A few years ago a friend with an exercise physiology degree tried to tell me that diet soda was bad for me.
"It slows down your metabolism! It's all full of chemicals! It's so bad for you! You might as well just drink regular soda, because it'll kill you just as fast!"
I thought about this, but I had another friend who constantly forwarded me and our other friends a link like this one that listed all the horrible things that happen to you when you drink a non-diet soda.
"Your body has three seconds of bliss, followed by an hour of insulin spikes and sugar crash and all your nutrients leeching out of your body and then you might die!"
Overwhelmed by the idea that neither could be the right choice and unwilling to accept that just not drinking soda at all could be a viable choice, I kept drinking diet soda and pretended it was good for me because it wasn't causing liver shutdown and insulin spikes. Lately, though, I've been thinking about my diet soda consumption.
There's a lady in the office who saves soda caps for something at her son's school. Since I rarely drink soda in bottles at work (I get it at lunch from the dining places, where it almost always comes in cups), I save my caps at home and then bring them to her, and I noticed in November that my pile of caps was kind of huge after only a few weeks. Curious and intrigued, especially with the new year and the need to make some life changes on the horizon (I haven't forgotten that girl on crutches who passed me at the Race for the Cure), I decided to track my soda consumption for a month, just to see how much I was drinking.
Jeannie raised the point that just by being conscious of the fact that I was tracking, I might unconsciously limit myself, which is a valid point. I tried really hard to just drink as much as I regularly do, and if I ate out, I tried to give an honest guess at how big the cups were based on my cups at home, which I actually measured. I also had to make sure that I didn't top off any partially emptied cups, but always finished one before drinking the next. If I had soda at work I wrote it down on a post it note, so that I didn't forget about it by the time I got home, and then I wrote it in my log:
So, how much soda am I drinking in a month?
12/1: 32 oz Diet Coke, 24 oz diet grape
12/2: 26 oz diet Mountain Dew, 24 oz diet grape
12/3: 60 oz diet orange
12/4: 4 oz diet orange, 36 oz diet Mountain Dew
12/5: 24 oz diet Mountain Dew
12/6: 36 oz diet Mountain Dew
12/7: 40 oz Diet Coke
12/8: 20 oz Sun Drop, 24 oz Diet Dr. Pepper, 18 oz diet Mountain Dew
12/9: 40 oz Diet Dr. Pepper
12/10: 48 oz diet black cherry, 10 oz of punch with Sprite in it
12/11: 24 oz diet black cherry, 12 oz diet grape
12/12: 20 oz Diet Dr. Pepper, 24 oz diet grape
12/13: 12 oz diet grape, 64 oz Diet Coke, 12 oz diet black cherry
12/14: 20 oz Diet Dr. Pepper, 24 oz diet black cherry
12/15: 20 oz Mello Yellow Zero, 12 oz diet black cherry
12/16: 12 oz diet black cherry, 36 oz diet root beer
12/17: 24 oz diet root beer, 12 oz diet orange
12/18: 48 oz diet orange, 12 oz diet drop red
12/19: 20 oz Diet Pepsi
12/20: 64 oz Diet Coke
12/21: 36 oz Diet Coke, 12 oz diet drop red
12/22: 32 oz Diet Coke, 12 oz diet drop red
12/23: 24 oz diet drop red
12/24: 48 oz diet black cherry
12/25: 12 oz diet black cherry, 12 oz diet Mountain Dew
12/26: 24 oz diet Mountain Dew
12/27: 12 oz diet Mountain Dew, 36 oz diet ginger ale
12/28: 24 oz diet ginger ale
12/29: 48 oz diet 7 Up
12/30: 12 oz diet 7 Up, 36 oz diet Mountain Dew
1318 ounces of soda.
That's about 10 and a third gallons of soda. Just to conceptualize that, it's a third of a barrel. An average sized fish tank. The size of the cooler of Gatorade that they dump on football coaches, except instead of pouring it onto a person I poured it into my mouth. According to US News and World Report the average American drinks a gallon of soda a week, and I'm a little over twice that. I'm not sure if it's bad for me, since it's almost entirely diet soda, but I'm pretty sure that it can't possibly be good, so I'm giving up soda for 2012.
I'm probably going to be really sleepy for a while, because I'm not a regular coffee drinker. I'm probably also going to be cranky. This is your warning, people around me.
I'm going to go finish the bottle of diet Mountain Dew in the fridge now.