How to Break Your Soda Habit TODAY

By Mel Thomassian (RD)

SODAResearchers reporting in the International Journal of Clinical Practice noted that heavy cola drinkers (two to four liters of cola every day) are at risk of hypokalaemia, or low potassium levels.

This is a serious condition which leads to muscle weakness, fatigue, vomiting, diarrhea and even heart problems. The review included two pregnant women who drank three and seven liters of cola per day. It also included a 51-year-old man who drank four liters per day, however he refused to give up even when he discovered the cola was causing his symptoms.

There’s no doubt about it, kicking a soda habit can be pretty difficult for some people. For most of us though we don’t drink liter upon liter of soda every day. But, giant Big Gulps and super-sized fast food sodas mean we’re drinking more than ever.

The standard vending machine soda is 24 ounces, so consuming two of these per day amounts to almost a liter and a half. Sugary sodas have been linked to obesity, diabetes and metabolic syndrome. Even diet sodas, with their artificial sweeteners, don’t get a free pass either.

While an occasional soda here and there isn’t likely to hurt, if you have a daily habit it’s best to try kicking it for good right now.

How to Kick Your Soda Habit Today:

  • Take baby steps. If you drink four sodas per day, replace two with an alternative today.
  • Make alternatives slowly. Start with diet soda, then switch to flavored water.
  • Once you’ve gotten comfortable with this routine, replace your other sodas with an alternative.
  • Still alive? Great! Now switch those diet sodas or flavored water to plain water. Don’t like plain water? Try adding fresh fruit to them.
  • Experiment with other beverages like teas, milk, soy milk, and seltzer – the goal here is to hydrate mostly with plain water.
  • Don’t keep soda in the house. Make it a treat to be enjoyed now and then.

I gave up soda over six years ago, and now I can’t even drink it. Have you broken your soda habit? Share your tips with us!

Photo courtesy of Aameerule on Flickr.

Filed in Drinks,

33 Comments

  1. Bree

    I am addicted to Pepsi!! I have been drinking a 12 pack a day for almost 13 years now. I never thought anything of it my whole family drinks soda alot. I am starting to have adverse health issues because of Pepsi. My potassium has been low for almost a year now, I am on potassium vitamins and it is still lower than should be. The thought of quitting causes my anxiety to rise. I can not go anywhere without Pepsi. I will spend our last $5 on a 12 pack instead of buying food. I know I need to quit drinking it and I really want to quit. Its so hard though!!! When i try even lowering my intake I get a horrible headache, exhaustion is just cruel, and I become so mean, snapping at the stupidest stuff only realizing I am being irrational after the fact. I wish there was a rehab for Pepsi!!! I’ve got to quit or my heart is going to quit on me. I have to find the strength somewhere and be strong enough to stick to it!!! I pray I can do this!!

    Reply
  2. Melina Gouli

    Thank you. Found this artikle more effektive than the rest. Needed it more than anything at the timebeing.

    Reply
  3. Jasmine

    Im only 13 years old. I drink about 3-4 soda cans a day. I think thats considered addicted.I love soda, but i want to stop drinking it because it is VERY unhealthy and i really dont wanna end up having low potassium along with my anemia. I’ve struggled with anerexia before also, and the only thing i ate(drank) was Pepsi. I overcame my anerexia but , not my pepsi addiction. I need help. Should i ask my doctor? PLEASE HELP!!
    Oh and btw, right now im 131 lbs, and im 5’1 Is that bad for my age and height?

    Reply
  4. tiffany

    well about 4 years ago when my baby passed from SIDS i began to drink pepsi … And now i cant stop.i dont even drink that much water. I HAVE A BAD ADDICTION TO PEPSI…… CAN SOME PLEASE HELP ME

    Reply
  5. FunnySunny

    When I was at my heaviest, I drank around 64 ounces of regular Coke a day! My husband (and trying to lose weight) convinced me to switch to diet. I would literally drink about a gallon of Diet Pepsi in a day! Then a friend challenged me to give up the soda and I decided I would. Now I drink mostly water. If I do drink caffieneated soda, I end up with a UTI. So not worth it!

