Addiction, Health & Celebrity Responsibility

By January 31, 2013 February 21st, 2018 Entertainment, Food, Health, Healthy Living, Inspiration

Last updated on February 21st, 2018 at 01:39 pm

Glass of cola Before the release of my book, Confessions of a Middle Aged Hippie, I came clean and publicly revealed one rather embarrassing confession. One that only those who know me well, would already be aware of. When I was much, much younger, I had an addiction. I was seriously and completely addicted. To diet Pepsi. For a lot of years.

Weekly, I’d scour the grocery flyers to see who had the best price, buying caseloads at a time, to feed my eight-can-a-day habit. My ex and I would hit the stores early, to stock up and not miss the low-price sale. Everywhere I went, a can came with me.

In our apartment, there were trails of opened cans that almost looked like they were part of our decor. No one, other than my wise mother, ever suggested that maybe, just maybe, drinking so much diet Pepsi might be contributing to my worsening health issues. Major gastrointestinal problems that kept me in chronic and often acute debilitating pain, eventually leading to major surgery. My gut was a mess. That’s putting it mildly.

Quitting Cold Turkey

Pepsi - Beverley GoldenI feel pretty lucky though. When I decided to quit, as with most of my significant life decisions, I went for it and just stopped. Cold turkey. Days of jitters, shaking hands and mood swings, but overall, I got through it mostly unscathed. I never went back.

With the plethora of major superstars endorsing products that go against their “health first” stance, I thought it would be interesting to look at one major celebrity, who in my opinion, sold out for profit over values.

Beyoncé, a role model to millions, especially her legions of young fans, signed a $50 million deal with Pepsi. This had me compelled to speak up. A lifestyle brand! Seriously? That’s how she described the soda giant. Plus, as a public spokesperson for Michelle Obama’s Let’s Move campaign, aimed at getting American youth moving with the goal of ending obesity, I’d have to ask “Where do Pepsi products fit in with that, Beyoncé?” I’m actually curious if Beyoncé drinks Pepsi products, or if she would allow her young daughter to drink them.

With so much current information on the risks of both diet sweeteners, (like aspartame which diet Pepsi contains) and high-fructose corn syrup, present in regular sodas, it’s important to continue the conversation and raise awareness of the dangers of ingesting these proven harmful substances. Research confirms that high-fructose corn syrup is a major contributor to obesity, diabetes, heart disease and possibly even strokes. Not just in adults, but in children too!

Health Risks Lurking in Your Glass

Brain Overexcitement - Beverley GoldenAnd then there is aspartame. If you read my piece, Obesity, MSG and Rats, you already know that both MSG and aspartame are excitotoxins, substances which over excite neurons to the point of cell damage and eventually cell death. So, in the case of aspartame, if you think it’s a healthy diet sweetener and you are drinking diet sodas to lose weight and get slim, increasingly the research shows that it can actually contribute to weight gain! And research also shows that artificial sweeteners, aspartame in particular, might even be more dangerous than high-fructose corn syrup! And they are addictive too.

For convincing research on the alarming health risks of both MSG and aspartame, I direct you once again to the work of John Erb, a former researcher at the University of Waterloo in Canada, and his eye-opening book, The Slow Poisoning of America.

Can Anything Artificial be Healthy to Eat?

Weight Gain - Beverley GoldenArtificial and low calorie sweeteners can also activate your appetite, increase carbohydrate cravings and stimulate fat storage, leading to weight gain. A glowing example for me, is from a good, but overweight, friend of mine who was heavily hooked on very super-sized diet sodas. He recently reported that he finally stopped drinking his daily diet soda fix and actually lost 19 pounds in three weeks. Just from cutting out his daily diet soda habit! Personal experience always speaks volumes to me.

With Beyoncé’s Pepsi announcement, many vocally spoke out against her choice to align with them. In a poignant and pointed letter to her, the Center for Science in the Public Interest, encouraged her to reconsider and at the very least, donate the money to causes doing research on obesity, diabetes and other soda-related diseases. So far, no response from her.

A piece in Frugivore Magazine expresses the two sides of the debate on Beyoncé’s deal:

Reactions have been mixed. Fans view the campaign as a momentous accomplishment for the singer, while others chide Beyoncé for supporting a sugary-soda brand which is a health affront to many American consumers. They even accuse the diva of hypocrisy for appearing in Michelle Obama’s “Let’s Move” initiative to encourage good health among children and later, selling Pepsi cans.

We live in a world where transparency is imperative. This is a good thing, making everything immediately visible, encouraging people to speak out and use their voice. Do celebrities have a moral responsibility to talk their talk and walk their walk? I believe they do. Can they get away with immoral choices anymore? Not too easily.

