By Alice Fabbre, Special to the Tribune
February 6, 2013
Once again, sugary soft drinks are making headlines — and some soda lovers may not like what they hear.
Researches recently found evidence to suggest that there is a link between consumption of sugary soft drinks and depression. New York City has a ban on supersized drinks (which is being challenged in court).
So, is it time to give up that 32-ounce Coke and fill your cup with water instead? Or, is the occasional soft drink OK? We talked to Rebecca Ilic, RD LDN. Ilic is the clinical nutrition manager at Adventist GlenOaks Hospital in Glendale Heights. Here is an edited transcript:
Q: Why are sugary soft drinks so difficult to give up?
A: We get used to it and our bodies develop this want and need and desire to seek out that sugar.
If you are somebody who has been drinking sugary drinks (and) you are used to having that sugary drink versus water, you're going to desire to go back to that sugary drink. Our bodies kind of program to become used to having that sugary drink.
Q: How much sugar is in your average 12-ounce soda?
A: It can sometimes be up to 39 grams of sugar, which also equals about 13 teaspoons of sugar or 41/2 tablespoons of sugar.
Q: Some of us drink a couple of cans of soda a day. What can taking in that much sugar on a daily basis do to your body?
A: It depends on what else you're doing to your body. However, when we look at these empty calories you are adding to your diet, you could have that weight gain, increase in blood sugar or, if you are diabetic, you can have adverse response to the sugared beverage.
Q: OK, so regular sugary soft drinks aren't the greatest for us, but what about diet soda? Isn't that OK — especially if it helps with cravings for other sweets?
A: It's OK. There has not been a study that says sweeteners are bad for us except in large quantities — definitely over your 24-pack of diet soda a day. But if you want that brownie eat that brownie. If you think that Diet Coke might help you it might be OK that time. But you have that right to have that sweet once in a while.
Q: Some who give up soda, particularly caffeinated ones, complain of going through withdrawal-like symptoms such as headaches or mood swings. Can soda be addictive? If so, what makes it that way?
A: There is the caffeine factor and people get used to a certain amount of caffeine each day. If you have three cups of coffee a day, your body is used to that. If you cut that completely out of your diet you will see you're tired and you will have headaches.
(We suggest) cutting back in small quantities. Try cutting back one cup at a time of coffee or one can of cola.
The same thing goes for the sugary factor. If our bodies are used to having that much sugar in us and we take it all away at one time, we are going to crave it.
It should be broken down in small quantities maybe taking back 12 ounces at a time or go to a decaf version (of coffee) versus taking it completely away. Maybe half of your consumption is diet and half is sugary. Most people who eliminate everything at once fall back into having those sugary drinks again.
Q: If you give up your soda, how long do those withdrawal-type symptoms last?
AL Usually just the first few days. The best thing to do is take them back very slowly. You do get withdrawal, and it can be very challenging for some people. But, making sure that you're taking it out very gradually (will help). You will start really feeling much better — maybe even having better thought processes without all that sugar in your brain.
Q: Do I have to give soda up completely? What's acceptable here?
A: I would say no, definitely not completely. That would be hard for anyone to do. Keeping it in your diet in moderation, meaning no more than 12 ounces daily in one week. You can build it in your diet. (However), cola is considered non-nutritious beverage. It doesn't give us any energy or nutrients. It's not essential to our needs.
Q: What are some better options to soda?
A: Some better options would be having some milk, having a light version of orange juice (four ounces) or having some water then a fruit or a yogurt.
Q: Have to ask — are you a Coke or a Pepsi drinker? How many a day do you have?
A: I'm a Coke drinker and I probably have fewer than two Diet Cokes a week.
Q: How do you keep your soda habit in check?
A: I used to be somebody who drank regular Coke on a daily basis. When I started learning about nutrition and realizing just how much sugar I was getting in my diet I was really turned off by it. Now, it's water, sparkling water or it's something like Crystal Light or a noncalorie beverage. I'd rather eat my calories than drink them.
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