A month or so ago I went on a bit of a diatribe over soda consumption, rattling on about its contribution to the obesity epidemic and how buying it only adds to the problem by supporting the soft drink companies. My three children were at the receiving end of all this, their eyes glazed over seconds into my rant. Poor things.

But you never know when something is going to sink in, because an hour later, my youngest, Virginia, appeared with a clipboard and a pen, having drawn up a petition for family members to sign. It read something like this:

“I __________ promise not to drink sodas ever again. Sincerely, __________.”

She was the first to sign. I followed suit (did I have a choice?). Everyone else in the house politely passed.

Virginia stayed committed to her pledge. That is, until six hours later when her resolve crumbled under the temptation of a Shirley Temple at dinner out with the grandparents.

But I decided to stick with it, although I do love a good Shirley Temple. Granted, I wasn’t much of a soda drinker to begin with, but over ice on a hot day or at the movies, with a side of popcorn, there’s nothing better. I always felt sort of crummy drinking it, though, in part because I know better from a nutrition standpoint, but more because I was being a total hypocrite. Railing against soft drink manufacturers and hoping my kids wouldn’t develop a taste for the stuff, yet drinking it myself.

I don’t think soda is the devil, exactly. But I do know that we as a culture are downing it like water and it’s doing nothing for us but expanding our waistlines, and those of our children. According to the USDA, soft drinks, along with other sugary beverages, are among the top four sources of calories in the American diet. In their new book Why Calories Count, Marion Nestle and Malden Nesheim hit the nail on the head when they write, “With nothing but “empty” calories, sodas have a nutrient density of zero. Think of them, as the Center of Science in the Public Interest does, as liquid candy. “

In our house soda has always been treated like candy, reserved for special occasions, like dinner out with the grandparents. And it will continue this way; I’m not going to impose my pledge on the kids. Making a food completely unattainable can backfire, reinforcing a child’s desire for it.

But I will throw it out to all of you grown ups. Maybe you’ll consider Virginia’s petition, even just for a week, or a month. Perhaps you’ll have a soda-free summer or no sodas on Sunday. If you don’t want to go cold turkey, maybe you resolve not to keep it in the house anymore, or reserve it for an occasional treat instead of a regular thing.

We could start a revolution.

Any takers?



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  1. Meg
    07.16.2012 at 7:06 AM #

    Love this Katie, and Virginia’s adorable passion for turning thought into action! I was thinking it would be fun to come up with fun alternatives, any thoughts?

    • katiemorford
      07.16.2012 at 7:30 AM #

      Yes. Here goes:

      Iced Tea — I’ve been making a lot of iced tea. You can brew both black and herb tea. I like to immerse fresh mint and lemon verbena in my black tea and sweeten it lightly with agave. If you consider that a can of cola has about 10 teaspoons of sugar, even a sweetened iced tea is likely to be a major sugar savings. If you brew decaf black tea, the kids can drink it. For a treat, mix it with equal parts lemonade.

      Flavored Water — Immerse sliced cucumbers, lemon, fruits such as strawberries or watermelon in a pitcher of water and chill. It’s very refreshing.

      Juice and seltzer — Mix flavorful juices with equal parts seltzer. You still have a fizzy, flavorful drink, but with less sugar, calories, and if you choose your juice wisely, no artificial ingredients. Be sure to read the label.

      Iced Coffee — Hang onto to your leftover morning brew and store it in the fridge. Poured over ice, with a generous splash of low-fat milk, iced coffee is a real treat.

  2. 07.16.2012 at 7:50 AM #

    I am very lucky that I don’t happen to like soda. My kids are virtually prohibited from soda and it’s never in our house. When we took them to the Santa Cruz Boardwalk, I told them they could pick one terrible-for-you food they’re normally not allowed. Emmy picked cotton candy and Asher got an enormous Coke.

    • katiemorford
      07.16.2012 at 7:57 AM #

      Funny. When Isabelle went on a school trip abroad she was delighted to tell me how they had to drink soda. “The water wasn’t safe, mom.”

  3. Alison
    07.16.2012 at 10:44 AM #

    Count me in. My children only drink soda when out for a special dinner but I am known to enjoy a diet coke. Another problem about soda is that it makes one ( me) crave salty,fatty food to go along with it.

