October 9, 2012

Sodas Step Toward A Healthier Tomorrow

RedOrbit recently reported that in a couple major cities, namely Chicago and San Antonio, the soda machines will soon have calorie labels for the sodas. This is fantastic. It makes me wish I lived in one of these cities. This is just one step closer to creating a healthier America. If all vending machines had caloric labeling on the selection buttons, at least drinkers would be aware of how many empty calories they ingest every day.

Sodas taste delicious, true, but they only provide us with minimal health support. Mostly, they just provide us with loads of calories and sugars and sodium, all of which too much can seriously hurt and affect our health. We love sodas because they taste so good. But we’ve learned that just because something tastes good does not mean that it is a good complement to our diets, by which I mean what we ingest for energy and health purposes not how we limit our intake of calories and fats to lose or maintain weight.

What further supports the greatness of this move by Coca-Cola Co., PepsiCo, and Dr. Pepper Snapple Group is that they plan to put this practice into effect nationwide. In 2013, Chicago and San Antonio will be the first of the entire country to experience the new labeling. I love the idea that in no time the entire country will find its soda machines with caloric labeling.

We should all support this initiative. The intent is not necessarily to eliminate soda drinking; rather, the focus is to make drinkers aware, to help us all to understand how many calories we take in on a daily basis. If we become more informed of the amount of calories we consume, we can better address our eating and drinking habits, and this can only lead to a healthier nation.

In addition to the labeling, the aforementioned companies will also increase the availability of lower-calorie and zero-calorie drinks. Maybe this will help us all to make wiser choices on a daily basis. We can have the lower- or zero-calorie drinks more than the higher calorie ones.

Don’t get me wrong; I love a good full-flavored, and thus full-calorie, soda every now and then. About once a week, I drink a Vernor’s or a root beer, and the light or diet versions of these sodas just do not cut it. The artificial sweetener changes the flavor, and I just won’t have that. If I want a Vernor’s—which is a delectable ginger soda and you should go try one right now—I want it to taste like the Vernor’s I have been drinking since my youth. The same goes for root beer. This equally delicious carbonated drink is just not as sweet and scrumptious in the diet form. However, I only drink these carbonated sodas with empty calories about once a week. Furthermore, on those days, I compensate for the empty calories with more water and more good calories.

I know many people would like to see sodas eliminated completely, and, frankly, I understand that position. But as a lover of the occasional soda, I think consumption responsibility is far more important than simple elimination. We have to be smart eaters and drinkers. We have to be aware of what we imbibe and how many calories those drinks and foods add to our regular diets. This move toward better labeling is a step in the right direction.

Image Credit: Brent Hofacker / Shutterstock

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Rayshell E. Clapper is an Associate Professor of English at a rural college in Oklahoma where she teaches Creative Writing, Literature, and Composition classes. She has presented her original fiction and non-fiction at several conferences and events including: Scissortail Creative Writing Festival, Howlers and Yawpers Creativity Symposium, Southwest/Texas Pop Culture Association/American Culture Association Regional Conference, and Pop Culture Association/American Culture Association National Conference. Her publications include Cybersoleil Journal, Sugar Mule Literary Magazine, Red Dirt Anthology, Originals, and Oklahoma English Journal. Beyond her written works, she successfully created a writer's group in rural Oklahoma to support burgeoning writers. The written word is her passion, and all she experiences inspires that passion. She hopes to help inspire others through her words.

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