Breakfast of Champions

In the town-car ride home last night (I know, sounds posh, but I negotiated a price comparable to taking a cab, relax!) the radio announcer mused about a Chicago Tribune story highlighting the growing trend of cola accompanying breakfast. --Sorry, since the article appeared in a Midwest paper, that would be "soda pop."-- I laughed and thought to myself, "Accompanying breakfast? Diet Coke IS breakfast," ...as this has been my ritual ever since high school.
For historical accuracy it was Pepsi in high school, until my doctor advised me that I was "over my ideal weight" and should switch to Diet. Ironically, I later learned that my doctor was rumored to be a former anorexic, and now after years of drinking Diet I probably am over my ideal weight. (But aging, a slowing metabolism, and a boyfriend who makes big milkshakes have probably contributed.)

"Coke has been `Southern coffee' at breakfast for some Southerners for a long time," according to a professor quoted in the news article. "It's really not unusual to see Southern women, particularly, clutching a Diet Coke for breakfast." The Coca-Cola company seems to have caught on, I spied an advertisement for Coke Blak "Coke Effervescence with Coffee Essence" on the top of a taxi cab next to me in traffic. This product is presumably a gateway drug for coffee drinkers considering switching to Coke for their mornings.

This story coincides with a scientific study that landed in my inbox at work, regarding the impact of cola on absorption of calcium. Being a woman, osteoporosis is a shadow that looms over me as I age. (Like one of the grim reaper's opening acts; followed onstage by senility, arthritis, and glaucoma, no doubt.) According to this horrifying article it doesn't matter how many calcium supplement horse-pills I swallow each day, because the phosphoric acid in cola impedes my bones' ability to absorb calcium. Previous studies have speculated that the diminished bone capacity of cola drinkers was a function of soda displacing healthy glasses of milk. Not the case. According to this study, drinking one daily serving of cola lowered a woman's bone density about 4 to 5 percent. Yikes, I drink like... 4 servings a day? (I was apalled to discover that the 12 oz bottle from the soda machine on my floor is actually about 2.5 servings. The plastic bottle nearly fell out of my brittle hands.) The women in this study reported consuming an average of five carbonated drinks a WEEK, four of which were cola. Gulp. Big Gulp.

So despite being the ardent Diet Coke drinker that I am, I find myself at a crossroads. And I am going to try to cut back. Unlike any fly-by-night, one-off study that I might easily dismiss as unfounded hogwash, this study comes from the Framingham Study Group. They're the ones whose findings on heart disease set the standards for cholesterol and blood pressure values in the U.S. They might be right about this one.
But I won't start cutting back at breakfast, maybe by lunchtime.

post-script:
I don't put Diet Coke on my cat's head, but I was astounded to find this photo online that looks so much like him. Two of my favorite things, together.

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