Consumers Beware

With so much information available, it seems virtually unbelievable that consumers are not already aware of the potential health risks from consuming both diet sweeteners and high fructose corn syrup found in sodas. Apparently, lots of people still won’t listen.

Healthy Children - Beverley GoldenI confess I was one of them way back then, and it was challenging for me to admit that maybe my diet Pepsi habit was contributing to my health problems. And as Taylor Swift signed on as a spokesperson for diet Coke, the battle of the cola war superstars has been in full swing. I can only urge everyone to educate themselves and continue to put their health first. And the health of children everywhere. So many young people are highly impressionable and more so than ever, it is all of our responsibilities, whether a celebrity or not, to bring attention to issues that are important to the overall health and well-being of not only us as individuals, but to us as a collective society.

What are your thoughts on artificial sweeteners, soda pop and Beyoncé’s deal with Pepsi?

postscript: Seems that the multi-million dollar deal Pepsi threw at Beyoncé didn’t actually increase their sales. Instead they saw a decrease. The trend, I’m delighted to report, is that people are moving towards healthy!

Beverley Golden

About Beverley Golden

Beverley Golden is a writer, storyteller, peacenik and health & vitality consultant, who loves testing unconventional ways to shift paradigms in the playing fields of health and wellness, storytelling and creativity as a path to world peace. Her passion is turning the “impossible” into the possible, using her own experiences with a lifetime of health issues, to inspire and support others to live their life to the fullest.

You're invited to a Complimentary Health Consultation, starting with the True Health Assessment that offers a customized personalized snapshot of how healthy you are in the areas of lifestyle, heredity and nutrition. Contact me to get started!

26 Comments

  • I drink MOSTLY water although I do have an occasional diet drink. The sad thing is that I DO know all the risk associated with diet drinks. Lately, however, I have noticed some physiological changes when I drink them so, I am working harder to remember not to pick one up.
    Sharon G. Cobb recently posted…What Do You Want To Know About Self Confidence?My Profile

    • At least with your awareness you can make conscious choices, Sharon. The less you drink diet drinks, the better of course and sounds like you are moving in that direction. It also sounds like you are paying more attention to your body and psyche, so at some point soon, I hear that you are ready to let go of diet drinks for good. Thanks for sharing.

  • Hi Beverley!

    Thanks for sharing your “addiction” story here 🙂 I could relate somewhat to having an addiction to soda….but have come to realize that drinking any kind of soda is really bad for you……not only for your own health but for us older women who just hate what it does for our diets and I know for me, my belly, which seems to be much harder to get rid of iF I drink ANY kind of soda at all, so I will stick to water and my daily coffee 😉 Great post my friend!
    Joan Harrington recently posted…What You Need To Know To Sell FasterMy Profile

    • Sounds like you are very conscious of the negative effects of sodas, Joan. Kudos to being so aware and seeing how not drinking them makes your diet and waistline much healthier. So many of the foods now available are very unhealthy and it asks us consumers to be more aware and conscious of everything we put in our bodies. Thanks for sharing your “addiction” story and very happy, it is something in your past too!

  • Great blog Beverley!
    About 2 years ago I stopped using the artificial sweetness in my tea. I noticed less bloating right away. I was quite shocked that Beyonce agrees to a contract with Pepsi especially since she started this 21 day vegan diet. I am pretty sure she does not make Pepsi a part of her regular diet. It’s just sad that a lot of young pf look up to celebrities like her and will consume because she endorses it.
    Sharise Hemby recently posted…Test postMy Profile

    • Love hearing that you noticed an immediate difference in your own body, once you gave up artificial sweeteners, Sharise. It is such a testament to sharing our own personal experiences. I agree with you that it is sad to see that huge celebrities do things for money only and that their own lives do not align with the products they endorse. I believe they do have a moral responsibility to their fans too, as so many highly impressionable young people choose to do what their idols do.

  • Lisa says:

    Beverley great post! It is heart breaking to see super stars sell out. I bet you are right, Beyoncé probably doesn’t have her kid drinking diet drinks, she can afford good quality organic food from all the $$ she is making selling diet Pepsi. Such a shame.
    As far as diet drinks, I won’t let my kid touch them, why would we want unnatural chemicals in our bodies? There is such a lack of education regarding food, I saw it first had with my last job. It was heart breaking, people would abuse foods, it would make them sick, and their was no fixing them…sad, very sad.
    Another thing I have been seeing more of, is some of my older clients in 80-90s are out living their children, these are people that lived through war, depression etc…but their kids are dying earlier in 50 and 60s. What is happening, my guess is food sources…thank you for this very informative article!

