I Grew Up With No Intention to Quit Drinking Soda
If you’ve known me at all in the last 30+ years, you’ve likely seen me with a diet soda in hand. I started drinking soda (or pop – shout out to my Iowan roots!) as a toddler, watered down at first. It was, and still is, a staple in my immediate family. My parents still drink at least 4 cans of diet soda a day, to this day. I never had any intention to quit drinking soda. Why?
I’ve always had a sweet tooth, so drinking soda felt like a treat without indulging in the brownies and cookies and calories that I really wanted. Because my sweet tooth was insatiable, I would take small sips of soda from the moment I woke up to the moment I went to bed every day. When one can was empty, I would open the next.
Of course, a few friends and family members warned me that aspartame (the sweetener used in diet soda to make it calorie-free) caused cancer. But I looked up the studies that made those conclusions and found that the main study was conducted on rats, not humans, and that they were given the aspartame equivalent of between 8 and 2,083 cans of soda every day. I wasn’t drinking near 8 cans a day, and wasn’t convinced. So I kept drinking it.
Why I Quit Drinking Soda
Then one day, I started an online course that promised to help me balance my hormones and break through my weight-loss plateau through changes to my diet. In it, I learned that the artificial sugar in my daily sodas was causing inflammation in my body. And I was presented with study after study (conducted on humans, not animals) that showed that inflammation was the breeding ground for disease in the body, from diabetes to cancer.
It convinced me through scientific research that those that followed a low-inflammation diet were less prone to those diseases, which I wanted to be. I wanted to be around for my daughter as long as possible. So I wanted to avoid the inflammation caused by my soda habit.
Why You Might Quit Drinking Soda
Everyone finds their own reasons for making a change in their lives. There are a lot of compelling reasons to quit drinking soda, but you might only find one or two convincing enough for you to kick the habit:
- The sugar in regular soda can cause inflammation, skyrocket your blood sugar, and lead to diabetes, insulin resistance, and/or weight gain.
- The artificial sugar in diet soda can cause inflammation and help to keep your sweet tooth alive and well. (As it turns out, I had a sweet tooth because I drank soda all day, not the other way around.)
- Drinking sweetened beverages, especially diet versions, has been linked to an increased risk for depression.
- Soda can dehydrate you and cause you to look older.
- Dark-colored sodas can stain your teeth.
- Soda is expensive. At my highest usage, my soda habit was costing me around $50 a month.
How to Quit Drinking Soda
Whatever your reason to kick the habit, it can be very challenging to quit drinking soda. There are three main approaches to quitting and you may need to try a few before one sticks for good:
- First, go cold turkey. This is the hardest. Obviously. It’s easier if you taper down your usage leading up to the cut-off, but it’s not a requirement. You simply find the self-discipline to say no to it altogether, all at once. If you go this route, plan ahead of time for the moments that you know you usually grab a soda. What will you do instead? How will you distract yourself from your craving?
- Second, gradually decrease your usage each week (or day). If you want to take the slow and steady approach, jot down how many ounces of soda you had each day, add it all up at the end of the week, and drink fewer ounces the next week. Some weeks you may drink 8 fewer ounces than the last. Some week it may be just 1 ounce less. But you’ll eventually get there – zero! For a faster pace, try drinking fewer ounces each day.
- Third, find a substitute. Some people drink just as much, but switch the amount to something other than soda. Finding a substitute that works depends on what it is that you love most about soda. Is it carbonation you crave? Try a flavored sparkling water or kombucha. Caffeine? Try coffee or tea. Sweetness? Fruit-infused water could be your new go-to!
How I Quit Drinking Soda
I had tried gradually decreasing my usage and finding a substitute (Hello, green tea!), but always found myself returning to old habits. What finally stuck for me personally was a cold turkey approach to soda and sugar, all at once. I was paying for a keto-style healthy eating program and wanted to get my money’s worth!
I followed the entire program to a t, which included cutting sugars and artificial sugars altogether. Diving into an established program (and having a financial interest in it) helped me to view my soda habit differently and establish a new mindset.
When I stopped drinking diet soda, my sweet tooth (aka the demise of all of my healthy eating intentions) tamed down to normal human levels. My body lost a pretty immediate 5 lbs worth of inflammation, which science says reduced my risk for multiple diseases. My skin cleared up, my smile lines lifted dramatically, and I could suddenly afford a monthly pedicure.
Wrap It Up
Everyone has to find their own reason to quit drinking soda, whether it’s for their health, their appearance, or their wallet. If and when you finally decide to quit drinking soda, you can go cold turkey, gradually decrease your use, or find a soda substitute.
For me, kicking the soda habit was an important step toward regaining my health. It afforded me some immediate health benefits, and set me up for success when creating new healthy habits. Have you found a convincing reason?
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