How to Quit Drinking Soft Drinks
Whether you call it soda, pop, or fizzy drink, soft drinks are a billion-dollar industry in the United States and around the world. However, in recent years the negative health effects of soda have come to light. The effects include tooth decay, weight gain, vitamin deficiencies, and an increased risk of medical problems like high blood pressure and type 2 diabetes.
Whatever the reason for your desire to quit drinking soft drinks, whether you have just become aware of these effects or want to lose weight, it will surely benefit your health. Nevertheless, like other habits, it can be hard to break. Here are some useful tips to help you.
Identify Why You Crave Soft Drinks
Soft drinks are one of those food items considered to by “hyper-palatable”. This means that the amount of sugar, and also sodium, present in them reacts with your brain to trigger “happy” chemicals. This is one of the marketing strategies of the food and drink industries to keep you coming back for more. You ingest it, feel the high, and then later crave it to feel that reaction again. One method for defeating this so you can cut down your consumption, is to identify other triggers for your craving and work around them. Do you drink it when you’re craving something sweet? Substitute a piece of fruit. Do you associate it with good times with family and friends? Talk to one of them on the phone or make plans to hang out. Similar to cigarette smoking, sometimes your craving can simply be associated with another activity like driving or watching TV. If you’re aware of which activities trigger a craving, you can be prepared in advance with water or another substitute, or perhaps avoid that activity all together. This goes hand in hand with the next tip.
Drink It On Purpose
This may sound counter-intuitive, but when you drink your soft drink, make sure you do it on purpose. If you want a cola or other soft drink, plan to drink it at a certain time or place, such as with dinner. Once you get rid of the habit of mindlessly drinking large quantities of it while gaming, watching TV, or driving, you’ve won half the battle.
Sip It With Ice, Even In Winter
Most people prefer their soda cold and frosty. A good way to help slow down your soft drink intake is to actually add more ice. If you fill your cup with ice before pouring in your soda, this gives you a few advantages. First, the cup already has more volume taken up so it has less room for a soft drink. Second, ice floating in your cup forces you to take smaller sips so you don’t suck the ice in your mouth. Not only that, but the acts of holding and sipping a cold drink make your body feel colder, and as that occurs you will naturally slow down your own consumption to warm back up.
Drink More Water
This is common advice to anyone trying to reduce their soda intake, and for good reason. Water is an important part of all bodily functions and is essential to health. Make it your goal to drink a full glass of water before drinking a glass of soda, and you will naturally have less craving and less room for your soft drinks. If you usually drink your soft drinks in a mindless state while doing another activity, a large glass or bottle of water is a great substitute, helping you break your habit and stay hydrated.
Don’t Quit Cold Turkey
It’s easy to forget that caffeine is a drug. It has addictive properties that make it difficult to quit cold turkey. If you do, you might very well suffer from withdrawal symptoms, such as headaches and fatigue. These can last a week or two. To reduce these symptoms, make it your goal to reduce your intake by a certain amount every day or every week. For example, it is better if you reduce your intake by eight ounces a day rather than reducing it to zero right away.
Make A Plan, And Stick To It
A soft drink on occasion is just fine. Still, it will be extremely difficult to limit yourself to occasional soft drinks if you haven’t conquered the habit completely first. Write out your plan for quitting, and commit to it. It helps to reduce temptation. When grocery shopping, only buy as much soda as you’re allowed, and ration it appropriately. Alternatively, you can not purchase it at all and stock up on alternatives. If you don’t bring soft drinks into your house, it will force you to leave to go buy one, which you are much less likely to do. Once you have been soda free for a few weeks, it is ok to reintroduce the occasional glass. Just be mindful so that it does not become an unhealthy habit again.