When you drink soda, you are, more often than not, a soda drinker.That’s because both the sugar and the caffeine in soda are addictive substances, and caffeine is actually a drug.
Even diet soda has potential to be addictive. That also means it’s hard to quit. It’s not just something you do from time to time—instead, it’s a habit that can become entwined with your identity. Recent results of a study of patients at four different health centers prove how drinking soda linked to other lifestyle factors.
And quitting anything like that (smoking, soda, alcohol) is an uphill battle. But you can do it. Many people recommend quitting cold turkey: making the this-moment-right-here-right-now-as-we-speak-immediately-and-forevermore choice to never take a sip of soda again. If you can do that, do.
It’s likely also beneficial to speak with your doctor about the process. If he or she doesn’t ask, you can bring it up at your next appointment.
No matter how you choose to stop drinking soda, these tips should help.
How to Stop Drinking Soda in 5 Steps
1. Know Your Goals
Make a list of all the reasons you want and need to quit. (Wanting to quit will be a big part of your success!) You can slap losing weight onto your list, reducing caffeine intake, ditching the sugar crashes, your dental health. Whatever the benefit you want to see, jot it down to reinforce it, and keep that list nearby at all times as a healthy reminder of your goals.
2. Do The Math
Next, make another list. Actually, this one’s more like a chart. Keep track of how much soda you drink before you begin the quitting process, and how much as you move through it.
When you determine how much you currently drink, use that amount to calculate the amount of calories and sugar you consume exclusively from soda. You might be surprised. Physically seeing the numbers added up, and then the progress as those numbers get lower, is a great motivator.
3. Find A New Best Friend
Now choose a substitute. It can be really hard to go from a habit, which involves a basic physical process (like drinking) to nothing at all. Water is, of course, a fantastic choice. You’ll be going from a drink with no physical benefits to the very nectar of life. Buy a refillable water bottle to make it easy.
Another great choice is seltzer. You’ll get all the carbonation and feeling of the can in your hand without any of the added sugar, calories, coloring or preservatives.
4. Prepare For Withdrawals
This step is very difficult. Nothing can really prepare you for the types of feelings that caffeine and even sugar withdrawal can create.
Symptoms can begin just a few hours after your last sip. They can include flu-like symptoms, runny nose, headache, irritability, fatigue and lack of focus. And you may be detoxing your body for up to two weeks, which means symptoms can last that long, at least.
There are two things that can help: steeling yourself, and water. Tell yourself it will be hard and continuously expect it to be hard, so you can forgive yourself for any feelings of failure. Water, of course, will help you rid your body of leftover caffeine.
Don’t let yourself get taken by surprise at just how extreme withdrawal symptoms can be. And be sure to set aside a hassle and chore-free day to start quitting for good.
If the withdrawals are more than just difficult, consider weaning yourself off soda more slowly, reducing your intake daily by a small amount (and keeping track of it on your chart), or replacing your normal caffeine intake with a smaller amount in a drink like green tea.
5. Deal With The Issues
Breaking your psychological dependence on soda is just as difficult as breaking the physical addiction (if not more so).
Start by using substitutes, like the seltzer cans listed in step 3, but try not to get too attached to those. Instead, think of every small movement away from soda as a huge step toward health. If you associate break time with a diet coke, go for a walk instead.
Delay Delay Delay. Use the phrase “today is one day, and just for today, I won’t drink soda.” Drink water. Distract yourself.
Your brain is adaptable. Just as repeating an action over time led you to associate break time with soda, you will be able to, over time, stop associating it with soda.
However you choose to go about quitting, these five steps can help make the uphill battle little more than a gradual slope fight. The most important step, by far, is believing in yourself. Quitting soda is something that your body wants you to do, and also knows you can.
Believe and you shall succeed!
Have you tried quitting soda drinking – and did your resolution stick? Share in a comment!