Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Commit to Health Series: Water, Water, Water

I went to a workshop on healthy eating in the summer and I will never forget it. There I was, sitting in the audience with my Camelbak thermos of water, taking a big swig and thinking I was so noble and full of hubris because I had just quit drinking soda the week before and I didn't even miss it. In fact I was noticing at that moment how thirsty I always must have been before because instead of drinking water I had been drinking soda so I never felt un-thirsty. It just doesn't quench your thirst. I had started to crave water instead of soda because it really, truly made me not thirsty. And then, in my grand moment of triumph, the lecturer said this: "Just drink water. Just tell yourself when you want a drink it's going to be water and then only drink water. Water, water water. That's what you drink." What a great line. I repeat it to myself often throughout the day when I feel either hungry or thirsty I hear it in my head, "Water, water water."Ha. I actually figured something healthy out on my own and was validated by an expert!

About two months later I realized I had lost 10 pounds after I quit drinking soda. What? 10 pounds? I never thought that a small can of soda a day would really do much damage. I know there's like 800 teaspoons of sugar in it and the carbonation can't really be good for your body, but the FDA wouldn't let people sell it if it was actually going to do you any harm, right? Well, I'm not a food scientist, but here's what I believe from my limited and biased research:

*It's not necessarily the caffeine in the soda that is so bad for you, although it's not good for you either. It's the chemicals. They irritate your stomach, ruin enamel on your teeth, and mess up the whole calcium thing in your blood. It can also increase acid reflux if it makes you burp a lot.

* Sodas also contain a lot of sugar, which is harmful because it's calories without nutrition attached. And our whole goal here is to be nutritionally better this year, not worse.

*Diet drinks are not good for the body because the "fake" sugars and sweeteners used in them mess up your body chemistry and can make you feel like eating more sweets. Ouch. I like the way this article from the Eat This, Not That guy, David Zinczenko, explains it.

You can find evidence on both sides of the coin saying that soda is fine to drink and that soda is the devil incarnate. Just Google "why are carbonated drinks bad for you?" and see what comes up! It's a personal choice and I don't hold it against anyone if they drink soda. However, I personally feel better drinking water almost every time I drink and saving soda for an occasional indulgence. I actually say every time I drink one that I'll never drink it again for two reasons: 1) I am so full when I drink it that I never want to eat my healthy and usually expensive dinner, and 2) they feel like a dessert to me because of all the sugar and I get a sugar coma afterwards. I'm serious. And if you're trying to drop some poundage, soda can only be another hurdle you have to overcome every time you drink it. You create a calorie abundance instead of a deficit, whether or not you believe the chemicals inside the drink are safe or harmful. And if you're drinking zero-calorie drinks you may subconsciously be letting yourself eat more high-calorie foods to compensate.

So, my point is this: if you don't agree with me or don't believe a word I've written here (and that's all fine and good, I'll love you just the same), take a challenge and switch to just drinking water for three weeks. Let me know how you feel when it's all over. If you feel worse and you've gained weight and you have terrible problems with hydration, come back and leave me a comment! I'd love to hear the story. But I think you'll actually feel better and wonder why you never quit soda years ago.

I read a really great post today from the No Gluten, No Problem peeps, namely Peter Bronski, about 10 tips for healthy living as a gluten free eater. Check it out for a little more healthy inspiration.

Happy eating!


  1. Well, if your going to challenge me I guess I really need to do it. I have been toying around with the idea, knowing it needs to happen, but I just love my diet coke with lime. Like, I would leave Brian for my diet coke with lime. Okay, maybe I wouldn't EVERY day, but probably most.
    Margo, I'll do it. I will break up with dc. For you... and maybe for me too.

  2. Oh, girl, you call me every day if you are having an attack and we'll drink a glass of water together on the phone! You may need some aspirin, too. :)


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