Campaigns and initiatives that label foods and beverages as "good" or "bad" do not lead to a healthy relationship with food. While Howard County's "Soda Free 30" initiative has good intentions, these types of programs do not last. In my practice as a registered dietitian, I have seen clients attempt overly restrictive diets — eliminating sweets, sodium, etc. — and it often leads to poor eating habits, such as sneaking food or binge eating.
A long-lasting healthy lifestyle is built on moderation and portion control, not deprivation. It's the whole diet that counts. Rather than tell kids what they can't have, we need to help them understand how all foods and drinks can fit into a healthy eating plan. Even people who are overweight can have a sweet treat on occasion; it's the amounts of each food we need to carefully watch.
Rather than have kids pledge not to have soda for 30 days, we should encourage them to get active for one hour every day for 30 days. Teaching kids how to balance their calories in with their calories out is an effective, workable solution to our obesity problem.
Natalie A Webb, Germantown
The writer is employed as a consultant to The Coca-Cola Company.