Best advice on kicking your soda habit

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Sometimes it seems we like we live in a saturated, soda-soaked world.  From vending machines to fast food restaurants to supermarket checkouts, big soda is always seductively enticing you sending out the message, “go ahead, you know you want me.”

If you are that person who has a great deal of trouble getting through a day without at least one can of soda, you most likely have a soda habit that needs to stop.  Granted, one soda here and there consumed in moderation can probably be part of a healthy lifestyle.  If everyone simply consumed soda in this manner – very occasionally – it wouldn’t be a problem.

The problem is most people who drink soda regularly, don’t always drink them in moderation.  Some individuals consume dozens of ounces of these sugary beverages every single day.  High fructose corn syrup and sugar are the two main ingredients in sugar sweetened beverages and are not exactly health foods.  Sipping on soda throughout a day can result in a much higher number of calories leading to excess weight gain in addition to increasing risk for insulin resistance sending blood sugar soaring while increasing the chance of a diagnosis of diabetes.  Plus all that sugar has little to no nutritional value and leaves little room for healthier food options – in other words, sugar has no vitamins, minerals, fiber, antioxidants, or phytochemicals. 

All sugar offers is calories and that’s it. And excessive sugar consumption appears to have a role in causing inflammation in the body putting you in harm’s way of developing chronic conditions such as heart disease, arthritis, and autoimmune disorders.

So, if you know you have a soda habit that needs to be kicked, how do you do this?  Here is the best advice on giving up soda for good and to start giving your body what it really needs for achieving your best health:

·      Decide once and for all, to give it up

To make change, you have to make up your mind to do so.  Ask yourself, is it worth the short-term indulgence for likely long-term health consequences.  Figure out what is your motivation to want to quit.  Decide to either cut back gradually the amount you consume of soda each day or go cold turkey.  Choose whichever method works best for you.

·      Swap soda for healthier beverage options

The very best and healthiest beverage option to swap soda with is water.  But many people have chosen to drink soda because they do not like the taste of water.  Then try sugar-free flavored water or seltzer, or add slices of lemons, limes, or cucumbers to plain water to infuse some flavor.  Unsweetened ice tea or green tea (green tea has been linked to reducing inflammation in the body) are also perfect substitutes for soda.   The more water or calorie-free beverages you drink throughout the day, the more they can help reduce cravings and to lose unwanted weight while also protecting your teeth from cavities and gums from gingivitis. 

·      Eat regular meals and snacks each day

Are you a soda drinker who has to have one first thing in the morning essentially making it your “breakfast”?   If you feel a food craving coming on, do you instinctively reach for a can of pop to squelch it?  If these habits have been your patterns over the years, it’s time to have a better meal plan.  To ward off sugar cravings, you must start by practicing meal planning for breakfast, lunch, and dinner, as well as healthy snacks and an occasional dessert.  When you follow a healthy eating routine, cravings for sugary beverages diminish.

·      Get sufficient sleep

One factor that may be causing sugar cravings is lack of sleep.  And a can of soda, filled with sugar and caffeine, is unfortunately what many people resort to in waking them up and becoming more alert.  Sleep deprivation can make the nicest person cranky and more impulsive making you less prepared to make the effort to make a healthier choice.  In addition, lack of sleep affects two hormones crucial for maintaining a healthy weight – ghrelin and leptin.  Insufficient sleep can result in an increase of ghrelin which signals your body to eat more while producing less leptin which signals the body to eat less.  Without enough shut-eye, this will make you more prone to unhealthy cravings including an insatiable craving for sugar. 

According to the National Sleep Foundation, most adults should aim for at least seven hours of sleep each night.