Kicking the Soda Habit: Tips and Tricks for Sodaholics

Soda is one of the most popular drinks in America. In fact, Americans consume more than 55 gallons of soda per person annually. While some people only occasionally indulge in soda, others drink at least one serving per day. Others drink ounce after ounce as if there’s going to be a soda shortage any minute.

How about you? Do you have a soda habit? If your answer is yes, you should try to kick the habit. However, that’s easier said than done. Soda has addictive properties that can make it very difficult for you to quit. But quitting is not impossible either. With dedication, perseverance, and a fail-safe strategy, you can stop drinking soda for good.

Closeup of a pouring soda on white background

Why Soda Is Bad for You

Soda consumption causes a slew of health problems, some of which can be deadly. First, let’s talk about the obvious: obesity. Children and adults who consume soda are more likely to be obese. According to Harvard researchers, the risk for obesity increases by 1.6 percent with each additional soda consumed.

Even if you’re only allowing your child to have a soda every now and then, you are increasing their risk of becoming an obese adult. What’s more, obesity leads to other, more serious, health complications, such as heart disease.

There is a direct link between soda and diabetes. Soda drinkers have an 80 percent increased risk of developing Type 2 diabetes. The link between soda and diabetes is largely due to the amount of sugar that soda drinkers consume on a regular basis. Consuming too much sugar can affect your body’s ability to produce insulin, resulting in diabetes.

There are other, lesser-known, health consequences of drinking soda as well. Kidney stones, osteoporosis, tooth decay, asthma, and reproductive issues have all been attributed to soda consumption.

How Soda Sabotages Weight Loss

If you’re trying to lose weight, you have another reason to kick the soda habit. Even an occasional soda can greatly hinder your ability to lose weight and keep it off. Two cans of soda per day equal approximately 24 to 35 pounds of fat per year.

Alternatively, giving up those same two cans of soda can lead to a weight loss of 20 pounds in just 6 months. Taking these numbers into consideration, it’s very easy to see why it’s harder to lose weight while drinking soda.

In addition to the calories and sugar you consume when you pick up a carbonated beverage, certain metabolic processes that occur after consumption can make it difficult for you to shed pounds and may even cause you to gain a few more than you’re already carrying.

Much of the sugar you take in when you drink soda gets turned into fat. Additionally, sugar spikes in your blood can make you feel hungry well before you should be ready to eat. Sugar addiction can also cause your brain to crave more sugary foods. All in all, drinking soda makes you consume even more calories and sugar and causes your body to turn that sugar into fat.

What about diet soda? Studies have shown that diet soda is just as bad, if not worse, than regular soda. Even though you’re not getting the extra calories, your brain still treats the artificial sweeteners just like regular sugar. The metabolic processes that occur after you consume sugar then turn your body into a fat-storing machine rather than a calorie-burning one.

Tips for Kicking the Soda Habit

Soda is addictive, which makes it very difficult for you to quit drinking it even if you understand all of the negative health consequences that go along with it. You can liken it to nicotine addiction. Many smokers know that their habit is bad for them, yet they’re powerless to quit.

You can’t quit with will-power alone – It takes real dedication and a fail-safe strategy to kick the soda habit. The following are a few tips that you can take and turn into your very own, customized strategy for quitting the soda habit.

Don’t Quit Cold Turkey – While some people have been able to quit cold turkey, the strategy doesn’t work for everyone. Remember, you’re addicted to the sugar and caffeine in soda. If you don’t want to get frustrated and give up after a few days, you have to wean yourself off of it. Start by drinking one less serving per day and continue to eliminate a serving per day each week until you’re soda free.

Count Your Beverage Calories – Without changing any habits, track the liquid calories you consume for a week. Seeing the sheer volume of empty calories you’re taking in may be enough motivation for you to quit successfully. You can also go one step further by adding up the amount of exercise you would have to do to burn the calories you’re drinking.

Substitute with Something Else – To avoid giving in to cravings, try substituting soda with another beverage that makes you feel satisfied. We will go over some great replacement beverages in the next section.

Fill up with Water – If you have to have a soda, drink a glass of water first before allowing yourself to open up the can of soda. Drinking water will make you feel full and will also hydrate you, which will result in you drinking less soda.

Try It for Two Weeks – If the thought of giving up soda forever is too daunting to think about, try giving it up for a set amount of time, such as two weeks. After the two-week period, you may realize that you don’t crave soda as much or that you feel so much better without it. You may not want to ever go back to drinking it again.

Replacement Beverages for Soda

Water is the perfect beverage, but if it’s not cutting it for you, a can of soda will be too alluring to resist. To combat cravings, try to replace soda with something else that you find just as satisfying. The following are a few ideas.

All-Natural Soda – If you crave the bubbly, switch to all-natural soda. You can get it at a health-food store. It works well for satisfying cravings but doesn’t have any artificial flavors. Seltzer is also a great option.

Unsweetened or Lightly-Sweetened Tea – While you want to get away from the sugar altogether, lightly-sweetened tea may help you step down from soda. If you can drink unsweetened tea, go for it. After you’ve quit soda, you can have as much unsweetened tea as you want. It’s healthy for you.

Flavored Water – If you’re not used to drinking water, you may not have a taste for it. To make water more alluring in the short term, you can start out with flavored water and wean yourself down to plain, pure water.

There are lots of things you can drink in place of soda. The key is to find something that satisfies you. Keep trying new things until you no longer want to pop open that can of soda.