When it comes to health resolutions, cutting back, on or completely eliminating soda from one’s diet seems to be on the top of people’s to-do lists. Most of us are lucky enough not to be addicted to cigarettes, but we have found ourselves in denial about our addiction to the sugary, calorie-laden beverages that seem to be everywhere.
Many of us justify our soda drinking by only consuming diet soda, or we tell ourselves we’ve “cut back” our sugary-drink addictions by supplementing our drinking diets with other drinks that mask themselves as “health alternatives” but really aren’t- you know the culprits… Vitamin Water, Gatorade, sweet tea. Truly these drinks lack the fizz, but they don’t lack the sugar, or the calories!
It took me several years of back-and-forth soda addiction before I finally learned to live without offering my spare change to the vending machine of fizzy-drink goodness. I remember distinctly, one time as a teenager when I simply couldn’t drink plain water because it had no flavor– how scary! I hated water, though our bodies need it, simply because it was boring to my taste buds!
As I got older though, even if I didn’t mind the tasteless taste of water, I depended on soda for the caffeine and often needed soda to get through a long day of work & college classes. (I say depended here..not appreciated the caffeine and sugar, depended on it.) Even if I wasn’t hankering for the boost, going to the vending machine was more of a ritual to combat boredom (seeing the parallels to cigarettes here?) and have an excuse to take a minute for myself.
Don’t assume you know everything about your habits- take a second to examine them. Soda meant different things for me at different stages in my life. Initially, my palate was not accustomed to “flavor-less” and it took some retraining to enjoy the taste of water. Later in life, I survived college by having 2-3 Cokes a day because the sugar/caffeine helped me get through finals. Eventually though, drinking soda became a thoughtless habit for no reason at all.
What bodily or thought processes lead you to grab soda regularly?
If it’s easier to get your hands on soda than it is to avoid soda, you’ve got a problem. Don’t assume your willpower is stronger than your habit!
Where do you find you get soda from most often- do you drink it mostly at home or during the workday? The key to kicking the soda habit for good would be to make it stupid easy to avoid drinking it. First and foremost, stop buying it and bringing it home, that alone will do wonders (promise!). If you’re at work, keep water or soda-alternatives like tea and low-sugar juices on hand.
Many of us drink whatever is in front of and simply sip out of habit- just keep water by your desk and see if that satiates your need to simply drink something.
This is where it gets tricky- some “alternatives” to soda are just as bad for you! At first though, if you need to wean yourself off the caffeine, try hot tea or coffee (but don’t mindlessly dump sugar packets in it!). If you’re hankering for sugar, diet soda might seem like the smart bet- but don’t be fooled! Diet sodas contain substances that mimic sugar and while they fool the tongue, they don’t fool the body, and as your body processes diet sodas it will crash after realizing you didn’t feed it the sugar it craves!
If you absolutely detest the lackluster taste of water (if that what it feels like for you) experiment with drink mixes like Crystal Light or tea packets, then work your way to infused waters. Infused waters are delicious and have no sugar, calories or hidden carbs- simply add a few slices of citrus, cucumber or a few sprigs of mint to liven up your water.
I know this seems like a very, very weird healthy living hack, but it’s true! I noticed that I would drink water more often when I got a sturdy, resusable cup with a straw from Starbucks as a gift. I personally love cups with straws over your typically water bottle (no idea why) since I love that it never gets a weird smell/taste and is easy to clean or throw in the dishwasher.
Find a bottle or sippy cup that’s BPA free and dishwasher safe so you’re sure to actually use it. If cleaning is a hassle, chances are you’ll forget it in the kitchen! Starbucks, Target & Hallmark have all had great reusable cups that will look great on your desk!
One of the easiest missteps to make when you cut soda out of your life is to make it the demon of all drinks- though it’s not. In moderation, soda is fine for a boost or a treat, but it can easily become a habit again if you’re not careful. Be mindful when you’re out for a day of shopping or when you’re falling asleep at your desk, that even if you reach for another non-soda beverage, it could reignite your cravings!
Starbucks has great low-sugar options like tea and black coffee- but be wary of their calorie-laden sugary drinks like Lattes and Frappuchinos. Additionally, when you reach for a Red Bull or energy drink, you may need a quick boost, but could find that you’re craving sugar as intensely as when you quit it the first time! Sometimes unintentionally, we awaken our need for soda by consuming sugar and caffeine without thinking about it- you can beat the cravings with awareness!
I have a huge problem with soda. Like a big big problem. I haven’t had one in around 2 weeks and although I’m totally hopeful, I’ve done this before. I’ve kicked the habit for a month or two and then it creeps back in.
The biggest strides I’ve made have happened when I 1. started buying bottled water. A lot of times, I just wanted something super cold and tap water with ice sounded disgusting. Now I buy bottled water because it’s portable and just as “easy to grab” as a soda which was always my excuse. 2. I started exploring carbonated water. I love soda’s refreshing, corrosive effect (gross, right?), especially with oily or greasy food. Water just didnt’ seem to wash pizza or pasta, etc. down the right way. Once I had carbonated water on hand, that was an alternative that met that need. I’m still fighting the good fight but each time I have cut them out completely it’s been easier and easier because I learn more about why I even like soda each time. Awesome post!
I used most of your tips to quit my beloved CocaCola habit 1.5 years ago! I used to drink practically nothing but Coke in college, then 2-4 cans a day afterwards. I hated plain water, even though I knew I needed it.
I got down to a can a day by switching to filtered water (Brita, or office cooler) with ice cubes & a couple of squeezes of lemon juice from a bottle. I does something to the flavour that my body loves.
