My Love/Hate Relationship With Soda

[dropcap]I suppose soda[/dropcap] is a bigger part of my life than I realized. In the stores, the soda aisle is so long. On the TV, ads of young adults playing on a beautiful, sunny beach, popping open a can of a sugary something and giggling away. On the radio, the program I’m listening to is brought to me by – some common company. It surprises me how much I see and hear about soda, yet I rarely drink it at all.

As a child, I grew up drinking Kool-Aid. When my parents let me take sips of soda, the carbonation was always so painful for me and it kept me from drinking it.

Now that I’m older, I have soda maybe four or five times a month at most. I am more aware of the additives in soda, like aspartame and high fructose corn syrup (both of which are/contain chemicals very harmful to the body) along with acids that are very damaging to tooth enamel. I steer clear of soda for these reasons and more. To me, the taste is often bad and just feels “heavy”. If I do drink soda, I like ones made with natural cane sugar – I actually feel okay after drinking them.

But I know not everyone is like me. Some people have been raised on soda, and actually have cravings for it when they don’t have it. I know someone who drinks soda every day, about two to three times a day, and in large amounts, about 24 oz and over. He told me that as a child, he was given soda to drink, and became addicted because his father would always drink the same type. All of this soda drinking has affected his tooth enamel, and he often has to get dental work. When he doesn’t have soda, he will drink iced tea as a healthier alternative. However it doesn’t last long. Soon after the change he begins to have caffeine withdrawals, becoming very irritable and difficult to be around.

Because I can constantly see the change in people when they drink soda, whether the change is physical or mental, I am turned off by soda. Sometimes I just don’t understand why other people can’t see (or just refuse to acknowledge) what it can really do to you. The bottom line is those beverage companies are out to get your money, and don’t care about your health. I am responsible for what goes inside of my body – I’m not going to let soda destroy it.
-Jaleesa, 22

[divider] [dropcap]When it is a midsummer day[/dropcap] and the sun is high in the sky, beating down on our heads so hard like a professional baseball player hitting a homerun, the idea of an ice cold drink is very appealing. When you walk to the fridge, mouth dry with thirst, the first drink that comes to mind is Coke or Pepsi. No one craves the dull taste of tap water; instead, most crave the bubbly intensity of a freshly opened can of soda. Why is that?

America has created an addiction to the criminal, allowing it to legally come into our homes and steal our health. This addiction is what leads to obesity, heart problems, or diabetes, which creates a domino effect that forces people to go to the hospital and pay for insulin or unwanted visits to the dentist.

Soda hasn’t been a huge part of my life, but I’m not going to lie. When I taste the magical flavors of a 7-Up, I can’t resist but to have another. This attraction is one of the tactics that the advertising companies use to control people. Along with images engraved in our mind that soda equals happiness, advertising companies like to manipulate our perceptions of what is healthy and unhealthy for us. You would think that this type of advertising should be considered breaking the law, but it’s perfectly legal. Even though the acid in soda is so powerful that it can take an old rusted penny and breathe new life into it, we are still given the opportunity to ingest this item with no hesitation.

I, personally, allow myself to be manipulated. I’m not sure what kind of willpower it will take to withstand the pressure, but I don’t possess it and neither do many other Americans.
-Erica, 18


[dropcap]Within the past month, [/dropcap]I have drunk at least thirty cans of soda. I play video games at night and I get sleepy. So I go to the kitchen and grab a Pepsi to drink. I try to stop drinking soda, but it’s hard. Whenever there’s no soda in the house, I ask my mom for the EBT card. She hands me the EBT card and I go buy a Mountain Dew. Also, my mother goes grocery shopping and when she returns, she also buys soda.

It’s very hard for me to stop drinking soda. I know soda is very bad for my health, but I still drink it. My younger siblings drink soda as well. My mom has diabetes and she’s always telling us to stop consuming soda. But she’s the one who buys it, so how is it our fault?

