Looking back, I realize that soda and I have a long, storied history together. I'll never forget the day when we first met. I was 11 years old, embarking on a backpacking trip (my first!) into the nearby Colorado mountains. Our savvy leaders promised that, at the end of five days of slogging miles under the weight of 50-pound backpacks, subsisting on stale sandwiches and trail mix, sleeping under a tarp, and pooping in a hole in the ground, on that very last day, when we made it out of the woods, we would each receive our very own ice-cold Coca-Cola. As the trip wore on, the promised beverage rose to near-mythic status in our eyes—I could practically taste it as we struggled up the last hill on the last day. And that Coke didn't disappoint: its bubbles tickled my tongue, its sweet syrup enveloped my eager taste buds, its coldness left me feeling more human, more alive.
In the ensuing years, a cold soda became my go-to reward for a job well done. Pop acquired additional significance abroad: living in Europe as a college student, I drank Coke to ease my homesickness, to feel connected to country I'd left behind; living in Micronesia as a Peace Corps volunteer, I accepted offers of soda to gain acceptance, to prove that I was part of the community. Here in San Francisco, drinking Pepsi was my own little rebellion—a way to claim my individuality among the health-conscious, kale-consuming masses. And so, without my even realizing it, I had inextricably woven soda into the fabric of my identity. (Oh, and did I mention that it's also my go-to stress reliever?)
Who: Megan McCrea, Assistant to the Editor-in-Chief
This year, I'm determined to: Kick my deeply-embedded soda habit.
I chose this because: Though I love it, I know that soda is no good for me. And, since I announced my intention to the world, friends and readers have given me more great reasons to lose the pop. For one thing, some doctors claim sugar to be more addictive than cocaine. (That would explain the fierce cravings!) And for another, Coca-Cola has caused serious environmental and public health problems worldwide.
So far, the challenge is going: To be honest, it's a struggle. I'm fine until noon, but once lunch time hits and I don't reach for a Pepsi, I've been alternately crabby (Day 1), mentally unfocused (Day 2), and utterly, completely exhausted (Day 3). With your encouragement, friends and readers, I have resisted the strong soda urge, but I have leaned hard on substitutes—Blue Bottle iced coffee, coffee with cream and sugar, Starbucks double shot (sensing a theme here?)—to keep me awake, focused, and tolerable to the humans around me.
One co-worker called me out on the Monday Blue Bottle.
"I'm starting slowly!" I replied.
"Yeah," she answered, "ve-e-ry slowly."
My biggest temptation to cheat: The bodega across the street from our office boasts 999 types of craft beer, so you can imagine how many types of soda they carry. Mexican coke, Throwback Pepsi, Dr. Pepper, Orangina—they've got it all. Ooof.
Coping mechanisms: I remember that I'm not in this alone (thanks to David Lopez and Kim Leary for joining me in the no soda challenge, and thanks to many readers for the moral support and suggested substitutions). I've also increased my coffee consumption—no shame, as I said in post #1—and, at your suggestion, readers, I tried a cranberry kombucha for midday bubbles yesterday. I'm going to try a mug of Earl Grey today.
A recipe I'm really digging: I've purchased a pineapple and mint leaves, and I can't wait to make this flavored water from our September 2012 issue. Maybe it can help me forget my sweet soda.