Saturday, October 27

The year without soda

This time last year, I was sitting at my desk at work, thinking about how gross I felt, and as I slurped down the last sugary mouthful of a canned Coke, I realized — as the clouds parted and the angels sang and God stroked his honky bearded chin in approval — that soda was going to have to go.

So that very moment I resolved to make that Coke my last. Ever. And to transform my soda-drinking habit (I probably averaged three or fours cans a day, minimum) into a water-drinking habit.

I knew it wouldn't be easy; I'd actually tried to cut back before and failed miserably thanks to my aversion to water and my addiction to caffeine and sugar.

See, I was a hardcore soda devotee. I'd grown up in a household where soda wasn't kept or offered to the kids. My parents kept a cache of Diet Coke, which we wouldn't drink even if we were lying in a dust bowl dying of thirst. The kids were expected to drink Kool-Aid the juice, for the most part. We got soda on special occasions and holidays. It goes without saying that soda wasn't available at school.

When I got to middle school, though, all that changed. There was a single Coke machine in the entire building, and students earned Coke passes for getting good grades and basically making teachers' lives easier. We'd stockpile passes and then send classmates out on Coke runs when the teachers gave us the go-ahead, usually on Friday afternoons. My friends and I developed an intense addiction to the bright-yellow allure of Mello Yello. It became our official drink. We sought it out in all situations. And when its luster began to fade, we looked for the rare and elusive Surge at gas stations and Sam's Clubs. Surge was like Mello Yello, only it tasted like shit and claimed to have a hundred times the caffeine. Surge helped usher in the era of the crap-tasting energy drink. I thank the fate monkeys in the sky that I never hopped on that bandwagon, even when I worked with someone in college who was a campus Red Bull rep and could have had that nasty shit piped directly into my mouth at all times.

In high school, I awarded joint custody of my soda allegiance to Mello Yello and Coke. It was more sophisticated that way, having two favorite drinks. Through college, my habits continued and my teeth dissolved into the sugary concoctions I poured down my throat at and between mealtimes. I further refined my preference to Coke when I moved to Memphis and Mello Yello became hard to come by.

Water, for all of my life, has been a necessary evil. I only drank it as part of something else -- tea, lemonade, Kool-Aid, a concoction meant to dissolve a hangover. I hated the (non-)taste. I hated the smell. I don't know how a person goes her entire life hating that which comprises 75 percent of her own body. But I did.

Until last year. And I'll never forget the first few days after the Coke ban. It wasn't a minefield of caffeine headaches and grumpiness ... at first. No, the headaches came slow and steady about three weeks later (actually, it was one headache that lasted for three weeks; I thought I had brain cancer). Instead, what sticks with me is the memory of literally having to choke down water and feeling repulsed by it until I got used to it. I forced myself to drink eight cups — that's 64 ounces — every day. And by the end of week two or so, the revulsion melted away and in its place there was a weird craving to have water constantly.

This past year I've had a few sips of soda here and there, just to see how it tasted, and each sip has been gross and metallic and reminiscent of mid-century medicine. I slipped and drank an entire can of Pepsi once several months ago. It was extremely disgusting. I felt like shit afterward.

I will not make that mistake again.



Anonymous Anonymous said...

Tea, coffee, cola, energy drinks and chocolate share the same nerve toxin (stimulant), caffeine. Caffeine, which is readily released into the blood, triggers a powerful immune response that helps the body to counteract and eliminate this irritant. The toxic irritant stimulates the adrenal glands, and to some extent, the body’s many cells, to release the stress hormones adrenaline and cortisol into the blood stream.

If consumption of stimulants continues on a regular basis, however, this natural defense response of the body becomes overused and ineffective. The almost constant secretion of stress hormones, which are highly toxic compounds in and of themselves, eventually alters the blood chemistry and causes damage to the immune system, endocrine, and nervous systems. Future defense responses are weakened, and the body becomes more prone to infections and other ailments.

The boost in energy experienced after drinking a cup of coffee is not a direct result of the caffeine it contains, but of the immune system’s attempt to get rid of it (caffeine) An overexcited and suppressed immune system fails to provide the “energizing” adrenaline and cortisol boost needed to free the body from the acidic nerve toxin, caffeine. At this stage, people say that they are “used” to a stimulant, such as coffee. So they tend to increase intake to feels the “benefits.”

Since the body cells have to sacrifice some of their own water for the removal of the nerve toxin caffeine, regular consumption of coffee, tea, or colas causes them to become dehydrated. For every cup of tea or coffee you drink, the body has to mobilize 2-3 cups of water just to remove the stimulants, a luxury it cannot afford. This applies to soft drinks, medicinal drugs, and any other stimulants, As a rule, all stimulants have a strong dehydrating effect on the bile, blood, and digestive juices.

Get the real scoop on caffeine at
Test your caffeine smarts with the caffeine quiz.

And if you drink decaf you wont want to miss this special free report on the Dangers of Decaf available at

Sat Oct 27, 03:44:00 AM  
Blogger theogeo said...

Um, does this count as spam?

Sat Oct 27, 11:19:00 AM  
Blogger Lesley said...

Oh, that is definitely spam.

And, you know, you live in the city with the best water on earth. I should smack you upside the head for not liking it. The swill that comes out of the faucet here's so bad, it's made me consider moving back to Memphis.

Sat Oct 27, 12:10:00 PM  
Blogger LeBlanc said...

I couldn't imagine having no soda at all. I drink one Mt. Dew per week day and lots of coffee during the weekend. I get the shakes just thinking about not having it.

Sat Oct 27, 02:58:00 PM  
Blogger phallicpen said...

Personalized spam. Wasn't that in Minority Report?

Sun Oct 28, 08:01:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Your bones will thank you in a few years! I gave up Tab/Diet Coke in 1992 and have not had a coke product since although I have sipped a few when thirsty and regretted it every time. Tastes so GROSS to me now - and I was a six pack a day drinker...

Mon Oct 29, 06:12:00 AM  
Blogger sarah saint said...

I've officially broken my diet soda habit, but not my coffee or tea habit. It's so hard! I'm not giving up hot tea. Absolutely not. Coffee, I could give up. I only drink it at work and I've started making a pot of hot water as well as coffee there, so I'm gradually switching over to hot tea at work like I did at home.

Congrats on going a year. I hear it's hard to let go of sugar.

Mon Oct 29, 08:47:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

That's quite a feat, there. Congrats on that, really. I am hardcore addicted to diet soda. Far more so than coffee. I can't imagine going an entire year without one of them, and especially not both of them. But it's inspiring! When you set your mind to something you have an iron will. I applaud you!

Mon Oct 29, 03:14:00 PM  
Blogger Michael Roy Hollihan said...

Yay you! I gave up everything but water for a few years and the effects were amazing. Do you find yourself waking up in the morning, and you're UP, ready to go without the dragginess?

Sadly, I'm off the wagon and drink about the equivalent of 2 20 oz. bottles of Coke a day. Some Saturdays, I'll drink about 3 or 4 bottles worth! And what's really sad is that it still tastes awful. But I drink it. :-(

Mon Oct 29, 05:28:00 PM  

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