Ah, my botched attempts at healthy living. There it is at #4 of the14 Foods You Should Never Eat – Diet Soda. Why can’t I just give up the 24 ounces of unpronounceable chemicals infused with bubbles that I swallow every day? I’ve tried. Sometimes I go two or even three days without. I drink less of it when I travel. I went over two weeks without soda Cambodia and didn’t miss it, much. But within a week of returning to the old US of A I was pop-topping cans again.
I drink two 12-ounce diet sodas a day, usually in the morning, usually back-to-back. Mostly Coke Zero, sometimes Diet Coke, or Diet Dr. Pepper. I’ll even resort to Diet Pepsi if I am trapped in the window seat of a second tier airline that offers nothing else.
A few months ago, when I left regular work and was enthusiastic about all forms of self-improvement, I tried drinking coffee instead of diet soda. I’ve never been a coffee drinker. After about two weeks of a half mug of brew each morning I acquired a taste for java. I’ll have a cup if it’s handy, but I don’t like it enough to make my own. And it doesn’t satiate my craving for soda. It’s not just the caffeine, it’s the cold, and the bubbles, and the acidic trickle down my throat that might be coating me with cancer, or just burning holes in my esophagus. That’s what I crave.
Not only crave, but give into, day after day. I have good habits. I sleep well; eat well (aside from a few too many sweets), little alcohol, no drugs, healthy weight, crazy exercise. I’m proud of the fact that my doctor is proud of me. Still, I’m done in by the crystalline snap of carbonation releasing fizz, pouring it over a huge glass of ice, gauging how much foam I can create before it gushes over the sides.
A couple of years ago I witnessed a surgery as part of a hospital renovation project. A woman younger than me was having a kidney transplant. “Why?” I asked the circulating nurse. “Probably too many Cokes,” she told me. “That stuff’ll kill you.” It will for sure if you’re a rat and drink like twenty cans a day. The toll on humans who drink moderately is still up for debate, though no one argues this stuff is any good for us.
Perhaps I could quit if I really wanted to, but truth is, I don’t really want to quit. I like my soda. I’m a human, humans are irrational, we’re fully foibled. We have impulses that shout: Bubbles today! and ignore death by stomach etching tomorrow.
So I drink my soda without guilt. I don’t worry about the future angina it may cause me. I enjoy it in the moment. Very much.
My stash in the basement
My shelf in the refrigerator