Healthy Alternatives to Soda: Beverages to Help Kick Your Soda Addiction
Are you a soda addict? If you can answer yes to any of the following questions, you just might be a soda addict. Is soda staple in your diet? Do you drink it with every meal? Do you frequently go to convenience stores to get more soda? Do you get grumpy when you haven't had a soda in a while. I could go on, but I think you get the picture. In another article I wrote about food consumption I discovered that the average American consumer drinks about 53 gallons of soda every year! That's more than 1.5 12oz cans of soda per day for each person in the Country. With annual sales of carbonated soft drinks topping more than $60 billion per year, it's not unlikely that you or someone you know is addicted to soda.
So what's a person to do? How does one go about giving up drinking this convenient and refreshingly delicious yet generally unhealthy beverage? Perhaps the secret to kicking this habit is finding something else to drink that fulfills the characteristics of soda that you crave. What is it about soda that makes you want it? Is it soda's sweetness that you are into or does caffeine make you jump for joy? Perhaps you crave the carbonation of soda because it makes you so bubbly? Whatever you're into, figure it out and use the list below to help kick that soda addiction.
Caffeine (mg per 8oz cup)
Coffee (Starbucks Latte)
Tea (Black, Brewed)
Tea (Green, Brewed)
Tea (Generic, Instant)
For Caffeine Cravers
If you find that one of the main reasons that you sip on soda all day is because of it's caffeine content, then making a switch to a healthier beverage couldn't be easier. The obvious first choice would be coffee. Coffee is best known for its powerful and potent caffeine content, however, it has many health benefits as well. This brewed beverage is packed with antioxidants and minerals such as chromium and magnesium. There is even evidence that coffee drinkers are less likely to have type 2 diabetes, Parkinson's disease, and dementia compare to those individuals who do not consume coffee.
If you can't stand the taste or smell of coffee, then tea may be your best bet. Next to water, tea is the world's most popular beverage. There is good reason for this too. Aside from caffeine, most teas have essentially no calories and are packed with vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, and caffeine (especially the black teas). Researchers have also found that drinking tea may reduce your risk of heart attack and stroke while also boosting your immune systems. If you're still not convinced that tea can be your soda replacement, check out this article discussing 13 reasons why tea is good for you.
For Convenience Connoisseurs
Let's face it, soda is convenient. It's sold in vending machines, most restaurants, and in almost every retail store that caters to the general public. Even my local hardware store has a soda machine. Whenever you have a thirst for something, a cold refreshing soda isn't too far away from you. This is one major reason why people can easily become addicted to soda.
Do you know what is just as convenient as soda? Water. In almost every instance that you could find a soda to drink, water is also typically an option. I don't usually condone drinking bottled water, however, you can't argue with the fact that it is convenient. Better yet, you could bring your own bottle of water with you instead, In fact, water is so convenient that even in an emergency there are several methods to obtain it. You can't do that with soda now can you?
Don't like drinking plain water? Just add a little cucumber or lemon juice to the water to give it a little pizzazz. Remember, water is the world's number 1 beverage for good reason. The health benefits of water are nearly countless.
For Carbonation Chasers
Does the fizz and carbonation of soda make you bubbly inside? Carbonation is great isn't it? Although it doesn't really do anything for us, carbonation does seem to bring out the refreshing side of soda by making it more enjoyable to drink. So if you love carbonation but want to quit soda, here are some alternative drinks for you:
Flavored seltzer water (sometimes called soda water or carbonated water) is a good first choice for people who love the fizz. This low calorie beverage can be found in the specialty drink section and comes in many typical fruit flavors. You can also buy plain seltzer water and add your own flavors. Cucumber or fresh squeezed lemon and lime are common choices. You can even step up your drink mixing skills by combining fruit juice with seltzer water (sometimes called Jeltzer) to make a healthy, low calorie, vitamin packed beverage. Drinking effervescent mineral water is also a great way to curb your cravings for carbonation.
For Sweetness Seekers
For many people who love soda, it's the sweet sugary sensations that they enjoy. What better way to satisfy a sweet tooth then to constantly soak them in soda, right? Well there are in fact several better (healthier) ways to satiate a thirst for sweetness. The obvious first choice is juice. Juice, if harvested and processed correctly, can be very healthy substitute for sugary sodas. Be careful though, many juices such as orange or apple juice actually contain more calories per ounce than soda does. Don't believe me? Check out this great chart from the Centers for Disease Control.
If juice just isn't your thing, then perhaps some sweet tea or lemonade is what you need. Instead of making a tall glass of iced tea or lemonade by adding bucketfuls of sugar to it, try adding some Stevia to it instead. This will give you all the sweetness you need without any of the calories.