Soda (Originally Published 10/17/10)

I’m not sure when I first started drinking soda. It was probably sometime around age nine or ten, when I would go to McDonald’s (a whole ‘nother issue) and my mom wouldn’t let me get the supersized meal, and boy howdy, I coveted that big old sprite. Then, when I was twelve, my father and I went on a cross-country driving trip (of course, he drove the whole way), and all we did was buy 12 packs of coke. It was so much fun. And, for various reasons, I ended up having to hold my pee from Houston to New Orleans to prove a point. That was a painful day.

But anyway, up until this summer, soda was probably one of the things I imbibed the most. Usually coke, sometimes sprite, sometimes Sunkist, always unhealthy. I stopped this summer, for the most part, because I was melting in my apartment, and I was smart enough to know that soda, cold and liquid though it may be, doesn’t hydrate you for shit.

Most of you know that, of course. But see, whereas we are all told at some point how dangerous cigarettes are, how you have to drink in moderation, we all vaguely know that soda’s harmful, but we don’t really process it, and it becomes a staple of our diet. (And before Mo says, “SODA IS NOT IMPORTANT!” I will freely admit this applies to sugary juices, Captain Crunch, and lots of other things. Chill.) When I went to Angkor Wat, there were monkeys running around drinking the remnants of discarded soft drinks. And it was cute, and sort of hilarious, to watch them miss their mouths and pour it down their chests. (That’s what she…)

But really, soda is cheap, it’s abundant, and it has no nutritional value. I am not here to say anyone doesn’t have the right to indulge in it, but, like my little status rant about caffeine, soda and other sugar-infused substances contribute to the country’s expanding waistline (and health problems) far more than most of us bother to think about. I remember looking at the stats on the back of a coke bottle and laughing as I realized one 20 oz can was far more sugar than my body needed for an entire day’s fuel.

It’s crazy that this is the stuff we willing put into our bodies. No crazier than alcohol, sure, but at least we all know we’re hurting ourselves in the long run if we abuse that substance. And the thing is, me and you all having this discussion won’t do much. In order to reverse this disturbing trend, we need to pump our students full of information, not just empty calories. I volunteered with a fantastic program this spring that encouraged not only active behavior but strong, healthy choices in terms of diet. And when I say diet, I mean choosing what to eat, not crash diets, which are, once again, a whole ‘nother issue, one which generally just makes me sad.

I choose soda because it’s something I recently cut out of my own diet. You could swap in a lot of the other things most Americans eat, because very few of us eat the way we should. The bottom line is, we need to educate our fellow citizens, and especially our young people, about exactly what’s going into their bodies. And if they have all the information and still choose to fuck themselves up, then, fine. Their grave.

But we need to get up off the couch, stop looking for a silly quick fix, put away the cola, and be smart, active people if we don’t want to watch our bodies give out decades before they otherwise might.

Peace and love,
Justin PBG

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Justin Gerald

Age: 28 Hometown: NYC Location: NYC Career: Education Undergrad: Princeton Grad: New School Likes: Cooking, Baseball, Socializing, Parks, Pop Culture, Feminism Loves: Traveling, Running, Lifting, Trivia, Teaching, Equality