I kicked the can-a-day habit by realizing that I still craved it when I was muzzy headed; it was the caffeine! So I switched to a large mug of coffee in the AM (less sugar) & green tea with honey in the mid afternoon.
Now it’s a treat I have occasionally. I still love it madly, but I can’t belive I ever drank more than a single can! SO SWEET!
As a side note, I didn’t think I had much of a sweet tooth until I quit Coke. I never craved sweets. But once I quit Coke, I started having sugar cravings for the first time, and had no coping mechanisms. I really recommend having HEALTHY sweet treats on hand for the transition. I like unsweetend yoghurt & berries with honey, kettlecorn (some sugar), and dried & fresh fruit (OK, natural candy, but still has nutrients in there).
I quit my diet coke habit cold turkey about 3 years ago – haven’t had a soda since (unless you count a few perriers since).
Why did I quit cold turkey? Because one day I went to the soda machine at work and realized I was SAD – not disappointed, but REALLY SAD – that the machine was out of diet coke. The fact that it had that much of an effect on me scared the be-jeezus out of me and I said never again.
When I was in high school I tried to give up soda for a month or so, and each time I tried it was a miserable failure. I tend to give myself whatever I want- I come from an Italian family that believes life is too short not to indulge in your favorite things.
I never had a real serious problem with soda, but I probably was having at least one a day for a looong time.
Last summer I decided I needed to make a healthier lifestyle change. I do most of my eating at home so I decided I wouldnt keep soda in the house. I told myself instead of cutting soda out of my life completely, I’d save it for times I go out to eat. This prevented me from having the want-what-I-cant-have cravings I got when I tried to quit cold turkey. And going without any soda for even a couple days makes me realize just how sugary it is- makes me want it less even when I’m eating out.
So I went from one a day- to only having them when I eat out- to now only occasionally.
I need to kick my caffeine addiction too! ahh!
Having a awesome reusable water bottle is a great idea as you will want to take it with you wherever you go. As you drink more water and remain well hydrated, you will crave less sugary drinks.
I quit drinking sodas and went to green tea. I am enjoying the varieties of flavors and I do not miss the sodas so much.
cjnedrow at gmail dot com
One of my outlets when i crave for soda is eating candy, (one) candy only. . .heheh
I’ve found Mio Energy as a great alternative to drinking soda. It gives me that pick up I need and all I have to do is add it to water. If you don’t need the energy and just enjoy something with flavor there are a lot of other kinds. Also it’s cheaper than buying soda.
Another trick that works for me along the lines of having soda as a trick is buying coke in glass bottles. For me, having coke out of a glass bottle is the best. To limit your consumption, just limit the bottles you keep cold in your fridge. Granted, you can still just add it to a cup of ice, but that defeats the whole purpose of the glass bottle. And most stores that carry them sell them individually which will prevent you from picking up a case and limiting your treat to only one.
I don’t know what it is about those Starbuck’s cups but that’s the only way I get my water in. As long as it has a straw it makes it easier to drink it.
I am so addicted to soda. I’ve gone through phases where I won’t drink it at all (pregnancy, for instance) but I’ve started back up again and have at least one can a day. It may not be much, but it’s more than I’d like to be drinking.
I don’t like water. Like you used to say, It’s flavorless. I crave the carbonation from soda, so i found a great alternative.
I received a SodaStream to review, and it has been a wonderful thing to have. Instead of using their regular mixes, I use the all natural, no sugar “water enhancer” flavors, or I mix in some plain fruit juice for a little flavor.
Such a better way to drink soda! If you don’t have a SodaStream, you can buy LaCroix or similar flavored carbonated water brands! (bg)
It took me an incredibly long time and a lot of efforts to kick soda; a meal just wasn’t a meal without a Pepsi. (Well, not counting breakfast.) What finally did it was a more general effort to get all high-fructose corn syrup out of my diet; while I still very occasionally have a cane-sugar cola as a treat, the kind of soda you can just order anywhere tastes awful to me and leaves a film in my mouth. Another thing that helped, I think, was breaking the habit of drinking anything at all with meals; it dilutes your digestive juices, which seems like a bad idea. For whatever reason it’s easy for me to stick to water, tea and juice when hydration happens at a different time than solid food consumption. (bg)
I’m a Diet Cokehead.
Well, I’m trying to recover. I’m down to not buying/asking my parents for 12 packs (they’re enablers!), not ordering it at restaurants, and not picking one up any time I’m out and see the Coke cooler. I do weaken during work, when I’m thirsty and tired and the butcher shop that kind of seems like a drug front next door sells ice cold ones for just over a dollar…
My boyfriend was totally addicted to soda and I was addicted to sweet tea! We were the worst!
Keeping each other accountable, we slowly switched our eating habits – I started drinking unsweetened tea (adding my own sugar at the beginning and then scaling back) and he started replacing his soda with seltzer, slowly, maybe one can at a time.
Then I got him a SodaStream for Christmas, and he loves carbonating water so much he goes through the seltzer faster! (It is quite fun, I just don’t know why!) I, on the other hand, bought a cool Nalgene bottle and have covered it with stickers from all of my travels (Italy, Paris, Yellowstone National Park, etc. etc.) so now I want to fill it with water and bring it everywhere, just so I can show off. 😀 And when I get a hankering for tea I drink it completely unsweetened, usually I make my own decaf black tea to avoid the caffeine too.
Having someone keep you accountable is definitely my biggest tip! Great tips in this post though! The “getting a cool water cup” definitely works!
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