The Ultimate Gateway Drug


According to Chinese medicine, you shouldn't drink icy cold things pretty much ever, but they're especially bad for you in winter. I am enough of a Westerner that I quite enjoy a nice cola with lots of ice and a wedge of lime, and one reason I am anxious for it to warm up is because I am tired of not indulging in said beverage. I am a big ol' cheapskate and I can't stand paying a lot of money to burn up fossil fuels to heat my house to 70 F, so I keep the thermostat at around 65 F during the day and just wear lots of clothes. This saves on heating bills but means the only way I can drink an icy cola without darn near freezing to death is if I drink it in while I'm lying in a very warm bath, which I do from time to time, but only if I take a bath early in the day, because I don't like drinking caffeine after, say, 5 p.m.

Actually I try to avoid caffeine as much as possible. I only drink decaffeinated tea and coffee. Many people find this odd but I just don't like stimulants. Revving up is not what my personality generally needs.

My cola is preference is Coke, the real thing, but I find Diet Coke with Splenda a thoroughly acceptable substitute for the real thing. I remember when Diet Coke was invented: it was 1982 and I was a sophomore in college, and I thought dc was the best thing EVER! I drank a lot of it, for years, and then I quit for even more years because I didn't want to drink artificial sweeteners anymore. I do that with beverages; I give them up for a while. I didn't drink hot Dr Pepper at all in the 1980s, and then I started again around 1993; I didn't drink tea for a while but now I drink it a lot; currently, I'm trying to drink less coffee. That would be easier to do if I could drink Diet Coke instead, which I started drinking again last fall after I heard about this Splenda stuff, which supposedly isn't so bad for you and tastes more like real sugar. I don't know about how healthy it is, but I do know it tastes better, and that somehow helps me believe it's not as deadly as that aspartame stuff.

Wayne disapproves of my fondness for Diet Coke. He claims that Diet Coke is the ultimate gateway drug, because it has so few consequences: you can drink it and feel almost virtuous because it won't make you fat or give you cancer as quickly as cigarettes, but make no mistake, he argues, it's a drug! And drinking Diet Coke will lead to much more severe substance abuse, just you wait! I point out that I started drinking Diet Coke almost 23 years ago and still have yet to develop a more serious substance abuse problem (unless you count chocolate, and I don't); alcohol is the only recreational drug I ever use, and I try not to indulge in that too often. He claims I'm just fooling myself and that someday it will wreak havoc on my life; look what it did to one of its most noted spokeswomen, Whitney Houston! And I think of the last photo I saw of poor Whitney and I sort of don't want to argue any more.

So if you ever hear that I've ended up in rehab after beating the shit out of my celebrity husband, you'll know that Diet Coke is the substance at the root of all my problems. But it won't happen for a few more weeks because it's still too cold to indulge in it regularly.


Diet Crack (as it's known on the street) is a most dangerous substance and should be consumed only by those brave souls who do not fear the wrath of Whitney!

For me, the ultimate gateway drug is a beautifully-made baking powder biscuit. It leads to other white-flour-sugar-and-fat occasions of sin such as real scones, sugar cookies, shortbread, and eventually, whole-scale kitchen-upside-down baking.

Your no-bake cookies run a close second. We call them "Oatmeal Hollies" around our house.

I'm one of those people who, if accidentally given a Diet Coke in a fountain drink, has to spit it out because it tastes so nasty, especially in the after-taste phase. I've been burned enough times that I've learned to sample the drink first before I drive away from a drive-through...

Come to think of it, I'm so neurotic about diet foods that I can be halfway through a handful of Wheat Thins or a salad with ranch dressing, notice that the product is labeled as "fat-free" or "reduced fat," and then suddenly lose all taste for it, even though I was enjoying it fine just a few moments earlier. This drives my wife nuts...

