By Derek Baker, February 7 2019 —
My New Year’s resolution this year was to drink less pop. I have a bit of a sweet tooth and fully admit that my body runs on refined sugar and caffeine. So, for the month of January, I tried completely cutting out pop from my diet, cold turkey.
Was I completely successful? No. I ended up succumbing to pop’s bubbly allure on four occasions. Three empty Coca-Cola tins line the mantel of my fireplace, judgingly staring at me. And a cream soda gave me a second wind to get through a particularly long Gauntlet magazine production day.
No one’s perfect.
Still, having only four pops over the course of the month is a vast improvement from what I’d normally drink. I’d usually average a can of pop per day — which was usually Coca-Cola, and not that fake sugar crap. All 39 grams of the real stuff.
Remember in grade school when they’d try to scare you by showing Ziploc bags of sugar and saying, “If you drank this much of this beverage, this is how much sugar you’d consume?” My bag wouldn’t be pretty.
It’s no secret that pop isn’t healthy. The immense amount of sugar in each can is greater than what our bodies should process. Excess sugar that is not metabolized is turned into fat in the liver — and my liver already needs all the help it can get. Additionally, regular consumption of pop increases the risk of developing type 2 diabetes, where the body develops a resistance to its own insulin. The carbonic acid wreaks havoc on tooth enamel. If you’re already drinking a coffee or tea in the morning for the caffeine, ingesting even more caffeine can cause insomnia, nervousness and upset stomachs.
Since limiting my pop intake, the biggest impact I noticed was how much better I’m now sleeping. Before, I’d usually fall asleep around 1 a.m., no matter how early I’d actually go to bed. It didn’t matter if I was staying up late to study or just tossing and turning, I just didn’t feel tired at night.
Contrast that to the morning, where it felt almost painful to get up. After dragging myself to work or school, a coffee — or an energy drink if it was really bad — would zap me into focus to begin the day.
The first few days of quitting were the toughest. I had a mild headache over the course of the first two days and what can be described as a “foggy brain” making it difficult to focus for the next few. But after that, my headspace returned to normal. In the mornings, I even felt less of a need to drink a coffee or tea to wake up.
In place of pop, I drank a lot more water and herbal teas this month. However, I also noticed that I drank a lot more juice. Though juice can contain vitamins, it also still has a ridiculously high sugar content and is not the same thing as actually just eating fruit.
But at least we’re on the right track. Baby steps.
I’m not a health nut. A nutritionist would scoff at my diet. Still, there are little changes you can make to start consuming more healthy things. This month, I challenge you to cut out pop from your diet.