Tuesday, March 2, 2010
So Long Soda
Meet my dad. Until his recent trip to Steamboat to visit us and spend time with his favorite grand-twins (they are, of course, his only grand-twins which makes securing the top spot easy) he was easily drinking 8+ sodas a day. That’s right, MORE than EIGHT sodas EVERY day. Typically he would start his day with the breakfast of champions, a cup of coffee and not much else, and then go on to drink soda throughout the day, often skipping meals in the process. A glass of water rarely passed his lips. The most alarming thing of all though was that he would pop a couple of Tylenol PM’s to counteract the caffeine in his late-night Coke Zero. I wish I were joking.
Enter his loving daughter, yours truly.
My parents spent about 10 days out here in January visiting us, during which time I worked my tail off as the Food Police. I tried my best to show my parents alternatives to some of the convenience food they normally consume. I cooked healthy vegetarian meals and encouraged them to start exercising. And I nagged the pants off my dad about his soda habit. Since I don’t buy soda or keep any in the house it was a bit of a baptism by fire for my dad. He did end up purchasing some on his own but, thanks to the askance glances he received every time he opened one, he drank very few.
Please don't get upset or defensive with me, but there are a number of issues with drinking soft drinks, some of which include the following:
1. Drinking soft drinks replaces healthier nutrients. Very seldom is someone who’s drinking a Coke or Diet Coke simultaneously craving an apple or a salad. Drinking soft drinks is typically accompanied by snacking on fatty or salty foods.
2. Drinking soft drinks, even “sugar free” soft drinks that contain aspartame, saccharin, acesulfame, sucralose, increase blood sugar and weight gain. These artificial ingredients act like sugar in terms of the manipulation of blood glucose so they really don't promote weight loss. Sucralose is closely related to sugar in terms of the chemical compound, with the exception that chlorine has been added to keep it from influencing blood glucose levels. Chlorine is not healthful and can disrupt the healthy flora in the intestines, thus limiting our ability to absorb nutrients.
3. Caffeine increases calcium loss from bones, elevates heart rate, influences mood and is addictive. Caffeine is the primary cause for the headaches that most people experience when they quit drinking soft drinks.
4. Aspartame is a neurotoxin and has been shown repeatedly to be a cancer promoter. The body does not know how to process and eliminate artificial ingredients properly so they are often stored in fatty tissues in the brain and reproductive organs and can cause problems at the cellular level that result in a wide variety of maladies.
Water should be our first choice of beverage. Water cleanses, purifies, aids in digestion, helps support our metabolism and aids in detoxification. The average person should drink at least 64 ounces of plain, filtered water every day. Nothing else is a substitute for our body’s need for water. But don't worry, the more water you drink the more you will enjoy the taste of plain water and the more your body will actually crave it. Trust me.
I am happy to report that, since his visit, my dad is drinking one or maybe two diet sodas per day now. That is a HUGE improvement from the 8 or 9 he was previously consuming. And, it seems that this change is leading to other healthier changes as well. My parents have both started exercising on their own and working with a trainer once a week. They are making healthier snack and meal choices as well. Remember, progress … not perfection.
If I can teach this old dog new tricks I'm betting each of you can make a step in the direction of better health too. Of course, my parents have two compelling reasons sitting in their laps:
Way to go Dad (and Mom too)!
What are your reasons for wanting to improve your health? Write them down, share them with us here and/or post photos of loved ones in prominent places to remind you why you are choosing health over soda and junk food. Because it is a choice ... and I vote for us all choosing better health!