Regular soda can make you more likely to gain weight due to the extra calories -- about 140 in each 12-ounce can -- and may also increase your risk of diabetes, cavities and osteoporosis. Diet soda isn't necessarily any better, but it can be used as a step toward giving up soda for good. Giving up soda can also help you cut your caffeine intake. Consider when and why you drink soda before trying to cut it out of your diet because this will help you determine the best strategy.
You can go cold turkey, but it won't be pleasant if you have been regularly drinking a lot of caffeinated or diet soda. Caffeine withdrawal can cause headaches, depression, irritability, vomiting, muscle aches, impaired concentration and drowsiness and typically lasts for about a week if you totally avoid caffeine. The aspartame commonly used to sweeten diet sodas can also cause withdrawal symptoms in some people.
You can limit the risk for these symptoms by cutting back to one soda a day, then one every other day and gradually cutting sodas out completely. Another option is to mix each soda with water so you're only drinking half of a soda each time you drink a glass of soda. This helps you become better hydrated and gets you accustomed to less sweet beverages, making it easier to further reduce your soda consumption.
Make Smart Swaps
While water is the healthiest replacement for soda, not everyone is happy to drink water all the time. Gradually work your way from soda to water by making smart swaps. Start by switching to a natural soda, which doesn't contain as many chemicals, colors, preservatives or artificial sweeteners. Then try seltzer mixed with 100 percent fruit juice for a healthier dose of bubbles and flavor. Once you get used to that, you can try a calorie-free flavored seltzer water, then switch to water flavored with a slice of lemon or lime.
Plan Ahead and Consider the Consequences
Think about when you normally drink soda and why. This will allow you to plan ahead for these occasions and have a suitable alternative in mind. For example, if you drink soda to wake up in the morning because you don't like coffee, this could mean drinking unsweetened iced tea or tea flavored with a small amount of lemon or sugar instead of soda. This will give you the caffeine without the soda.
If you drink regular soda, keep track of how much soda you typically drink, and add up how many calories you're consuming. Then look at how much exercise you'd need to do in order to burn off those calories. This can help keep you motivated to stick with your goal to cut back on soda.
Dealing With Soda Cravings
If you're having caffeine withdrawal, try having a cup of coffee or tea in place of some of your usual sodas. This way you can gradually cut down on the caffeine, if you're trying to do so, without having as many withdrawal symptoms.
On the other hand, if it is sugar you're craving, try adding just a teaspoon of real sugar to your coffee or tea to help limit soda cravings. This may be enough to reduce the cravings, and you can always gradually reduce the sugar you add so you don't crave the sugar as much over time.
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