Is Coke part of the balanced life? 

This image came through my news feed from various sources, all praising it for the message of moderation. Coke isn’t evil, after all. The good life can include Coke.

Thinking of Sarah here, a big fan of the drive thru large Coke with extra ice.

Me, I wasn’t so quick to praise the labeling here. And it’s not because I think that Coke has no place in our lives. It’s a small place to be sure when it comes to my life. Last year, I was riding my bike at training camp in South Carolina. Day 1 nearly killed me. I was slower than everyone else and it seemed like I might not even make it back to camp. Chris pulled me aside and made me ride over to a gas station where he handed me a bottle of coke. Drink this!

I did and the sugar/caffeine combo so beloved of bike racers everywhere helped. I made it back to camp. I wasn’t even last on all the hills.

No, my worry is more about labeling food in terms of exercise. I’m not sure it helps. I’m not sure it’s right. And I’m not sure it’s always healthy to think of food in terms of how much exercise it will take to burn it off.


Here’s the “honest version” of the Coke anti-obesity ad.

But as hard hitting as it is, the ad quotes the American Heart Association’s recommendation that people drink no more than 450 calories a week from sugar sweetened beverages. That’s about 3 cans of Coke. So that’s not no soda or no pop.

What do you think? Helpful or not helpful? 

Also, is there room for Coke in the good life? Why/ why not? Discuss among yourselves. (It’s the start of the university year. I’m big on discussing among yourselves.)


11 thoughts on “Is Coke part of the balanced life? 

  1. I love Coca-Cola and make plenty of room in my diet for so-called “bad” foods, but that sticker is part of an explicit campaign on Coke’s part to whitewash refined sugar and blame consumers for being too sedentary.

      1. The really irritating thing is that the message itself is not wrong. Balance and awareness are important parts of accomplishment and self-care, for example. The problem here is that it’s part of a concerted and highly disingenuous deflection effort.

  2. To be the contrarian…when I was young and incredibly thin, I drank a six pack of Coke a day. Now that I am older and overweight, I drink 1-3 Cokes a week. I am responsible for what I drink. Period. Kudos to Coke for reminding people of that fact. We need to quit being a society of victims. Companies and marketing departments are doing their jobs…selling their products. Consumers need to do their job and take responsibility for themselves. Beer and wine do not cause alcoholism. Addictive behavior does. Same with soda consumption. Own it.

  3. Sam, I agree with you that nothing we potentially eat or drink is evil. Including Coke. And I know that feeling of drinking a can of coke on a hot hard ride– it does the trick of reviving me. It also helps when I have an intestinal virus or nausea, helping to settle my stomach.

    What that message on the bottle is referring to, though, is a lie that the Coca Cola corporation and co-opted exercise researchers are propagating: that calorie intake is less important to weight management than exercises. As all of us who read this blog know (and many of us have blogged), this is demonstrably false. I blogged about this issue here last year:

    Coca Cola funded a nonprofit called the Global Energy Balance Network (see here for info which immediately drew criticism from nutrition and health experts. It received a “Shonky” award by Choice, an Australian consumer group. Have I mentioned lately how much I love Australia? At any rate, the nonprofit shut down a few months after it started.

    So coke as beverage is neutral– it’s one of the options we have. Coca Cola as a company has a lot to answer for in continuing to mislead people that coke (the beverage) plays a role in some nutrition/health regimen of “balance”. That’s something they made up.

    1. And here I thought feminism was about personal empowerment…I find it ironic that in your first paragraph you write about the balanced role Coke has in your own life but in your last paragraph you criticize Coke for suggesting that it could have that very role in your life.

      Coke is in the business of marketing its product. That is its job. Marketing is all about painting the product in the most favorable light. The old axiom of buyer beware still applies.

      I recently read about a teacher who went on a junk food diet…soda, Little Debbies, etc. but controlled his total calories to prove to his class that overeating is the problem. Period. Period. Period. He did, in fact, lose weight in spite of his crappy diet. Coke is not the problem. Excessive consumption is. We have nobody to blame except the face staring back at us in the mirror.

      And, finally, studies have shown that it is calories in/ calories out. Whether the calorie deficit comes from dietary restrictions or increased exercise is irrelevant. Often people eat back the calories they burn in exercise but when that is controlled for, exercise is just as effective as dietary manipulation for weight loss.

  4. I believe there is room for an occasional nice water, sugar, caffeine and food colouring drink.
    Life is short. Enjoy it.

    If you don’t like Coke, don’t drink it. I myself prefer ginger ale.

  5. I don’t really pay attention to any messages on soft dtrinks. I just simply don’t enjoy drinking the soft drinks. It just wasn’t developed in my palate…because my parents limited their purchasing and doling out the stuff to us. (I have other food vices.)

    Coke seems to be just clever at marketing. Like the Dove ads about all women are beautiful.

  6. I like Coke, but I am trying to cut down on sugar a bit (I always imagine what my weight training teacher would say if he saw me indulging–and by the way, his comments on nutrition were aimed at all his students, not just the women). So I think of Coke and other sodas as treats, as a kind of dessert, rather than a beverage such as iced tea or mineral water. In case of stomach upset, I don’t worry about sugar content at all! Soda often does help with stomach problems and headaches too.

    What bugs me about nutrition and health writing, especially on blogs, is that a lot of authors assume that if you’re drinking soda at all, you’re drinking a lot of it and lecture their readers accordingly. Similarly, if you have ice cream in your freezer, you must be “bingeing.” I almost always have some kind of dessert in the house. And I never binge. Cookies get stale, chocolate gets a bloom, a half gallon of ice cream gets gooey at the bottom…

  7. I drink mostly water and tea, but there are some days that I crave that sugary sweet drink (mostly root beer). I’m mindful about it and go for a can instead of a bottle or two liter (which can disappear dangerously fast). I don’t think there’s anything wrong with options, just as long as you’re educated as to what you’re putting into your body and what the long term effects can be with excess of anything. The teacher mentioned above who ate “junk food” was probably also malnourished as many of those products would not have the required vitamins and minerals for the body. I agree that not all calories are equal, but more that it’s a balance of calories and quality…..not just one or the other that is a problem.

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