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June 4, 2012

Don't Drink That! How To Stop Drinking Soda. Or Pop.

By now you've probably all heard about how they are trying to ban the sale of 16 ounces or larger of soda/pop/soda pop/sugary drinks in NYC. Of course what happens in New York rarely stays there so if this passes its sure to spread elsewhere.

While I don't believe any human, for any reason, should drink more than 8 or 12 ounces of soda in one sitting.... I also don't think its the state or national government's job to tell folks what they should or should not eat or drink. I'm pretty sure this is coming tho so its a good thing to think about. I thought Jon Stewart had some pretty good thoughts.

I hope that this measure does not pass - for lots of reasons - but I still don't think folks should be drinking so much soda. Its just stupid. You heard me. Its dumb. Don't drink that. Go dump it out. Right now. 

Personally I don't understand the emotional attachment to what I'll just call soda (even tho I think its widely known as "pop"). I gave it up a long time ago when I realized - like most unfood substances - it wasn't doing me any good. And nope, I don't even drink diet drinks. Ever. I like water. Good old fashioned, cool and refreshing water. When I really want to live it up, I drink plain sparkling water. I like the bubbles.

That aside I've seen alot of comments online, some very emotional, about how folks just "can't" give up their soda. I think its weird to give a fizzy bottle of sugar water so much control over your life. So I always think to myself... the best way to stop a behavior...is just stop doing it. *shrugs*

I understand, tho, that this may not work for some folks. There are some practical things you can do but the best way to walk away from the soda habit is to fully understand what guzzling all those biggie gulps is costing you. By the time you really have it set in your mind you'll want to run screaming from soda and never drink it again.

When I was growing up we were lucky if we got one soda a week. Usually when my mom made a particular dinner. Or if we went out to eat - which was very very rare. Back in the day going out to eat was for a celebration - not because no one wanted to cook. So we'd be excited about that one soda per week.

Now..how things are now...gosh. I have to tell you I cringe when I see people plop down a big, unnaturally colored plastic bottle of soda on the table like its totally normal to drink that stuff with a nice dinner. Or even a badly prepared dinner. I once sat at someone's table for a ham dinner (not our ham) and they actually served it with orange soda. It makes my teeth hurt to even think about it.

Generations of French and Italians are rolling in their graves bewailing the fate of dinner served with some kind of soda and not table wine. Its a gastronomic failure of the most appalling kind. Remember that scene in Elf where he pours maple syrup over spaghetti and then drinks a whole liter of soda for dinner? That's what I think of when people serve soda for dinner.  Soda is not even a treat anymore, its made its place there in the center of the table like some little idol. How much do you think Coke paid for that product placement to convince you that its totally normal to have soda for dinner?

How did we go from "its a treat" to "its for the table?" Its only really happened in the last couple generations....so what gives? You can thank the marketing folks mostly. And also, I think, a couple generations of folks who can't or won't tell their kids no. Or the last remnants of my generation who were so starved by that one soda a week they would "never do that to their kids" so they pile on the soda so their children aren't deprived as they were. We also had to walk to school, up hill, both ways. In the snow.

Lack of discipline aside... It also begs the question - how much of your grocery budget is going to soda? Whatcha spending on a drink that will do nothing but make your fat, probably just make you thirsty, and will definitely suck the money right out of your wallet? I'm not even sure that taxing soda like they tax cigarettes and booze would dissuade people to stop drinking so many sugary drinks. I know people who basically lost their house because of cell phones and cigarettes. And soda. They got no house but by golly, they got that big gulp in their hand.

Folks may stop drinking so much soda if they figured in the true cost - their health. Look around... these last couple generations have lived almost entirely on packaged food, drive thru, and soda. We aren't any better for it. More kids than ever have "adult" diseases and the hard news reported the other day is that kids don't respond to the same treatments as adults. Sure an adult with Type 2 Diabetes can just take a pill and pretend they are taking care of themselves... but for whatever reason, this treatment is not as effective  in children. 

