Soda In Moderation?

Soda In Moderation?

Cola can and measuring tape

By Valentine Reed-Johnson, RD, CDN, Contributing Blogger

Should some foods be avoided at all costs, or dare I say it, banned? In 2006, in the ever so forward thinking New York City, Mayor Bloomberg banned restaurants from using trans fats. After such a momentous moment, Bloomberg wanted to continue his health crusade with the removal of the “Big Gulp.” Soda companies swiftly averted the proposed ban by financing campaigns reminding people of their democratic rights.

Shortly thereafter, soda companies came back with a vengeance, attempting to improve their image. Promoting moderation, these companies say you can enjoy sugary beverages occasionally, specifically on the days you are more active. The message is fair, yet those delivering the message may not be looking out for the common good the way they are suggesting.

What’s the Message?
Excessive sugar intake can lead to a multitude of health concerns, such as diabetes and obesity. This is why most health professionals recommend omitting high sugar products altogether. Promoting high sugar products on days you are more physically active appears to be a conflicting message: telling the public that physical activity can counter act poor food choices.

Does Moderation Work?
Are you disciplined enough to have a soda once in a while? For some this may be easy, but for others moderation is not something they have yet mastered. There have been many discussions on whether high fat, salty, over processed, high sugar items (AKA poor nutrient-dense foods and drinks) are addictive. Studies show that excess consumption of any food or drink can lead to an addiction. It is more the heightened exposure and less so the product. Studies also show that taste buds are developed at a young age, therefore if you were exposed to highly intensified flavors at a young age you will prefer them to their lower calorie counterparts later in life. Be aware of yourself and your abilities to consume foods in moderation. A helpful tip for moderation is setting the rules early in the day for what you are going to allow yourself; if you stick to it for the week, then reward yourself with something not food related like a warm bath or a favorite book.

Alternate Beverages
Since our body is made up of close to 60% water, generally this should be the beverage of choice. Many find water boring and struggle meeting the daily recommendation of about 8 glasses. Herbal teas or lemon-lime infused seltzer can be fun alternatives. One hundred-percent fruit or vegetable juice is recommended by the USDA, but should be consumed in moderation. Energy drinks are very high in sugar, and should be considered just as detrimental to ones health as soda.

The public would likely agree that soda is “bad” for them, and yet having a poor health image does not necessarily hurt sales. Both Bloomberg and the soda companies tried to promote a healthy lifestyle through moderation, but did so in alternate ways. Should we have others telling us to drink sugary beverages in moderation, probably not– we should be able to do it ourselves, but can we?


WHAT DO YOU THINK: Should super-sized sodas be banned?


Valentine is a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist, currently working at a hospital in Westchester, NY. At the hospital she covers cardiac units, but eventually hopes to open up a private practice in Manhattan. Valentine believes in providing practical nutrition knowledge, encouraging others to think logically when it comes to their health. Follow Valentine on twitter here.

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