I’m totally addicted to sodas! They are my downfall since I drink probably 6-7 cans of sugary sodas each day. I’m trying to cut back on them a little but it’s going to be hard to let them go permanently. Is it possible to lose weight if I continue drinking them and why are they bad for me?
I’d be interested to know which of the sodas you find yourself addicted to, just out of curiosity. My propensity toward any kind of soda ended when my kid had to do a science project in which he had to place a dirty penny into a can of coke and just let it sit for a week. Try it. If it will do that to a penny, think what it is doing to the inside of your body. If you are drinking 6-7 cans a day and you want to lose weight, you can just give that up alone and you could probably lose 8-10 pounds in the first month of quitting without making any other adjustments to your diet, even if you haven’t added in exercise.
You may surprise yourself and find that if you are willing to simply try to change your habit for 21 days and then try going back to the soda, you may find it seems like syrup and goo. You will be able to taste the chemical processing that you’d become addicted to and wonder why you found it to be enticing to begin with.
Addictions are hard to break, so try not to underestimate the power of an addiction. Not only do you have to break the physical dependency, there is also the issue of psychosomatic dependency and they are both very different.
Physical dependency is partly you building your body’s tolerance over time for that product (nicotine, additives, artificial flavors, sweeteners, etc). When you eat certain things repetitively you train your tongue and body tolerance to those tastes. Most people’s taste buds in the American diet are coated and “trained” to enjoy mostly sugars, salts and fats. If these things are missing, then there is seemingly less enjoyment, in the beginning.
Engineers and food manufacturers have become so good at mimicking the taste and mouth feel of real food, that most of our palates have no idea what true, real, natural food is. This is essentially what you have done to your palate. It’s coated and trained to “enjoy” whatever it is you’re teaching it to “enjoy”. Because you have put this into your body so often, this is the reason why you are in this cyclical addiction (consuming it is the reason why you continue to consume it). More of it makes you want more of it. If you take the time to break the cycle of consumption you will find that you can “train” your palate towards something far healthier. You must first make the realization that you are in total control and you really have to want to change it.
Psychosomatic is different in the fact that you tell yourself you can’t live without these sodas and if you try to eliminate it that it will somehow affect you negatively, AND you believe it. It is like missing an old friend, so it is very tricky trying to find something to replace the old habit and getting to a place where you are mentally ready to eliminate your “old friend” from your life as you discover you get no benefit by having it hang around. You will have withdrawal symptoms in the beginning and the first 3 days are the hardest, yet the most crucial. After you empty it out of your system you will enter into a transition period of finding the realization that you can probably live without it.
Besides the physical and psychosomatic addiction, you need to understand what sugar does to your insulin levels and why you should be concerned about it if fat loss is of interest to you.
Here are a few ideas for replacements to get you headed toward a healthier track of getting in more water and taste. They may not do much for you at first, but it is very important that you try to break your addiction to sugar first by fooling your tongue with a taste you enjoy, otherwise you will constantly crave the sugar water and additives that you are imbibing so often. So try these ideas for some variety in your life:
Try any and every kind of tea that sounds interesting. There are the cheap kinds and there are the expensive ones. Some of my favorites that are easily accessible in a grocery store are Celestial Seasonings, Lipton, Sleepytime, and Twinnings. Just walk down the tea aisle in any grocery store and they’ll hit you in the face, they’re so many of them!
- Try Teavana. If you don’t have one near you to go and sample every tea imaginable, you can buy them online and have them delivered directly to your door. Just google the name.
- World Market. This place specializes in imported teas. They have some reasonably priced teas, but in all honesty, these teas can get pretty expensive. I tend to like the exotic flavors.
- Tazo. This tea started off at Starbucks, but can now be purchased in most grocery stores.
I suggest teas, because it will satisfy your taste buds. They have so many different flavors, without any of the added preservatives and sugars (real and fake) that you have to worry about. You will feel SO much better, and you will feel better about yourself because you’re making better choices.
What’s That You Say? Teas Are Not Necessarily Sweet?
You can sweeten your teas with some of these natural sweeteners. Most do not spike your blood sugar like regular sugar and without any of the worry or adverse side effects that you’d get from your sodas:
- Coconut Sugar: This is a sugar that was derived from sap of coconut flowers boiled down to create a paste or dry blocks or granulated crystals. The softer kind is easier to use.
- Stevia: This is a natural sugar that is derived from an herb. We westerners got the idea from the Japanese who used it as a no-calorie sweetener. The actual leaf is green and is refined to a white powder. If you find one that has a bitter aftertaste, keep shopping for a new one because that means it was made incorrectly
- Maple Syrup: This comes directly from trees.
- Agave Nectar: This is a sweetener with higher fructose levels and used mostly by diabetics in the beginning. It has the consistency, look, feel and taste of corn syrup, so make certain you are reading the label. This needs to be eaten on an empty stomach so that you don’t raise your blood sugar levels. I wouldn’t recommend this one in the long run because it is being manufactured differently these days.
