While you know that water is best for your body, it can be hard to resist the sweet taste and pleasant fizz of your favorite soda pop. But the more soda you consume, the more hazardous your habit can become. And whether you’re a six-pack-a-day drinker or an occasional sipper, cutting back or stopping altogether can have many benefits for your overall diet, weight and health. With that in mind, here are eight ways to help you stop drinking soda.
Wean yourself off slowly
Instead of going cold turkey, which sounds ideal but in reality can be difficult, try to wean yourself off – just like you would anything you’ve become dependant on. If you usually drink multiple servings of soda a day, try cutting back to only one a day. Try that for one to two weeks and then switch to just three sodas a week. Adjusting gradually is more likely to lead to real, sustainable change.
Go for natural soda
When you’ve successfully cut back to a few sodas a week, try switching to a brand with fewer artificial ingredients. Try Grown Up Soda, Santa Cruz Organics or Blue Sky, since they don’t contain high-fructose corn syrup or artificial ingredients and are made with less sugar than the big brands. While they’re more expensive, this could also mean you’ll be drinking them less often and eventually will make it down to none at all.
Mix your soda with water
A good way to drink less soda is to mix it with water. Try mixing half-soda and half-water. You’ll automatically be drinking less soda and hydrating yourself with water, a good thing in itself. This also cuts back on the sweetness you get from soda, which is one of the worst things about sodas that we all really get used to. When you’re drinking less sugar, your taste buds will change and soon you won’t feel the need for that sweet kick anymore.
Track your calories
Yes, we’ve all heard that counting calories is no way to live but, let’s face it, in reality you need to be aware of your calorie intake if you want to lead a healthier life. Blindly throwing back colas without stopping to think of their impact on your body could lead to a harsh awakening: each can of Coke contains 140 calories, while a 20-ounce bottle has 240 calories. Simply put, you could be spending the same number of calories on smarter snacks filled with protein and fiber.
The best way to track your intake is with a calorie-tracking app. We recommend using MyFitnessPal’s Calorie Counter app, available for free on both iOS and Android. It is important that you actually log in and record each serving in your daily intake. Instead of pouring yourself refill after refill, pay attention to how much you’re actually drinking. Once you do, it is likely that you’ll be more willing to cut back.
Do the exercise math
Another way to quantify your calories intake is by thinking about how much exercise it would take to burn them off. According to a 2014 study by John Hopkins University, it would take five miles of walking or 50 minutes of jogging to make up for a 20-ounce bottle of soda. Is it really worth it?
Switch to unsweetened tea
If you tend to grab a can of soda for your caffeine boost, try sipping on unsweetened ice tea instead. Unsweetened tea can be just as refreshing and offers real health benefits – for instance, it contains phytochemicals which help prevent the formation of carcinogens and so can reduce the risk of cancer.
If you don’t like the taste of plain tea, mix in some mint, lemon or a small amount of sugar or artificial sweetener (only during your early transition phase, since the aim is to cut out excess sugar in the long term).
Drink water first
When you have the urge to pop open that can of soda, fill up a big glass of icy water and finish it first. Believe it or not, most of us drink soda not because we’re thirsty, but because we’re bored or because it is what we’re used to drinking. Try breaking your habit with a glass of water and then you can decide whether you really need a soda, or if your thirst has already been quenched from all that H2O.
Freshen up your water
Most people love sodas because they think water is boring, both in terms of look and taste. Why not try experimenting with new ways to drink it? Try adding lemon, orange or cucumber slices to a pitcher of water in your refrigerator. Frozen berries and fresh mint can also be tasty additions.
Old habits die hard and giving up soda is no easy task, but once you’ve started weaning away from it, you can rest assured that you’ll feel accomplished, healthier and even slimmer than before.
Looking to learn more about how diet and nutrition can help you lead a healthier life? Contact us today – we’re more than happy to help.