Wednesday, December 21, 2011

11 Tips For a Soda-Free Existence

I’m of the firm opinion that a lot of the choices we make in terms of the substances we ingest determine our health, which then influences wealth, happiness and on and on ad nauseum.A lot of the “ingestibles” in America are really bad for you. This is not solely an American problem but it seems to be exacerbated to a greater degree here. Americans ingest a lot of bad things, although some of them are arguable; alcohol or certain types of drugs may not always be a bad thing, for example. Big culprits:
  • Fast food (it’s not just McDonald’s, either – supermarkets, schools and high-end restaurants are selling the same junk)
  • Highly processed foods
  • Artificial flavors and colors
  • Pesticide-laden fruits and vegetables
  • Hormone-laced milk and milk products
  • Tobacco products (one of the few things on this list that has no redeeming features whatsoever)
  • Alcohol (although in moderation, alcohol can actually be good for you)
  • Genetically modified foods (jury’s still out on this one)
  • Drugs (prescription, over-the-counter and illegal)
  • And finally the subject of this article, soda, but I could probably think of 20 more examples.
I started drinking diet Coke in high school, more or less when it was first introduced. It seemed to have a lot of advantages for a high school athlete in a sport that demanded quickness, strength without being muscle-bound, and alertness. I kept it up, drinking more and more throughout my 20s and early 30s, drinking up to 8 cans per day at some points. I even kept it up throughout my time living in Russia, making frequent treks to the bakery across the street from my apartment which inexplicably sold diet Coke in addition to home-made black bread. I quit drinking soda in 2005, and since then I have had fewer than 10 total sodas, usually root beer or 7-Up. Ironically at the same time I quit drinking "diet" soda I lost 100 pounds - not just because of that, of course, but I think it helped. I have only touched a diet drink one time in two years, and it was horrific. From Wikipedia’s article on diet Coke, a list of ingredients:
  • Carbonated Water
  • Caramel Color
  • Aspartame (known better by the brand name “Nutrasweet”)
  • Phosphoric Acid
  • Potassium Benzoate
  • Natural Flavors
  • Citric Acid
  • Caffeine
Why quit drinking sodas? According to Food Chemical News June 1995, FDA Epidemiology Branch Chief Thomas Wilcox reported that aspartame complaints represented 75% of all reports of adverse reactions to substances in the [US] food supply from 1981 to 1995. Sodas cost a lot of money, they eat away at your insides and your teeth, they dehydrate you and the long-term health effects of aspartame (for diet drinks) are still being debated. I can’t really see any particular reason for drinking sodas other than continuing to get that sugar/caffeine/aspartame high, which isn’t really a high; it’s the lack of those substances that makes you feel bad, so you only bring yourself back to normal when you ingest them. So how do you escape your tastebuds’ cloying captor, the soda? My tips for quitting:

11. Drink seltzericon or club soda mixed with fruit juice (but make sure it’s 100% natural juice, not sweetened or artificially flavored. You can’t go wrong with this – if you try it, it’s much better. You will be amazed the first time you try this – it’s much better than straight juice or straight seltzericon, and certainly better than overpowering soda. If you take a 12 ounce glass, fill it about 1/3rd full with juice and then the rest of the way with seltzericon, it’s very tasty. You can use any kind of juice, although personally I prefer apple or cranberry juice. I love having my Soda-Club Home Soda Maker. I can make seltzericon right at home - no lugging it home from the store, no wasted plastic bottles, and fresh fizzy seltzericon any time I want it.  Here's what it looks like:

10. Drink lots of water. I sometimes suspect that when I used to drink a lot of soda it had somewhat of a vicious circle effect. The sodium-laced soda would make me thirsty enough to grab for another soda. Water counteracts that desire and seems to tamp down on my appetite, too. Ideally everyone should drink approximately 64 ounces a day of water. It seems like a lot when you first start, but after you get used to it you won’t notice it.

9. Don’t drink mixed drinks with soda. This only applies if you’re a drinker, but it’s a big one. I used to drink Stoli Vanil mixed with vanilla diet Coke (while it still existed) as my drink of choice. Frankly, Stoli Vanil doesn’t mix well with juice, seltzericon, etc. What’s the solution? I switched to drinking wine instead of vodka. It has some (somewhat unproven but reasonable enough) health benefits and it doesn’t need to be mixed with soda. That was a conscious decision to get away from drinking hard liquor, and killed two bad habits with one shot.

