5 TIPS TO KICK THE SODA HABIT
Last week, my husband was home for a few days in between a training and a patrol with the Coast Guard. Being away from home, he tends to fall into some old, less healthy habits when it comes to his nutrition, so when he got here, he told me he was going to make a conscious effort to eat better and drink less soda. I believe he had been drinking close to a 6-pack of 1-liter Cokes and Mountain Dews daily.
I don’t drink soda anymore, but I used to also. And I remember it being VERY hard to quit. In my case, I needed to quit because I didn’t want all the caffeine during my first pregnancy, and the caffeine-free sodas just weren’t the same kind of satisfying – not as bubbly. You know what I mean?! Anyway, so I decided to just quit it altogether. This was over 8 years ago, and I remember it was not easy at times! But I made the decision, and made it happen. After that, I just never went back to it.
My honey, on the other hand, has a different motivation – I think mostly to be supportive of my efforts to be a healthy example for our kids. So the other day, after about a week of cutting back on the sodas, he was so proud of himself as he came walking out to let me know the details of his progress. He’d cut his soda intake by over half what it had been – and he had LOST 6 LBS. in the process! Soda was pretty much the only change to explain the weight loss. After my initial reaction – jealous! – I realized how really awesome that is for him! What a great confidence boost to get him going more in the right direction with his food and starting to exercise again. I also noticed he seemed to need less caffeine, the more he replaced his syrupy drinks with refreshing, hydrating water. And I remembered that being the case when I was pregnant, as well.
So if you or someone you love is thinking of dumping the corn syrup-and-artificial color- laden drinks, I’ve got some great tips for you! (Diet soda isn’t better, by the way, for weight loss or avoiding nasty ingredients – learn more about artificial sweeteners here.)
- Determine what triggers your soda cravings.
Is it the caffeine or bubbly sensation you crave? A feeling of nostalgia when you crack open a can? Do you use it as a stress reliever? Or is it simply a habit of convenience? (that stuff is everywhere!)A great first step to stopping a habit is to understand what’s causing it in the first place.
- Commit to drinking at least 64 oz. of water daily. One trick that helped us was to not have in our minds we are replacing the soda with water. Instead, we knew we just needed to get that amount of water before we allowed ourselves a soda. Once your water goal has been reached for the day, let yourself indulge in a soda if you really still want one by then.
Another tip for getting our water needs met each day – get a good reusable water bottle and take it with you everywhere you go! This one habit has made the difference for me with making sure I get enough water. Often our bodies simply crave hydration, and once that is satisfied, the soda craving will fizzle out. Using this trick also helped us avoid automatically reaching for a soda any time we felt thirsty, simply out of habit or convenience.
- Replace those bubbles! If it’s that bubbly sensation that’s got you hooked, or you dread drinking plain water, try sparkling water. You can boost the flavor without the nasty additives or high sugar content of flavored/vitamin waters by adding fresh fruits or herbs. Some good ones to try: orange slices, lemon or lime wedges, cucumber slices, berries, mint, basil, or rosemary.
- Need caffeine? Sip iced green tea in place of your soda. It has nearly the amount of caffeine as a cup of coffee and offers many health benefits as well, including decreased risk for certain types of cancer and also blood sugar stabilization. If you need it sweet but feel like it is counterproductive to add sweetener to your tea while you’re cutting soda to cut back on sugar, consider this. You could add 6 tsp. of sugar to each 12-oz. glass of green tea and still be consuming just HALF the amount of sugar in a can of soda. Start with this amount if you’re really nervous about giving up sugar cold-turkey. Then wean yourself down gradually. Try to get where you can enjoy your tea with 2 tsp. of sugar or less per glass.
- Rid your environment of soda. Don’t buy it when grocery shopping. Avoid drive-thrus and convenience stores as much as possible. Make the choice to have water or iced tea at restaurants or social events.
Most importantly, when applying these tips, remember WHY you want to quit in the first place. On that note, here are some BONUS tips!:
- Remind yourself of the ways the additives in soda can be harmful for your health.
- Remember that you will pass your habits on to your children, who are watching -and will usually copy- everything you do.
- Think of the money you’ll save! It’s just a dollar here and a dollar there – but those dollars add up fast! Consider putting your soda money into a ‘family fun day’ fund to use for an event or activity you’ve been wanting to do.
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Whatever it is that motivates you to think twice before reaching for a soda, put that in the front of your mind, and you CAN do this!
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Simple stress-busting activities you can do anywhere, instead of soda or other negative habits!
Let me know in the comments below if you try any of these tips. I’d love to hear if they work for you, or if you have another tip to share with us!
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