And now we are looking down the barrel of a generation of parents who maybe burying their kids. We've all heard that this generation is the first that will not live longer than their parents. In the developed world. Right here in the best country on earth. We are killing ourselves, and our children, with bad food and sugary drinks. It doesn't even seem possible.

So. Lets talk about health. How many calories are you drinking? Unless you are working outside in construction or a groundskeeping crew - most folks cant burn that many calories to offset the amount of sugar-based calories you are slugging down just so's you can have that soda that you love so much. How many sodas are you drinking a day? A couple? That's probably upwards of 300 extra calories. Four? Five? Six sodas a day? While you are sitting behind a desk? Are you letting your kids drink that much while they are playing video games?

Remember that what you eat is largely cultural and almost always determined by marketing. When I was traveling in Tokyo I was amused by the tiny little sodas they had. They were only 6 or 8 ounces in adorable little cans. I remarked about this to one of my Japanese co-workers and she told me that when she first traveled to the States she could never finish drinking a whole can of our soda. She just wasn't used to it. After being here for a while she started drinking the whole can. Then she said she started getting fat. So she stopped drinking the whole thing and went back to what she considered a "normal" portion. So what's a normal portion? Not that 39 ounce monstrosity you get at the Gas-n-Sip - I can tell you that.

Hopefully you have enough to think about that you're saying to yourself, "Maybe I should stop drinking that money wasting, gut busting, diabetes inducing poison" (or something like that). How do you stop that bad habit? I can tell you what I did.

First, stop being mindless about what you eat and drink. What do you naturally reach for? Is it nutritionally dense or a wasteland of chemicals and artificial whatnot? Do you really want it or are you just in the habit? I tell you the truth - you can get your tastes so change. You do not need to be enslaved to that sugary goodness. So intentionally set out to drink more water. No, not juice or diet drinks or sweet whatever. Water. Your body needs water - nothing else.

What if you don't like water? I'm sorry to be the one to tell you this but you need to grow up.  There has to be a tipping point in your life when you determine to do what is good for your health. This is it. Drink water and that is it. If you need one of those refrigerator water filter thingys then get one. If you need to add a lemon slice. Then do it. Bottled water? Fine.

The next step toward freedom from sugary drinks:  When do get your next soda - drink half and pour the rest out. You heard me. Waste it. Get used to having less. And as you are standing there pouring half of it down the drain, thank yourself for giving your body the gift of better health.

When you go out to eat, drink about a quarter of that enormous soda they bring you. Realize when that pretty waitress asks you want you want to drink, she is banking on you asking for a soda. Their cost is miniscule and drinks are where restaurants make most of their money. Supersize? Ha! The only loser is you - even if you are paying only $0.25 more for that extra portion they are paying probably less than a penny in their costs. They aren't trying to give you a better deal - they are just takin' your money and laughing at you as they are counting up all those profits. Quit trying to get yourself the best soda deal and save your health instead.

After a while - a several weeks usually - you'll realize that you are losing the taste for all that sugar and artificial coloring. Pretty soon that bad habit of soda swilling will be replaced by reaching for water. And then one day you'll be like me and the thought of drinking a whole soda will give you a headache and make your teeth hurt. Pretty soon you'll be laughing at the gallon drum of soda that they mockingly call a "small" at the movies. It will never occur to you serve anything but water, milk, beer or wine for dinner. Small children will come to your house and look at you, aghast, that you don't have soda in the fridge. And at last you will be free of the bondage of sugary drinks and be in the promise land of health drinking from the water of life.

Or you can keep drinking that crap, continue being a senseless victim of marketing, and just get in line for ill health. The choice is yours. You don't need the mayor of NYC to ban those big drinks - you can decide for yourself that its just not a very good idea.

That's my preaching on the soda thing. Now go and dump out that bubbling concoction of sugar and go and get yourself a cool refreshing glass of water.

Happy Monday everyone!