8. Start drinking tea. Let’s face it, no one wants to drink water all day. I work in big corporate hives where I can’t exactly keep a fresh supply of seltzericon and juice, so I get a little bored with water. I find that having a nice pile of herbal and decaffeinated teas gives you something to drink that’s flavorful and healthy.

7. Drink lukewarm water. I think one reason people can’t drink a lot of water is that they drink ice-cold spring water bottles out of the fridge. Room temperature bottles taste terrible if you aren’t used to them, but you’ll notice they are easier to sip if they aren’t 33 degrees Fahrenheit. Plus, you can keep them sitting on your desk/in your car/wherever. Since you won’t expect chilled water, it will be easier to drink.

6. Don’t buy soda. This sounds obvious, but maybe it’s not. I stopped buying my poison of choice, diet Coke, and simply didn’t have it in the house. I had tried to “cut back” before, by buying a few two-liter bottles and telling myself “only one glass per evening”. That didn’t work for me. I removed the temptation entirely by not bringing it into my house.

5. Drink coffee. If you are a caffeine junkie, I won’t lie to you – withdrawal hurts. I think the addiction to aspartame hurts, too, and nothing really helps that. But you can ease your caffeine DTs with a cup or two of coffee in the morning. Just make sure you don’t waste your money buying it – brew some at home. Don’t skimp, either – buy something flavorful or you’re going to hate it. And learn to drink it black. You’ll save money, calories and your teeth.

4. Think of all the money you will save. Soda is fairly expensive. In all fairness, spring water is, too, but if you learn to drink from the office cooler at work and from the filtered water tap at home you can cut your expenses pretty significantly. I was working in one office where the diet Coke was free, which was fine, but when I moved into consulting I found I was dropping $1.25 four or five times per working day (let alone at home) to get a soda. That’s almost $1600 per year. I buy a box of tea bags for $3 (usually about 20 to a box) so even drinking five cups of tea per day, which I seldom do, I would only spend about $190 per year.

3. Tell your friends, family, co-workers and anyone else who cares to listen that you are eliminating soda from your life. A lot of people will laugh, but by and large I think most people realize that soda is bad for you and will be supportive. I wasn’t asking people not to drink soda in front of me, or anything, but the simple fact is that if you tell a lot of people who will be with you at mealtimes or other times you might drink a soda, you will be too embarrassed to drink one and look like a backslider in front of them. Public goal-setting is a great way to maintain a resolution.

2. Read. What? Read about aspartame. Read about Coke’s uses as a toilet bowl cleaner, or how it dissolves a steak. Do you really want that in your system?

1. Wait. If you stop drinking soda and give it a few weeks – and that’s it, really – you won’t want soda anymore. I never meant to completely quit drinking soda when I gave it up, but somehow I lost the desire for soda when I quit drinking it regularly. It just doesn’t seem appealing. Diet Coke is downright nauseating – it has a chemically, bitter taste. Regular soda, quite honestly, still tastes good. But the cloying sweetness is overpowering after you drink juice/ seltzericon or water or tea or black coffee for a while. I just don’t want soda. In the two years I have had a few sodas – on vacation I drank a root beer, and maybe once every six weeks I’ll find myself at a food court or some such place where my choices are tap water or soda. In those cases I’ll stick with 7-Up (supposedly all-natural) if they have it and Sprite if they don’t.

So that’s it. If I forgot a tip, feel free to comment or email me for a future post!

Seltzer Saves You Money

Undoubtedly, almost everyone has noticed the soaring prices of groceries. Among the price increases is the cost of soda. Other than occasional promotions or sales, consumers pay up to $7 for twenty-four can packs of premium soda, and over $4 for 12 packs. Store and generic brands are slightly cheaper. Two liter bottles are over $2, cans are about 75 cents and individual bottles can cost up to $1.75. If a person bought just one soda every day at this average price, he or she would be spending $12.75 a week, or approximately $49 a month. That would average $663 a year based on just buying one bottle of soda. More often, people buy more that than that. Americans spend an average of $65 billion a year on soda. Per family, we spend about $850 on our favorite bubbly drinks.

