I stopped drinking soda in January of 2013. I’d tried a few times before, and learned a lot, but it wasn’t until 2013 that I was ready to kick the habit for you. Like most behavior changes, it’s nearly impossible to just “stop” doing something, but replacing behaviors comes much easier. Instead of giving up soda, I decided to think of it as replacing one habit with anther:

1. Find an alternative beverage you love

If you are used to a few sodas a day, the taste of water probably won’t satisfy. Reduce cravings by stocking your fridge with healthy alternatives. Packaged juices and teas often have as many calories as soda, or are sweetened with corn syrup so may encourage you to go right back to soda. Sweet tea (With natural sweeteners) and natural lemonades are a great substitute. I found sweetened green and herbal teas to be my soda-substitute.

Take a trip down the tea aisle at your grocery store and check out some of the herbal tea samplers. Try cold-brewing tea to make large amounts of ice tea without the hassle of boiling water. (green tea, especially, has a completely different flavor when brewed without heat) It may take some time to discover a tea you love. For me, I love Celestial Seasoning’s peach tea iced, but can’t stand Bigelow’s version of the same thing, despite the fact that Bigelow’s is the only Early Grey tea I like.

Cold Brewed Herbal Teas
Cold Brewed Herbal Teas are a great way to help replace a soda habit.

2. Don’t sweat the sugar- at first.

Giving up soda is great for your body, but it may help you be more successful in the long run if, for the first few days or weeks, you give yourself permission to drink as much sugar was you were, as long as you don’t drink in in soda form. You can add a heaping cup of sugar to a 2 quart pitcher of tea or lemonade and still fall under the amount of sugar in the same amount of soda! If a sweeter drink helps you get through the cravings for caffeine or carbonation, it’s well worth keeping it sugared for awhile.

3. Drink your 64 ounces.
Focusing on drinking a full 64 ounces of water each day significantly helped me reduce the desire for other drinks.

4. Tell everyone – Including Yourself.
Most of us care about being seen as a person of our word. For this reason, it can be incredibly effective to tell your friends and family, “I am not drinking soda for a year” or “I have given up pop” instead of phrasing the resolution as “I’m trying to give up soda”.  words like “I’m trying” or “right now” set you up for failure and a return to the habit you’d like to kick. Repeating the commitment to yourself in absolute terms will help strengthen your resolve and remove the option of returning to drinking soda.

5. Calculate your savings
For me it was very helpful to calculate how much money I’d save over the next year. Reminding yourself that it’s not just good for your health, but also for your wallet can help strengthen resolve. – And all that savings can justify a new tea habit and the purchase of fresh fruit for fruit-infused water.

These are 5 things that made a huge difference for me in my first year without soda. What works for you?

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