Tuesday, August 12, 2014

How to Stop Drinking Pop

The reasons to stop drinking soda or at least cut back!  Whether you want to cut down on empty calories and added sugars, consume less artificial sweeteners, wean off of caffeine, or even save money, ditching soda is a great place to start.

I actually used to be a big diet pop drinker–the diet type in particular.  Diet Pepsi was my favorite!! Something about it being calorie-free gave me permission to drink it all the time–so I did.  Some days I consumed more soda than water throughout the day.

Back in November of 2012 I decided I wanted to start my fitness journey and with that I needed to cut back on my diet pepsi’s. Over the course of about a year I went from drinking 4-5 sodas per day to 1-2 per day and eventually to 2-3 per month. I still enjoy a Pepsi with my cheeseburger and french fries or when I travel long distances, but now that I drink it so much less frequently, I have no problem treating myself to the real deal.

As a former Diet Pepsi addict myself, I thought I’d share some tips and tricks I found helpful along the way for those of you who also want to get off the sweet stuff:

1. Be okay with scaling back slowly. If you drink 3+ Pop’s a day, switching to tap water cold turkey will most likely make every sip feel like a punishment… not to mention induce some serious caffeine withdrawal headaches.  Maybe start replacing 1 of those pops per day to a sparkling water… for me it was the carbonation that I loved! Whatever the number, make it reasonable.  The Pop has not, and will not kill you over the next few weeks or months while you gradually get off of it. Over time, you’ll miss those first few sodas less and less and eventually you’ll be ready to cut out one or two more.

2. Explore tasty alternatives. Once you start cutting out pop, you’re going to want to replace it with other fluids so you don’t get dehydrated. When I first started cutting down on soda, I really missed the carbonation + flavor combo. Bored with tap water, I began exploring the wonders of sparkling water. Most of the time the carbonation alone did the trick–but when I craved a sweeter beverage, I found just a splash of juice worked wonders. 1-2 ounces of cranberry, orange or any other 100% fruit juice blend can make all the difference. Another favorite Pop alternative is flavored water. Adding some cucumber slices, berries, citrus fruit {lemon’s or limes} or fresh mint to a pitcher of water gives it a refreshing essence of flavor.

3. Have alternatives handy. Once you find a few suitable soda alternatives, make sure they’re within reach when you get thirsty. If you just love the tingle of carbonation on your tongue, keep your cabinets stocked with some sparkling water. If you like flavored water, slice up a bunch of oranges, cucumbers or rinse off some berries at the beginning of the week and make a fresh pitcher every morning. Fill up a water bottle before heading out to run those afternoon errands. If you love the taste of lemon and limes – try the True Lemon packets and keep them in your purse or mailbox at work so they are always handy! If you’re prepared, when thirst strikes you’ll have one less excuse to grab for a soda. Oh, and if you’re prone to caffeine headaches, have an an anti-inflammatory on hand, or a bag of green or black tea to help ease those withdrawal pains.

4. Adopt a no soda policy. When I first decided I wanted to stop drinking soda, the first thing I did to start scaling back was adopt a “No Soda at Home” policy. It was highly effective. Seriously, if it’s not in your house you can’t drink it! This one change helped kickstart my journey to cut back. Here are some other “No Soda” policy ideas:

No Soda…

·         At work

·         On campus

·         On road trips

·         Before 5pm

·         At restaurants

·         At the movies

·         As mixers in alcoholic drinks

Try choosing one to start, and then adopt more as you feel ready.

5. Redefine the word “stop”. After reading the 2nd paragraph you might look at the title and think, “She still drinks soda though…” Why yes, on occasion I do! But I no longer consider myself a “soda drinker.” There’s a big difference! Just because you want to “stop drinking soda” doesn’t mean you can never enjoy one again. Maybe for you “stop” means getting down to 1 per week, say when you’re out to a nice dinner or as a lunchtime treat on Fridays. The best way to approach a long-lasting behavior change is by making it sustainable and avoiding those feelings of deprivation. If allowing yourself a soda on occasion makes you happy, by all means! In the end, it’s about making healthy habits the default and enjoying treats along the way.
Hope this helps!!! :)