“Bad habits are like chains that are too light to feel until they are too heavy to carry.” -Warren Buffet
Cola, soda, soft drinks, or pop. You might call it one of those, but we call it the greatest contributor to an expanding waistline. Diet or regular, it doesn’t matter. Do you know what nearly every single individual who has ever been through our clinic, and exceeded 300 pounds, had in common? They ate a lot of food? WRONG. They ALL drank more than one soda per day at some point in their recent past.
An article published in JAMA Internal Medicine found that two drinks per day of diet or regular soda increases the risk of premature death by 17 percent. It is a fact that these beverages lead to weight gain, and anything that leads to weight gain increases your risk for heart disease, certain types of cancer, and diabetes and can set off a cascade of inflammation within the body.
Research has also found a correlation between diet soda and waistlines. As diet soda increases in individuals, so does the waistline. These artificial sugars trick your brain into thinking that sugar is on the way, so your body begins to push out insulin and lay down fat storage, and you actually feel more hungry and crave more carbohydrates and sugar. This not only goes for soda, but any sweetened (regular or artificial) beverage, including juice, electrolyte drinks, and even flavored waters. In fact, in an article from UVA Health, they found that “A 20 oz. bottle of Defence-flavored Vitamin Water has 32.5g of sugar—that’s more than a chocolate croissant from Panera Bread.” Sugar is not meant to be consumed in a liquid. It is that simple. I know what you are thinking, “I am not like those other people! I have it so rarely!” Call it whatever you want. Poison is still poison.
“But it tastes so good,” they say. Does it actually? Because most individuals who stop drinking soda report that when they took their first couple of sips, it did not taste good. If you give a baby a sip of soda (and who does that?), you will find that they spit it out instantly. I will argue that it is not the taste of the soda you enjoy but the dopamine release flooding your system as you drink. Dopamine is that feel-good hormone. It is the reward center of your brain that is triggered when you fall in love, eat chocolate cake, have sex, take drugs, drink alcohol, and gamble. But also, listening to music, meditating, sitting in the sun, smelling delicious food, exercising, getting a massage, laughing, or winning an award all produce dopamine.
You see, the danger of soda, and also sugar, is that every time you consume the poison of choice, you need a little bit more to get that same dopamine hit. Hence, the addictive nature of soda (and sugar). So, the next time you think you are craving a soda, remember it is just the flood of dopamine you are craving. Grab a sparkling water to satisfy that bubbly sensation and go for a walk, sit in the sun, or listen to some music.
Remember, it is not how many sacrifices you intend to make to become a healthier version of yourself but the intention behind each one of your choices. Small shifts in your thinking reap massive end results. You are who you are today because of the choices you made yesterday. Who will you be tomorrow? Creating healthy habits will allow you to better serve the world around you. After all, an empty lantern produces no light!
We highly suggest no weaning off this one. What you put into your body is either the smallest form of poison or the greatest form of medicine. Instead, encourage yourself to kick that soda habit to the curb. Try infusing your water with lavender, fresh mint, orange slices, cucumber, or rosemary. Hydration is one of simplest, yet effective strategies to improving your energy, clarity of thought, and even mood! The secret to giving up bad habits is to love what you are creating more than you love the habit. French poet, Jean Cocteau, said, “There is no such thing as love; only proof of love.” Are you making choices and leaving evidence of your self-love? Love yourself enough to say “no” to habits that are working against you, and if not for yourself, for those you care about.
As an OBGYN board certified in both obstetrics/gynecology and obesity medicine, Dr. Michelle Harden has worked with thousands of women in her 20+ years of private practice. She is an expert in female wellness and has dedicated her life to serving women of all ages. In her career, she has delivered too many babies to count and is helping women (and now men) birth new versions of themselves through her disease prevention clinic.
Michelle is a skilled specialist in high-risk obstetrics, female hormones, weight loss, disease prevention, and menopause. In addition, she has extensive knowledge and training in women’s overall healthcare with advanced certification in mind-body skills and lifestyle medicine. When she is not devoting time and passion to her clinic, she enjoys playing golf, spending time with her granddaughters, and all things outdoors!
Katy Clayton is a board-certified clinical nutritionist. She is passionate about utilizing food as medicine to treat and reverse chronic diseases. She has spent the last thirteen years training under the supervision of Dr. Michelle Harden. Katy received a bachelor’s of science from Texas A&M in Molecular and Experimental Nutrition, with a minor in psychology. In addition, she has received her master’s of science in integrative and functional nutrition and is a certified lifestyle educator. Together with Dr. Michelle Harden, their clinic has been recognized as a certified center of excellence in patient care. Katy is a mom to three beautiful mess-makers, wife to her main squeeze, and a fiercely dedicated devotee to healthy living.