Debunking seltzer myths

Healthy eating should not be reduced to just one food, sugar can’t ruin a person’s body on its own



Alice Ma, registered dietician for WSU Dining Services, speaks about diets and the fine line between calorie counting and eating disorders Friday in the CUB.

KRISTIN BULZOMI, Evergreen columnist

A columnist for The Daily Evergreen wrote a piece titled “Seltzer water is a healthier choice.” In this piece the columnist made several outrageous claims which I would like to address.

The dreaded “Freshman 15” is a myth.  There have been many studies done on this over the years and the majority have only found weight gain of less than 5 pounds on average.

Even if an individual gains weight, this says nothing about their health. As I wrote in my first column, weight is not a determinant of health. Gaining or losing weight says nothing about an individual’s worth or wellness.

Health is more complicated than whether a person chooses to drink soda.

Drinking soda is not inherently unhealthy as stated in the column. As long as you meet your dietary needs, no one food can destroy your health. Eating certain foods is not moral or immoral and does not make an individual good or bad. Food is just food.

A healthy diet means different things to different people depending on personal goals, beliefs and allergies or other dietary restrictions, said Alice Ma, a registered dietitian for Dining Services.

She cautioned against following fad diets that restrict certain food groups for the sake of health and encouraged students to refer to her or another registered dietician’s expertise for assistance in guiding health goals.

A common misconception exists that food and sugar are addictive. They are not. Addiction requires tolerance and withdrawal, and there have been no scientific findings of this in humans with sugar or food according to an article published in Neuroscience & Biobehavioral Reviews by Johannes Hebebrand et al.

The only thing addictive about soda is caffeine.

“Yes, it is OK to drink soda or eat or drink anything you’d like as long as, obviously, it’s not poisonous,” Ma said.

Despite the column calling sugar a “passive poison,” sugar is not poisonous nor is it addictive. And no, one-fourth of residential diners are not a slice of pie away from heart failure.

It is impossible to find the amount of soda and sugar consumption from a specific student from the data that was collected from interviews on the percentage of students who purchase a beverage at dining halls.

The percentage of students purchasing sodas cannot communicate specific data on individual consumption because it is not measuring individual data.

The most concerning part of the column for me was this line, “To eat or not to eat, that is the question.” As someone who has worked in the eating disorder field for the last five years, I can tell you with certainty that eating is a necessity and questioning otherwise, even if it is meant as hyperbole, is harmful.

Including this question sends the message that not eating is and should be a real option. It reinforces the societal message that thinness is the ideal and that we should forego health to obtain it.

The entire column is filled with hyperbole and embellishes the facts and there is no room in this conversation for such language. There are so many misunderstandings surrounding food, health and weight that people cannot continue to misrepresent the facts.

It is harmful to continue to send the message that one size fits all when it comes to food, health and weight.