How Do I Quit Soda?
In another article, I discussed the reasons I decided to quit soda. Here, you'll see what I've been doing to quit. There are plenty of reasons to quit soda or at least slow down.
The more I think of them, the harder I try. I also bring up the reasons it's been tough, how early I started and how much I drank.
Now here's the actual "how." That is, I haven't quit completely. Of all the bad habits I have soda is the toughest to manage.
I don't drink nearly as much as I used to but that last push to phase it out completely seems impossible. These days I'd say I drink less than a can a month. Any more than that and I feel guilty.
Below are a few simple tricks I've picked up. They'll help you too.
Why do you want soda? Why is it so addictive?
Soda is so much a part of our daily lives the question seems silly. But, believe it or not, there are reasons people drink soda. The next time you have that soda craving at that moment, ask yourself: why soda?
"Waistland," by Deirdre Barrett shows us why it's so hard. Why do we reach for grape soda instead of grapes? Why do we reach for potato chips instead of potatoes? Realizing our cravings in action helps us better control them.
Are you thirsty? Hydrate!
People need to hydrate. You don't have to be Bear Grylls to know how important this is. In daily life, no matter where we are or what we're doing, our bodies are losing water. Then, as thirst kicks in we reach for what's closest to us. Thanks to a society of abundance, there are many options to choose from.
While the best option is water, we usually go for something else without a second thought: juice, soda or sports drink. Some even go for alcohol or coffee--anything but water. Not cool considering how most of us are already dehydrated to begin with.
The Army has taught me to handle my thirst before it even starts. In a word: hydrate. I drink as much water as I can handle at around 10am and then again at around 4pm. That's about two or three cups, two hours before each meal. With that much water, soda is the last thing on my mind. Not everyone has to drink this amount. However, knowing how important water is will be a big step in kicking the soda habit.
So stop for a second to ask yourself: why soda right now? If the reason you're going for soda is that you're thirsty then stop. Drink water instead because it will do the same job: it will handle your thirst. Walk right by the vending machine and head for the water fountain. If you still want soda, drink more water. You'll save money and your body will thank you.
In the Resources section, there are great articles explaining why.
The next sugar rush: if not soda, then where?
According to Wikipedia "A Sugar high (or less often sugar rush) is to the body's (whether juvenile or adult) acute reaction to large quantities of the chemical compounds sucrose and glucose or other closely related simple carbohydrates. The name comes from being "high", or under the physical and/or mental influence, of sugar."
Reading further into the entry, we learn that sugar can trigger an energy boost followed by a "crash" as the sugar rush wears off. Symptoms of the crash include fatigue and headache.
It all makes sense. Many people seek soda expecting the sugar rush. Are you one of them? Think about it for a second. If you are bored or tired, do you go for soda to pick you up? Don't think about caffeine or flavor for now. We'll get to both shortly. Sugar is found in almost all soda.
If you're looking for the sugar rush, then stop. Often that tired feeling is from lack of water. When your body loses water, it shifts to neutral to conserve the water left in your system. In this case, drink some cold water. The water will hydrate you and the temperature will wake you up in the same way a cold shower will--only not to the same degree.
I sometimes follow up with 10 push-ups and 10 sit-ups. It's quick, gets the blood pumping, works large muscle groups and doesn't take much time or space. You don't have to do this. I do it because I don't get enough exercise.
Water? But it's just not the same! Fair enough. Try some fruit. Bananas are great for convenience and oranges are great for flavor. I like dried fruit. Whatever you choose, the sugar in fruit takes longer for the body to process. The rush won't be immediate or as intense but it will last longer and you won't feel a crash. Also fruit is good for you!
The caffeine fix: it's tougher to handle
Caffeine is a stimulant. Soda's caffeine is found mostly in cola.
To replace it, look for coffee and tea. Hot coffee and tea are great for cold or wet weather. For warmer weather, try iced tea. I don't mean that bottled stuff right next to the cola. That's almost as bad for you. Brew your own at home the night before. It seems like a pain at first but you'll be amazed how much money you save.
I don't add sugar to tea but many people do. Not a problem. Two teaspoons of sugar is less dangerous than the ten teaspoons of sugar you'll find in each can of cola.
Most people find that making a cup of coffee or brewing iced tea takes more effort than picking up a soda. True, but that's the point. Break the convenience of reaching for soda and you're on your way.
Give tea a chance
Give tea a chance. You don't have to look far to discover its health benefits. I only wish I discovered it earlier. Up until my college days, I used to think tea was for old British people who played croquet in gowns or tuxedos while eating "biscuits" that looked like white cookies.
Tea smelled OK but didn't taste like anything. It was hot so it always burned my tongue. Then I learned that tea is sipped not gulped. Drinking it more often helped me appreciate it more.
Even though organic is best for you and the earth, you don't always have to go for that fancy-smancy, super-duper detox, yoga, magic tea grown deep within the uncharted mountains of the Orient, gently caressed by the heavenly mist and guarded by long, red dragons with long, red mustaches.
If you're tired of brown and green, try some herbal teas. For example...
Try hibiscus: do it right and it tastes awesome!
What about the flavor? Soda tastes good!
I know what you're thinking: Water? Tea? Is that all you got? I know that drinking water won't kick anyone's addiction to soda. It's the taste of soda that makes it so hard for me to quit. It's cold, super-sweet and instant. I could always count on it. So this is where I got creative.
When I was younger, I used to gulp soda. Open, bring it to my mouth, lift the can or bottle and chug. Even though I loved the taste, I didn't taste most of it. At some point I started to sip soda. I sipped a little soda at a time--just enough to cover my tongue. I'd let it sit for a second and then drink. I was like some kind of soda connoisseur. Looking back, it was kind of funny. And by "funny," I mean pathetic.
As pathetic as it seems it worked. I got the same taste with much less soda. This single habit cut my soda consumption more than any other and it made me want to write this article.
That's gross! What about your teeth?
After each sip of soda my mouth felt sticky. Even though I was drinking much less soda, having it in my mouth for any amount of time wasn't good news for my teeth. After each drink or sometimes even between sips, I rushed to the faucet for water. I swished and then spit. So it was sip, swish, spit. Wash, rinse, repeat.
If all this seems like a big pain in the neck, how do you think it looks? I was very aware of how idiotic or OCD it was so whenever I went out to eat I never had soda. I chose water or unsweetened iced tea instead. Even at home I realized how much trouble I was going through. And for what? Soda?
It wasn't worth it. The trouble. The cost. The harm. So I stopped. My lazy, superficial self is what it finally took to overcome my gluttony. But every once in a while... I want the sweetness. I can't fight the craving so I go for it. By then, the fizz burns my tongue and I'm nervously looking around to see if anyone is watching my bizarre ritual. Since I'm already at the sink, I laugh inside as I wash my cup.
Remember the "why"
The best way to quit soda is remember why you are quitting in the first place. I have an article about that here. Or you can take a look at the infographic below by Peter Kim.