Choices and Changes - Saying Goodbye to Soda

July 18 2011

Image:Choices and Changes - Saying Goodbye to Soda

What you see above is the last can of soda that I will ever drink. Please bear with me while I explain.

One of the things about my father's passing I have not shared is some of the medical history leading up to the heart attack. Turns out that my father was an untreated diabetic. He was told many times that he was in need of diabetes treatment, but he rejected the fact he even had it the disease. I love my father greatly, but he was the most stubborn person I have ever met. If he didn't believe something, there was nothing that any person could say that would change his mind. So you can imagine that when we saw my father in the hospital and saw how damaged his body was from the diabetes, the effect it had on me mentally.

My grandfather Jack, my father's father, also had diabetes. It seems to run in the family. I know I am need of being a bit more healthy, so losing my Dad this way might be just the kick in the ass I need. So the first step is to get rid of soda.

My father drank a lot of soda every day. And by 'a lot' I mean 6 32 ounce bottles a day or more. I was a 2 can of Coke Zero a day person until today myself. I have done all the reading. I know how bad soda is for you. I needed my caffeine in some form. I don't drink coffee and loathe the taste. My father was the same way - another thing I inherited from him. So after seeing my Dad leave us way to early, the time to make changes has come.

No more soda for me. Not at home or at a restaurant or movie or ball park. No more with booze to make a cocktail. The only thing I am going to let myself have is natural ginger ales and a once a year Vernor's with eggnog to toast Dad at Christmas. I am going to drink water, iced tea, tea, lemonade to keep myself hydrated. No extra sugar in any of those. I am going to allow myself flavored water for a while to transition off the sugar taste love that I have. Hopefully I can get to just water and tea and lemonade in short order.

I am blogging this as much for my own reminder on a regular basis that I have made this choice. I want to make this change. But also so that those around me know I have made this decision. Please don't be offended when I say no to a soda. Feel free to drink it yourself - but for me, an Arnold Palmer (half unsweetened ice tea and half lemonade) is the best beverage to put in my hands. Thanks for the support thru the past 6 weeks. I will need the support going forward. Now, to find some booze that mixes well with an Arnold Palmer to become my new drink of choice :-)

20 Responses to “Choices and Changes - Saying Goodbye to Soda”

  1. 1) Stuart McIntyre says:

    Good to hear, John. I'm sure you'll benefit from the change.

    However, isn't lemonade just as sugary as coke and other sodas?

  2. 2) Sharon Bellamh says:

    Wow - good for you .. I may be doi g tn same thing myself .. Keep us posted with your progress ;)

  3. 3) Stephanie Cole says:

    Congrats, John! Don't ever apologize for the personal choices you make, especially when you put this much thought into them. I gave up caffeine almost 5 years ago after a medical thing. As much as I miss crawling into a cup of coffee once in a while, and as often as people don't seem to understand why I won't "just have a decaf" anyway, I've never regretted it. You won't either! Someday I hope to drop all soda too - hang in there so you can keep the rest of us inspired!

  4. 4) Wes Morgan says:

    Greetings from a fellow refugee from the soda wars! I've reached the point at which I will only drink soda as a once-per-month treat, and then only a single bottle. My wife and one of my daughters have given up soda as well.

    You're dead-on with the emphasis on water, but you'll still want some flavor on occasion. A few suggestions:

    * I like the unsweetened variety of "Peace Tea", and my daughter likes the green tea (sweetened or diet).

    * My wife likes the diet Gold Peak Tea.

    * If you want the occasional "fizzy," as I do, you might try sugar-free flavored seltzers (Kroger & Wal-Mart brands are both decent) or flavored Perrier. For me, I like straight-up club soda/Perrier/Pellegrino.

    * We keep a few bottles/cans of our favorites in the car for movies, ballgames, and other venues in which we're unlikely to find refreshment other than soda.

  5. 5) John Head says:

    Stuart - I consulted with a doctor. According to her, as long as I am getting lemonade fresh (not out of a can or fountain or such) that it's 10 times better than soda. It's not just the sugar, its the extra additives and crap they put in there. Plus, since I am mixing it half with iced tea (again natural or home brewed) and not adding any extra sweetener, it should be ok. In an ideal world I would drink only water and tea, but most people aren't successful if they switch 100% and my sweet tooth will crave something.

  6. 6) Rob McDonagh says:

    Great call, John. The sugar is the least of the issues with soda. I'm still paying the price for the amount of damage I did to my insides by drinking several diet cokes a day for 15 years. There isn't a single system in our bodies that handles soda well (additives, substitutes, and carbonation are all bad for us).

    By the way, add vodka to your Arnold Palmer and it is called a John Daly...

  7. 7) Betsy Thiede says:

    When I make tea for Iced tea, I make a gallon. I use 2 green tea bags (the large ones made for Iced tea), 2 regular tea bags (the large ones for Iced tea) and 4 herbal tea bags like Blackberry zinger or some other berry tea. It adds flavor.