    • Sounds like you have had a first hand view of the negative effects of unhealthy foods, Lisa. And yet people continue to consume them and pay the price, even often after they are conscious. Somehow taste dictates their choices. I agree with you about celebrities and how easily they sell out for money, and to products that don’t necessarily even align with what they do or stand for in their own lives. This is the sad and seductive part of our consumer driven society. I love hearing that you are teaching your family and child what is healthy, so they can make conscious choices for themselves. Kudos to you and based on my own experience with my mother, I believe the over 80 and 90 generation is truly healthier in many ways, because of their early influences in life. We have the ability to make conscious choices and my wish is that more and more people begin to do this for themselves and their families.

  • An extremely important issue Beverley, what a great post to bring more awareness. We do not have any soda in the house, like ever, and the kids aren’t even curious to try it, they say it’s bad for you and that’s it.

    I used to like it when I was younger, in small quantities though. Re aspartame, it’s in so many products, it’s so hard to avoid it. I always read labels so carefully to make sure there’s no such thing in them.
    Delia @ Happy Blogger Plaza recently posted…Why should you pay attention to blog formattingMy Profile

    • How amazing that your children are so aware of how “bad for you” sodas are, Delia. That is a tribute to you and your husband raising them to be aware. And yes, there are so many hidden ingredients, including aspartame, in foods we buy, that awareness and consciousness are truly needed to stay on top of the unhealthy ones. Reading labels is something I do all the time too! Thanks for sharing about your choice to be healthy and to teach your kids this too.

  • Tamuria says:

    Great article and important point Beverley. Those who set themselves up as role models need to be conscious of what they endorse – no question. It really is hypocritical to promote good health in one instance and then promote something that is so unhealthy when the profit margin is right. I’ve had my share of addictions but not soft drinks (that’s Aussie for soda). I do know that the Australian government made huge changes to how ingredients were displayed on labels several years ago when it became clear people were choosing diet products not realizing what was actually in them.
    Tamuria recently posted…HALLOWEEN HAUNTED HOUSE TO MAKEMy Profile

    • We call them soft drinks here too, Tamuria. Or at least I remember calling them this back in the day. And I recently heard that the Australian government is very forward thinking in their labelling laws, now even requiring the glycemic index to be listed on labels. Love that! I think if North America would take Australia’s lead, perhaps we wouldn’t have as many “unhealthy” young people. It is very hypocritical for someone to set themselves up as a role model and then to play both sides of the fence. In this case, so many young impressionable kids are following every move their “idols” make. Promoting good health and also an unhealthy product, just doesn’t gel in my world either! Thanks for adding your voice to the conversation.

  • I’ve been a Diet Pepsi fan for years and admit that it is still my ‘favorite cola’, Beverley. Having said that, drinking cola drinks is a conscious decision and I have cut back a lot over the years and there are days that I can do without it.

    Part of the wake up call was learning about an experiment that one of my parent’s friends had tried with his child’s tooth (kid got the money from the Tooth Fairy) and placing it in a glass of cola overnight. By the next morning, the tooth had dissolved.

    What bothers me is when celebrities endorse brands as lifestyle choices to a younger generation knowing full well that these youngsters hero worship them. In India we have a young hero who is the heartthrob of all the young girls and a model for the boys who watch him playing out small skit adverts on tv and guess what, they drink Pepsi.

    Things are tightening up here and of late, there is a shortage of both Diet Cola and Diet Pepsi. I understand the shelf life of these artificially sweetened drinks is only 15 days!
    Vatsala Shukla recently posted…Why Failure Is GoodMy Profile

    • Happy to hear that drinking Diet Pepsi is now more of a conscious choice and that you are very aware of the health dangers it brings, Vatsala. I don’t think I could drink it anymore even if I tried to actually. And yet, I couldn’t be without it for many years. I agree that celebrities who promote unhealthy things as a “lifestyle” choice, as doing a big disservice to all the younger and impressionable fans who look to them for guidance. It’s great to hear that in India, things are tightening up and that there is a shortage of Diet Cola and Diet Pepsi. I didn’t know they had such a short shelf life, as imagine the people who are stocking cases of these colas for much longer than that. Interesting anecdote, but my daughter has purchased a case of cherry cola several years ago and left it in the fridge downstairs. When she revisited it recently (she’d forgotten about it actually), the cans were almost empty as the contents had evaporated. That was quite a big surprise indeed. Thanks for joining the conversation, as it is very appreciated!

  • Beverley,

    This is so true. First, I was, I guess you’d say, addicted to Diet Coke. I had never drank a diet cola until I was 35 and for some reason, I really, really loved it! Long story short, I gave it up cold turkey 10 years ago. I kept reading about aspartame and what it could do to you and all the risks to your health and so I stopped. Just. Like. That. Now I drink water, coffee and tea with nothing in it.

