It’s a simple fact: sodas aren’t good for you. Regular sodas pack a lot of sugar that can cause you to gain weight and can cause diabetes. Both regular and diet sodas can also cause tooth decay and they can weaken your bones. But their sweet taste and fizzy bubbles can be hard to resist. Here’s our step-by-step guide to cutting out the soda.
- Cut back slowly. For example, if you currently drink three sodas a day, cut back to just one soda a day for a couple of weeks. After that, cut back to three or four sodas a week and eventually cut back to none or a modest once a month treat. Over time, you’ll stop constantly craving them.
- Add water. You can also add some water to your soda, which not only cuts back on the sweetness but also helps keep you hydrated. Pretty soon a full strength soda will taste too sweet.
- Do the math. If you drink regular sodas, count up how many calories you are getting from the sodas you drink. Then do the math on how many minutes (or hours) of fast paced walking you have to do to burn off the calories. For both diet and regular sodas you can also add up how much you spend in a week on sodas and figure out what else you could have bought with the money.
- Find tasty alternatives. Keep plenty of healthy alternatives around. Seltzer water mixed with a splash of juice can make help cut down on your cravings for fix. Plain water, too, can be punched up with cucumber slices, berries, mint or citrus fruit. Be sure to keep these alternatives handy and the ingredients stocked. Unsweetened iced tea will help those of you with a caffeine addiction to sodas.
- Avoid soda triggers. Figure out when and where you tend to drink the most sodas and then avoid those situations or places. For example, if the vending machine at work makes you crave sodas, go out of your way to avoid it. Or, if for example, it has become part of your morning routine to have a soda on your way to work, break the habit by taking flavored water or unsweetened ice tea instead.
- Make yourself accountable. Tell everyone you know—family, friends, co-workers–that you are giving up sodas. You’ll find out that their support can make a big difference. You can even post your milestones on social media sites and watch the “congratulations!” roll in.
- Redefine the word “stop”. When you “stop drinking soda” it doesn’t mean you can never enjoy one again. Maybe for you “stop” means only have one a week, say, when you’re eating out or while having a snack and watching your favorite TV show. There’s a big difference in that and drinking multiple sodas every day. And the best way make a sustainable behavior change is to avoid feeling that you are being deprived. After all, cutting out soda is really about making healthy choices while still enjoying occasional treats along the way.