    Reply
  6. Jennifer

    I stopped drinking soda, went cold turkey 3 weeks ago. Wasn’t hard a first but am really missing the caffeine today.

    Reply
  7. Westopher at Betterby30.net

    I went straight from soda to water, nothing in between. I noticed an immediate difference in my skin and joints. I used to drink Pepsi day & night, about a 2-liter a day, never thinking about how many liquid calories and sugar I was consuming. I now drink water, tea or coffee in the morning, red wine & beer.

    Reply
  8. DaveS

    There are good reasons to cut back on drinking several liters of soda a day, and as someone who drinks a couple of cans a day on average I would like to cut back a little. However, I don’t see a need to completely eliminate soda. Like cake, cookies, candy, and ice cream, it’s a nice treat that won’t sabotage your overall diet if enjoyed in moderation.

    Reply
  9. O.

    I just drink a diet soda when I feel like it. I have transferred some of my cravings for other things onto diet soda, and it hasn’t kept me from loosing weight yet.

    I buy a 12 pack of cans and it last me nearly 2 weeks. I am most likely to have 1 a day, sometimes 2 a day , and rarely 3 a day.

    I have sinus problems, especially when I wake up in the moring and that cold fizzy rush clears my head and make me feel better than coffee. Soda is also th e only thing that relieves nausea for me. I guess I could try a flavored seltzer, but don’t even the diet ones have calories?

    Reply
  10. FitJerk - Flawless Fitness Blog

    “There’s nothing smart about not drinking soda”

    … I stand un-corrected! Yeah, it’s sugar water, but its the DOSE. The amount of sugar in one can is ridiculous.

    You know what “I” won’t stand for Mr.intelligent person? Calling someone’s healthier efforts “sad”.

    “I don’t fall victim to the dietary zealotry so prevalent on the internet.”

    Haha, a classic case of some fruit-cup thinking that I (and a few others) live robotic health-FREAK lives. Trust me, I enjoy my food, and there is NEVER a reason to consume soda.

    Reply
  11. Barry

    Why? What’s wrong with drinking diet soda?

    Let me help you answer the question: **NOTHING**

    Reply
  12. Barry

    Please not that I have never and will never resort to name calling.

    By your doing so you have effectively ceded the debate to me.

    There’s nothing smart about not drinking soda. Soda is nothing more than sugar and water. Sugar and water have no more ability to make you ill or fat than any other food.

    The truth of the mater is that I am intelligent and, more importantly, objective. I don’t fall victim to the dietary zealotry so prevalent on the internet.

    Reply
    • Adam

      I’m sorry, but WHAT?!

      Soda is NOT just sugar and water. There are loads of chemicals in most sodas. ALSO, 43g of sugar and 170 calories in 1 can of Sunkist….. 43g of sugar is an INSANE amount to be consuming in minutes! The benefit is in REPLACING soda with healthier alternatives — like water, teas, fresh juices, etc. These things are actually providing nutrients, unlike soda.

      Reply
  13. FitJerk - Flawless Fitness Blog

    “Sad”? Why is this sad? This is smart, not to mention it’s an impressive feat of willpower. Barry… you’re an idiot!

    Reply
  14. Barry

    How sad.

    Reply
  15. Spectra

    I really need to kick my diet soda habit, but I really love Diet Coke. I suppose it’s better than regular soda, but it’s still soda and it’s probably not great for me. I’ve cut back on it, but I really should just start drinking water and tea exclusively and just cut out the soda.

    Reply
  16. Christy

    My husband and I quit nearly 2 years ago after we found out it might cause metabolic syndrome. I had already tapered off to 1 non-caffeinated diet soda every couple of weeks, but my husband was drinking a couple of sodas each day. He went cold turkey so I decided to as well to support him. My husband now drinks unsweetened tea and I drink mostly water, although sometimes I will splurge with a carbonated water with lemon to get that fizzy feeling.

    It wasn’t a horrible transition as one might think, but there are still occasions where we think a soda would hit the spot. But after two years of “sobriety”, it would seem foolish to drink something now.

    Reply
  17. FitJerk - Flawless Fitness

    Haha, you go girl!