    My husband has been trying to cut out soda and alcohol because of diabetes and so I started making this tea for him. He likes the flavor. He mixes with lemonade as well sometimes.

  8. 8) David Leedy says:

    Great post John! Good luck! I also would like to give up on soda.. But I don't like coffee and I just don't like Tea. I've never found a Tea that I like unfortunately. So that leaves me rather limited in options past Lemonade...

  9. 9) Betsy Thiede says:

    I made these three "flavored" waters for a party I had recently. They were a hit. I liked the blackberry sage one the best. The Watermelon basil took a while to grow on me, but after one glass, I liked it.

    Cucumber Mint Water:

    { Link }

    Blackberry Sage Water:

    { Link }

    Watermelon Basil Water:

    { Link }

  10. 10) LongLiveLotus says:

    Four years ago I made a lifestyle choice to give up sweets (candies), chocolate, biscuits and cakes. I did this because of middle age spread and I found myself snacking on those things way too much. I love fruit smoothies now as the (natural) sugar kick I get from them is amazing (and pretty health, discounting the calories).

    I'm allowed a piece of my daughters birthday cake yearly and thats it. I find the total abstinence approach to be better for me.

    I still drink (too much) coffee and tea but hey, no-ones perfect...

    Good for you John, losing loved ones certainly makes you think (imho).

  11. 11) Betsy Thiede says:

    Here is one more link that looks interesting:

    { Link }

  12. 12) Dave Taylor says:

    Go for you John... they say it only takes 21 days to start a new habit, so stick with it and I'm sure you'll be successful. I gave it up a while ago and lost the taste for it rather quickly... my wife is perplexed that when I get one, it takes me 3 days to finish a Coke (often, I don't get to finish it myself, ahem).

    I'm more of a coffee and tea man these days... and regarding the iced tea - it's always struck me how rare it is to find un-sweetened tea. There's "Diet Iced Tea" but that most often processed with diet sweeteners and such... how frackin' complicated is it to just not add anything??? Tea is sugar-free naturally after all!

    Anyway... The Gold Peak Tea that Wes mentioned - I like it, and I've seen that at the Safeway grocery (in large format) - it's quite the tasty/hearty tea! { Link }

    Best of luck, you can do it!

  13. 13) Richard Schwartz says:

    I see your answer above, but I'm still really curious as to why you are switching from Coke Zero, which is sweetened with aspartame and acesulfame potassium, to lemonade which is sweetened with sugar? There are a lot of myths out there about aspartame, and the Joslin Diabetes Center at Harvard has a page up to debunk those myths. They seem to think it is just fine for people with diabetes, or at risk for it. ({ Link })

    I'm not completely off soda -- but I've cut down to just one or two diet cokes a week. Other than that, I drink water and iced tea, home brewed Lipton decaf, sweetened either with Sweet and Low (saccharine), or Nutra Sweet (aspartame).

  14. 14) Bill Malchisky says:


    Emergen-C is a great additive with water, offers a light fizz and gives a natural energy boost that can be more beneficial than caffeine. I always have one to get through the 3p slump. The website is a bit wonky, but many stores carry them. { Link }

    You can substitute agave nectar for natural sugar with your lemonade, tea, or hot cereals. In fact Lakewood juices offers three lemonade products all made with agave and are fantastic. Know that it is sweeter than sugar and has a low glycemic index value making it safe for diabetics. My last girlfriend was on a sugar-free diet and enjoyed agave with her beverages and breakfast items. Quite tasty as well. The light flavor is akin to honey, whereas the dark is akin to maple for summer drinks, the light is appropriate.

    Good luck, John.

  15. 15) Mary Beth Raven says:

    Good luck, John! I also recently read (wish I could remember where!) a study about how DIET soda actually gives you a "beer belly" - e.g. distended belly so you often GAIN INCHES when drinking the diet stuff.

    and I've been a 3 or 4 can of diet-a-day person (diet Dr. Pepper on a tough day...) and I have vowed to try to quit the diet soda and do just fizzy wanter, tea etc. so, maybe next conference we'll both be "more svelt" :)

  16. 16) Betsy Thiede says:


    I think John said take a look at this soda, it is the last one he will ever drink.

  17. 17) Betsy Thiede says:


    Oh, never mind, I'm not very bright.. I re-read your post.. please disregard.

  18. 18) Richard Schwartz says:

    That's okay, Betsy. I sort of glossed over the part where John said that he's not adding any sugar to the lemonade. Doesn't mean it's sugar free, but it wasn't quite right for me to refer to at as being "sweetened with sugar".

  19. 19) Stephan H. Wissel says:

    If you are in for a wakeup kick, you can try Mate tea (works as ice tea too). And it helps to cleanse the system. Good luck and I should take a hint from you :-)

  20. 20) John Head says:

    Richard, I know this isn't the solution to solve the problem. It's just one of many changes that I will need to make. But the additives in Soda are not good for the body long term, no matter if it's diabetes or obesity or whatever. I just think this is the right choice for me. I hope to get away from the lemonade totally at some point, but my sweet tooth won't let that happen overnight.

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