Water, Can’t Beat the Real Thing


When I was eighteen-years-old and left America to travel the world, I learned something truly fascinating about human beings: they drink water.  Plain water.  The very same stuff my dog drank, and that we used to wash dishes and cars and ourselves was  consumed in its natural form by billions of people around the world.  No added sugar necessary.

You think I’m exaggerating now, but I’m not.  As a child, I never drank water, other than the occasional desperate sip from a water fountain at school after recess.  My primary home was my father’s house, where we weren’t allowed to have sodas, and instead drank pink lemonade which he made from a powdered mix.  I also spent a great deal of time at my paternal grandmother’s house, and there I usually drank Ginger Ale, which she said was good for the stomach because it made the food settle.  If I wasn’t trying to digest one her of heavy, oily meals and getting food to settle was not an issue, there was Coke, which was also good for the stomach because it made you greps (burp).  And then there was my mother’s apartment.  My mother was incapacitated and had a caregiver for several years, Susan, who was addicted to Coke and cigarettes.  You’re going to think I’m exaggerating again, but I kid you not when I tell you that three times each week my brother and I went to 7-Eleven with Susan where we picked up a grocery bag full of Coke, Sprite, Kit-Kats, Snickers, and cigarettes (for Susan) to get us through the afternoon.  (In my mind now, I’m going back in time and trying to protect my little girl lungs from the second-hand smoke.)

For school lunches I brought juice boxes or Capri Sun.  At summer camp I drank bug juice, even though I didn’t like it.  At birthday parties I skipped the Kool-aid, because I really didn’t like it.  When we went out for pizza I ordered Dr. Pepper or root beer.  Sometimes I got lucky and found a vending machine with Grape Soda or Orange Crush.  I took Gatorade to the park.  In high school  I took juice boxes to school or bought Diet Coke from the vending machine.   When it was cold I drank Ovaltine.  Before I went to bed I drank milk or, oddly, Postum

Jump forward in time now to the kitchen of my adulthood.  Guess what you won’t find?

You live and learn, right?  Or you get diabetes and learn.*  Either way, the only beverages in my home are water, soda water, milk, coffee, and herbal teas. Oh, and wine, of course.

So, yes, I’m not in favor of any sugary drinks, and I’m pretty much anti-soda.  I make exceptions for a person who is hypoglycemic, or needs to settle the stomach.  Otherwise, my motto is just say no.  There are probably hundreds of scientific papers which back up my feeling that sodas are bad.  Here’s a post about a recent one, Sugary Drinks May Increase Heart Disease, Diabetes, Even in Women of Normal Weight.

Just after I saw the article about sugary drinks, I saw Karmel Allison’s pictures of her very first JDRF Walk.  This picture caught my eye:

I’m going to quote my two-year-old son now and use the line he uses for just about everything I suggest to him, “I can’t like it.”  Can you like this?  Should Coca-Cola be advertising at JDRF events? 

A while ago I wrote a fairly harsh critique of a local JDRF walk sponsored by Krispy Kreme Doughnuts.  I’m not writing this now to go after JDRF or Coke, or anyone else.  Believe me, if Coke offered me a lot of money to do something, I’d have a much easier time wearing a hat that says hypocrite than I would saying no.  But couldn’t, at the very least, someone at JDRF say maybe we should have a big sign that says Dasani Water (owned by Coca-Cola) instead? 

I hope this post is coming across gently, because, as I said before, I’m not trying to attack JDRF here or anyone who thinks Coke is the best drink ever.  I really just don’t get it.  Someone please explain.

In another of Karmel’s photos, the one of the Pediatric Diabetes Research Center’s table, there appears to be a bag of green apples on the table.  If those are apples then way to go PDRC!  That’s something I can get behind.

 *The author is not implying that her diabetes was caused by Coke or any other beverage.  The author is stating that having diabetes forces a person to pay attention to sugar intake.

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11 years ago

I raised a very similar issue at our recent annual JDRF board meeting… the ED was heaping the praise on the national partnership w/ Moe’s Southwest. For every “value meal” purchased some percentage goes to JDRF. Just seems like the wrong message to me — encouraging the increased consumption of food that is already goes way beyond the idea of portion control (have you seen the size of a Moe’s burrito or counted the carbs in their healthy salad?!).

Amy Stockwell Mercer
11 years ago

Jess, no wonder you eat the way you do as an adult! Your poor baby teeth! Isn’t it crazy to look back at the choices our parents made that have influenced the way we are today? I agree, Coke should not be flying a banner at a JDRF walk, that just seems wrong. 

Dr. Margaret A. Morris
11 years ago

Hah, now I can’t help myself– apples or coke, cake or death!

Jessica Apple
11 years ago

I can’t read your link now, but I know about the fructose theories.  See also  http://www.mendosa.com/blog/?p=277
 And I don’t think we should eat a lot of fruit.  I totally agree with that.  I think Gary Taubes talks about this, too.  But given the easily available food choices we have, I stand my ground when I say apples are better than Coke.  And really, the issue here isn’t apples or Coke.  

Jessica Apple
11 years ago

Haha. How does the saying go… a Coke a day keeps the doctor away? :)  I prefer my sugar with vitamins and fiber.  I would much rather be singing in front of a sign for apples and water than for Coke, no matter what the cause.  And you would much rather I not sing at all, because I’ve got a really bad voice.  Really bad.

Dr. Margaret A. Morris
11 years ago

Whoops– forgot the fructose citation: http://www.cell.com/trends/endocrinology-metabolism/abstract/S1043-2760(10)00171-2

Dr. Margaret A. Morris
11 years ago

Ok, I have to play devil’s advocate here: fruit is mostly just sugar, too, right? And studies have shown that fructose is not really all that different than sucrose in terms of health effects– we just have an easier time taking in more sugar through soda than apples because it’s easier to ingest. So if apples are okay, shouldn’t soda in moderation be okay too? And if soda in moderation is okay, then it’s not really offensive to have Coca Cola sponsor JDRF, as getting too much soda is more of a personal decision?  Although fundamentally I like your suggestion–… Read more »

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