So, you know how bad soda, diet soda, sports drinks, and energy drinks are for you (if you don’t, then you MUST read this). But you have an impossible time giving them up. I understand, because I was addicted to diet sodas for 15+ years. I can honestly say that quitting them is the best thing I ever did for my health and for my family.
Here is how I beat my soda addiction little by little, and tips for you to give it up when you are ready.
Identify Your Triggers
It will be vital for you to know when you want soda, so that you can be one step ahead of yourself. For me, soda was my reward after the stressful task of buying groceries. It was automatic – go through the store, grab a 20 ounce Coke Zero as I check out. If I was having a particularly stressful day, I would drive to Sonic and “reward” myself with a 44 ounce diet cherry coke.
What do you tell yourself when you pick up the soda? Is it boredom, stress, emotions, a reward for working so hard? Listen to your own thought process as it happens and take notes. This will help you become aware so you can make changes.
Baby Steps, Baby Steps, BABY STEPS
This is the MOST IMPORTANT aspect of making a change in a habit. Yes, some people can go cold turkey, but there is a much greater chance that cold turkey will not work for you. Would you notice something coming at you super slowly? Probably not. Would you get scared and freak out if you saw something coming at you at 100 miles an hour? YES, and this is how your brain perceives these big changes.
Start by lowering your soda intake by just a little bit. This is different for everyone. For the all-day long soda drinker, this may mean just one less per day at first. For the daily soda drinker, it could mean starting with every other day.
Whatever the change, make it slow. It doesn’t matter if it takes you an entire year as long as the change is permanent and sustainable, because one more year of soda is better than two weeks without and then a lifetime of drinking it again.
Replace Soda with Another Habit
Don’t just give soda up and sit there twiddling your thumbs wishing for it. Replace it with a good habit. This could mean flavored water or another healthy drink, a walk when you would normally take a break to buy a drink, a healthy snack, working out, music, etc.
Recognize The Addiction Cycle
Your thoughts will rationalize you getting that soda any way they can, your brain wants that hit of soda that it is used to. “Just one won’t hurt.” “But I’ve had such a hard day.” “This is just too hard, I can’t do it.” Listen to these thoughts, become aware of them, but don’t act on them.
Know that your thoughts are lying to you, and that they can be very manipulative. Let them pass, one at a time. You don’t have to conquer them all at once, just the one you are experiencing right this moment. Have a list somewhere of why you are quitting soda, and read it instead (or read our 26 shocking reasons to quit again).
Have A Support System
You might be surrounded by enablers who will say “What’s the big deal? Just one won’t kill you.” They aren’t living YOUR life and while they have good intentions, this does not help. Make a deal with someone close to you that you can turn to when you really want a soda, and they will talk you through it. It helps to have someone supportive who has been through the same process already.
Be Mindful of Your Body
After I got past the withdrawal phase from diet sodas, I started to realize just how poor my digestive system had felt before. I realized that I wasn’t *supposed* to have constant stomach cramps and headaches. Drinking water, which I absolutely HATED for years, became a joy because it made me feel good.
My skin looked better, and I didn’t feel chronically thirsty. When I did fall off the wagon and grab a diet soda, I would notice again the stomach cramps and headaches. Now I associate that terrible feeling with soda, and it makes it so much easier not to reach for one.
Buy A Good Water Bottle
After last week’s article, I got a lot of feedback from people who just hate water. I was one of you. I *never* drank it. Ever. But once I gave up soda and realized how thirsty I actually was all the time, I gave it a shot.
I like straws, so I bought this water bottle and carry it with me everywhere. It has become my new habit. Sometimes I add cucumber slices, mint, and lemon juice to give it some flavor. It’s easy to fill up and very portable, so it is an easy habit to keep.
Start Over As Many Times As It Takes
Had I given up forever the first time I failed to give up sodas, I’d still be drinking them today instead of writing this. Instead of letting one failure derail me forever, I examined what went wrong and how to change that for next time.
For me, I just had to learn to get past the checkout line – I knew if I could just make it to the parking lot, I was in the clear. So my new goal was to tell myself “just get to the parking lot”. It worked! Don’t accept failure – think of it as a lesson, and start over.
I know this isn’t going to be easy, but if I can do it, you can too!
Did you successfully kick the soda habit? Share with us how you did it in the comments!