I have a confession to make about my (non-alcoholic) drinking habits: I love a nicely chilled glass of soda. In fact, when our son was little, I would pour it into my coffee mug and claim that Mom was drinking coffee. Unfortunately, my fib didn’t have any effect on him, and I know that Patrick, as an adolescent, consumes way too much of the stuff. However, the time has come and we, as a family, can no longer ignore the studies decrying the evils of sugar-sweetened beverage (SSB) consumption. So we have decided to make this a soda-free summer.
As a woman, I am conscious of my daily calcium intake to guard against bone density problems in my old age. Several studies link poor bone health in both children and adults to phosphoric acid which is found only in colas. This additive, which gives soda its zing, also erodes teeth enamel, leading to tooth sensitivity and decay.
Besides affecting dental and bone health, numerous studies have also linked SSBs to childhood obesity. While SSBs add to a person’s daily caloric intake, they do not satiate hunger and often create a spike in blood sugar, causing hunger pangs. Drinking soda means not just an increase in calories, but more consumption of caffeine and soda, while drinking less milk. Even more frightening, the National Institute for Health reported that adolescents who drank the most SSBs per day were also more likely to smoke and drink alcohol, compared to the adolescents consuming fewer soda and sugary beverages a day.
During our family discussion on a soda-free summer, both Patrick and his dad wanted to know, “But what will I drink instead?” This was a serous question, since neither one of them likes the taste of our tap water. Our family plan includes:
• Drinking 100 percent juice or veggie drinks (with no added sugar)
• Keeping plenty of ice cubes on hand
• Having a big pitcher of filtered water in the fridge
• Carrying reusable water bottles
• Adding lemon or lime slices to our water glasses
• Asking for sugar-free syrups when we visit our favorite coffee house
• Realizing that we are not NFL athletes and don’t really need sports drinks