    Reply
  18. FitJerk - Flawless Fitness

    Now you know why I deliver results! 😉

    Reply
  19. Kellie

    Don’t buy flavoured drinks and just stick to water. Sometimes my husband buys Coke and brings it home to the fridge. I just tip it down the sink! He is starting to get the point that soda drinks are banned in our house. 🙂

    Reply
  20. Barry

    Pop a potassium pill. Done.

    Reply
  21. ayse76

    SEVEN liters of soda per DAY?? Pregnant? OMG! I’m 18 weeks pregnant, and have a can of soda maybe every 2 weeks, and I feel really guilty when I do it. LOL. Wow.

    Reply
  22. Jody - Fit at 51

    Hey, are you stalking me about that tea!!!! 🙂 I feel a guilt complex coming on!

    Reply
  23. Sam

    For me, soda is a comfort food… I’m usually good at kicking it for months at a time, but when a high-stress deadline comes up it will start sneaking back into my life.

    Now is one of those times. I’m trying to keep soda out and try coffee instead – still high in caffeine but less sugar / calories. I also find I drink less of it in one day / want less of it than with soda. So all in all, it saves a lot of calories!

    Reply
  24. FitJerk - Flawless Fitness

    Hey missy, how’re you doing with the TEA situation?

    Reply
  25. Jody - Fit at 51

    Amazing how much soda some people drink but I have read plenty of weight loss stories where the calories from soda where huge! I used to drink diet but had some work stress a few years back & my stomach could not handle it. I stopped then & never went back! I drink water, the no calorie flavored water & my beloved flavored coffee (in the morn or a treat on the weekends if I am out & about).

    I think the baby steps is a good point since caffeine is addictive.

    I really like those no calorie flavored waters that all the supermarkets have.. their own brand. I wait for them to be on sale & buy more then. It is like a treat for me & I drink plain water the rest of the day & maybe sip thru a flavored one thru the day.

    Reply
  26. Ann

    How about the hundred dollars or so a month you save from not having all that soda every day? Water is free!

    Reply
  27. Trainer Shauna

    Wow! 3 to 7 litres?! That’s not a spelling mistake, that’s how we spell litres in Canada just so I don’t look dumb! 😉 That’s a lot of empty, useless calories! I guess it must be addictive just like anything else. I have a cousin that used to drink 2 litres (or more)of Pepsi every day and when he finally quit he dropped 40 pounds in a few months.

    Reply
  28. John Sifferman - Real World Strength Training

    I guess I lucked out with this one. My high school track and field coach didn’t allow us to drink soda at all. If we were caught with a soda, we would get one warning, and if it happened again we’d get kicked off the team.

    That broke my 2 a day Mountain dew and Dr. Pepper habit, and I haven’t gone back ever since.

    Reply
  29. Lisa

    The pop habit was something I kicked at the same time I kicked my junk food habit.

    Basically, I got it all out of the house and made a rule.

    If I wanted that crap, I had to WALK the 6 blocks to the convenience store to buy it, and I was only allowed to buy ONE individual portion of whatever it was I wanted.

    Definitely would not burn off the calories in a coke or a bag of chips by walking 12 blocks, but it gave me a moment to pause and decide if I REALLY wanted it or not. Usually, I didn’t want it.

    Reply
  30. Steve Parker, M.D.

    Hi, Mike. I’m a full-time hospitalist, so I should get some of that soda tax money you’re sending to the hospitals. Sounds good to me!

    -Steve

    Reply
  31. FitJerk - Flawless Fitness

    I gotta say, these tips are pretty snazzy. One of the FIRST things I tell clients is to get rid of pop/cola/sugary juices from their houses. Immediately!

    The amount of sugar you’ll reduce daily is significant… and you’ll be THAT much closer to your goal. Huzzah!

    P.S- Oh and if you need extreme measures, you could always tell your best friend to slap you across the face every time you go near that stuff. Or… how about a shock collar. (yeah, my imagination runs wild)

    Reply
  32. Mike

    I only ever drank Coke with Rye. I got fat by being lazy and drinking too much beer. I have never understood why people drink so much of the stuff. It must be terribly addictive for some.

    Dr. Steve, I say Tax soda like smokes and beer and give the money to the hospitals… just proding you.

    cheers,

    Reply