Everyone knows that they should not be drinking soft drinks – Coca Cola, Pepsi, Mountain Dew etc. There is too much sugar, it is bad for your teeth, it has been commonly linked to obesity. Despite all this awareness, these products are part of billion dollar companies, obviously doing very well. If you have a coca cola habit, let’s stop to analyze why you are drinking it. Some common reasons are:
It is everywhere
Do you realize the infrastructure it takes with trucks, retail partnerships, restaurant partnerships to have the product everywhere? It is present everywhere – stores, ball parks, theaters, offices, vending machines, checkout counters everywhere. Starting a new beverage company is a nightmare for new entrepreneurs. The product is heavy, bottling plants are capital intensive, selling price is low. However, the Coca Cola Company is more than 100 years old, with all the distribution and bottling factories set up for a long time. All it needs to do now is sell, sell, sell. And it does that, very effectively. When you see it everywhere, you are more likely to accept drinking it as the norm.
You vs marketing geniuses
Beyonce drinks it, Deepika Padukone drinks it, Arya the cool dude drinks it, it must be ok. Top beverage companies spend millions on marketing campaigns. What chance does the regular consumer have against these influential campaigns? Ask yourselves 2 things –
Do these celebrities really consume these products?
I am sorry, unless they follow a very strict diet, they are not going to look their awesome best. Beyonce and Deepika all follow super strict diet regimen, so while I love them both, I will buy their music and movies not their product endorsements. Arya, the muscle man, may be drinking Mountain Dew, (the drink that has a dentist term for the terrible cavities caused by it– “Mountain Dew Mouth”), but he also cycles and works out for hours in a day. If you are not doing that, expect to gain weight and develop cavities over time.
How does a company that produces a product costing a dollar afford these celebrities?
Coca Cola has a return on equity of over 20% consistently. That company is doing very well. But if you think of the product itself, the recipe has not changed for years, maybe even a century. So, if they are not reinventing the product and use really cheap ingredients (Carbonated Water, High Fructose Corn Syrup, Caramel Color,Phosphoric Acid, Natural Flavors, Caffeine), a good portion of the revenue they generate pretty much goes for marketing and getting movie stars and music icons to sponsor their product. It is pretty much the same marketing philosophy like selling a perfume.
Now think of companies who have good products and are constantly developing their products – Google, Tesla, Toyota, facebook. They rarely need any celebrity to speak on behalf of their product. The product speaks for itself.
Why am I addicted to its taste?
The pH of coca cola is 2.5 (very acidic), and a 12 oz can contains 39g of sugar (9 teaspoons).The sugary, mouth-puckering taste is the sweet spot that people crave. Have you tried drinking water with 9 teaspoons sugar in it? – disgusting. But, add some lemon or some sort of tang to it and you can guzzle away the resulting concoction happily. Furthermore, add caffeine to it and you are one happy gal/guy. Coca Cola has that perfect craving trap – sweet + acidic + caffeine
It is also the best environment for food preservation. Bacteria does not like to grow in low acid, highly sweet environment. This combination with canning technology helps Coca Cola stay for 9 months or more without expiring.
So, what can I do about it?
1. Drink water – Rolling eyes, I know. When I was trying to reduce my tea addiction, if one more person came to me and told me to drink water instead, I wanted to punch them in the face. Point is, everyone knows, water is the best beverage. But once your mind is fixated on a habit, it is hard to turn it off. My recommendation – take incremental steps over time. When my daughters used to beg my husband for soft drink along with a Chipotle burrito, he came up with an idea to take some lemon slices and water and four packets of sugar to keep them happy. Four packets = 4 teaspoons, not great, but better than 9 teaspoons in coke. We are now trying to get it down to three and so on…
2. Try awesome new alternatives. These may not have the brand name as Coke and Pepsi, but are run by fantastic entrepreneurs with brilliant healthy beverage ideas. Both these companies offer carbonated beverages that are flavored with natural essential oils. I have no association with either company, I am just recommending based on their ingredient list and their product story.
- Hint Water – Hint water is a great success story of a women entrepreneur developing the product to kick her soda habit.
- La Croix – La Croix is this runaway success company that has fans who swear by it.
3. Have you tried the fruit in the water idea? You chop pieces of strawberry, blueberry, orange or lemon in the water and drink it. It adds a mild, sweet flavor to your drink, which tastes quite refreshing.
4. Drink coconut water – again this has about 14g of sugar, not better than zero, but better than 39g of sugar.
5. Do not drink fruit juice. Fruit juice, as Yoni Freedoff, puts it, “is a Gateway drink to Soda.” Eat the fruit instead. Yes, fruit is boring, takes time to chew – but see that’s the point!!!
This blog post is dedicated to my good friend, Monica, who is trying to kick her “Monster” drink habits. I wish her my very best. Have you tried to kick your soda habit? What has your experience been? Please share with us.
Also check out Coca Cola Now vs then-
This link is from a wonderful anti-obesity doctor I follow, Yoni Freedoff. He adopts one of the most brilliant, practical approach to fight obesity.