    As far as celebrities “selling out” for money. Nothing surprises me these days; It seems to be all about the money. Enjoyed reading this post; thanks for the thought-provoking information.
    M Colleen Wietmarschen recently posted…Five Tips for Organizing Electronic Writing FilesMy Profile

    • Thanks for reading this one and sharing your own Diet Coke story M Colleen. Seems we all are vulnerable and that no matter the age, addictive substances can still hook us. Happy to hear you were also able to go “cold turkey”, as I still know many people who can’t kick whatever habit/addiction that has a hold of them. And yes, artificial sweeteners are very detrimental to health and should actually be regulated and banned. My hope is this is coming as people move more to healthy choices as the trend.

      The unfortunate thing about money, is it is also seductive and addictive for some people and where a celebrity has a chance to take a stand and make an empowered choice, often they still sell out and go for the money. Glad you enjoyed reading this one and appreciate you joining the conversation!

  • Deb Nelson says:

    Hypocrisy abounds with Beyonce’s endorsement of Pepsi. It’s really a shame that she won’t use her celebrity to limit the number of sugary drinks kids are consuming. What a powerful statement it would be if she were to say: “No way Blue Ivy is getting her hands on a can of soda.” And, yes, I had plenty of soda in my late teens and twenties (Tab for me). And, yes, I wish I had eliminated it from my life much sooner than I did. Great post, Beverley.
    Deb Nelson recently posted…Is Inconsistent Messaging Turning Clients Away?My Profile

    • Thanks for sharing your own Tab addiction Deb, as I think we all got caught up in unhealthy habits when we were younger. This is why celebrities (in my opinion) do have a moral responsibility to their fans. Young people are impressionable and when their favourite celebrity supports something, it somehow makes it alright for them. Like you, I would have loved to see Beyoncé take a stand based on her own concern for her child. Someone money still talks and the possible consequences are born by many innocent kids who become addicted to things that are detrimental to their health!

  • I never paid attention to celebrity endorsements or commercials. That could not influence my choices. Real experiences does. I never thought I had an addiction, other than shopping until I was sent for alchol addiction counseling training when I discovered my own to coffee. Gradually went thru withdrawal from 8 daily to 1.

    • Thanks for sharing your own “addiction” story, Roslyn, as so many people aren’t aware that even something like coffee can still be addictive. At least you were able to take control and not be its slave. When it comes to celebrities endorsing “unhealthy” choices, I think it is worth noting, as they wield a lot of influence on young and impressionable fans. It isn’t so much that I am influenced by what they do, as wanting to be a voice that speaks up and makes sure all sides of the conversation are being heard.

  • Thanks, Beverley, for posting this valuable article on Pepsi. I am very certain that many will be
    reminded of the bad effects of drinking such soft drink. Its ill-effects can not be ignored, such as
    debilitating pain and other gastronomic problems.
    Lorii Abela recently posted…Should You Stop Dating And Let Yourself Be Wooed?My Profile

    • So true Lorii! Having been addicted to Diet Pepsi myself for many years, I know the negative health effects and you are correct in saying that gastro or digestive issues are a big one. Appreciate you stopping by and joining the conversation!

  • Jade Suitor says:

    Health to Michelle Obama constitutes of both internal and physical, both diet and the mental and emotional state. They are all interrelated in a way. Throughout her life, she had been privileged of making the perfect choices for herself, and she considers herself fortunatefor this. Even her husband encouraged her everytime to figure out what she actually wanted to do, as they both understood the simple fact that physical happiness is connected to all the components of a healthy lifestyle, and hence she wants to pass on these concepts to her daughters. “`’.

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    • Thanks Jade for stopping by my blog. I agree that Michelle Obama has honourable intentions with everything she does, it is just that aligning with a celebrity who then does something that, in my view, tarnishes the integrity of what is being represented, it is perhaps time to take another look at those people who walk both sides of the issue. Thanks for commenting and reading!

  • Lucy says:

    I absolutely agree with you about the dangers of colas and especially about the dangers of diet drinks. When my kids were young people thought I was not only weird (my kids are 21 and 18, so not long ago) but also being cruel because I didn’t let them drink fizz and because Aspartame, Saccharin etc were banned in our house. My premise has always been that if they want a fizzy drink, one – two at the most – then have a regular sugary one. They hardly drink fizzy drinks now. Both of them prefer water.
    These pop stars are icons for our kids and they should definitely show more responsibility in who they choose to remote. But of course, money wins, and that’s all it’s really about for them.

    • Thanks so much Lucy for taking the time to read and comment here! How wonderful that you were there to guide your kids from the time they were young and were successful in steering them away from artificial sweeteners! It seems so obvious now to me, but back when I was addicted to diet Pepsi, literally no one talked about the dangers of much of anything. Thankfully I stopped. And I agree with you that it is becoming more important for high profile celebrities to consider the implications of their decisions and act from a place of moral responsibility, not only how much money is in it for them. Appreciate you joining in the conversation on this topic.

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