One of our main sources of sugar and sugar-like substances is soda, both regular and diet. Neither one is something I recommend as a regular part of your diet, for a few reasons:
• Regular soda is full of completely empty calories. One 12-ounce can of regular soda contains about 150 calories, and no nutritional value.
• Cutting out one can of regular soda per day, and doing nothing else, can help you lose about 15 pounds in a year.
• Diet soda contains artificial sweeteners, which our bodies do not recognize as food. As I result, I find that those who drink diet soda wind up eating more sugary foods because they crave them.
• Studies link soda consumption to increased risk of metabolic syndrome, obesity, depleted calcium stores in bones, and more.
• One new study indicates that drinking two or more cans of diet soda daily (and how hard is that, really?) doubles your chances of accelerated kidney decline. P.S.: We need our kidneys.
So what’s a soda drinker to do? The simple answer is to cut soda out of your life. As a former 3-can-a-day drinker (I’m a Pepper!), I know that the simple answer is not always the easy answer. Coming up with an acceptable substitute really helps.
For many people, the appeal of soda is in the bubbles. So try these steps:
• Wean yourself off soda and onto sparkling water or seltzer (any type that doesn’t have any calories or sweeteners of any kind is acceptable).
• Mix a little juice or iced tea in with your water to give it some flavor and color. While you’re at it, add a slice of fresh lime, orange or lemon.
• Drink your newly improved drink from the same glass you used for soda. If you drink soda from the can, notice that your new drink doesn’t have that tinny, metallic taste.
Others feel that they need the caffeine boost of soda for a pick-me-up, especially in the afternoon. I promise you that staying well-hydrated with water will increase your energy far more than soda ever could.
Finally: don’t buy it at the grocery store. This is not as hard as it seems. Identify the number of the soda aisle, and skip it altogether the next time you shop. Rinse and repeat.
If you follow these steps, your bones will be stronger, you’ll eat fewer calories from sugar and you’ll feel much more energetic. Try it and let me know how you’re feeling.