For many years I’ve been trying to quit soda. It was a no-brainer. I was (and still am) overweight. I was super sensitive to caffeine. It left me feeling sluggish after the sugar high had worn off. And who knows how many other ways the soda was wearing down my long term health?
But I had varied success in quitting and never lasted longer than a couple of months before falling off the wagon. I had been collecting so many reasons to quit, but it wasn’t enough to break the addiction. Fortunately, as I got interested in zero waste and learned about the other environmental aspects of sodas, that’s what finally tipped the scales for me. I didn’t touch the stuff for several months after making the decision with full justifications. There have been a few times since where I’ve had soda again on special occasions, but it tastes less and less appetizing each time. I’m finally at a point now where I think I just might be okay without ever touching a drop of the stuff again.Water generally is enough to satisfy my thirst. And cold crisp fruit satisfies that sweet spot that often tempts me. Making sure I fill up on healthy foods and reminding myself of the myriad reasons to avoid soda keeps me from falling to temptation.
Are you like me and just reaching for more motivations to stay away from these sweet drinks that you already know are bad for you? Here are a few from my list that may also help you to remind yourself when reaching for a soda.
Avoid the obvious health issues
You’ve heard this one already and it’s probably one of the reasons you’re still reading this. Studies have shown that regular soda consumption can lead to obesity, diabetes, heart disease, osteoporosis, liver problems, and other health issues.
Caffeine can stay in your system for many hours and the changes in your blood sugar levels won’t help either. During college I’d sometimes go crazy with the caffeinated sodas to keep me going during finals and then be miserable because when I finally went to bed, I couldn’t get to sleep.
Sodas at restaurants normally cost two or three bucks these days and even if you stock up at supermarket sales, it adds up. Use that money for something that will give you more than fleeting happiness.
Avoid sugar crashes
I use to drink soda at work to get a bit of energy when feeling sluggish, but that energy doesn’t last long and can lead to a subsequent brain fog. Instead, make sure to get enough sleep at night, and a super quick bit of exercise also works for a pick-me-up.
Save your teeth
The acid in soda can wreak havoc on your teeth. And the enamel can be harmed even more if you brush within 30 minutes of drinking.
It takes around 40 gallons of water to produce one bottle of soda.
Many American farms now grow monoculture crops thanks to subsidies on corn and soy. Avoiding all products with high fructose corn syrup and other corn derived crops is a way to vote against the practice.
Stay away from GMOs
For corn, genetically modified is now the standard. So guess where the high fructose corn syrup in your soda comes from. There are many reasons to avoid GMOs but include crops that are designed to thrive even with more herbicides (Roundup Ready) and the fact that big corporations actually own the varieties of crops we rely on.
Reduce -icide use
On that note, these crops do use a whole lots of herbicides and insecticides to get the fullest crop possible, devastating the soil at the same time and letting loose many of these chemicals into our waterways.
Avoid chemicals like BPA
Both plastic bottles and aluminum can linings may contain BPA or other disruptive chemicals without any labeling whatsoever. Fortunately many people have already moved away from BPA use, but without knowing what goes into the containers, there’s no way for us to decide if the material is truly safe to store our beverages in.
Say no to single-use disposables
In addition to the soda ingredients, a lot of resources go into the making of the bottle or can for the container, and most are designed for a single use before being tossed. Recycling doesn’t solve the whole problem as much energy, water, and chemicals are required for transporting and transforming the used containers into new products.
I originally wrote this blog post a few months ago and hadn’t published it. But in the past couple of weeks I wasn’t getting enough sleep and reached out to the drink fridge at work for a quick pick-me-up. I had already done it once, so what was the harm in reaching for another the next day? The harm was that each time made it harder to stop. Even if the soda didn’t taste that good and made me disappointed with myself, my body remembered that little bit of temporary energy and provided me with fresh cravings every day.
Work is hard with the free sodas just steps away, but fortunately soda is less convenient on the weekend, making it more easier to abstain. This weekend I made sure to get some extra sleep and this week I’ve done without so far. It’ll be another couple of weeks before the cravings fully fade away again, but hopefully keeping this list on hand will help me make it through and get back to sanity.