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12 Months to a Healthier You: How to Stop Drinking Soda

By Sara Butler

Your Body and Soda

Soda, pop, soda pop, Coke -- whatever you call it, this mix of carbonated water, sugar and other sweeteners, and a boatload of artificial and natural flavorings, are not in the top 10 things that are good for you. Probably not even in the top 100. No matter if you’re drinking regular soda, diet soda, or a 50/50 mix, soda has been linked to many different types of health problems such as poor dental health, obesity, and other chronic diseases.

Despite knowing soda is lousy for you -- you weren’t really trying to justify it to yourself, were you? -- you still need to get your fix. We get it. You need it. But if soda has been a part of your life for some time, it can be hard to walk away from these popular beverages. But there are some very good reasons to kick carbonated sweet water to the curb as you make small, healthy changes in 2022.

Here’s what you need to know about soda, why you want it despite all you know, and how to finally get it out of your life for good!

Why Do You Want Soda?

Soda tastes good, but that’s not really why you want it. Truthfully, cutting soda out of your life is about more than just willpower -- there are some forces at work here that you may not understand, and it goes far beyond your preference for Coke or Pepsi or being a Pepper.

On a biochemical level, there’s a reason people tend to crave foods and drinks that are high in sugar. Your brain is wired for rewards when your body does something good, like get a load of calories that can keep you alive. These types of biochemical rewards are the vestiges from our days as hunters and gatherers, well before it could be understood that high-sugar, calorie-dense foods and drinks could simply be acquired in a drive-thru.

When you eat or drink food your body is jazzed about, the brain rewards you with dopamine, the “feel-good” chemical. The more pleasure you get, the more you crave it, so you will seek out things that give you that dopamine hit. Soda is a big ol’ dopamine bomb that your brain really, really likes. This leads to a cycle some would describe as vicious because your brain seeks these foods to give it the pleasure it wants. That’s why you crave it.

Why Should You Stop Drinking Soda?

There are some very good reasons to give soda the boot for good and help your brain to move past its cravings. Among them:

  • Fosters weight gain - High-calorie foods that don’t provide any type of satiety will lead to weight gain. It’s easier to take in more calories than you burn this way, too. To burn the 150 calories in a 12-ounce Pepsi, you’d need to jog for 19 minutes.
  • Associated with chronic disease - There has been study after study showing that those who drink soda regularly have a higher risk of developing certain chronic health conditions such as heart disease and diabetes.
  • Promotes poor dental health - Your teeth are important, and aside from the fact that tooth problems are costly, they also can have a huge impact on your overall health. Soda consumption is linked to poor dental health and promotes tooth decay.
  • Void of nutrition - Soda has no redeeming qualities as far as nutrition goes. There’s no fiber, minerals, vitamins, or any other type of nutrient.

How to Quit

It can be challenging to say goodbye to soda, but it’s worth it for your health and wellness. This year, as you’re making small improvements to your health, try a few of these strategies to cut down and cut out soda from your life:

  • Drink water - You may want a soda because you’re simply thirsty, so drink more water to try to keep that possible thirst from being a soda trigger.
  • Give yourself space - Breakups are hard so it’s a good idea to let soda down gently and let it know that it’s them, not you, and that you’ll be needing your space. When you start to think about soda, go for a walk or chew some gum to help reduce the craving and get your mind on something else. Also, make sure you have no access to it and get it out of your house.
  • Have something healthy but sweet - That hit of sweetness you get from a soda can sorta be recreated through healthier means. To help curb sugar cravings as a whole, try a sweet treat instead. A piece of fruit, some sugarless gum, or yogurt with fruit added to it can help with your fix. Do not replace soda with fruit juice because, aside from a few scant nutrients, it’s not good for you either.
  • Find an alternative - There are a lot of good substitutes for soda, so give them a try. You can get some sparkling water and add some fruit to it, drink kombucha, go for some coconut water, or brew yourself some fruit tea. Experiment to see if there’s something better for you that can take the place of your carbonated drink of choice.

If you can eliminate soda from your life, it’s a small thing you can do that will make major improvements in your health and wellness. Remember to cut yourself some slack, though, because your brain really wants that fix. It will take time to get it out of your life. Be patient and persistent, and use a few of these tricks so that next month you can walk around soda-free!

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