We all have our routines and fair share of habits. Some are beneficial to us, such as daily workouts and a protein-rich breakfast each morning. But then there are some habits that can slowly harm our bodies each time we repeat them, such as drinking soda. Whether you need some convincing as to why you should stop drinking the bubbly beverage, or you’re ready to live a soda-free life, nutrition and medical experts share why it’s important to stop drinking soda, plus the steps to take to completely cut it out of your diet.
It’s just not good for you.
While the act of drinking soda seems innocent enough, sugary beverages are contributing causes to health problems such as obesity, type 2 diabetes, heart disease, and more, according to the CDC. If you’re sitting there thinking, “Well, sugar isn’t my problem. I only drink diet soda,” you’re not in the clear. In a study performed at Johns Hopkins University, drinking diet soda led to the brain thinking it was consuming more sugar than it really is because of the artificial sweeteners. This caused an increase in hunger and appetite, which ultimately led to the individuals eating more and gaining weight.
Why do you want to stop drinking soda?
According to nutritional therapy practitioner Jaime Morocco, it’s important to know your why. “Maybe you want to give up soda because you believe it’s contributing to health problems. Or maybe you want to give it up to be an example for your children,” she says. “Whatever the reason, it’s important to solidify your why. Without solidifying why you want to give up soda, it’s going to be hard to stick it out!” Determination and willpower are strong factors when it comes to beating an addiction—and let’s face it, drinking soda can be an addiction. Having a lackluster reason with no motivation behind it will make the process that much harder.
Now, why do you drink soda?
We spoke with registered and licensed dietitian Alicia Galvin Smith about the different gratifications soda brings to consumers and why they may be inclined to pick up another can. Below, she shares two main reasons paired with fixes that may stop a soda habit for good.
For the Fizz.
“If it is the fizzy carbonation you crave, switch to seltzer or carbonated waters. You can add some freshly squeezed lemon, lime, or orange to the water to give a little more flavor—but no extra sugars, preservatives, or colorings. This will allow your taste buds to gradually recalibrate and no longer crave the traditional sodas you’ve been drinking,” Galvin says.
For the Power Boost
“If it is the caffeine you enjoy, switch to green tea or black tea with lemon,” Galvin suggests. For a touch of sweetness, try a natural ingredient such as honey or fruit. “This switch will also provide you with the catechins in green tea, which have been shown to be beneficial for certain health conditions such as preventing cancer and improving insulin and blood sugar. Do not switch to energy drinks to get your caffeine fix, as these can be overstimulating, and most contain artificial sweeteners and colorings, which can defeat the purpose of cutting out soda altogether” she adds.
“Another great naturally bubbly option to switch to is kombucha. Kombucha is a drink made from green and black tea that’s naturally fermented using healthy bacteria and natural sugars. Probiotic qualities from the healthy bacteria can improve digestion and strengthen the immune system. With the wide variety of flavors, you are sure to find a flavor to suit your fancy—even cola!” says DanaLynn Young, a nutritional therapy practitioner.
Sometimes drinking a glass of water before the desire to drink a beverage like soda is enough of a deterrent. People often drink soda out of habit or boredom. But if you’re still craving a sweet-tooth fix, try infusing fruit into your water. Outside of the typical lemon and lime additions, you can spice it up with pineapple, grapefruit, or even berries.
Consider soda a toxin.
Because it is! Studies have proven soda to be a harmful beverage for your body. In the same light we crave colorful veggies because they are good for us, look at soda as the opposite, detrimental to our overall health. According to Jill McKay, a certified nutrition coach, it’s important to retrain your brain. “You can train your brain to look at soda as a toxin. Keep it out of your home. When you go out to eat, have a replacement in mind before you order. The process is training your body and brain to move from looking at soda as a craving to an aversion. While this takes time, with the right support, encouragement, and accountability, it can be done.”