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Thursday, April 29, 2010

My Coke Affair

As a Southerner, I lovingly refer to any caffeinated, sugary drink as Coke. Coca-Cola has done their marketing well around here. Even if I want a lemon-lime soda, or a cherry flavored Pepsi product, it's still a Coke in my vocabulary.

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.


  1. Good job. I've been thinking about that stuff too a lot lately. About how I look like I watch what I eat and exercise, but I really don't and about how bad soda is for you. I was drinking about five pepsis a day! craziness. it has now been one week and nine hours with no soda. you can do it.

  2. I gave up soda cold turkey over three months ago. I feel so much better that I recommend it to everyone. The first week was difficult but now I don't want a coke. My husband gave it up for a couple of months too, but one day he picked up a can of Coca-Cola. He couldn't even drink it because of how sweet it was. He says that even Diet Coke does not taste good any longer. Go for it. You will not regret it. When you want a sweet drink, go for good ole' sweet tea. It still has sugar and thus calories as well as the caffeine, but not the numerous other ingredients in coke that are harmful for you.

  3. Jeremiah - your five sodas a day make sense given your employer :) But way to go on deciding to quit!!! I'm not almost three full days with no soda, and doing fine. Late last night while we were watching a movie I kinda wanted a coke to sip on but none were available so dilemma solved.

    Ben always says that if you do anything for 21 days, it becomes a habit. So my goal is to not drink any soda for 21 days and then see how I'm doing at that point. So, now that I'm down to 18 days, that puts me at May 19th :)

  4. Correction - second line "I am almost three full days with no soda..."

  5. I also heard about this guy once who lost 10 pounds in one year just because he stopped drinking soda. He didn't otherwise change is diet or exercise routine. Ten pounds! Crazy.