I consider myself to be a healthy woman. I follow a balanced diet, exercise regularly, and don’t drink alcohol or smoke. While I shoot for a healthy lifestyle, however, I have had a few dietary vices, primarily chocolate, coffee and Diet Coke. For instance:
- I consume chocolate daily, but in moderation and never before noon (just a little rule that helps me limit my intake).
- I drink a lot of coffee, usually three (or four) cups before I get to work.
- Finally, that carbonated concoction: Diet Coke. I drank at least four cans per day for nearly three-quarters of my life.
My mom, a retired psyche nurse and bona fide health nut, has nagged me about my “pop” problem for years, even more so since she moved in with us last summer.
“Karen,” she’d say. “Do you know what those chemicals are doing to you?” Or, my favorite: “Karen, today Dr. Oz said that soda” does this or that… Dr. Mehmet Oz is her go-to health guru, and quite frankly, I was growing tired of him.
“Mom,” I’d respond defiantly, “The more you bug me, the more I’ll drink. I’ll quit when I’m ready to quit.” (Yes, we are still talking about diet cola.)
Several weeks ago, I came home earlier than usual. Dr. Oz was on and I joined my mom in the living room where he was on TV, talking about cancer risks. The M.D. zeroed in on pancreatic cancer, a form of cancer that claimed my grandmother’s life at age 60.
“It grows silently and stealthily for decades attacking an organ you cannot live without,” Dr. Oz said.
He went on to explain that as little as two cans of soda a week can send your pancreas into overdrive. Dr. Oz gave a demonstration showing what two sodas could do to your pancreas. Granted, he used sugared beverages, but the experiment caught my attention and, for the first time, I took the potential health risks of all colas seriously.
After drinking my last Diet Cokes, I was done. I already drank lots of water and it was suddenly not a big deal to skip the carbonated beverages and drink just water. (And coffee, of course.)
I don’t know how much better my pancreas looks, feels or functions three weeks off the Coke, but I bet it’s not getting any worse. And I know I’m setting the right example for our daughters, ages 6 and 8. Plus, who knows how much money I’ll wind up saving!
It’s strange, when I finished those last two Diet Cokes, I wasn’t convinced I was quitting for good. I simply thought I’d give it a shot. After 21 days, it seems I had pretty good aim.
At the end of his segment, Dr. Oz maintained there is nothing wrong with an occasional soda. He urged drinkers to cut back to one a week. Unfortunately, I’m an all-or-nothing kind of girl; in this case, I choose nothing.
My mom is thrilled that I’ve kicked the habit. She doesn’t mind that I wouldn’t listen to her. It’s enough that I eventually listened to her medical hero, the Great and Powerful Dr. Mehmet Oz.
Blogger’s note: Understandably, beverage industry insiders take exception to studies that link its products to increased cancer risks. Many have challenged study findings, calling them flawed.