But to keep from demonizing just one particular product line, I'll use the term soda (even though it feels funny to my typing fingers) for the rest of this post.
Soda was a regular staple in my house growing up. Soda in a bottle, soda in a can, soda in a cup. Having the cans of soda to refrigerate was an even bigger treat. Nothing quite like an ice-cold can of Coke (oops) to pop open on a sweltering South Carolina summery day. No ice to dilute the crisp, fizzing sensation of the newly popped soda can. Just pure caffeinated, carbonated, sugary goodness.
Soda most often replaced water in my diet. I'm pretty sure I didn't drink water regularly until college. So even though I'd heard that soda wasn't that healthy for you, I figured I'd survived my whole childhood drinking it and wasn't dead yet. Plus I really like it. A lot.
College, of course, exposes you to a whole slew of new ideas and ways of living and more people at once than any other time of life for most people. And in college I began to wonder how limited my perspective on my life was, in issues large and small. Not even soda escaped this scrutiny.
What if soda is for our generation what cigarettes were for our grandparents? Pop in any television show, movie or magazine from a few decades ago, and everyone is smoking. It was recreational. And then at some point, someone realized, hey, those glowing sticks hanging out of your mouth cause cancer and a whole host of other medical problems. But by the time all the negative risks of cigarettes became common knowledge, people were addicted. They weren't dead (yet) and they really liked cigarettes. A lot.
Pregnancy has also brought my diet into sharp focus. I'll admit that until I was 25, I was every dieter's most hated enemy. I could eat anything I wanted (and I mean anything) and not gain an ounce. My exercise habits were sporadic at best. While I won't divulge exact numbers (because then I'll be mopey the rest of today), I didn't weigh enough during college to donate blood. But don't worry - these days any blood bank would welcome me with open arms. Doctors and books and magazines and websites give a pregnant woman more information than she can ever begin to absorb, but one fact is clear - you should watch what you put into your body because it obviously affects the little one developing too.
Most sources I've read say that while some (not all) studies link caffeine with pregnancy-related problems, it's best to eliminate or at least cut down on your caffeine intake while pregnant. So once again, five years post college graduation, I began mulling over what to do about soda. I like it. It doesn't make me feel bad. And I don't even drink a soda every day. We usually don't keep them around the house (unnecessary expense more than anything), and I'm most tempted to down a soda when I'm out to eat. Plus, I don't even drink it for the caffeine - it does nothing to pep me up (so it's not like I'm an addict...sheesh). I simply enjoy the taste.
But as I'm more and more motivated to make healthy choices (both because of this pregnancy and thinking about getting in shape post-pregnancy), why not end my 28 year affair with Coke? I think this is something I'd like to do. But then I know my tendency to set boundaries and rules only to smash right through them as if that was the only purpose I erected them for. But then again, I don't want to have my grandchildren shake their heads at me in 40 years as I walk to the fridge for another can of soda while recovering from my latest bout of kidney stones, diabetic issues, or any of the other complications that medical experts have linked to soda consumption.
If you're anything like me, and need to see exactly what all the fuss is about, read this article that shows me even more clearly how much like cigarettes soda really is.