Numerous studies on the health issues surrounding both diet and regular soda have linked the beverages to obesity, diabetes, tooth decay and greater risk of stroke and dementia. But kicking the habit can be hard, so here are some tips on how to wean yourself off those beverages:
- Give yourself a goal each morning and keep it at the forefront of your mind, dietitian Christy Brissette writes in the Washington Post. Write down your wish to quit soda on a sticky note and leave it on your computer, wallet or fridge as a helpful reminder to meet that goal every day.
- If the siren of the office vending machine starts to call your name during the afternoon slump time, try boosting your energy with a new routine rather than reaching for a can of the fizzy stuff. This could include having a healthy snack on hand or going for a walk.
- Take it slow. Don't feel pressure to go cold turkey; simply reduce your intake by half at first, and cut back a little more each week. You can reward yourself with a treat for meeting your goals as extra incentive.
- First try switching to caffeine-free soda, Barry Popkin, director of the University of North Carolina interdisciplinary obesity program, tells WebMD. Caffeine is mildly addictive, which is part of the reason soda is so hard to quit. So gradually decrease your caffeine intake each day. "It takes a few weeks to truly forget the craving," Popkin says.
- Try soda alternatives. Sparkling water without sugar and sweeteners can be a healthy carbonated drink alternative. If you simply need more flavor, try to spice up your water naturally by infusing it with fruit, cucumber or fresh herbs. Tea also can be a healthy choice.
Bonus tip: If you drink regular soda, try to calculate how much exercise you would need to work those calories off. For a 2014 Johns Hopkins University study, researchers put signs in stores stating that the calories in a 20-ounce bottle of soda takes 5 miles of walking, or 50 minutes of jogging, to burn off. The study found that teenagers were more likely to buy a smaller soda, a water or no drink at all after reading the signs.