Tuesday, January 03, 2012

12 Changes For 2012 - #2 - Sweet Detox

One of the simplest changes to make is also one of the hardest: give up soda. Even "diet soda." And if you're living in The South this means giving up sweet tea. Just replace soda, diet soda, and sweet tea with water.

My own greatest hurdle was Mountain Dew. When I worked over-night shifts for 12hrs at a stretch, I drank at least three a night. Sometimes six. That was 300% to 600% the recommended daily dose of sugar. 5 days a week. Not to mention all the caffeine! And as a kid, I probably drank soda three to four times as much as I ever drank water.

Most sodas these days contain enough sugar (usually a minimum of 10 tea spoons!) that your stomach would backfire from the excess sweetness. But there is a key ingredient (phosphoric acid) that cuts the taste and calms your stomach. Without that ingredient, we wouldn't be able to hold down that much sugar.

And not only do diet sodas contain chemicals (especially aspartame) which are toxic at all but the lowest levels of consumption, they also contain higher levels of sodium. Drinking them causes the body to retain water. Ultimately meaning more weight, not less.

For an example of the effects of just one soda, read: What happens when you drink a Coke.

Unfortunately giving up sodas and Southern tea still doesn't eliminate sweets. Thanks to industrial food production, avoiding sugar is almost impossible to do today. Many modern foods are laced with High Fructose Corn (HFCS.) If something you eat tastes sweet, it is likely due to HFCS. Salad dressing. Ketchup. BBQ Sauce. Honey Wheat Bread. Cinnamon Rolls. Brownie Mixes. Potato Salad. Breakfast syrup. Frostees. Applesauce. Chicken salad. Croutons. Bagels. Yeast Rolls. Fudge. Croissants. Grape Jelly. Mayonnaise. Lemonade. English Muffins. Hotcakes. And even salsa contain HFCS. And that's just a brief list. Check the ingredients list and you'll almost inevitably come across it. Especially if you are eating Fast Food. Check for yourself.

HFCS comsumption has increased dramatically since the 1970s when it was developed. The average American consumed 39 pounds of HFCS in 1980. And 62.6 pounds in 2010. Track the unintentional consumption of HFCS next to the increase in obesity, and what do you think you'll see?

Knowing that we're consuming dozens of pounds of sugar in what we're eating each year, drinking even more is a recipe for disaster. The best thing to do is eliminate the sodas and teas and stick to water.

For me, giving up sodas took time. And a very determined effort. But I wish I had done it sooner. Water quenches my thirst now. I don't have wildly fluctuating energy levels. I'm not carrying around excess water weight. And I'm not drinking hundreds (if not thousands) of extra calories each day.
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