Frankly, right now I’m mulling over whether I should propose the New York City council ban sitting (if you’ve read my free report, you know it kills), high heels and old sofas (back pain costs business $300 billion) . . . or maybe simply put a limit on birthday parties. All of these will certainly help save lives and money.
(You can go read the rest of my passionate opposition to the move to ban soda in my full discussion of the ban here.)
The soda ban won’t shrink any waistlines. But it makes people feel like they’re doing something about a tough problem we all face.
Instead I’d like to offer some real help to folks who genuinely want to cut the soda down to size and do the same to their bodies as a result.
So in this post I show you step-by-step how to stop drinking soda . . . or at least drink less – whether it’s legislated or not.
But before I get into the how-to, let me share with you that this challenge is very close to home.
Even though I’ve never been hooked on soda (espresso and chocolate were my demons), for my husband it was a different story . . .
One of his most vivid memories of immigrating here from the Caribbean when he was 14 was walking into a supermarket and seeing row upon row of 2-liter soda bottles. He couldn’t believe his eyes. His eyes still glow a little as he recalls bringing his first 2-liter bottle home and having it all to himself.
Fast forward a decade plus and he ran into me. Along with helping him make friends with broccoli I got on his case about soda.
It wasn’t easy since he pretty much considered soda the only beverage, period. And he was always thirsty! His mom and aunts used to call him “firebelly” since he drank so much liquid.
However, fortunately enough, even though he loved the flavor, he loved being healthy even more. And when he started to learn about the “side” effects of soda drinking, it started to lose its appeal.
With half his family battling diabetes – including losing limbs and eyesight due to this disease – he knew this was nothing to mess around with.
So before I get into the how to wean yourself off of soda, let me start with a few of the facts that helped make my husband more determined than ever to leave that sugary-stuff alone . . .
4 Good Reasons (And Counting) To Stop Drinking Soda
Soda, as everyone now undoubtedly knows, has sugar in it. A lot. Just to make it easier to visualize, 4.2 grams of sugar is a teaspoon. So a 12-ounce can of coca cola which has 39 grams of sugar is about almost 9 teaspoons of sugar which is over half a cup!
Just pour a half cup full of sugar and look at it. That’s how much you get when you slam down one can.
Ideally we should have close to 6 teaspoons at the most for the entire day. So suffice it to say, with just a can of soda you easily blow past this ideal amount.
When you stop taking in so much sugar, you . . .
- Boost Your Immune System. Research indicates that simply by taking in a couple teaspoons of sugar, your immune system activity plummets. This means your body is less equipped to fight off everything from cancer to the common cold.
- Stay Slimmer. As I noted before, it’s not eating fats that’s making us fat. Just the opposite, eating more satisfying healthy fats will actually help you lose weight. It’s sugar that really makes you fat. A little can be used for energy. Too much gets stored as stored energy a.k.a. fat.
- Have More Energy. Dr. Jacob Teitlebaum, an expert on chronic fatigue syndrome, calls sugar (along with caffeine) an “energy loan shark”. Sure, it picks you up for a little. But then it sends you crashing down, feeling more tired than you felt before. When I started cutting sugar out of my diet more, I felt the difference. You will too.
- Protect Yourself From Diabetes. Diabetes may seem like a distant threat, but I can tell you right now it’s not pleasant. Like I said, I’ve seen firsthand how it physically hurts your body. When you eat too much sugar you make it harder for your body to respond to the hormonal signals telling it how to take sugar and use it. Over time this can cause tremendous stress on your pancreas. Diabetes puts you at a tremendously greater risk for all kinds of health problems from heart disease to Alzheimer’s. And it can make you blind and rob you of feet, legs and other precious parts of your body. I know two people who have lost a leg due to diabetes.
Less sugar will put a spring in your step, give you glowing skin, help you see better, lift your mood – the list goes on and on . . .
There are lots of ways to get rid of the sugar in your diet. But since the topic is soda these days, I’ll stick with it. And it’s a pretty good focus since as a liquid form of sugar, it’s somewhat deceptive in how much it harms your body.
It’s harder to believe that something that goes down with so little work, can make such a huge difference in how solid and big we become. (To disabuse yourself of this misconception, go take a quick peek at that half cup of sugar on your counter. Remember, that’s just one can of soda!)
Now before we go into how to stop drinking soda – soda ban or not – just take a moment. Look over that list of 4 reasons to stop drinking soda. Think about what you want out of life . . . What you want to be doing 10 years from now . . . What you want to do tomorrow with more energy and focus.
Would it hurt so much to lighten the sugar intake? Keep referring to these images whenever you start hankering for soda. Like I’ve explained before, these images can help you want to change with all your heart and soul . . . and thus make it easier to make changes.
Okay, now I’m going to help you actually make this a reality:
The Secret To Drinking Less Soda
Okay, let me just acknowledge if you want a policeman monitoring the fridge, that might work. However, fridge security is not in everyone’s budget. So I’m going to offer you a process you can take with you everywhere. Even if you leave the carefully monitored neighborhoods of New York City.
