Weekly Wellness: How to cut back on soda
COLUMBIA — We are fast-approaching the end of the holiday season and that time of year when some of us start thinking about making some lifestyle changes.
If you’re someone who has recognized that you are addicted to that bubbly brown (or clear or yellow) liquid that is sold in giant drums at most convenience stores, fast food restaurants and is easily purchased in a can or bottle at your office vending machine, then this is the segment for you.
There are SO many reasons to stop drinking soda (i.e. the empty calories, the added sugars, the artificial sweeteners, the money spent, the bad teeth, the connection to more serious health issues… should I keep going?).
As a certified health coach, I will give you MANY reasons to stop drinking soda. Ask my clients. I call it “the devil.” All of it – regular and diet. Bad. So, let’s pretend that you are my client and you have told me that you want to stop drinking soda… I’m going to hug you and tell you how proud I am that you have come to such an important decision for your health. And I’m going to lead you to these tips…
1. Scale back slowly. If you drink multiple sodas a day, switching to tap water cold turkey would be rough. Start with replacing 3 – 4 sodas per week with water… then after a few weeks, reduce again… then again. Eventually, you’ll get down to a reasonable number (or none) before you know it.
2. Get on a soda schedule. If you normally drink 3 sodas per day, cut down to 2 per day for an entire month, and then 1 per day the month after. From there, you can gradually cut down even further.
3. Explore alternatives. Once you start cutting out soda, you’re going to want to replace it with other fluids so you don’t get dehydrated. Flavored sparkling water, water with a splash of fruit juice, pre-packaged water flavor enhancers, etc.
4. Have alternatives handy. Once you find a few suitable soda alternatives, make sure they’re available when you need them. Stock up at home and at work, so that (in a moment of weakness) you don’t grab the wrong thing.
5. Adopt a “no soda” policy. Scale back with WHERE you tend to drink soda. Start with a “no soda at home” policy. Then expand to “no soda at work”… and so on. Here are some other “No Soda” policy ideas:
- At work
- On campus
- On road trips
- Before 5 p.m.
- At restaurants
- At the movies
- As mixers in alcoholic drinks
6. Start a new routine. Think about when you habitually grab a soda and then figure out how you can change the scenario and make a healthier beverage choice. After just a few weeks your old, bad habit will likely be replaced with your healthier routine.
7. Make yourself accountable. If you’re the type of person who is motivated by accountability, tell your family, co-workers and friends that you’re giving up soda (and then let them call you out on it if necessary). Having the support (and watch-dogging) of your loved ones can help (a lot).
8. Redefine the word “stop”. 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.