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how to stop drinking so much soda pop

What are some really good ways to stop soda addiction? I've been trying for months to break the habit of drinking soda everyday, and to help myself deal with soda cravings, I replaced regular fizzy drinks with sugar-free varieties. However, I seem to be gaining weight even though I eat a healthy diet and exercise regularly. Does diet soda make you fat? Can you also suggest some healthy alternatives to diet sodas? Thank you. – Marissa, South Dakota.



4 Painless Ways to Stop Soda Addiction


Hi Marissa,

Many people mistakenly think that diet soda is better than regular soda because it has no sugar and therefore will help them lose weight. But, the truth is diet soda can cause weight gain.

According to two new studies from the University of Texas at San Antonio, diet soft drinks are closely associated with increased waist circumference and the artificial sweeteners (aspartame) in them may contribute to type 2 diabetes.

I know it's not easy to quit drinking soda pop because sugar and caffeine are highly addictive, but if you try hard enough, you can do it. The following tips will help to stop you from drinking so much soda and painlessly kick your soda addiction for good.


How to Break the Habit of Drinking So Much Soda

1. When it comes to kicking the soda habit, not everyone can go cold turkey. Therefore, the next best thing you can do is to slowly wean yourself off sugary soft drinks.

Grab a small notebook and write down the number of sodas you drink on a normal day, including the time and your emotions when soda cravings hit. Sometimes you may get serious cravings when you're stressed, bored, or even feeling sleepy.

For example, if you drink 6 cans of coke daily, limit yourself to 4-5 cans (max) for the first week. Swap it for healthier alternatives such as plain water, sparkling water, mineral water, or unsweetened coconut water, which is rumored to help weight loss. See below for a list of healthy substitutes for fizzy drinks.

Then on the second week, reduce intake to 2-3 cans. Continue to cut your soda consumption gradually over the next few weeks until you no longer crave for it.

It is worth nothing that some people, especially those who drink a lot of soda, may experience caffeine withdrawal symptoms – headaches, nausea,  irritability, nervousness, or tremors – when they stop drinking soda. However, the side effects are temporary.


2. If you find yourself craving for sugary soft drinks, my suggestion is to eat a small fruit such as apple, or pear, or have a slice of watermelon instead. Water-rich vegetables like celery, cucumber, and zucchini  also make great substitutes. The natural sweetness and goodness found in fresh fruits and veggies helps tame intense cravings without adding a lot of calories.

And, if you feel a soda craving coming on when you under stress or tired, find something to do rather than reaching for a Coke. You can exercise, dance, read a book, walk the dog, or eat a high-protein snack such as a small handful of unsalted sunflower seeds or almonds. The idea here is to distract yourself and keep your mind off fizzy drinks.


3. If you still can't stop drinking so much soda, I suggest you do some reading on the many side effects associated with regular soft drink consumption. Fizzy drinks provide no nutritional value. They're laced with alarming levels of sugar, caffeine, artificial colors, flavors, and preservatives, many of which can harm your health over a long period of time – obesity, osteoporosis, and diabetes.

I've a friend who stopped drinking sodas completely because they constantly give him gas and that made him extremely unpopular in the office. So, if you look deep enough, you'll find a very powerful reason to stop drinking soda pop.


4. Think of all the money you can save simply by giving up soda. Let's say, a can of Coke cost around a dollar in America, and if you drink 3 cans a day, you can save over a thousand dollars in just 1 year! With that amount of money, you can reward yourself with a brand new laptop and a nice dinner for two!




What Are Healthy Alternatives to Diet Sodas?

1. Water

Water is the best. It's cheap, readily available and calorie-free. Don't like the taste of plain old water? No problem. Flavor it with a wedge of lemon, or lime, orange. A sprig of mint or 1-2 slices cucumber gives boring tasting water a nice refreshing taste. If you like, add a bit of honey or stir in some stevia to sweeten. Speaking of water, did you know that if you drink ice cold water, it'll make your body burn more calories?


2. Decaffeinated Herbal Teas

I personally love drinking hibiscus tea and elderflower tea, and I highly recommend you also try naturally decaffeinated green tea, or chamomile tea, which can be enjoyed hot or iced. Decaf green tea contains polyphenols that are proven to have greater antioxidant effects than Vitamin C.


3. Fruit or Vegetable Juices

While pure fruit juices are healthy alternatives to diet sodas, they shouldn't be guzzled mindlessly because fruit juices can be high in sugar, depending on the kind of fruits in them. Consider vegetables juices since veggies have less natural sugar than fruits, and therefore less calories. In addition, vegetables contain more alkaline minerals which help neutralize acids and remove toxins from your body.

Also, keep in mind that fruit drinks are not the same as 100% pure fruit juices. Most commercially prepared fruit drinks contain mostly water, sugar and only about 10% real fruit, and should be avoided. And, always opt for low sodium vegetable juices.


4. Milk or Soymilk

Another healthy option is low fat milk. If you're lactose intolerant, opt for unsweetened soy milk. They're a whole lot more nutritious than sodas and come in a variety of great-tasting flavors such as almond, green tea, chocolate and vanilla.

Milk and soy milk not only make you forget about fizzy drinks, but also provide calcium, which helps keep bones strong and prevent osteoporosis.





By Diane Hanson



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