First of all, let me share a secret that will bolster your resolve . . .
Your taste buds change every two weeks. If you can shift your sugar intake for just a couple weeks, you can literally change your sense of taste.
Proof! My husband used to down soda and only soda. He now winces when he drinks anything slightly sweet. Your taste buds will change!
Now there are a couple ways to make the shift. Certainly you can go the cold turkey route and just not drink or eat anything sweet for two weeks.
But that’s really hard. Our will power can only stretch so far. And when you’ve got kids, business and a marriage to attend to – not to mention making sure you fit fitness in – you don’t have much will power to spare.
So I advocate the slower but very effective weaning process.
1. Dilute Your Drink
Just start watering your soda down. You can use seltzer so you can still get that fuzzy feeling. Or you can go with water. Start with mixing soda and water 2:1, work your way to 1:1 ratio . . . and eventually start shifting it in the other direction so you have more water than soda.
Try to progress to a higher dilution every two weeks. Be consistent and diligent. Remember, you want to retrain your tastebuds so you can’t keep going back to old sweet levels.
When you go to a restaurant, order a soda and water and an extra glass. And get to mixing.
2. Increase The Flavor Factor
Once you start getting used to less sweet soda, start moving away from the artificial color too and increase the flavor factor without the sugar.
In my household we drink lots of Celestial Seasoning’s fruit zinger teas. Chilled they give you an incredible fruity flavor without the sweetness. Often we’ll add a little sweet or juice. But it ‘s just a little. Not too much!
3. Make Your Own Fuzz
If you love the sparkling fuzziness of soda, start buying seltzer. Experiment. Try different fruit juices in it. My favorite is pineapple juice. A squirt of lime is incredibly refreshing with a hint of sweetness.
Buying too much seltzer? Get a sodastream, home seltzer maker setup. You can save lots of money and trips to the store and to the trunk of your car after shopping (no more seltzer bottles).
4. Cut The Sugar Everywhere
Okay, I’m going to stray off of the soda theme . . . but eventually you’ve got to if you’re going to make this work. Start getting rid of sugar in your other foods. See, when you eat spaghetti sauce, chinese stir fry and barbeque sauce with lots of sugar it’s hard to adjust back to watered down soda. Start reading labels and going for low-sugar alternatives. Make your own where you can.
In your effort to go with less sugar, don’t go with aspartame, sucralose or phenylalanine. For years, my father-in-law was having terrible headaches and none of his doctors could figure it out. We advised him to cut out the artificial sweeteners he was using for his diabetes. Within a couple months of following our advice, his headaches disappeared. There are plenty indications that these sweeteners are linked to migraines and other serious health issues.
5. Experiment Cautiously With Natural Sweeteners
Should you go with stevia and other natural sweeteners?
Honey, maple syrup, agave, rapadura are all healthier than white sugar since they give you nutrition along with the sweet. But they are still forms of sugar. They still put a lot of sugar in your body.
With stevia, here’s the thing . . . I’ve done extensive research on stevia for a trade journal article. I’ve talked to researchers and manufacturers and I’ve read through a dozen peer-reviewed published studies. Stevia is clearly a healthy alternative to sugar and in fact seems to help prevent diabetes and alleviate it.
Stevia is 300 times sweeter than sugar, without the calories and health problems. It passed FDA requirements to be generally recognized as safe (GRAS, in food industry lingo). And now is considered a safe food ingredient.
But as one researcher I spoke to (who thinks stevia is great) warned we still have yet to see how this ingredient affects people over the long term when eaten at the level that Americans like sweets. While stevia has a long history of healthy use in Japan and originally in the Amazon, neither of these cultures can match our sweet tooth.
And here’s the final caution with using these other sweeteners to cull your white sugar habit: Your ultimate solution lies in changing your sense of taste. What are you going to do if you can’t find stevia and you’re hankering for something sweet?
But when you change your sense of taste, you gain control no matter what the situation. You open up a whole new world of choices that in turn open up a whole new world of health and the benefits that comes with this.
So if you’ve been struggling to drink less soda . . . don’t wait for a soda ban in your neighborhood.
Envision the change that will come with making this shift, take heart in the knowledge that you can change and then take these steps and put them into action.
Sarah Clachar has built a thriving health copywriting business from scratch while being a mom . . . nurturing a strong marriage . . . and running a small homestead farm. Along with a BA in biology, she’s got two decades of experience teaching and researching about natural health. Her articles have been published in Life Extension Magazine, Health, Mothering, A Taste For Life, Nutrition Business Journal, and Natural Foods Merchandiser.
At Your Healthy Home Biz, Sarah has combined her expertise in health and her experience running a freelance health copywriting business into a special resource for home biz owners, freelancers and solopreneurs. Your Healthy Home Biz provides inspiration and a system for transforming your workday so you can run your home business without running yourself into the ground.
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