One of the assignments in my nutrition class last semester was to make an 8-week behavioral change related to my diet. Immediately, I knew what I wanted to change: no more soda!
Growing up, my mom only let me drink soda as a treat. I liked it, but I didn’t crave it. Even in college, I didn’t really drink it. At least, not until I moved to Australia. Once there, I started to drink Coke all the time. Probably only once per day, but it became a necessity.
When I got move to the US and started working fulltime, Coke (I was drinking regular, not diet) became my mid-day treat. I actually looked forward to 12PM so that I could satisfy my craving.
As the years passed and I continued to drink Coke every day, I felt the negative changes it was having on my body. But as hard as I tried to quit, I always gave in to my cravings. Every time I finished another can I would regretfully ask myself: why am I drinking something that I know is terrible for me?
Because I was addicted. Caffeine and sugar are evil, as we all know.
I tried for months to kick my craving. Each day I went without soda, I was painfully aware of what I was missing – headaches, extreme cravings, lethargy, irritability, etc. I remember sitting at my desk at work, leg bouncing, and wondering why I didn’t just give in already! and start the detox process the next day. Most of the time, I caved in to my craving.
And then I read, It Starts with Food, by Dallas and Melissa Hartwig and it was a game changer.
Dallas and Melissa’s writing is real. They don’t sugarcoat the detoxification process and they acknowledge that changing your diet (namely, cutting out soda and excess sugar) is freaking hard. They don’t offer a magical fix; instead, they encourage readers to endure the discomfort knowing that they will come out with new, lifelong healthy habits.
With that advice in mind, I set out to finally kick the can (<—-get it?!) When I felt anxious and in need of my daily fix, I reminded myself that I knew this feeling would come and that I was making a choice to change my health. I failed during the first few attempts but eventually, I formed new SODA FREE habits.
And the best part was that after only 6 weeks, I noticed a lot of positive changes.
- I was no longer lethargic during the middle of the day.
- I lost belly fat.
- I became more aware of sugar in other foods and drinks (I stopped adding sugar to my coffee, for example)
- I was less irritable and my mood swings were less severe.
- My skin cleared up (I was also drinking a lot of water.)
Sounds intriguing, right? Here are 5 tips that helped me quit:
5 tips to kick the can (aka stop drinking soda!)
- Commit to stopping. When you give it up, realize that you will feel miserable for the first few days. If you’re not ready to push through the initial discomfort – you’re not ready to stop.
- Drink soda water or lemon/lime water instead. The carbonation in the soda water was perfect for me. If you’re looking for flavor, drink water infused with fresh lemons/limes.
- To help with the headaches, drink coffee. Giving up an addiction is a gradual process and may require a few baby steps in between. If coffee will help make the process a little easier, then go for it!
- Instead of telling yourself that you can’t have soda, tell yourself that you are choosing to not have it. We all know phrase: “we want what we can’t have.” Don’t restrict yourself to the point that you’re obsessing over not drinking soda any more. Remind yourself that you chose to stop drinking it.
- Give yourself at least a month. Create a schedule for yourself with specific goals in mind and reward yourself (not with soda!) when you meet those goals. It will take a minimum of 2 weeks to notice any changes…so just stick with it!
And finally, one more incentive to quit this stuff: the average can (12 ounces) of Coke has 39 grams of sugar in it. Since 1 teaspoon = 4 grams of sugar, ONE can of Coke has almost 10 teaspoons of sugar in it. YUCK!