We all know that we need to quit drinking soda because it is really the epitome of ‘junk food’. Completely empty, sugar-laden calories that contain zero nutritional value and do not even function as a real thirst-quencher.
And lets get real with ourselves here and stop saying “but I drink diet” because diet soda is just as bad, if not worse, than regular. Chemically-created sugar is not better than the natural variety no matter how you slice it. If its “calorie-free” then it is not food. PERIOD. “Food” contains calories (energy, nutrients) that we use to survive. Fake sugar is not what we need to survive so take that “but I drink diet” argument and throw it out the window.
Its high time to get all these chemical concoctions out of your shopping carts and refrigerators. This is one that way that you can do that:
Week #1: No more soda, with a little help.
The first step to getting soda out of your life is to reduce the craving for carbonated and caffeinated sweetened beverages. You will need to take one step in a slightly better direction during the first week, but its a pretty big first step. What you will be doing is finding a substitution, or even a ‘crutch’, if you want to call it that. For me, it was raspberry iced tea which is definitely still a sugar-laden beverage but it was better than the thick and syrupy Dr Pepper alternative.
You need to wake up on Monday morning and say to yourself “no more soda”, quitting (in effect) ‘cold turkey’. Fortunately, you’ve chosen something (prior to that morning!) to help you through those times when you want a sweet drink. Other than flavored iced teas, you could go with La Croix, lemonade, Gatorade/PowerAde, Kool-aid, Crystal Light, whatever. The goal during the first week is not necessarily to make the absolute best choice (which is water, by the way) but to simply get rid of the actual soda drinks in your life.
Now keep in mind, that if you do not drink coffee or tea and have no interest in ever doing so, you may experience headaches with the sudden lack of caffeine in your diet. A simple solution is to take one caffeine tablet just to get rid of the headache if you do experience one. You may not even get a headache, some people do and some don’t. And there are other ways to kick caffeine addictions, but that is not what this particular post is about.
Summary: You should simply be replacing the times you would previously have been drinking a soda by substituting a non-carbonated drink that still satisfies the craving for that sweet addition to your meal. If you would actually prefer water or something like that even more, then by all means, GO FOR IT. But if you do want something sweet, just choose a drink that is simply not a soda-pop.
Week #2: Replacing two instances a day.
After seven full days without soda you will have realized that you do not need it in your life. You will have found an alternative for the times that you really want one, and you have proven to yourself that you can absolutely live without these kinds of drinks in your diet. So now you have to take a bigger step because its time to replace half of your daily sweetened beverages with fresh water, unsweetened tea, or your preferred type of milk.
Its up to you which meals and times you use to make the changes, but you have to reduce your sweetened beverage consumption by half this week. And keep in mind, this absolutely includes your coffee/tea as well. If you have your coffee or tea with sugar, sweetener, or flavored creamer, that counts as one of your sweetened beverages.
The one thing you can exclude from the rule are drinks with naturally occurring sugars, like those found in certain kinds of milk and 100% pure fresh squeezed fruit juice. Make sure you read that correctly. It says 100% pure fresh-squeezed juice. Not the bottled junk you find at the grocery store, but the kind where you take a whole piece of fruit and put it in a juicer or blender to create a juice or smoothie. Many milks (dairy, soy, nut, etc) contain some type of sugar or another. If its a naturally occurring sugar, then enjoy the recommended serving size. If its an added sweetener, then just skip it and choose something else.
Ideally you want to be adding more water into your diet at this time. I understand that some people don’t like to drink plain water, but its time to really put forth some effort to get a fair amount of it into your body each day. Putting sliced lemon or lime in fresh cold water makes it very tasty and refreshing, and so do added berries.
Summary: Simply replace half the sweetened beverages you currently drink with an unsweetened one. You can decide which ones to swap and what unsweetened drinks to swap with, just as long as its half the daily occurances and an unsweetened replacement. Good? Good.
Week #3: A few more small adjustments.
You are now a few days away from completing a huge lifestyle change, so congratulations for making the choice to quit drinking soda and improving your health. Now its time to get on down to the nitty-gritty of things and kick this crap for good. Last week you undoubtedly decided on a favorite substitution. You must have come up with an acceptable and enjoyable alternative to your sweetened beverages or you wouldn’t still be here trying to do even better. So now all you need to do is use your new-found favorite drink at almost all times.
Its perfectly fine to order a cocktail or have a cold glass of lemonade from time to time, but you are now living in such a way that sweetened drinks aren’t a part of your daily routine. By the start of the third week you should not have any cravings for soda at all.
It should now be your immediate choice to reach for water or your favorite substitute drink, although it is reasonable to have a ‘cheat’ drink once in a while if you really want to. However, I would be willing to bet that a soda or even a pre-sweetened juice or tea would completely overpower your tastes buds by this point. It doesn’t take very long for your tongue and your body to happily adjust to life without sweetened drinks.
Two weeks is really all it takes to kick the dependency, but three weeks solidifies your long-term commitment. I suggest brewing your own fresh iced tea and making your own juices, flavoring your water with whole fruit, and using things like raw honey, agave nectar, and stevia in place of other sweeteners in coffee or tea. Its also time to start tracking how many ounces of pure water you’re drinking each day, keeping in mind that it should be (at the very least) 64 ounces.
You are not a soda-drinker anymore and you should be quenching your thirsty moments with water almost all the time. Keeping a cold bottle of water handy (on your desk, in the cup holder, etc) is an incredibly easy way to reach for goodness at all times. You can also make sure that there aren’t any pre-sweetened drinks in your home, meaning that if you decide you want one, you will have to make a special trip out to get it.
Summary: You are living your new habits, drinking more pure water, and holding complete control over the amount of sugar and sweeteners that you sip down. You’re drinking more water than ever before, and you have discovered a self-created drink that makes a perfect replacement for the sodas and such of your past. You are making choices each day to improve your nutrition more and more. You are implementing your changes for the long-haul, carrying on with what you’ve already improved and making slight changes where you can, as you go along. You haven’t had a soda in three weeks and you’ve improved your coffee, juice, and tea choices. You have QUIT drinking soda for good, and are now making other slight improvements each day to continue improving.
You’ve taken a huge step toward bettering your health and nutrition, and you are taking your hard-earned money out of the pockets of some factory-made food frauds. You have told the makers of these products that you care about improving the standard American diet, and you don’t want or need their junky drinks in your’s and your family’s lives. You are setting an example to others about making simple choices and small changes that lead to a major improvement. Good for you!!! Keep up the good work, and keep making one positive change at a time.
© Danielle Hewitt (of Loving A Fit Life) and DanielleHewitt.com (including LovingAFitLife.com) 2011 – 2016. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this site’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Danielle Hewitt and DanielleHewitt.com with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.