The unfortunate problem with all this money spent is that these sodas are potential health hazards. All this extra sugar can cause tooth decay, obesity, diabetes, and other disorders. Many of these drinks also contain caffeine, which poses other risks itself. Sugar-free sodas contain artificial sweeteners that have caused cancer in lab rats. Even worse, people often get addicted to the caffeine and sugar in soda and have to have their fix every day, or experience headaches, shakiness, or sluggishness.

What is a viable solution for those who enjoy carbonated drinks? Many consumers have traded in their sodas for seltzer, a delicious alternative that can save money. Unlike club soda, it does not have that added salt. It is basically carbonated water. It can be bought in individual bottles or in two-liter jugs and is usually cheaper than name-brand soda. It just depends on the brand that is purchased.

People who drink soda will often say that they prefer something with taste rather than bland water. Seltzer can be flavored with a choice of fruit juice or a spritz of lemon or lime. Sugar and artificial sweeteners are not even needed. The health risks associated with soda addiction is avoided and people save money. Now that is something to which we all can drink!

Is Seltzer Better Than Soda?

In most refrigerators there is a parasite lurking. This parasite is not some rare bacteria or virus. This parasite can be bought in every supermarket and convenience store. This parasite is soda.

This drink is an incredible detriment to human health. Although this has been scientifically proven over and over, many people chose to ignore this evidence. Ignoring the evidence is easy when all that a person thinks about is the sugary sweet liquid that they are enjoying; however, this is most definitely the wrong course of action.

This drink has the capacity to affect almost every area of the body. The high levels of sugar and other chemicals that are found in soda, both diet and regular, can erode the enamel that covers all human teeth at an alarming rate. Such damage ultimately leads to greater problems including cavities. Chemical reactions between the aforementioned chemicals and those naturally found in the body can also lead to the weakening of bones. Ingesting this drink in large quantities also significantly increases the risk of obesity in all persons. It is fortunate then that there is another drink that serves as a healthier alternative.

Seltzer water has the same fizzy quality as most of the sugar-laden drinks, but it is a much simpler composition and no calories. Seltzer water is nothing more than carbonated water that may have some sort of flavor added to it. Generally speaking this drink has zero calories, zero sugar, and zero chemicals with barely pronounceable names. Essentially it has none of the components that make other drinks so harmful to the body. This means that if a person chooses to drink seltzer they will not suffer from an increased risk of bone damage, or an increased risk of obesity. Such logic would also lead to the conclusion that a person switching from another type of regular drink to seltzer would be likely to lose weight.

These simple health benefits alone should be enough to catch the attention of almost anyone, but some will still find seltzer unappealing. In this case it is worth noting that, due to its cheaper cost, seltzer can save a person money while it helps them to lose weight.  And you can always add a little bit of fruit juice to give it some flavor.  The health benefits from this one minor switch can be enormous.

Lose Weight by Quitting Drinking Soda

If you want to lose weight, it is advisable to stop drinking sodas as one of the strategies of achieving the goal. For optimal result, you should quit all types of sodas. They include: sugary sodas, diet sodas and normal sodas.

Most sodas like Pepsi and coke are made of a syrup rich in fructose. The fructose corn rich syrup is a contributor to weight gain as compared to regular sugar. It is imperative to quit taking the sodas since they add minimal nutrients to the body but instead contribute to weight gain. It is worth mentioning that a single bottle of soda can add about 100 calories to your diet.

If you want to lose weight, you should start by reducing the intake of sodas when taking meals. You can take green coffee to replace caffeine intake. The green coffee has no antioxidants and calories and is believed to speed up the process of body metabolism.

You should also focus on the taste of the meal you are taking. Water is an important ingredient that can help you focus on the food you are eating instead of the taste of sodas. While taking water, it is important to have it in plenty to finish the craving for sodas. If the craving is too high, you should take natural juices because they are nutritious though they also have calories.

It is advisable to stick to the plan of avoiding sodas. You should do this by taking non-food related rewards. An example is swimming or taking a long bubble bath without indulging in drinking sodas.

It is important to point out that the amount of weight you will lose when you stop taking sodas depends on few things. One of the factors is how much sodas you took before starting the program, the type of replacement you use in place of soda, the rate of your body metabolism , the amount of sodas you have stopped drinking and the amount of your calorie intake. For your body to lose a pound of fat each day, 3500 calories must be burnt in excess of the normal daily breakdown. Therefore, it is important to keep these factors in mind while on the weight lose program.

