You've heard how much sugar is in soda (did you know a 12-ounce can has the equivalent of 10 teaspoons of sugar?), and since sugar isn't exactly known for being a health food, you've decided to cut back on soda. But here's the catch: When a daily can of cola (or two) has become part of your routine, it can be tough to kick the habit.
"Some people who don't like coffee or tea drink soda for that caffeine kick, which could be a feeling you rely on to get you going," says one of LIVESTRONG.com's go-to RDs Bonnie Taub-Dix, RDN, author of Read It Before You Eat It - Taking You from Label to Table and creator of BetterThanDieting.com. "Although more studies are needed, some feel that you can actually be addicted to soda, since many soda drinkers feel strong cravings to consume this beverage on a regular basis."
So, what should you do? First, think about what that bottle of pop is really doing for your health.
"Besides having no nutrient value, soda could contain other substances and chemicals that you may not have considered, like caffeine and artificial colors, flavors and dyes," Taub-Dix says. "Sugar has also been shown to contribute to heart disease and can wreak havoc on blood sugar levels."
Then, start searching for a swap. Both Taub-Dix and fellow dietitian Kristina Cooke, RD, suggest finding better-for-you beverages that still satisfy your bubbly cravings, rather than just trying to ignore them.
"It's important to still feel satisfied with the foods and beverages you're consuming, so don't look to simply cut things out, as this can lead to increased cravings and binging," says Cooke, the health and wellness program manager at Zevia®. "Rather, look for better-for-you replacements, like Zevia, that still allow that nostalgic, crave-worthy flavor you love, without the ingredients you aim to limit, like added sugars or artificial ingredients."
And since drinking less soda is sometimes easier said than done, Taub-Dix and Cooke are sharing more details on their top three tips for breaking your soda-drinking habit.
1. Try Something New
They don't call it a habit for nothing. If you automatically beeline to the soda aisle to pick up your go-to 12-pack every time you walk into the grocery store, try switching up your routine by taking time to browse the beverage aisle for a while. By picking out something different, you'll expose your tastebuds to a whole new menu of drinks, and you just might find one you enjoy more than your standby (and it might even be lower in sugar, to boot).
For example, Taub-Dix suggests jazzing up sparkling water with some pomegranate juice and a twist of lime, or spicing up a cup of tea with a drizzle of honey or slices of fruit, which will give your drink a natural sweetness without the same amount of sugar you'd find in a sweetened soda, she says.
Another option you can find right in the soda aisle is Zevia Soda, which Cooke recommends to anyone looking to reduce their added-sugar intake. It contains zero sugar, zero calories and no artificial ingredients, but still gives you the same deliciously effervescent experience of sipping on a soda in flavors like cola, lemon lime and ginger root beer. Plus, it comes in a variety pack so you can sample different flavors until you land on your favorite.
Each can is sweetened with stevia (a plant extract), which is reported to be 200 times sweeter than table sugar — meaning it takes a much smaller amount to give drinks a sweet flavor and does not raise blood sugar levels in the same way sugar does.
2. Don't Quit Cold Turkey
Maybe you've tried quitting soda before, but ended up falling back into your old routine. This time, instead of declaring you'll never drink soda ever again, effective immediately, try gradually working your way into it (or, rather, out of it).
"I'd start off by adding club soda or sparkling water to your soda and slowly change the ratios until you're only adding a splash of soda," Taub-Dix says. To test out her method, try Zevia's flavored Sparkling Water or Tonic Water, which have zero calories and zero sugar, while giving your health-minded concoction a boost of bubbles and flavor.
3. Remember Your Why
A healthy diet is all about balance, which means reaching for healthier options more often than opting for less healthy ones. But that doesn't mean banning soda from your life altogether. "[Soda] should be regarded as a 'sometimes' food rather than a regular staple," Taub-Dix says.
Remembering why you're trying to lower your sugar intake (whether it's because you're trying to lose weight or just improve your overall wellbeing) will help you adjust your lifestyle accordingly and stay on track.
But, when you're just really in the mood for your original favorite beverage, treat it like a special occasion and pour yourself a glass. And who knows, you could end up discovering you enjoy your zero-sugar options more anyway.
Ready to ditch your sugary soda habit? Use code LIVEYOURBEST30 for 30 percent off (up to a $30 discount) at Zevia.com.