the highs and lows of being a coke (a-cola) addict
I can remember going to visit friends and being offered a 'glass of pop' when pop was the popular name for fizzy drinks (sodas). Those were the days when a fizzy drink was considered an occasional treat. All that's changed and fizzy drinks have fast become a 'staple' of many people's diets - at great cost to our health - and not just our physical health.
A recent study carried out by US researchers linked fizzy drinks/sodas and fruit squash with an increased chance of depression. And it's not just the 'full-fat' versions - they found that the diet versions are actually the worst. The study, which at looked more than 250,000 people who drink four cans of soda a day, said that their risk of depression was increased by 30%.
This research is just another in a long line of studies that has linked sugar, fizzy drinks and artificially sweetened drinks to health problems that include diabetes, obesity, heart disease, cancer and more.
One of the most important problems with fizzy drinks/sodas - whether the sugary version or the artificially sweetened one - and this is increased when the drink also contains caffeine - is that they upset our body's blood sugar levels which in turn impacts our physical, mental and emotional health. As Surinder says in her video this kind of drink can cause our mood and energy levels to be unstable - hence we get the highs and the lows. The drinks can also cause us to gain weight.
If you're in the US your soda will most likely be made using High Fructose Corn Syrup instead of ordinary white table sugar (sucrose) which research is now saying is even worse.
Now I know what it's like to drink fizzy drinks because I used to drink A LOT of them. And I mean A LOT! From 7 or 8 years old, what started off as treat 'round at someone's house' became a regular part of my diet. I would often have a can or two of diet cola everyday whilst growing up, and more during the school holidays.
Of course we had 'diet' cola because it was healthier - right? Well that was then and this is now when lots of research, especially recently, has shown it's detrimental effects on our health to the extent that in many ways it may actually be worse. This blog on the Harvard Medical School's website discusses some of the problems associated with artificial sweeteners which includes over-stimulating our body's sugar receptors - leading us to crave very sweet foods and drinks.
When I was 11 my mum became aware of the problems associated with artificial sweeteners like aspartame and the amount I was drinking and cut off my supply!
But in my mid teens I started to drink them more often again. From the age of 14 to 21 I drank approximately THREE litres of Cola per week on average - but I could easily go through periods where I drank significantly more.
I do still love the taste of Coca-Cola, but it had got to the point where I NEEDED one, I craved the rush it gave me afterwards - the fix of sugar, caffeine and fizz.
Well fortunately, as I became more and more health-conscious I thought to myself hang on, I eat healthily, and in general look after my health but I'm still drinking this - it doesn't make sense! It's got to stop.
So I made a commitment to gradually reduce how much I was drinking until I didn't drink it anymore. Going cold turkey wasn't for me! And at first it really wasn't easy - I would crave it strongly on the days I wasn't drinking it. And every time I saw it I would want it, and would have to wage a mental battle to stop myself from buying it (honestly!). In time I got myself to a point where I was probably drinking only a couple of cans a month - and I was certainly never buying it to drink at home anymore.
Reading the book "Belching out the Devil" by Mark Thomas, put the final nail in my Cola habit's coffin. Once I'd read the horrific stories about the world's favourite drink's supply chain, I couldn't in all good conscience continue drinking it. Since it was my favourite fizzy drink, it cut my consumption down drastically. An infographic shown on Visual.ly gives an idea of the problems for the planet and the people working in the industry.
I still like the occasional glass of lemonade (not even every month), but it's back to being an occasional 'treat' and I think that's ok.
happy ending : )
But the other upside is that since I stopped drinking it I FELT so much BETTER - I lost weight, my skin cleared up (ever since I'd been a child I'd had an acne-like rash on my shoulders and arms), my energy levels improved, my mood was better, my teeth have been fine since then, and in general I have stopped craving sweet foods as much as I used to - all good reasons to break that sugar habit.
I used the big A word earlier because, like many things, fizzy drinks/sodas can become an addiction for many people - the combined effect on our body of sugar and caffeine is huge, literally like a powerful drug (the dictionary definition of a drug is a chemical that has a physiological effect on the body).
When mood and energy is low it's easy to reach for a Cola to lift ourselves up and this leads to unstable blood sugar, mood and energy level. On top of this, it can lead to a release of dopamine (the same chemical released when we feel rewarded or if we were to take drugs like cocaine) so it's a very potent drug-like reaction. This dopamine release can lead to us getting addicted to the high that comes with drinking Cola. And because for many of us it starts off as a treat when we're young,- this sets up the feeling of reward (and the subsequent release of dopamine) at a time when we are very susceptible to developing habits.
So if you are drinking too much of it (and be honest with yourself) - think about why and commit to reducing it today and don't look back - you will feel much better for it! And I can tell you it can be done if you do it gradually!
Do you think you have an addiction to fizzy drinks? If so, let us know in the comments below.
If you want to receive more quality content like this straight into your inbox every fortnight sign up for our free newsletter (in box on the left) - and of course we will never share your details with anyone, ever :-)