My mom is afraid that my siblings and I will get health problems. She wants us to be healthier. Drinking water is better for everyone. Drinking soda makes you gain weight and harms your body. I just hope that my mom will stop buying soda with the EBT card.
-Luis, 19


[dropcap]“Pop!” [/dropcap] If you hear that sound and were the one who caused it with a thirsty mouth, then you’re most likely popping open an ice-cold sparkly, carbonated beverage. By this time you probably smell the sweet aroma of the high fructose corn syrup as it seeps into your nose. While you raise the container to your mouth, you hear the soft sizzle of the carbonated water mixed into the flavorful liquid.

As you take a sip of the caramel-colored substance, you taste the alluring flavor of 39 grams of sugar. As the seemingly smooth drink makes its way down your throat, you feel a tingling, almost electric sensation from the flavorful phosphoric acid, and lactic acid. Next, you feel this sensation erupt in your chest as a result of the monosodium phosphate, and the polyethylene glycol.

You give a refreshing sigh of satisfaction, and you feel the sizzle creep down to your stomach and sit there. The fact that your tummy feels like pop rocks is due to the potassium benzoate. Feels good to drink what’s unknown to you, huh? Well, drink Pibb Xtra.
-Kevis, 20


[dropcap]The effect of soda[/dropcap] in the generation of what we call the 80s and 90s babies has become overblown. Just by seeing people drink soda everyday has increased our intake. If you produced a chart to see what people drink most on a daily basis, soda would soar in our urban community.

Personally my view of soda is pretty basic; it’s not in my daily life, freaking me out. I don’t need a can of soda to complete my everyday happiness. But to some people, it’s a big deal.

For example, my girlfriend is in pretty good shape because she plays sports. But for whatever demanding reason, she cannot go on with her day without a drop of soda. Even though she looks healthy, her physical view of health is decreasing with every sip she takes. Really, I’m scared for her to the point where it bugs me. She might be gone one day from over-consuming this deadly drink, and coming from me, I pray that it will never occur.
-Kevin, 18


[dropcap]In recent years,[/dropcap] soda hasn’t been a big part of my daily life. I remember a couple years back when I was getting a physical at the hospital, and the nurse took my height and weight as she scribbled numbers onto the papers on her clipboard. I waited in the room afterwards, and when my doctor came in, she went over what the numbers meant. With my shorter than average stature, she told me I could possibly fall into the overweight category if I gained a few more pounds.

Now, this was when I drank soda about 3-5 times a week and I wasn’t so active. I realized then that I should probably put a halt to some of those bad habits. I cut back soda and replaced it with water. It wasn’t a hard transition mostly because I wasn’t really addicted to soda. As a result, the following year I got another physical and I was told that I lost a few pounds, which then categorized me at a more normal weight.

As I look back to when I used to drink a lot of soda, I can see that soda commercials played a big role in appealing to people who watch television. With the creative videos on television, soda is commonly perceived as a refreshing, cold drink that can be easily bought because of its cheap price and availability. I know some people who drink soda quite frequently just because they prefer it to other drinks.

What people should realize is that sodas of any kind contain many unhealthy, harmful substances. If more people became aware of the fact that too much soda can cause health concerns such as hypertension, heart attacks, and diabetes, then maybe they could make a positive change in their drinking diets.
-Denise, 16

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The kNOw works to support and equip young people with the journalism and advocacy skills they need to tell their stories and the stories of their communities.

In 2006, over 25 youth began participating in weekly after-school writing workshops where they congregated in the hallway of a two-story building in West Fresno and learned the essentials of creating media and telling their stories. The group evolved over the next five years and is now proudly recognized as The kNOw Youth Media.

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The kNOw began as a project of New America Media, which was the country’s first and largest national collaboration and advocate of 2000 ethnic news organizations. In 2018 The kNOw became a project of Youth Leadership Institute.

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