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.


Mitt said...

What was your strategy when giving up sodas? Did you quit all at once or detox from the caffeine and sugar?

Unknown said...


I was very likely "addicted" to Mountain Dew and didn't know it until well into the addiction.

Once I discovered I was hooked on it, I was so shocked and surprised at my behavior that I gave it up, cold turkey. (I still have very bad cravings when I see it, but otherwise detoxing wasn't TOO bad.) Along with Mt Dew, I pretty much gave up all sodas at the same time. I didn't have a strategy because I was actually ashamed to admit my shortcomings, even to myself. So I put as much distance as possible between myself and my addiction.

What surprises me (still) is how BAD soda tastes now that I'm no longer hooked on sugar. It's so sweet that I find it overpowering and if I have more than 4oz of Coke (one of those little half-cans) I actually start to get sick. And I cannot stand the taste of rootbeer any more.

Growing up in the South, I still drank sweet tea for a couple more years. It was harder to give up than soda. For me. I spent a couple of weeks ONLY drinking it for lunch (instead of with every meal.) Then I dropped that practice. Ultimately not drinking it at all.

On the caffeine side, I don't know how much of a role that played in my addiction. I like to think it was mainly the sugar. I sometimes have coffee, maybe once a week, but mainly because it smells so good to me when it is brewing.

I'm pretty active during the non-winter months, and I usually have sports drinks to compensate for spent nutrients. But I try to get zero sugar drinks.

Hopefully that answers the questions? Happy to elaborate if you want more details on anything.