    • katiemorford
      07.16.2012 at 11:01 AM #

      Totally agree about the salty/fatty food/drink combos. Interesting how junk food goes together!

  4. Christina
    07.16.2012 at 4:21 PM #

    I totally agree with this. I tell my kids “we’re water people” – but of course my 5 year old says “well, I’m not a water person.” I let them have juice once in awhile – only when we’re away from home. At home, it is water or nothing.

    • katiemorford
      07.16.2012 at 4:44 PM #

      Love your 5-year-old’s retort. Cute.

  5. 07.19.2012 at 8:28 PM #

    Great post. We don’t drink soda either, but I do agree that depriving a kid of something completely can make them want it more (and they WILL find it!).

    We love to put our coffe in the fridge for iced coffee in the afternoon too. There is a great company – Madhava that makes flavored agaves – hazelnut is very good in iced coffee.

    Curious about the decaf tea. I bought some decaf green tea wanting to make iced tea my kids can drink but when I made it I realized it said “10 mg caffeine, compared to 90 for coffee.” Seems like it could add up for a 4 yr old! I will seek out a fruity herbal tea for them…

    • katiemorford
      07.19.2012 at 8:38 PM #

      Hi Courtney

      Thanks for chiming in. Decaf tea does have a teensy bit of caffeine … usually more like 2 mg, not 10. The safest bet is herbal tea, as you mentioned, and there are so many terrific options these days!

  6. Heather
    07.23.2012 at 11:04 AM #

    As a former Coke (a cola!) addict, I appreciate this post. I would add a lot of the “flavored waters” on the market that sometimes have as much or more sugar hidden away in their sneaky packaging!

    • katiemorford
      07.23.2012 at 11:21 AM #

      You…cola addict?

      You are right about the “waters”….read those labels, ladies.

  7. Lori
    07.23.2012 at 2:25 PM #

    I was away during this post, but was so addicted to sodas that I decided to give it up for lent this spring and have stayed with it. It was a real problem for me and I knew that if I simply switched from diet to regular–I would soon be addicted to regular or vice versa. I drink water and unsweet tea now and still crave soda on occasion, but plan on sticking to this for the long haul. When the craving really hits, I treat myself to a sweet tea which is the drink of choice where I live in the south. Great post! Thanks for sharing.

    • katiemorford
      07.23.2012 at 2:30 PM #

      Good for you, Lori. Keep it up!

  8. Marie
    07.24.2012 at 8:04 AM #

    I would happily take the pledge, but we never have soda at home. If my teenagers want soda, it is up to them to pay for it and go get it themselves. So soda is a rare treat for them since they have to finance it.

    Someone was telling me that Mexican Coke is the “it” soda these days because it doesn’t have a chemical after-taste. I saw it at Target yesterday…39 g of sugar in one skinny single-serve bottle…unbelievable!

    • katiemorford
      07.24.2012 at 8:42 AM #

      Hi Marie

      Sounds like a good strategy with your teenagers. Thanks for sharing.


  9. 07.25.2012 at 9:53 AM #

    I am 100% for the pledge but it looks like you are mostly preaching to the choir. It would be interesting to see the reaction to this suggestion in -for instance- The Root magazine…

    • katiemorford
      07.25.2012 at 10:02 AM #

      I agree….about the choir. Sharing on FB might be a start….

  10. 07.11.2013 at 7:03 PM #

    Kids come up with the cutest things!

    My almost 5 year old has never even heard of pop, I’m pretty proud of that and hope I can keep it going a few more years at least. The only time he’s ever had candy was 5 pieces last Halloween. Now that he’s getting older I’ve been thinking a lot about the challenges of teaching him to eat healthy in this unhealthy world. But for now I will enjoy the little bubble I have him living in 🙂

    Oh yeah, my husband was addicted to pop years ago and it frustrate me to no end. Thankfully he’s pretty much given it up unless its available at a family gathering or vacation. I remember him ring so proud of his 100 days without pop mark!

    • katiemorford
      07.11.2013 at 9:38 PM #

      Good for your hubby…soda can be a hard habit to break…and enjoy your bubble and your sweet boy.

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  12. 09.19.2013 at 6:31 PM #

    Where ever you go, I will stick to…Congrats!!!!

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