When the astonishingly successful and talented band Chicago wrote the lyrics “I’m addicted to you babe, you’re a hard habit to break,” they could have been referring to those addicted to or at least think they are, to sugary beverages. Regardless whether drinking sugary beverages is a true addiction or not, what we do know for sure is the many and scientifically proven hazards to our health these super-sweetened drinks bestow upon us. From excess empty calories devoid of any nutritional value to being linked with the development of tooth decay, type 2 diabetes, osteoporosis, heart disease, weight gain, gout, high blood pressure and kidney stones. Why wouldn’t we want to quit the madness?
If you are finding reducing your consumption of sugary beverages a hard habit to break, you are not alone. Many people are embroiled in a vicious cycle of sipping one too many sodas, energy drinks, fruit punch, lemonade, sweet tea or overly sugared-up coffee drinks making it tough to sever the cycle. But, it can and must be done for the sake of your long-term health. In the short-run, you may notice few if any ill effects. But keep up the never ending round of one sugary drink after another, and within time, your health will suffer.
Breaking the sugary beverage cycle
On occasion, sugary beverages can be enjoyed. And if everyone did that, we wouldn’t be having this conversation. The problem is too many of us are choosing sugary beverages as our main beverage to keep ourselves hydrated and that is leading to health problems.
Breaking the cycle of relying on sugary beverages each and every day probably won’t happen overnight. But keep reminding yourself how much better your will look, feel and be, in addition to most likely losing some weight, and you’ll wonder why you didn’t do this much earlier.
Here are some sneaky ways the cycle can be broken:
· Choose healthier caffeinated beverage options
Many people choose certain sugary beverages for their caffeine content – it wakes them up, makes them feel more alert and may even take the edge off of stress. The solution is to choose healthier caffeinated beverage options of either black coffee or antioxidant-rich green tea. Both of these choices will provide natural substances like caffeine still giving you a much needed energy boost while also benefitting you by protecting skin from sun damage, stabilizing blood sugars and reducing the risk of certain types of cancer.
· Keep yourself occupied
We are creatures of habit and part of those habits may include boredom. Often our not-so-healthy-habits are brought on by boredom. If you find yourself longing for a sugary drink, ask yourself why and find something else to occupy your time. Make a list of other things to do besides indulging in a sweetened beverage putting the yearning out of mind.
· Reduce dependence gradually
Just like we had to learn to fly on our own after leaving our childhood homes, we have to learn to snip our sugary drink routine one sip at a time. If your typical intake is several servings a day, cut back by one drink each day or each week. For example, if you drink 6 sodas a day, reduce it to five, then four, three, two, one, and then eventually to where you only have one on occasion. Give yourself time to adjust gradually which will more likely lead to real and long-lasting sustainable change.
· Make water more exciting
A common complaint of why people won’t just simply drink water is “water is boring” or “water doesn’t taste good.” Sounds like it’s time to jazz up your water. Try carbonated water or flavored seltzer water. Toss in lemon, orange, lime, or cucumber slices to a pitcher of water in the refrigerator to give the taste a little more pizzazz. Even adding in fresh berries or fresh mint leaves can be a tasty addition to that boring glass of water.
· Beware of soda triggers
Keep a sugary beverage journal and see if there are certain places or situations that are triggering you to want to reach for that sugar-laden concoction. If it is happening in the afternoon on your way home from work of stopping through a drive-thru window ordering one, take a different route home. If vending machines are a problem, avoid walking by them and steer clear when you see one. Instead pack your own healthy beverage to have on hand at all times. Tell yourself, I’m in control of my actions and I can learn to break my sugary drink addiction.
· Save sugary beverages only for special occasions
Once you are free of the sugary grip of consuming sugary beverages, learn to treat them just like any other empty calorie food. Every once in a while it can be okay to have one but make it only on special occasions and as infrequent as possible. Besides, who really wants to keep up the habit of drinking a beverage loaded with sugar, artificial flavorings and not much else? Why keep doing something that can harm your health instead of promote it?