S-O-D-A, the dirty, four letter word that can ruin a child’s meal – or at least any child who acts like my children.  Soda, soda pop, carbonated drinks, soft drinks, Coke…call it whatever.  Brand name or generic, it is all sweet and tempting and E-V-I-L.

But the evils of soda drinks go beyond ruined appetites and uneaten meals.  Any person can benefit from consuming less soda.  Soda is high in empty calorie – calories that creates few healthful benefits.  The high concentration of processed and refined sugars not only contribute to the weight problem in our culture, but they (the sugars) also dehydrate the body.  It’s hard to believe but sugar does dehydrate the body.

My children didn’t believe that sugar can really dehydrate a body, until I showed them a real life experiment.  It happened during an afternoon of making carrot cake.  I had them grate two pounds of carrot, then dumped the grated carrots into a strainer that was sitting inside a glass mixing bowl.  Following the recipe, I sprinkled a cup of sugar onto the grated carrots.  Then I told my children to watch what happened next.

For two minutes nothing happened.  Then like magic, they saw the carrots bleed orange water.  Drip, drip.  One by one the drops of orange water came down, until one cup’s worth pooled at the bottom of the mixing bowl.  The sugar leeched the water, minerals, and coloring from the carrots.

“This my children,” I declared, ” is what happens to your body when you consume too much sugar.”

“Wow!  Cool Mom!”  were their awed responses.

I could go on and describe how soda drinks leech calcium, destroy the enamel on teeth.  But, I won’t because this stuff is general knowledge.  Everyone knows the warnings of S-O-D-A, but bad habits and indulgences don’t just disappear with knowledge.

It takes effort, action, and resistance.  No soda, or sweet drinks at home. Milk, coffee, tea, or water.   Controlling the flow of contraband into the home is easy.   There is no way I will pay $1.50 (the current price at my local supermarket) for Coca Cola that will cause cavities and ruined meals.   Don’t buy soda and it will not be available.

But we aren’t always locked up at home.  Often, we are on the road – short and long distances from home.  Many times, the days are eventful and hectic and fast food joints lend their helping hands.  But eating out at fast food establishments does not mean that we have to surrender to bad habits.

I had to wrestle with the sodas that comes with my own meal and my children’s meals.  It seems wasteful to opt out of a big drink when it paid for with the meal.  I don’t have to have the soda, but my kids want their sodas.  Nope, they can’t have it either, but they don’t complain too much because I always ask for chocolate milk as a substitute drink.  At Burger King, my children’s favorite burger place, it does not cost extra to substitute a chocolate milk for the soda.  Cheeseburger, fries, and chocolate milk for all the kids.  Happy eating without so much guilt.

But not all fast food establishments will allow chocolate milk substitutions without charging something.  Wendy’s will require an extra charge of 35 cents and Subways will charge 35 cents extra for substituting any bottles drinks (that includes chocolate milk) for their fountain drinks.  Even if the milk does cost extra, it’s worth it.

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