Soda like many other things in our American diet has no nutritional value it is just something we like to consume like cookies. Twenty-one percent of the sugar in the average American’s diet comes from soft drinks! That’s more than just an unhealthy consumption of empty calories. It is a dangerous overload of caffeine and potentially hazardous, nutrient-depleting additives. The reality is we all drink soda from time to time, but as you can see by the facts below millions of Americans are drinking a dangerous amount of it.
- Soft drinks have replaced milk in the diets of many American children as well as adults. School purchases reflect such trends. From 1985 to 1997, school districts decreased the amounts of milk they bought by nearly 30% and increased their purchases of carbonated soft drinks.
- The relationship between soft drink consumption and body weight is so strong that researchers calculate that for each additional soft drink consumed, the risk of obesity increases 1.6 times.
- Soft drink consumption may be a major factor for osteoporosis, as they are high in phosphates and contain virtually no calcium. This leads to lower calcium levels and higher phosphate levels in the blood.
- The United States ranks first among countries for soft drink consumption with a per capita consumption of approximately 15 ounces a day. Males between the ages of 12 – 29 drink the most soda… an average 1/2 gallon a day or 160 gallons a year
I admit that when I started on the quest to quit soda it was hard and I am not an average consumer of soda. It started for me when I was pregnant and wanted to eliminate caffeine from my diet so I would not become anemic. Before I got pregnant I would have one maybe two regular sodas per week mostly when I had Italian food. My parents let me have soda with pizza when I was younger so like an animal in an experiment I associate soda with that kind of food (I point this out because as parents whether we mean to or not we create habits for our kids that last into adulthood).
The first thing you have to do is drink more water. The only good substitute for soda or other drinks really is water. Some people love ice-cold water while other like lukewarm water. If you really cannot stomach water at all try putting lemon, lime or orange slices in the water to help flavor it. You must replace soda with water, all other drinks have things that you should avoid for the most part.
Once you have found your magic water that you like to drink phase out one soda a day for two weeks. Pick the meals that are easiest to make the change. For example: if you are one of those people who drinks a diet Coke when you wake up while it may be the best one for your health to phase out it may be the toughest because you may be depending on the caffeine to give you a boost. You need to show your body and your mind that you can do this so I advocate for phasing out the easiest one.
Once you have phased out one a day. Keep that going and try to have no soda in one day every 5 days, while still having one less soda on the other days. Make sure you drink extra water those days as you may be prone to headaches as your body withdraws from the caffeine (especially if you enjoy energy drinks and sodas like Mountain Dew that are particularly high in caffeine). If you find the caffeine withdrawal too much try swapping out for tea to keep the caffeine in your life elimate the calories or if you must a caffeine free soda to help phase out the caffeine addiction before the soda (root beer is often caffeine free as well as ginger ale and many lemon-lime variety sodas).
Now that you got to one day soda free day every five days then go to every four then every two. Once you get to this point you are ready to make soda an occasional thing.
When you do have soda try to have one small-sized glass and have all natural soda that uses sugar cane (or stevia if you like that flavor). Limit yourself to one soda because you can quickly undo all your hard work by getting for refills when you are out to dinner. I have found a good way to cue your server that you are only going to have one soda is ask for a water at the same time you order the soda.
I recommend that you keep a journal if you are a heavy soda drinker so you can keep track of what you are doing, you may be shocked by how much soda you actually consume. I recommend you weigh yourself at the start of the process and throughout I think you will be surprised how much you lose by making this one change.
Key points to remember
- Water is your best substitute nothing else comes close
- Work to reduce your caffeine intake while you are working on this to make the transition more successful.
- Recognize when you most want to have soda and work on finding a good alternative (now I have seltzer with Italian food)
- It is gradual process, just like dieting it is going to be much harder if you stop cold turkey because then any soda you have is going to make you feel like you failed which is not the point.
How much soda do you drink? Do you think you could quit?
Photo from WikiCommons
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