Kick the Soda Habit!!

Popular Beverages, from least to most sugar per oz, left to right

Popular Beverages, from least to most sugar per oz, left to right. Please note, Vita Coco is sweetened with fruit juice and uses that as its sugar source.

Giving Up Soda, Once and For All

by Jolie Patel, (the doctor’s wife, writing about health care with a family perspective)

I can’t remember exactly  when I stopped drinking soda, but it was sometime in the late 1990’s.  I was a faculty member at a community college and taught a course on college success strategies   When we discussed money management,  I remember saying to my students, if you buy a bag a chips and a soda with lunch everyday, that’s $1.50.  Multiply that by 20 odd days a month, 12 months a year.  $360 a year on soda.  Wouldn’t it be great to have $360 to spend on clothes, entertainment, books, whatever.  But really, chips and soda is it worth $360 a year?  The reality of what I was saying hit me.  $360 a year..even as a single person with a good job, I could find things to do with that money. By the way, it’s about $600 a year today.

I stopped drinking soda (chips too).  I didn’t really miss it all that much.  Along the way, a funny thing happened.  When I was at someone’s house about a year later, I had some soda.  Blahh, I didn’t even like it anymore.  It tasted so incredibly sweet, it was like eating sugar, even the diet soda, to me it tastes sweeter.  Over the years, I have tried soda on many occasions, it’s not for me.  I still like the idea of flavored drinks.  15 years ago there were not many options other than Gatorade.  Not an option.  It’s not a drink I like and changing one high sugar, chemical laden drink didn’t seem to do it for me.

As I have gotten older and become a parent, I have realized there are many more reasons to avoid soda other than the cost.  Chemicals, sugar, artificial sweeteners, you know the drill. None of these things are good for us.  As parents, Vijay and I have decided not to give the kids artificial  sweeteners.  The research on artificial sweeteners indicates that they exacerbate the very problematic behavior they were created to reduce (sugar consumption). While we don’t want our kids sugared up, we truly believe that if it is choice between naturally occurring cane sugar and artificial sweeteners, sugar will win hands down.  Due to the tremendous amount of sugar in today’s beverages, soda is a once in a great while indulgence.

 I recently went to the drugstore to buy a whole bunch a drinks, in preparation for today’s blog.  I had the kids help me and they were amazed by the amount of sugar in some of these drinks.  I have seen blogs citing this, but I really wanted to see for myself.  Like the kids, I was floored by what I found.  It made me think about the people who don’t add sugar to their coffee because of the health concerns, yet from the amount of these beverages that are sold in the U.S. we, as a culture, don’t have a problem drinking up almost a 1/4 cup of sugar in one sitting.
Drink Drink Size (oz) Oz per servings Servings per container Tsp Sugar per bottle Tsp sugar per 8 oz
NeuroSonic 14.5 14.5 1 2.25 1.24
Gatorade 20 8 2.5 8.75 3.50
Vita Coco*sugars from fruit juice 16.9 8 2 7.5 3.55
Arizona Green Tea 23 8 3 12.75 4.43
Pure Leaf Sweet Tea 18.5 8 2.5 11.25 4.86
Honest Tea Tea with Lemonade 16.9 16.9 1 6 2.84
Nesquik Low Fat Chocolate Milk 14 7 2 12 6.86
Vitamin Water 20 20 1 8 3.20
Coca Cola 20 20 1 16.25 6.50

Being married to a doctor, when I have overindulged on sugary sweets, I have heard many times over the years, “Do you know what eating that much sugar at once does to your pancreas?” (A quick lesson in human biology, the pancreas produces insulin, a hormone involved in the regulation of blood sugar & the development of diabetes).  Imagine how much damage it does in liquid form, when it has a fast track to our bloodstream.  Imagine what happens when that much sugar is pumped into the little bodies of our children.

Whether you drink the diet or regular version, soda really has nothing to offer you in terms of health promotion.  The sugared stuff is a high calorie harmful drink.  The diet version, started to provide an alternative for sugar, may cause more health issues than the original.  Is either form really worth it?

I would like to challenge you to try to give up soda…for a month at least.  If you choose to give it up, pay attention to your triggers?  Why specifically are your drinking the soda?  Drinking for caffeine?  Try a cup of coffee or tea instead.  Looking for something refreshing?  Try carbonated waters if you miss the carbonation (I do).  Remember that sugary sodas do not quench your thirst, just like salt, sugar will make you more thirsty. Remove the soda from the fridge, so it is not there in front of you every time you open door.  I promise a follow-up blog with idea’s for soda alternatives.

In the meantime, have you ever contemplated giving up soda?  If you have, what has stopped you, or what have your experiences been?

Jolie Jolie (5 Posts)

Jolie Patel is a counselor and educator by trade, having been a faculty member at the College of Lake County and Oakton Community College. She also served as the Director of Program at the Counseling Center at Illinois Institute of Technology. She holds a M.A. in Clinical Psychology and completed doctoral coursework at Loyola University, Chicago. Presently, she is homeschooling three precocious children and working at her husband's (Dr. Vijay) practice. There she has found a place where her interest in living a healthy life can merge with her passion for education. She is particularly interested in how to make healthy lifestyle choices practical for those with busy family lives.

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    1 comment

      • Pat Korlesky (Tim Patient) on May 14, 2013 at 7:26 am

      enjoying this great newsletter
      wanted to add as a dental hygienist that diet or regular soda or the sports drinks including gatorade, and even many flavored waters have acid , citric or acetic for flavor , which is very harmful for teeth. We see many cavities in gatorade and diet pop drinkers. It slowly etches the enamel which is harder than bone, until it finally breaks into a hole . Many parents do not know this as they provide gatorade for their young sports athletes daily . I have a poster with the acidic level of many drinks from water to juices to pops to beer to wine . I show these often to patients so they understand the severity of drinking these beverages . We suggest when do drink through a straw to bypass the teeth as much as possible, but then I tell them it is eating up their stomach !

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