You may have heard how much sugar is in soda (a single 12-ounce has about 10 teaspoons of sugar), and given that sugar is so unhealthy, a smart person like yourself has decided to cut back on the pop. But of course, there’s just one problem: When soda is a part of your daily routine, it can be hard to stop.
“Some people who don’t like other beverages drink soda to get their caffeine fix, which could be something they rely on to help keep them going,” says Bonnie Taub-Dix, author of Read It Before You Eat It. “Although more research is needed, some people believe you can be addicted to soda, since many people have strong cravings for their favorite beverage.”
So which step should you take first? Firstly, really consider what that bottle of soda is doing to you.
“Besides having zero nutritional value, soda has chemicals you may not know about, like artificial colorings, dyes and flavors,” Taub-Dix says. “Sugar is proven to add to the chances of developing heart disease and of course, can destroy your blood sugar levels.”
After thinking things over, begin looking for a replacement. Both Taub-Dix and Kristina Cooke, a dietitian, suggest looking for healthier beverages that still satisfy your cravings, rather than going cold turkey.
“It’s important to continue feeling satisfied with what you’re consuming, so don’t try to quickly cut things out, because this can cause increased cravings and eventually binging,” says Cooke, the wellness program manager for Zevia®. “Instead, consider better-for-you replacements, such as Zevia, which give you the desired flavor you want, without the bad stuff like added artificial ingredients and sugar.”
And because drinking less soda is hard for most of us, these two experts have come together to share more details on their top three strategies for stopping the soda-drinking habit.
1. Explore Something New
Buying soda is probably a habit for you. If you automatically go to the soda aisle every time you enter the grocery store, try changing this routine by spending time searching the beverage aisle. By choosing something different, you could experience a brand new type of drink, and maybe find one you really enjoy.
As an example, Taub-Dix recommends adding pomegranate juice and a twist of lime to sparkling water, or adding more kick to your cup of tea by including honey, which will give you a natural sweetness without the unhealthy amounts of sugar in soda.
Another possibility is Zevia Soda, which Cooke says is great for anyone looking to lower their sugar intake. It contains zero sugar and zero calories, but still delivers the same experience as drinking soda. It comes in flavors like lemon lime, ginger root beer and cola. Plus, it comes in variety packs so you can try different flavors as you look for your favorite.
Zevia is sweetened using stevia, which is 200 times sweeter than normal sugar — so it only takes a tiny amount to give your drink a sweet flavor. And even better, it does this without raising your blood sugar levels like soda’s added sugar does.
2. Don’t Stop Suddenly
Many people have tried cutting the soda habit out of their lives, but ended up falling back into their old habits. If this is you, this time, instead of saying you’ll never touch soda again, try slowly working your way into a soda-free life.
“I’d begin by adding sparkling water or club soda to your rotation, in addition to your usual soda. Then slowly switch the amounts of each until you’re only drinking a tiny bit of soda,” Taub-Dix says. To try her strategy out, you could use Zevia’s flavored Tonic Water or Sparkling Water, which both are healthier alternatives to regular soda.
3. Don’t Forget Why You Are Doing This
A good diet relies on balance, which means using healthier foods and drinks more often than unhealthy ones. But that does not mean you have to avoid soda altogether. “[Soda] should be seen as a ‘sometimes’ drink rather than a regular habit,” Taub-Dix says.
Keep in your mind why you’re trying to stop drinking sugar (whether it’s losing weight or to improve your overall health). This will keep you on track to change your lifestyle as needed.
But, when you can’t stop thinking about your favorite beverage, you could try some zero-sugar options and you may find one you actually enjoy more than soda.