Monday, August 29, 2011

Too much of a "good " Thing

I drank Dr. Pepper in intermediate school. You could buy a 12 ounce tin can of it from the machine in the school office. It cost 35 cents. The machine also offered Coke, Tab, root beer and grape soda and would be put on restriction whenever a can was found littered on campus.

It must have been high school when my friend who loved Coca-Cola introduced me to the sheer joy of consuming it. He would pull two cans from his refrigerator and serve them over ice. There was something fulfilling about a brown bubbly beverage entering into you that made everything right with the world. I began to choose Coke every time I had a soda. In college I kept my dorm’s mini-fridge stocked with Coke. I had a good and a candy bar for breakfast most mornings.

For the past 25 years or so I’ve usually had about one Coke a day. For a while it was first thing in the morning until I finally learned how to brew coffee. Then I began to drink a Coke on the way to work. I got a lot of comfort transitioning from home to work sucking down a Coke. I felt I needed it.

When I first started enjoying Coke in the early 80’s it was made using cane sugar. Maybe back when they changed the formula and then brought back Classic Coke, the re-introduced classic wasn’t exactly the same. I thought it tasted different but was too stoked to care. Today most sodas don’t have cane sugar. Companies use high fructose corn syrup. HFCS is cheaper and blends better. And isn’t it generous that most fast food restaurants let you help yourself to it these days?

I heard this rumor and like global warming and other theories this scientific notion is disputed all around. But to someone who consumes HFCS in abundance I needed to at least consider it. There is a hormone in a normally functioning human body called leptin. Leptin is a circulating signal that reduces appetite. It tells you you’re full so you stop eating. High fructose corn syrup is believed to induce leptin resistance which means you don’t receive its signal. In other words, according to some studies, HFCS consumption makes you stay hungry. Several of these studies link this directly to obesity.

A year ago I was usually about 210 pounds when I would step on a scale. I didn’t care too much. I figured it could be worse. Lately our family has really tried to watch spending. Coca-cola is almost always on sale somewhere, but we stopped cases just about 2 months ago. I quit drinking Coke. Over the weeks Prajna told me my face was looking thinner. Finally I figured out how to work her sophisticated 21st century scale. It told me I was 189 pounds. I couldn’t remember the last time I was under 200 pounds.

One question I got asked what did I replace the Coke with. It’s a good question because I still looked forward to going to work every day because that meant I could enjoy drinking an ice cold Coca-Cola on the way. I didn’t replace it with anything. I have some mints I thought I could use and I also drink lots of water. I get caffeine in the morning from a couple cups of coffee. The other question is do I miss Coke. Oh yes I do. But it wasn’t until I stepped on the scale the other day that I decided that I really had stopped for good.

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