Written by Angela Silva
For many, soda is a part of the daily routine. They grab a big gulp at the gas station, keep 12 packs in the fridge at home, have secrete stashes at work and drink it on an almost scheduled basis. The caffeine is necessary to get that morning pick-up, or the energy to get through a mundane day of chores. And if you don’t get it? Headaches, fatigue, irritability, decreased productivity, etc. Basically your day is ruined, or at least a little off.
Does any of this hit home with you?
What if I told you that you might be an addict?
Most people associate addiction with drugs or alcohol, but check out the official definition of “addiction” from Merriam-Webster:
Addiction: “The compulsive need for and use of a habit-forming substance… characterized by tolerance and by well-defined physiological symptoms upon withdrawal; broadly: persistent compulsive use of a substance known by the user to be harmful.”
Yep. That soda “habit” you have could actually be considered an addiction. And that’s a scary thought.
Take control of your mind, body, and actions and don’t let your need for sodas (or caffeine) control you. Here are some steps for kicking your soda habit and getting back on track with your health.
1. Don’t go cold turkey
Weaning yourself off soda will probably result in better long-term results than quitting all at once. Start by evaluating your current habits and reducing them. If you normally drink 3 bottles/cans a day, try to cut back to 2. If you have one on your way to work and coming home, try cutting out the coming-home soda. After a couple of weeks of cutting back, cut back even more.
2. Find an alternative
Different aspects of soda hook different people. For some it’s just the action of sipping on something while driving that they form a dependency on. For others it’s the caffeine, and for some it’s the refreshing carbonation. Find what your hook is and find a healthier replacement. Flavored seltzer water can give you the bubbly effect without the caffeine or calories. Keeping a water bottle handy can help if it’s just the action of drinking you’re used to. If caffeine is your demon, switch to caffeine-free for a while to try to break your caffeine dependency.
3. Drink water first
If you’re tempted to go for a soda, make it a rule that you have to drink a glass of water first. This might quench your thirst and give you time to think about the cost of drinking that sugary creator of love handles.
4. Avoid the triggers
Maybe changing your routine is the trick for you. Try taking a different route to work if your routine involves regularly stopping at a particular store or gas station along the way. If you come home and go right for the fridge, try finding something to do outside first, or think of a task to immediately occupy yourself right when you get home. A change of scenery might be just what you need to forget about your soda need and get you on a healthier track.
5. Change your way of thinking
When you think of soda as a “forbidden” substance, it becomes all the more appealing. So once you’ve gotten through a few weeks of cutting back and you don’t feel as drawn to soda as you were before, allow yourself to indulge on special occasions. In fact, having this mindset for the entire process will help soda lose its power over you. Think, “I’m in control, and I can choose whether to have soda any time I want, but I’m simply choosing to make better health choices.” Understand that soda will always be there, and that you’re free to choose it as a drink or something else. Because it provides no nutritional value, however, you choose to hydrate with substances that are healthier, and soda is there as a treat on special occasions when you just want something to enjoy.