I’ve been in a long-term relationship with soda, or “pop” as I lovingly called it most of my life. We started dating when I was around age 12, just about the time that I started blossoming into a young woman and I realized a steady diet of Mike and Ike’s and Sprite wasn’t doing much my seemingly-gigantic juniors size 13 jeans. My mom is a diet coke fiend – if you gave her a feeding tube with Diet Coke piped directly into it, she’d probably be glad to walk around all day hooked up to it. We always had diet coke on hand, because when you’re fat, you’re told not to drink normal soda because of the sugar. Alas, drinking your calories sucks too, but as I’ve grow more conscious about what I put into my body, I realize the soda’s got to go.
I’m not a huge soda drinker, and at most, I limit myself to one a day. However, I hear the siren song of the fizzing bubbles whenever I have a delicious meal. I want the sweet, slightly acidic taste to wash down my throat, filling my stomach with fizz and deliciousness. With a couple of ice cubes and a wedge of lemon, it’s like heaven. There have been mornings when all I want is an ice cold diet coke, straight out of the can with a straw, and I’ve given in to that temptation, buzzing like a blonde squirrel from the jolt of caffeine, feeling guilty for having a chemical breakfast.
However, as more and more research comes out about soda in general, I know I need to quit. I’ve never gone 100% clean. I’ve lasted a few weeks of celibacy, cheering myself on when I ask for unsweetened tea or water instead of my liquid crack. It never lasts, and before I know it, I’m driving through the nearest McDonald’s, ordering a super-sized diet coke, peering out my car windows as if the soda police are going to catch me getting my one last fix. It’s time. It’s time to break up. Here’s just a few of the many reasons from Rodale why I know I need to do this:
- Researchers from the University of Texas Health Science Center monitored 475 adults for 10 years, and found that those who drank diet soda had a 70 percent increase in waist circumference over the 10-year study, compared with those who didn’t drink any soda. Those who drank more than two diet sodas per day saw a 500 percent waist expansion! A separate study the same researchers conducted on mice suggested that it was the aspartame, which raised blood glucose levels, that caused the weight gain; when your liver encounters too much glucose, the excess is converted to body fat.
- In 2011, the nonprofit Center for Science in the Public Interest petitioned the Food and Drug Administration to ban the artificial caramel coloring used to make Coke, Pepsi, and other colas brown. The reason: Two contaminants in the coloring, 2-methylimidazole and 4-methylimidazole, have been found to cause cancer in animals, a threat the group says is unnecessary, considering that the coloring is purely cosmetic. According to California’s strict Proposition 65 list of chemicals known to cause cancer, just 16 micrograms per person per day of 4-methylimidazole is enough to pose a cancer threat, and most popular brown colas, both diet and regular, contain 200 micrograms per 20-ounce bottle.
- It’s not just the soda that’s causing all the problems. Nearly all aluminum soda cans are lined with an epoxy resin called bisphenol A (BPA), used to keep the acids in soda from reacting with the metal. BPA is known to interfere with hormones, and has been linked to everything from infertility to obesity and diabetes and some forms of reproductive cancers. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have pegged soda cans, along with restaurant, school, and fast-food meals, as a major source of exposure to the chemical. And while Pepsi and Coke are currently locked in a battle to see which company can be the first to develop a 100 percent plant-based-plastic bottle—which they’re touting as “BPA free”—neither company is willing to switch to BPA-free aluminum cans.
We know that all statistics can be skewed, and that you shouldn’t believe everything you read, but the above are just three of the
many reasons why I’m going to kick the habit. I’ve been toying with quitting for years, bouncing the idea back and forth, asking almost everyone I can what they think – some saying it’s no big deal, some saying it’s awful, some saying it’s better than drinking regular soda. In an effort to get clean with my diet, I gotta get off the sauce.
The research is out there, and now that I’m surrounded by an office full of super knowledgable nutrition and health people, I have more gusto to do this than ever. However, I have 2 cans of a Diet pepsi and three cans of Diet 7-up chilling in my fridge. Because I’m frugal AND I’m sentimental, I’m going to finish them up this week, and then go clean. Cold turkey. I’ll be filling up pitchers of water with lemon slices, orange slices and limes. I’ll have unsweetened tea at the ready. It’s time. Diet Coke, it’s been fun. We’ve had a lot of good meals and hot days together. But I need to move on. You’ve given me headaches, and cravings. You’re clingy. You’ve made me spend ridiculous amounts of money to keep you on hand. Diet Coke, to be nice I’d say that it’s not you, it’s me, but it’s not true. It’s not me. It’s you.