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Soda, for some it's the carbonation for others it's the sweetness.
Regardless, one thing all soda lovers can agree on is that it's increasingly difficult to stop drinking it once you've developed a habit of drinking it daily. In this article, we will discuss ways to finally kick your soda habit for good, as well as healthier alternatives to drinking other than soda that still taste good.
The First Step to Stopping Your Habit
Stopping any habit starts with one simple step: admitting you want to stop and committing to stopping the habit. Reminding yourself what you want now versus what you want later is always helpful. For example, you may be craving soda now, but will drinking it help you reach whatever goal you have?
Write on Your Mirror
Write something encouraging like 'I can quit soda because I'm stronger than my cravings' or 'I'm a badass and soda can't bring me down anymore.' Get creative, make it meaningful. You are the most influential person you talk to all day, make sure what you tell yourself is positive, uplifting and encouraging. If you tell yourself you can't, you won't.
Use a Sticker Chart
Back to your younger years of having a sticker chart. Reward yourself find something that you want to do or see or have done like a piercing, tattoo, trip, whatever it is, find a reward for yourself to work towards. Having incentives to do something never hurts, and if you succeed, you get to treat yourself. Get yourself a printable water log like this one and put a picture of your reward at the top. Then, get a blank piece of paper and tape it up next to it every time you drink soda. Write the time and amount on the piece of paper, and every time you drink water, check it off. You're off to a great start of kicking this habit.
Wean Yourself Off
Most sodas contain caffeine so stopping cold turkey isn't ideal, as you will likely suffer side effects such as migraines from a withdrawal of caffeine. Calculate how much soda you drink and take away 1/4. So if you drink a two liter a day, only drink 3/4 of one for two to three days, then take away another 1/4, and another, and another over the span of two and a half to three weeks, slowly weaning yourself off. While you are weaning yourself off, take this time to remind yourself that a craving oftentimes means your body is dehydrated.
Of course, an ideal option would be to start drinking plain ice water; however, I know from experience that water can be flat, boring and disappointing when what you really want is that fizzy sweet drink that you've come to love. Remind yourself that soda can have detrimental side effects, from tooth decay, weakening enamel from acidity, to more severe things like increasing your risk of heart attack or stroke, weight gain (even with diet sodas) and, the worst, type 2 diabetes.
So, instead of plain water, let's check out some alternatives.
First, I want to introduce this amazing invention. It's called Cirkul, it's a reusable plastic water bottle with cartridges that change the flavor of your water without artificial sweeteners, dyes or flavors. It's a great way to drink something that tastes good and is well worth the investment. You can try it out here for $5.00.
Mints and Gum
Use mints and gum when cravings set in hard. These will help keep your mouth busy and your mind on something other than soda.
Now, there are several types of coconut water, and I recommend avoiding any with bcaas or amino acids. Amino acids are typically gotten through our food sources, and too many at once or all together can cause side effects, such as abdominal pain and diarrhea. After all, you aren't doing this to get sick you are doing it for your health.
Miss the fizz? Try to find sparkling coconut water. Blue Monkey brand is my favorite, but I'm sure there are quite a few more out there. Keep in mind that these drinks will lack the acidity soda has and have less sugar, but are are still fairly high in sugar, most coming in at around 12-18g. However, compared to the whopping 39g in a 12 oz can of soda, that is still a huge improvement.
I know this suggestion is pretty common, but it's true. Fruit cut up in water is a great way to drink more water while spicing it up a little. My favorite combination is strawberry lime or lemon orange, but the combos are endless and it makes your water look pretty, which makes it more appealing to drink. Also, please refrain from buying single-use bottles. They are convenient; however, the world is facing a plastic crisis and we need to put an end to single-use plastics—for our environment, for the oceans, and for future generations.
Miss the fizz? Try adding a little Seltzer water or carbonated water to your water to create a sparkling water.
There have been some arguments as to whether or not fruit water is actually healthy, because fruits contain sugar. Here are some things to keep in mind: most people don't eat their full servings of fruits or vegetables every day, fruit water can be a great way to get those in and some many fruits can be eaten after soaking. Also, while yes, fruits have sugars similar to coconut water, they have significantly less sugar than soda or other sugary drinks.
I really recommend making your own from fresh fruit and carbonated water or seltzer water. I say this because almost every sparkling water uses artificial sweeteners, such as Splenda. Contrary to popular belief, Splenda isn't better than regular sugar, unless you are a diabetic. Even then, though, I'd recommend drinking as little as possible because artificial sweeteners contain aspartame, and most drinks don't taste the best but are just as dangerous as soda. Several people have spoken up about the main ingredient, aspartame, as it's commonly found in mice and rat poisons. This ingredient has been known to cause migraines, irritability, fibromyalgia and more.
The Swish and Spit
Its kind of gross, but it's definitely helpful for those having an extra hard time with cravings. If you need soda, like really, really need it, get those very small 8 oz mini cans to take a drink to let it sit in your mouth swish it around and spit it out. It's bad for your teeth and seems absolutely disgusting, but you get the taste of the soda without actually drinking it. Id definitely recommend swishing with mouthwash or brushing your teeth afterwards, as this would be very hard on enamel or tooth decay if you do it too often. This is also the last resort to help cut cravings.
Have you ever wondered why its so hard to quit a soda habit? Recent studies have begun to show that soda may cause more invisible health issues, besides just the visible ones like weight gain or diabetes. Its suspected that soda may actually re-program your mitochondria. You can find reports with new findings that show a common additive called sodium benzoate, found in soft drinks such as Mountain Dew and Pepsi, among others, and has the ability to switch off vital parts of DNA in a cell's mitochondria. The mitochondria consume the oxygen to give you energy, and if you damage it—as happens in a number of diseased states—then the cell starts to malfunction very seriously. There is a whole array of diseases that are now being tied to damage to this DNA — Parkinson's and quite a lot of neurodegenerative diseases, but, above all, the whole process of aging. I encourage everyone to do diligent research about what you are putting into your body, and to ensure that you make healthier choices as you progress into a healthier version of yourself. Also, if you start quitting and have a bad day and binge drink, DO NOT GIVE UP! Keep trying. The next day, drink significantly less soda and more water, and keep going until soda no longer has control of you and you have control over the soda.
If nothing else, the money you save should be a great incentive.