Aspertame, yeah, I used to work with a guy who found himself on the floor one day having what seemed like epileptic seizures. Doc told him he was having a reaction to aspertame (he was a huge DC drinker prior). He subsequently got on a big campaign against it, found some shady stuff how it got passed through the Food & Drug Admin. in record time, etc. Don't know how much that's hype, but it was enough to convince me to stay away.

The problem with DC and colas in general however, especially for women, is the following (from the Mayo clinic website):

The link between osteoporosis and caffeinated sodas isn't clear, but caffeine may interfere with calcium absorption and its diuretic effect may increase mineral loss. In addition, the phosphoric acid in soda may contribute to bone loss by changing the acid balance in the blood. If you do drink caffeinated soda, be sure to get adequate calcium and vitamin D from other sources in your diet or from supplements.

Sorry! :o(

Your no-bake cookies run a close second. We call them "Oatmeal Hollies" around our house.

Juti, you've made my day!

Chris, I agree with you about the reduced- or no-fat stuff--diet sweeteners I can tolerate, but most reduced fat stuff is vile. I remember once being served some food made with "fat-free half and half." The recipe was a complete failure, because it needed some fat to work, and not only that, "fat-free half and half" is a complete oxy-moron, since half and half is half cream and cream by definition has fat in it!

Rich, thanks, I guess, for the bad news about caffeinated sodas.... No, I'm definitely grateful to know that. I prefer information to ignorance, and while I won't completely give up Diet Coke, this is one more reason not to do drink it often.

I've basically stopped drinking cola beverages because they have no nutritive value and they are damaging to teens and children--who so desperately need 'quality' calories and are, instead, downing sugary or chemically-sweetened soda. My kids haven't ever had caffienated cola, and have soda only a few times/year (like on their birthday).

I don't want to support the cola industry with my $$, so I just don't buy it anymore. I mostly drink water, and occasionally fruit juice or fruit shakes. When I need a boost I have a cup of tea. After I use up my current supply of tea I'm switching to fair trade and/or organic tea.

I find a nice cold drink for those who don't want to consume caffeine or aspartame is iced herbal tea. When the weather starts to get warm here there's always a litre of iced herbal tea in my fridge. Generally I use the fruit teas from the Celestial Seasonings brand - they are from the US. Their fruit teas are REALLY delicious and there's an extensive range of different flavours. They also contain ingredients that are good for us, and can be sweetened (if necessary) with honey. I make it by seeping three tea bags in half a litre of just-boiled water. After five to ten minutes take out the tea bags and top up with half a litre of cold water. Keep it in the fridge. Later when you come home from work it will be ice cold and delicious...

By the way, Holly, you made me laugh out loud with your line "Revving up is not what my personality needs." You are right :-) I hope when you come back to Europe I can help you foster a drug habit that slows you down a bit :-) Although now I'm reminded of the example of Whitney, I may review my own descent into drug hell that must have started with the four cans of coke I secretly drank in bed (not a good idea) when I was 14...

I used to drink diet coke, just like I used to put artificial sweetner in my coffee - what happened? I don't know, but I can't STAND the taste of either anymore. I LOVE regular coke with ice, though. That's a beautiful drink, unless it from a fountain - and I find it can taste funny from a can. God this stuff is complicated.

Matt--you're right; iced herbal tea is a nice drink, and I generally make a lot of it in the summer. But it doesn't have bubbles, unless you make it really strong and dilute it with seltzer (which I sometimes do) but even, then it's not the same as a really fizzy coke.

Reese--I completely agree with you: any icy coke is a gorgeous drink. I sometimes indulge in it, but not that often--I balk at all the calories. Calories are what prevent me from consuming my OTHER favorite beverage--Bailey's Irish Cream--as much as I would like. And I don't care what anyone says about suitable substitutions: ain't no other Irish cream half as good as Bailey's.

Diet Coke will make me able to sing???


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This page contains a single entry by Holly published on March 30, 2006 8:56 AM.

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