Toilet bowl cleaner sloshes around your mouth. Stain, rust, and grease remover slithers down your throat. Snail and slug exterminating solution clings to your insides, wrecking you from the inside out.
This is your reality.
Deny it if you must, but this is the ugly truth for those who drink Coca-Cola. Now, this may be a dramatic way to present the conversation on soda’s unapologetic, destructive nature but dramatic or not, it’s true. Although those adorable Coca-Cola polar bears summon an audible ‘awww’ from me every Christmas season and glass Coca-Cola bottles induce intense feelings of nostalgia that make my heart take a direct hit of the warm and fuzzies, I’m well aware that Coca-Cola, and soda in general, is a short-term high with a long-term debt.
Soda is linked to weight gain, nonalcoholic fatty liver disease, belly fat, insulin resistance, type 2 diabetes, leptin resistance, cancer, heart disease, and dementia, among other things. And for those who think drinking diet soda is a badge of honor representing healthy life choices, diet soda is linked to heart attacks, high blood pressure, diabetes, obesity, dementia, stroke, and liver problems, just like regular soda. So, whether you’re drinking soda fully-leaded or not, you’re still hurting your health if you’re consuming it too frequently.
What is too frequently, you ask, when it comes to sugar-sweetened beverages? The American Heart Association advises no more than 450 calories a week from sugar-sweetened beverages. This is roughly three cans of Coca-Cola. At first glance, this statistic seems doable. After all, the American Heart Association isn’t advising people to consume zero sugar-sweetened beverages, it’s actually generously giving people three a week. However, the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHNES) exposes exactly why we, as a society, should be concerned. The NHNES reports that half of the U.S. population consumes one or more sugar-sweetened beverages a day.
If the NHNES says half the U.S. population consumes roughly seven sugar-sweetened beverages a week (i.e. one per day) but the American Heart Association advises no more than three sugar-sweetened beverages a week, we have a problem. There is a clear disconnect between what is best and what a large portion of society actually does.
For those who insist they like the pre-colonoscopy laxative drink more than they like water, I have wonderful news. There are a number of non-water beverage options that researchers and health gurus give the thumbs-up and a few of them are as follows:
- Green Tea
- Fruit Flavored Water (add fruit or mint leaves to your water)
- Red wine (one glass)
- Chocolate and vanilla almond milk
- Kombucha (fermented black tea)
- Black coffee
- Yogurt drinks
- Coconut water
- Homemade fruit smoothie
- Homemade veggie drinks
The important thing is to be honest with yourself. Don’t drink multiple cans of diet soda a day and call it healthy because the can says diet. Don’t guzzle extra sweet tea and boast that you drink tea instead of soda. Don’t mistake a glass of red wine for an entire bottle. None of us are perfect but understanding how the things we consume affect us and acknowledging the little white lies we tell ourselves to make us feel better about poor health choices is crucial in the fight for our best health.
You’d never stop telling your children you love them because they’ve heard it a million times before. You’d never stop going out on date nights with your partner because you’ve had too many date nights to count. Just like you continuously work on the relationships you have with those you care about, so too should you continually work on your relationship with your health. Don’t beat yourself up with feelings of remorse and guilt over what you’ve already consumed. Use resources, like this piece, to guide you toward healthier decisions both today and in the future. The phrase you’re worth it is popular because it’s true. You are absolutely worth the time, effort, and thoughtfulness it takes to learn and execute healthy choices.
Author: Evelyn Lindell
Certified Health & Wellness Coach