There are few things in this world that make my mouth water like the sound of someone opening a can of soda. Just hearing it makes me want to chug a gallon of Diet Coke. And even though I lived off Diet Coke when I was in college, the older me is realizing that drinking too much soda is affecting my health. Like many Americans I have struggled with giving up soda. It wasn’t until I tried the below tips that I was able to kick the habit for good.
Figure Out Why You Want to Quit
Quitting anything is difficult, especially if you don’t have a good reason for doing it. It is easier to justify giving up on your goal if you haven’t clearly defined why giving up soda is important to you. So if you are serious about cutting soda out of your diet, find your reason and make it good. First thing is first, write down why you no longer want to drink soda. Need some ideas? Well, here are just a few health risks related to drinking bubbly beverages like cola:
- Sugary sodas & diet sodas increase your risk for heart disease, including heart attack and stroke.
- The carbonation in soda can weaken your bones and has been linked to increased risk for osteoporosis.
- The artificial sweeteners in soda are not only controversial, but have been linked to migraines, acne & more.
In addition to the above health risks, maybe you are tired of spending money on something that isn’t making you a healthier person. Maybe you’re tired of the bloating or weight gain that often accompanies a soda habit. Whatever the reason, write it down and keep it somewhere that you often see. Tape it on our bedroom mirror, your dashboard, your desk and your fridge. Don’t let yourself forget that there is a reason you want to give up soda.
Track Your Daily Intake
When you decide to quit drinking soda, set a target date for when you want to be soda free. It might be a few months away, it might be a year away, just make sure you have a goal in mind. Then, each day write down how much soda you had and how much it cost you. Make a goal to have less the next day. Writing down the cost is a good reminder of how much you can save the more soda you cut out.
I’m not suggesting that you quit cold turkey. In fact, doing so would be unrealistic for most people. I am, however, suggesting that you start buying less soda. Limit the times you go to the gas station for a drink, limit how many glasses your server brings to the table, and don’t stock up as much when you visit the grocery store. Each weak, continue to decrease the amount of soda you are purchasing.
Start With Smaller Servings
Along with purchasing less, start decreasing your serving size. If you normally start your morning off with a 44 oz soda from the corner gas station, decrease that to 32 oz, then 20 oz. Instead of getting a large drink with your food order, go with a small. Instead of buying full bottles, get cans. Cut your serving sizes down gradually until you are limiting yourself to one soda per week, and eventually per month.
I have a friend who can’t go to McDonald’s without order a Coke. He knows that if he goes to McDonald’s, he’s going to get 2 double cheeseburgers and a large Coke. So when he decided to quit drinking soda, he knew that he could no longer go to McDonald’s for their double cheeseburgers. Just tasting one of those burgers triggered a craving for the sugar-laden beverage. Identifying your triggers means finding the situations that make you feel like you need a soda. Maybe, like my friend, it’s a certain restaurant or food. It could be a particular time of day, a person or even a stressful situation. Whatever you identify as your trigger, try to avoid it when possible and determine an alternative when you can’t remove yourself from the situation. You may not be able to avoid going to a company lunch, but you can make the decision ahead of time to ask for water with lemons.
Avoid Foods With the Same Sweeteners in Soda
Most people think they are addicted to the caffeine in soda, if this was the case it would be easy to switch to coffee or green tea exclusively. And while people do get addicted to caffeine, it’s often the sweeteners that can make a soda habit hard to kick. Whether you drink diet soda or regular soda, you need to avoid similar sweeteners in other foods you are eating. For instance, if you are drinking regular Coke you are consuming sugar. So as you are trying to quit, you want to avoid other sugary drinks like juices. Consuming sugar while trying to quit sugary soda can trigger cravings. If you are drinking Diet coke the artificial sweetener you’ve been consuming is aspartame. Aspartame is used in a lot of sugar free beverages and foods. Read labels carefully to be sure that you are limiting your consumption as you are quitting soda.
There are healthy alternatives to drinking soda. And just because you might be avoiding sugar and aspartame, doesn’t mean you can’t have beverages sweetened with healthy, natural sweeteners like stevia. Try subbing out your morning soda for a hot cup of coffee, a glass of vanilla almond milk, a bottle of Sobe Life Water (sweetened with stevia), or even good ‘ol natural.
Like I said before, the crisp pop of a soda can still gets to me, but all of these tips make it easier to resist the temptation to start drinking soda again. Not only have I lowered a lot of my risks for significant health problems by eliminating soda from my diet, but I finally feel like I’ve beat my addiction!