Benefits of Seltzer

If you like your beverages fizzy, you have no doubt had the occasional pangs of guilt that come with drinking bottled soda. From the excess sugar and calories to the unnecessary damage to the environment, there are a number of negative consequences out there that come with drinking bottled soda. Thankfully, homemade seltzer water provides consumers with a smart alternative to drinking bottled soda that is both healthy and environmentally conscious. Although a home seltzer maker requires a bit of an initial investment, these devices quickly pay for themselves and can save hundred to thousands of dollars over bottle soda as the years go by.

One of the biggest benefits to making the switch to seltzer is that it is much healthier than soda. Most carbonated beverage are loaded with a ridiculous amount of sugar that throws the human metabolism out of balance and results in an energy crash after the body has finished the heavy burden of metabolizing all of that high fructose corn syrup. The sugar and other ingredients also pack on empty calories that offer absolutely no nutritional value and simply add on to your expanding waist line. Caffeinated sodas offer a brief jolt of energy, but these beverages often rattle the nerves of people who drink them much more than they realize.

Seltzer water, on the other hand, does not contain any of these harmful products. Instead, a home seltzer maker simply converts natural tap or spring water into a crisp, refreshing beverage that has all of the fizz that so many of us love. At the same time, these drinks completely satisfy the palette without adding to your daily caloric intake. Seltzer is a great option for people who are trying to lose weight, but just about everybody can benefit from cutting out the empty calories that come with drinking soda every day. Nearly everyone who takes a break from soda for a while cannot believe how cloyingly sweet it tastes after they have gotten used to more healthy beverages. Making the switch to seltzer can quickly lead to a healthier you.

In addition to the health benefits, switching to seltzer simple makes good environmental and fiscal sense. These days, everybody is trying to find ways to save money on their household budgets, and a home seltzer maker can really improve your bottom line. Soda is not as cheap as it seems, especially if you purchase soda when you are on the go. Assuming that you only buy one soda a day at an individual retail price of $1.25, that adds up to nearly $500 a year for a beverage that just makes you feel unhealthy. Those 365 soda bottles add up to make quite a negative impact on the environment as well. Not only to they fill up our landfills, the carbon emissions created by transporting soda bottles from the manufacturing plant to the store shelves adds to global warming. Seltzer is virtually free once you have made an investment in a home seltzer maker and is much better for the environment.

Why Is Soda Bad For You?

Drinking soda frequently may result in significant weight gain from the high amount of useless calories in the drink. Those seeking to lose weight should stay away from the entire soft drink isle of the grocery store. Even diet sodas are bad for your health.

The calories in a can of soda should be enough to warn off the health-conscious consumer but the health risk of this sugary drink does not stop there. Just 12 ounces of pop can have the equivalent sweetness of 10 teaspoons of sugar. Most of these drinks no longer contain refined white sugar. They contain high fructose corn syrup that has been found to cause liver malfunctions in laboratory animals.

People who choose to give up pop are not only more likely to achieve the weight loss they desire; they will have healthier teeth. The high fructose corn syrup in soft drinks can eat away at the enamel of the teeth, leading to cavities and, if left unchecked, tooth loss. It’s bad for your teeth, your liver, and your waist line but it’s also bad for your bones.

New studies have shown that drinking carbonated drinks may lead to a greater risk of osteoporosis. The carbonation in bubbly drinks is caused by phosphoric acid. This caustic additive has been found to weaken bones, causing them to become more porous over time. Women have even greater reason to avoid carbonated drinks as they are naturally at a higher risk of developing osteoporosis.

Many people who weigh the health risks of drinking sugary colas choose to switch to diet drinks. The theory is that diet drinks are healthier for you. This is a misguided attempt to lose weight and eat healthy. Diet drinks carry their own risks. Researchers have found that those who drink diet pop daily are just as likely to be overweight as those who regular pop daily. The artificial sweeteners that replace sugar in diet drinks may also cause serious health risks.

It is surprising that these drinks are not dropping in popularity. In fact, manufacturers are frequently finding new ways to market these health hazards with new flavors, colors, and packaging. Many consumers remain undeterred by the risks and continue to consume soft drinks on a daily basis.