I have many problems with the food industry. Far too many to put into one blog post. Today, I will focus on one issue in particular: sugar content in soda and the industry’s mission to make this seem acceptable to the consumer.
I personally chose to eliminate soda from my diet except for on very rare occasions, but Pepsi, CocaCola, and Dr. Pepper don’t see this as a good option (obviously, because their company only survives if people buy soda) so they have launched a new campaign: My Mixify
The about page of this website states as follows: “#Realtalk: Coke, Dr Pepper and Pepsi understand that balancing your mix of foods, drinks and physical activities can get a little tricky. And since our products can play a part in that equation, we’ve teamed up to help make it easier to find a balanced mix that feels oh so right. That’s where Mixify comes in. It’s like a balance wingman. Bringing you new combinations to keep your mix fresh and your body right. Like mixing lazy days with something light, following sweaty workouts with whatever you’re craving, and crossing cats with dragons. Because at the end of the day, finding balance keeps you feeling snazzier than the emoji of the dancing lady in red. Balance what you eat and drink with what you do. That’s how you Mixify.”
My initial reaction was: ARE YOU F$&%ING KIDDING ME?! Then once I calmed down (a little) I thought about why this was so bothersome. I understand the concept of “everything in moderation.” Personally, I think this is only partially true, as there are some foods/drinks that are just generally better avoided. I don’t think you can healthily lead a lifestyle eating multiple of these foods on a weekly basis and still call it “moderation,” but of course, this is personal preference, and everyone is different. I thought to myself, okay, maybe this is good, maybe the company is encouraging people to consume soda in moderation (i.e. once a week or less). But then I read further. I looked at the FAQs section and REALLY started to get heated. For example:
Q: I love soda but know I shouldn’t have it all the time. How can I cut down and still enjoy it?
A: I love soda too! If you prefer regular soda, then just keep your portions in check. Maybe stick to a 12oz serving and limit it to 3 or 4 times a week. The most important thing is to keep up with how many calories you’re taking in and try to balance them with the calories that you’re burning. And if you like the taste of soda, but want to cut your sugar or calorie intake, try a diet soda or another diet drink – like tea.
Again, are you KIDDING ME? Here are my issues with this response:
1.This website is targeted at teenagers. Teenagers are most susceptible to media advertisements and will likely believe what these companies are telling them. Teenagers are going through puberty. Middle school and high school are really rough for everyone; a time when you are self-conscious of your body and you are learning healthy habits that will likely stick with you for the rest of your life. This is the most important time of all that we should be teaching teens how to be healthy, not perpetuating the myth that if you burn more calories than you consume that you will be healthy.
2. Calories are NOT all that count. Not all calories are created equal: 120 calories in soda is NOT equal to 120 calories in almonds. Your body responds differently to sugar, and consuming sugar in excess (especially in liquid form) leads to weight gain and obesity. The main idea here is this: When you eat a piece of fruit, while high in sugar, your body also has to work through fiber, vitamins, and minerals, and therefore does not succumb to the sugar “crash” the body encounters when drinking soda or juice. A nice little explanation of what happens to your body when you drink a can of soda can be found here.
3. Diet soda is NOT a good alternative to “real” soda. There are countless studies about the dangers of diet soda, apart from the sugar crash that your body still experiences. I’ll leave a few here for your own knowledge, but the basics are as follows: it can cause headaches and weight gain, and it alters your gut microbes and therefore increases risk for diabetes .
These soda companies are making an incredibly smart marketing move by pretending to care about the health and well-being of our nation’s youth and young adults. Not only are they no longer wasting time competing with each other, but they are creating a facade that their products can be healthily consumed in “moderation” AKA 3-4 times per week (or as much as you want with diet soda, because calories are all that matter, duh!).
My recommendation: if you really really really cannot bring yourself to give up soda, perhaps consider making your own, or buying from a local/less processed brand that doesn’t use harmful ingredients like caramel coloring, or other scary chemicals/genetically modified ingredients. What these brands are doing, they are doing solely to benefit their own sales, and we should all see through their disguise. None of these brands are trustworthy, and we should do our part to fight against their growing monopoly. Also, tell these brands what you think of this new campaign using #mymixify. I will certainly be letting them know how I feel about it.