Kicking the Can

How and why to quit your unhealthy soda habit

kicking the can

How many sodas do you drink each day? If you’re like most Americans, the answer is “far too many.” Soda and its sugary liquid brethren are pervasive in our society, filling our vending machines and restaurant drink menus with unhealthy, high-calorie options. Though the American Heart Association recommends a maximum of 450 calories per week from sugary beverages, which is about three cans of soda, the average American gets more than twice that. 21 percent of daily calories consumed by Americans over the age of two come from sugary drinks, and those calories are mostly empty, devoid of nutritional benefit.

For patients of bariatric surgery, soda’s high sugar content makes it a dietary disaster. As you become accustomed to your new lifestyle following weight loss surgery, soda is one thing that should definitely be phased out. On top of the sugar content, soda and other carbonated beverages can spell trouble for Lap Band patients, as the carbonation can cause discomfort by expanding the size of the stomach pouch. Also, the high sugar content of soda can result in dumping syndrome for gastric bypass patients.

This should be reason enough to stop doing the Dew, but if you still find yourself unable to curb the habit, talk to your weight loss surgeon Dr. Bass about how sugary drinks can affect weight loss and take a look at these other troubling ways that excessive soda consumption can impact your health:

  • Because liquid calories don’t satisfy hunger as well as those consumed in solid foods, they lead to higher overall calorie consumption and, ultimately, weight gain.
  • Consuming large amounts of any product that contains high levels of sugar and high fructose corn syrup can result in spikes in insulin and blood sugar levels, resulting in insulin resistance and inflammation. This has the potential to increase your risk of heart disease, obesity, diabetes, stroke and cancer.
  • Consuming large amounts of high fructose corn syrup and sucrose can increase the belly fat that slows your metabolism, cause cholesterol abnormalities and raise your risk of developing liver disease.
  • Soda can cause symptoms of gastroesophageal reflux disease, or GERD, in which acid from the stomach leaks into the esophagus and causes pain and damage. Drinking soda has also been shown to exacerbate symptoms of ulcers, though it does not cause them.

Ready to stop drinking soda for good? There are plenty of options available for the health-savvy beverage consumer. Next time you need to quench your thirst, try these soda alternatives:

  • Skim milk. Milk is a great source of important nutrients like vitamin D, calcium and protein and contains far fewer calories than your typical soda. If you’re looking for something different, give soy or almond milk a try.
  • Give your water some flavor. Water should always be your go-to beverage choice, but adding a little flavor is sometimes a must. You can add a slice of lemon or lime, a few slices of cucumber or some frozen fruit to give your water a subtle flavor without adding any calories.
  • Unsweetened tea. Devoid of calories, unsweetened green and black teas are often great alternatives to soda for drinkers who want a little more flavor than H2O. What’s more, many teas contain phytochemicals like the antioxidants in green tea, which may help your body in more ways than just cutting calories.

Soda is everywhere in our society, but constitutes little more than dead weight in our diets. No matter who you are, or whether or not you have had bariatric surgery, ditching soda and sugary drinks will be a big help in losing weight and maintaining good health.