From Soda to Water: One Thermal Family’s Change to a Healthier Lifestyle

October 14, 2011 /

By Aurora Saldivar
Coachella Unincorporated

For 11-year-old Victoria Flores, a recent visit to the doctor changed her life.

“The doctor said that I should stop drinking soda,” said Flores, who lives with her family at the Castro’s trailer park in Thermal.

Flores had been having terrible headaches, stomachaches and fatigue, often keeping her from engaging in fun activities after school.

Victoria said she used to drink soda and Gatorade daily, adding that the doctor said it was leading to dehydration.

The same went for her 10-year-old sister, Cielo Flores. According to their doctor, soda was responsible for the sisters’ loss of energy.

Due to this serious news, the entire Flores family had to change its lifestyle.

The family has since decided to make health a priority. The Flores family made the switch from soda to water, from chips to vegetables, from cookies to fruit. Coachella Unincorporated was invited to their home to hear the story of the family’s recent attention to healthy living.

Victoria cleared a pitcher of water and a bowl of fruit from the kitchen table.

“We now also have a rule about when we can eat fast food,” Cielo said, adding they now eat food from restaurants and fast food once a week compared to the multiple trips they’d make before.

Although it is hard for the family to give up their favorite treats, Cielo says she now knows the importance of a healthy lifestyle and says she would like to do more exercise and eat even healthier. Victoria’s favorite soda was 7Up and Cielo loved Carl’s Jr, but a water pitcher is prominently featured in their kitchen today where soda once sat.

“Soda pop is the worst,” said Dr. Christopher V. Flores, a Coachella Valley family physician. “I cannot believe people still drink that stuff.”

Dr. Flores, who is not related to the Flores family and is not their physician, suggests high school and middle school children limit their soda consumption to once a week. “It should be treated like a treat, definitely not to be served alongside every meal,” he said.

Before the family’s switch to healthy alternatives, Victoria would get headaches and stomachaches. These headaches and overall loss of energy experienced by both sisters are common symptoms of dehydration. “Soda has no nutritional value,” said Dr. Flores. “It actually dehydrates us. It is too much for our bodies to process.”

Water seems to be the safest choice of beverages to eat with meals. According to Dr. Flores, “There are hidden sugars everywhere; we don’t even know when we are eating it. It’s a shame that it’s more expensive to buy water,” he said, adding, “Drinking sodas, it is like abusing the body.”

In addition to causing fatigue and dehydration, a study by the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition states that drinks with high levels of fructose corn syrup contribute to child obesity, which is increasing at such a rapid pace that it is coming to be known as an epidemic. Doctors like those working with the Flores family are now recommending water as a way to make family lifestyles healthier.

Now at school, Victoria and Cielo drink their water from the fountain and choose milk at lunch as opposed to fruit juices, which have high sugar content.

“I feel a lot better and now have lots of energy during the day,” says Victoria.

Her sister Cielo agrees. “I feel like I can do a lot of exercising with all my new energy,” she says.

When the sisters were asked why they think it is a good idea for kids and teens to try to drink less soda and sugary drinks, Cielo replied, “Because it makes you feel better, it makes you stronger. [Kids] should drink water. It’s healthier.”

Now that Victoria is back at school, she is still working on limiting her soda consumption. She says she will stick to the water fountains. And she’s hoping the next time she visits the doctor, he’ll give her a clean bill of health.