- Maple Sugar: This is made from maple syrup and is not as sweet as regular table sugar.
- Molasses: This is a by-product of white sugar and has a robust flavor. It contains minerals, vitamins and has a high iron content.
- Sorghum: Similar to molasses in flavor, but not as strong. This is made from sorghum grain. The colors of it range from light to very dark. It’s sweeter than molasses.
- Rapadura or Sucanat: Unrefined whole cane sugar still full of its natural minerals.
- Honey: I don’t think I can say anything about this one that you don’t already know. There are many different grades and shades that you will have to experiment with until you find one you are happy with.
A squeeze of lemon in your water. I have to admit this didn’t do much for me either at first. You can add some stevia or other sweetener to your liking to this as well for your own homemade lemonade.
Seltzer waters. It still has the harmless fizzy carbonation, but no sweetness. There are lots of flavors of these too. Proceed with caution however, as many of them tend to sneak the dreadful sugar, or other artificial sweeteners into them.
The more you get used to adding a liquid that is closer to pure water, the better you will begin to feel, and drinking anywhere close to that much soda a day will make you sick.
Why is Soda Bad For You?
I think you might have an idea about the answer and you genuinely want to be healthier or you wouldn’t be asking the question in the first place.
Well, let me clarify: Soda is not good for you. It has been linked to obesity and quite a few other health problems. It is especially harmful for children to consume so much sugar and additives all in one sitting. What most people do not realize is that the majority of inflammation (high blood pressure, cardiovascular diseases, athersclerosis, and obesity to name a few) of all sorts begins at a very early age and manifests itself when we become adults. We don’t begin inflammation as adults, but in our youth. It’s the accumulation over time when we later see certain diseases manifest and we tend to think we “caught” it on the day we were diagnosed.
Sodas are just one of the causes of many inflammations over time. At the time you are drowning your precious cells in all those additives, chemicals, artificial sweeteners and colors 6 or 7 times a day, you are not thinking of the effects of it years down the road.
As your precious cells replicate themselves and you continue to dump this garbage down your throat, the new cells generated are perpetuating with the materials they’re being given. In other words, you are what you eat; Or in your case, drink. Know that once your body starts to replicate bad cells (cancerous ones for instance) it’s very difficult to stop the process without poisoning yourself more to get rid of the poison, which by the way, is how cancer is treated. I hope that gives you a little perspective. You are a slave to your taste buds of your own creation.
Nonetheless, let’s look at the first 5 ingredients of a typical soda. The first 5 ingredients of the label tell you whether you should proceed with caution, ditch it, or if it’s okay to consume. The sodas I considered are Mountain Dew, Coke Zero, regular Coke, and some misnomer, no-name brand.
So, in a typical soda we have carbonated water, caramel color, phosporic acid, potassium benzoate (to protect taste, not you), natural flavors, and usually some sort of artificial sweeteners.
- Carbonated Water. This is really pretty harmless. It’s the process of dissolving CO2 into water which to you translates to that fizziness that you would find in a seltzer water or any sparkling water. Unless you are a sufferer from IBS (irritable bowel syndrome), then the release of the gas in the stomach may be quite bothersome to you, but I’m sensing this is not the case with you.
- Caramel Color. If it’s not a dark colored soda, then there is usually some color associated with whatever the color of that particular soda. For instance, Mountain Dew and the misnomer purple/orange soda is going to be a different color additive than any of the original Coke, or Coke Zero products. Caramel color is a burnt sugar that is used for color purposes only, it does not provide any flavor. Consumption of caramel color is not really harmful. There is, however, potential of an allergic reaction as there is the possibility of that with many food ingredients.
- Phosphoric Acid. The job of this substance is to slow the growth of mold and bacteria and has a tangy, sour taste. To give you some perspective, phosporic acid is used to remove rust from iron steel and tools and has been linked to kidney disease and kidney stones.
- Potassium Benzoate. This is a common ingredient in fireworks to create whistle noises. As I mentioned before, this is a preservative and inhibits the growth of yeast, mold and bacteria.
- Natural Flavors. Well this is a joke. If you began with some existence of a natural ingredient, then there could be a possibility of this, but no sale here. There’s no such thing as a “natural” flavor in a soda. C’mon man!
- Aspartame. Essentially, the more aspartame we consume, the higher the potential of your health being affected towards cancer. Most often we are unaware of exactly how much we are consuming overall as it can creep into everything. Some instances are sugarless gums, the packets of Equal you add to your morning coffee that you may not even give a second thought. In animals aspartame has been proven to cause brain damage and the potential to cause cancer. There is really no reason to put aspartame in a sugary soda other than to enhance the taste. Aspartame has 92 side effects listed by the FDA.
So, there you have it. All the information you need to decide whether or not you want to put any kind of soda to your lips again. At the very least you should decrease your consumption. Take care of you. You’re the only you, you’ve got!