Daughter’s Coke Habit a Problem

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(The Vancouver Sun, December 22, 2000)

Q: My teenaged daughter drinks so much Diet Coke that she is addicted to it. She’ll have 4-6 a day. I know colas affect a girl’s retention of calcium, and I already feel that the coke is displacing milk and juices that she needs to properly develop. I don’t want her to pay for it later, but she’s 17 now and, naturally, we can’t tell her anything she doesn’t already know.

Saleema and Teresa: Since you can’t be with her 24 hours a day, forbidding your daughter to drink Diet Coke is probably not the answer. You want to allow your her to make her own choices as a young adult, but at the same time you want her to be healthy. Continue to educate (not lecture) her by, for example, giving her interesting magazine articles to read at her leisure. Your daughter may act like she knows everything you tell her, but she doesn’t! Of course, stocking the fridge with Diet Coke wouldn’t be a good idea. Keep in mind, though, that you may have to compromise. You may not be able to convince her to drink only milk and juice, but you can provide her with healthier alternatives than Diet Coke. For example, if you are going to the store, ask her what type of non-caffeinated beverage she would like. As teens respond better to immediate consequences, warn your daughter of the negative side effects of caffeine such as dehydration, headaches, restlessness and anxiety. Your family doctor may be able to help you do this. It would also be important to examine the reasons why your daughter is drinking so much Diet Coke. Is it because she honestly likes the taste of it, or is she drinking it in an attempt to lose weight? If so, her body image issues need to be addressed immediately.