You know those parenting magazines that you start getting for free, immediately after the stick turns blue?
Well, I remember reading an article in one of those, probably when I was pregnant with my first, in which there was a statement that really stuck with me.
The magazine had surveyed a bunch of parents/moms, and asked a series of “advice for the newbie” kinds of questions. Anyway, the question that caught my attention was something to the effect of: If you could go back, what would you do differently? Or, it might have been specifically addressing food concerns…not sure. But anyway, one of the parents answered that they would hold off introducing soda to their child for as long as possible, or forever, or something to that effect.
This resonated with me. And I began to think, well of course, why on earth would we give children soda anyway? It adds no value to their wee bodies. And drinking soda will displace important nutrients that they need, not to mention rot their teeth, and probably increase their risk of Diabetes, Overweight, and who knows what else. Yikes, good point self! So why do WE drink it?!
Now, you have to understand that I am the antithesis of the food police. The way that I eat is consistent with my philosophies. I eat all foods, there is nothing that I consider off limits or bad, and I do not participate in nor promote strict dieting behaviors…if you don’t already know how I feel about dieting, check out any of these articles I have written for a more detailed account!
All that being said, soda is one place that I tend to err on the side of a stricter point of view. That point of view still allowing for the consumption of soda (regular or diet), but with a mindful air of caution…tread lightly my friend.
The problem with soda is it’s insidiousness into the diet. That might just be the characterisitc that makes it an unparalleled dietary hazard.
It has a lot of properties that come together to make it the perfect storm…for one, it is delicious.
It is also cheap and readily accessible to most Americans, children included.
As a liquid, large amounts can be consumed at a quicker rate, filling you with calories that you don’t have time to assess your fullness from.
And it has the added “benefit” of assuaging thirst. So now you don’t have to drink water.
Soda also has that self defining and most alluring quality of carbonation…that delightful fizziness that is both refreshing and like a little peppy party in your mouth.
It has no dietary upside. Even the pleasure you get from drinking a regular soda, in my opinion, does not hold a candle to it’s solid food equivalent of say cake, cookies, candy…Now every once in a while a good soda pop is by far the most delicious and satisfying choice. If you think of it in terms of a treat then its just a choice between eating it or drinking it…whichever mood suits!
However, soda has evolved (and not in a good way) from an occasional treat or dessert option, to a beverage choice to have in addition to a meal or snack and at the expense of actual life sustaining beverages like WATER!
So, our food industry answered this wee predicament and enter…Diet Soda! Viola, we can have our cake and eat it too! There is a reason that phrase is a cliché!!! Because in life, when we always have our cake and eat it too, it does not end well!!! And I am afraid that neither will Diet Soda…or those who drink too much of it…dun dun dunnn (sound effect my sons makes to indicate ominous presence).
Now, it would probably all be fine if we all used our frontal cortex abilities of say impulse control, but somehow (and I am not here to explain it cause I don’t know why) people go HOG WILD. It is as if Diet Soda is the miracle answer of dessert FOR FREE! And again, another cliché that is also for a reason…nothing is for free. Man I spent a lot of years trying to prove that phrase wrong to my Dad, but again, he was right!
So, let us recap:
1- Experienced parents say they wish their children had never tasted soda.
2- Parents themselves drink a crap ton of soda and diet soda.
3- We all must cut back on the soda and drink more water before we all die of overconsumption!
Clearly, I have just scratched the surface on this topic, and I believe it’s just enough of a scratch for some bona fide reflecting to take place.
Do you drink soda? How much?
Do you let your children drink soda? How often?
Do you (and your family members) drink enough water?
What do you drink with meals and snacks?
What do you drink throughout the day when you are thirsty?
Regardless of whether it’s regular soda or diet soda, I think that a safer and healthier way to think about soda consumption may be to consider it a dessert.
I have also found that when we focus on drinking our proper amount of water per day, it has a funny way of displacing our soda in a very innocuous and easy manner. See this post on water!
Personally and as for my children:
- I don’t like for my children to have soda.
- My 6 year old has not had soda, that I am aware of…
- I do try to walk a fine line with my 10 and 12 year olds so that they don’t feel deprived or like weirdo’s among their peers, yet also have a taste for other beverages and turn to them when they are thirsty.
- We have open conversations about enjoying fun foods and also being mindful of things that nourish their bodies so they can grow and be healthy.
- Personally, I have never been a huge soda drinker, although I have enjoyed my fare share over the years.
- As a teenager I would order Sprite in restaurants.
- Then when I started dating my husband, who I met shortly after I moved to Illinois to begin work on my Masters Degree, he began bringing packs of Diet Pepsi for my refrigerator. I don’t think he understood why all I had to drink was water or orange juice. This began my foray into more semi regular soda drinking.
- These days, I drink a lot of water, and I enjoy a couple sips of my husbands soda here and there…but we all eat a ton of ICE CREAM!