Yes, it’s true, I have not had a single drop of soda in ten years. Not even diet soda, or for that matter, club soda. I actually tried to give it up more than ten years ago, but February 17, 2000 I had a soda at the movies. It was a wake-up call, because I ordered it, and started drinking it, without even really thinking about it! I had resolved to give it up, and it had been so ingrained in my consciousness that it was possible to order and consume it without realising it. So why did I give up soda? In short, there’s no real value to it, other than the taste. Non-diet soda contains ridiculous amounts of sugar – so much so that they have to actually make soda less sweet to make it palatable. Sugar can be responsible for up to 99% of the calories in a non-diet soda, and those are calories that are entirely unnecessary, and contribute nothing to the body, and may even significantly harm the body. All sugars cause spikes in insulin levels; the concentrated sugar in many sodas can cause them to be amplified in both the up and down directions. If you’re familiar with “anti-oxidant” drinks, the “oxidants” that anti-oxidant drinks fight are known as free-radicals, and those increase as sugar intake increases. (Adding vitamins to soda or sugared drinks is therefore pointless.) This says nothing of the other ingredients, such as phosphorous (in the form of phosphoric acid) which may upset the balance of calcium in the body and could make bones more brittle. What about diet soda? Well, I never liked the taste of diet soda when I used to drink soda, so I never considered it a suitable replacement. I’ve also always associated diet soda with weird chemicals; I seem to recall cancer warnings on diet soda bottles when I lived in California. (This was not to say that the diet soda caused cancer, but one of the chemical ingredients had been shown to cause it in rats.) Therefore, I never really drank the stuff in the first place; it was sugared sodas that I really gave up. Was it difficult? Yes. It still is. To this day the smell of soda (particularly Coca Cola, or Boylan Orange soda) really makes me want to drink it. I’m to the point where I can fight the urge, but it was harder earlier on. It’s also difficult because it is ubiquitous in society, and people offer it to you as a matter of course in many social situations. Since I’m ‘more adult’ now, I can usually request a beer or tea (depending on the situation), but many people are still surprised when I tell them I don’t drink soda. I hear a lot of people say “Oh, I could never do that.” and many of them are correct – I don’t think it’s an addiction, but I think it’s fairly close. So what do I drink instead? I drink a lot of water and a lot of tea. (I’ve never been a coffee drinker.) I drink juice occasionally, but it has a lot of sugar (though it’s more natural, and has fructose instead of concentrated sucrose) so I try not to drink that too often. I also drink beer and wine on occasion, and usually in moderation.
Hopefully, avoiding soda has made me healthier. I can’t prove that it has, but it certainly hasn’t hurt. At this point, it’s something that I’ve done for ten years, and will probably continue for some time to come.