Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Soda, Sacrifice, and Salvation

This Lent i gave up soda. or to put it another way, i am taking on the spiritual discipline of sacrificing soda from my diet.

"who cares?" you say. "it's just soda. not that big a deal."

part of the practice is to give up something you like. like for instance, if i gave up white chocolate, who cares? i rarely eat that and would leave me open to eating milk or dark chocolate. i LOVE soda! it's so GOOD and sugary and readily available! oh to feel those bubbles again, to taste the delicious chemical elixir... oh, where was i? since giving it up, i find it much harder to get through my readings or not to take a nap in the afternoon without my caffeine infusion. soda goes well with almost any meal as well, and if you want to eat at 5 Guys, Panera Bread, or Subway, soda is largely your option for beverage. and the sweetness goes so well with the saltiness of french fries. water or tea just don't have the same knock-out combo that soda has.

so it has been hard. not in a this is the end of my life kinda deal, not begging for daily bread, and definitely not triathlon hard,  but i do feel like i have a little insight into what some people go through when they give up smoking as i do get cravings... esp. when i see a Mountain Dew machine, bottle, or mental image... *drool* Moooouuntaiiin Deeeewwww... i would like to do the Dew, right now even, having that green can of goodness sitting next to me as i reflect on this practice would.... okay.. onto what i've learned.

i've learned that water is pretty tasty. that there are some exciting things going on in the world of juices, like Acia and Pom drinks. i've also learned about the nasty effects that soda, even just one a day, does to your body.

  • Too much phosphorus in your body leads to a reduction in calcium and magnesium, which are vital for a normal heart rate, nerve and muscle function,blood clotting, good bones and teeth. It can lead to tooth loss, damage your gums, cause osteoarthritis in adults and bone fractures in adolescents
  • Caffeine is also found in soda and is another easy way to lose calcium. Caffeine can also really mess with your sleep cycle and many researchers say that it is more addictive than heroin. 
  • Sugar in soda often comes in the form of high fructose corn syrup (HFCS), which is suspected to have a multitude of deleterious effects on the body. I have also found HFCS in many surprising things like Arizona Teas, Mott's Applesauce, Lemonade, Orange Juice, ground coffee, pulled-pork, BBQ sauce, and bread. HFCS are in many of the things we eat, and while i've been really looking at the labels to try to avoid this stuff, it's in nearly everything we buy.
my wife is also joining me in this spiritual exercise and in fact she's upped the practice. not only are we refraining from soda until Easter we are also refraining from eating at our fave. burger joint, 5 Guys Burgers and Fries. We eat there at least once a week and while the food is really really good, we are finding that it's not as good as we used to think it was when we ate there once a month or less. so in an effort to keep the mystique of 5 Guys, we're abstaining from it as well. maybe when we return we will find that we actually like a less greasy and soda-free diet.or maybe it'll be like eating there again for the first time. and maybe i can knock down my soda intake to a soda a week or so once i get through the withdrawal period. either way, i don't see a downside to this.

"okay, tooth-head," you say. "You've covered the soda and the sacrifice part, what's up with the salvation? do you think that this little exercise somehow saves you or makes you better than me cause you're doing it and i'm not? that either reinforces my view of egotistical Christians or makes me feel guilty about my own lack of spiritual discipline (because i don't know if i'm religious or not)."

this small exercise has helped me live a little bit more intentional. didn't Socrates state that the unexamined life isn't worth living? well, i would have never thought to have looked at soda because i love it and would rather not examine it. what i found wasn't so much new and shocking as i know soda is unhealthy, but what was shocking was HOW unhealthy and the extent of the problems that can be caused were. it caused me to change up how, where, and what i eat. i have just a little wider awareness now. isn't that on the road to salvation?

i mean the greatest stuff can come if people just stop and reflect on their actions for just a second. some republicans may see that they really aren't adding anything helpful to the political discourse by just saying no all the time.

Tea-Partyer's would see that they were awfully silent during the Bush years and that their silence caused us to get where we are at now and maybe they might discover that they are anti-intellectual and  possibly racist in many of their assumptions.

Liberals would see that they have lost touch with their base of blue-collar workers and would work on connecting to others.

Christians would see that this discipline is hard and how comfortable they live here in the States. they may see how they have been acting elites and tribal and not like the servants they are called to be. they would see the use of these ancient Liturgical practices that our rich tradition offers and see that their faith has gotten too escapist. they would stop using faith as an escape from fear for  when we become aware that we do not have to escape our pains, but that we can mobilize them into a common search for life, those very pains are transformed from expressions of despair into signs of hope. and hope is a good thing to have.

or maybe nothing will change cause people don't change so why bother trying to change through this stupid exercise? well, that sounds hopeless. and i gave up hopelessness a few Lents ago.


hondo3777 said...

Chef Hymie Grande ( ) is the first and only bottled BBQ sauce to carry the seal of the American Diabetes Association on the label. It has no high fructose corn syrup, no processed sugar, it is all natural and vegan friendly. It is produced by Jamie Failtelson, a.k.a. Chef Hymie Grande of Carlstadt, NJ. 5% of proceeds go to the American Diabetes Association.

Kate L. said...

What a great post! Too funny. I forgot that we were giving up 5 Guys for Lent, too, thanks for the reminder. ;-)

Anonymous said...

I don't do Lent - however - I also have cut back on the soda intake for many of the same reasons mentioned (health risks more or less in the long run). I haven't quite quit - but I am moving towards that end.

"i have just a little wider awareness now. isn't that on the road to salvation?" (Luke)

I'm down with that - the idea salvation can be used in a way that makes sense now! I guess we all need help in various areas (food is becoming a big one these days)...and moving towards better health is a good thing!

But who am I to speak - I still smoke!

Boz said...

nice segue into politics, haha!

Sabio Lantz said...

Nicely done -- fun read.

Now the trick, you walk away from 40 days of no soda and:
1) Do you go back to doing what you now took time to understand is a bad choice?
2) Do you walk away proud of your accomplishment?
3) Do you feel content with the observant life being well done until next Lent?

Ah the chore of keeping a spiritual practice from becoming a weighty millstone.

Again, fine post !

Luke said...


great questions! prior to this, i had one soda a day. my wife established this rule and we've followed it for 5 years. however, i have read that all of these things occur just with 1 soda a day! so i will attempt to refrain as much as possible and limiting myself to 3 to 5 a month, if at all.

but i really do like Mt Dew.... droooool....