous. And the night before, all I’d done was watch a series of Scott & Bailey with two pots of Rowntree’s jelly. Before you finger point, I couldn’t have moved: it was rammed, as ever.

But for all this – and for all the people I seem to encounter drinking from the carbonated cans of horror – the general consensus amongst my Twitter followers – a veritable source if ever I needed one – seems not to be in favour. I appreciate the merits of an addiction and the difficulties this may present. After all, my three year magnetism to chicken Caesar wraps – Waitrose and M&S are best, FYI – has been thoroughly indulgent, almost outstripping the need to eat anything else. I’ve never smoked, but my wrap attachment seems as unduly pronounced as anything more scientifically damaging. I am informed that the taste is the clincher, for Red Bull. For a substance that resembles the unpleasantries of a domestic animal’s business, I am surprised. A rational friend – and someone with whom I share cynical views with about almost everything important – is adamant that there are merits to this madness.

The oracle of everything ever – my mother, ladies and gentlemen – describes such substances as 'poison', informing me that they are banned in several European countries. The ever reliable Wikipedia supports this claim, stating that Red Bull’s synthetically produced ingredient Taurine – an amino acid found naturally in the body – is banned in Denmark and Norway.

I finished this piece on a train to ye olde countrye where a train guard made regular announcements about suspicious behaviour. The only suspicious behaviour I noticed was the keeping sealed of my M&S wrap, thanks to the Red Bull swigger across the aisle. Cheers pal, although it might be for the best.

Eleanor Doughty is a second-year student at Queen Mary, University of London. Follow her on Twitter here. She probably won't follow you back.