When you stop drinking soft drinks, it can be hard to know what to
When switching over to a real-food, paleo diet, one of the things so many people really struggle with is giving up the soft drinks. They’re addictive, really addictive. An awful lot of people, almost exclusively, drink cans of diet coke during the day, switching to glasses of diet coke at home.
Years ago we were told it’s fine if it’s a diet soda. They have no calories! They have “diet” in the name. They’re virtually a health food.
I’ve already written a lot about why soft drinks are so bad for us (perhaps especially the diet versions) and might even result in violence, so today – let’s get practical. If you’ve been used to drinking soda after soda – how can you quit this habit?
Well, whilst it may seem impossible, it isn’t. Honestly, you’ve got this. Here’s my 7 step guide to giving up the fizzy drinks.
1) Commit. You’ve read the reasons why soda is bad – you’ve decided you want to stop. Now it’s time to get serious.
2) Get rid. If you’ve got some soda bottles stashed in your fridge, or some cans in your draw at work, it’s time to get rid of them. You’ve got to be kind to yourself and give yourself the best chance of success – keep fizzy drinks at arm’s reach won’t help you! If you hate to be wasteful, donate them to someone who’d appreciate them.
3) Work out an alternative. I highly recommend sparkling water, at least initially (you can even carbonate your own water). The bubbles will replace the bubbles you’re used to and make it far more interesting than still water. Add in a slice of lime for a bit more flavour. Herbal teas are another great alternative and don’t need any sugar or milk to make a great drink. Kombucha is a perfect alternative too – it’s got a slight fizz and sweetness and has the bonus of being incredibly good for you. Steer clear of juices – there’s no point in replacing one sugary drink for another.
4) Keep hydrated. Make sure you don’t quit the soda in isolation – you’ve got to replace it with another fluid to avoid dehydration! Keep a note of how much you’re drinking to make sure you’re having enough.
5) Expect withdrawal. Your fizzy drink of choice may have had a lot of caffeine. Expect your body to miss this regular caffeine hit. If you want to go cold turkey, expect headaches, and know that you will get through it in a few days. Otherwise, you might choose to replace the soda caffeine with more coffee or tea temporarily. When you’ve successfully ditched the soft drinks, you can start to reduce your coffee intake gradually.
6) As a mixer? So you’re doing really well during the week – but at weekends your go-to drink is a spirit with a fizzy drink mixer? Don’t slip back – try soda water, tonic or just ice as a mixer instead!
7) Off the rails. If you really really NEED a can of soft drink, if you just MUST have some – drink a big glass of water first, and take a five minute walk. If you still really need that drink, go ahead, have a small glass, but make sure you enjoy it and don’t punish yourself for it – you can get straight back on the wagon without sabotaging your amazing effort!
Are you a reformed soft drink addict? How did you quit?
I shared with you a few months ago some of the strange Google search terms, which have landed people on this blog. Well this month there are more and I thought I’d share some of the funny ones with you. People do some really weird Google searches, don’t they?!
fish sweet plantains and baked dolphin recipe
Hmmm… dolphin recipes? I didn’t think you’re allowed to eat dolphin this side of Japan? Either way, nope – not here! How about a nice bit of salmon instead?
how to inspect the liver. lungs, heart spleen and skirt(diaphragm)
Not sure if a veterinarian, butcher or medical site would have been more helpful?
do they sell coconut oil in sydney, australia
Now this I can help with. Yes. Yes they do. Australia is quite progressive these days – you can even buy take away coffee!
breakfast recipe no egg for 80 kids
80 kids? Well unfortunately I don’t have any recipes for that many people. But maybe you could use a normal sized recipe and multiply the quantities out several times?
stoned and want a quick snack to make
I have literally no idea why this lead you to my blog? But you should probably make some avocado chocolate mousse.
dangers of almonds and red wine
Running out, probably?
will it still make a difference if i eat paleo during the week and then weekends off?
Do you really need an answer to this?
what bit is mince off a cow?
Definitely all the bad bits. Make your own.
can i go straight to stage 3 on paleo diet
There’s a stage three? Mind = blown. No one has ever mention stage 3 to me before. Is it some kind of insider secret?
what is so special about grass
Hmm… I have no idea where to start with this one.
does anybody stay with the paleo diet for more than 3 months
Definitely not. Just for the two weeks it takes to drop 6 dress sizes. Then they all go straight back to junk food. And on a similar theme…
will paleo not work if i drink diet coke
how many coconuts will get me 10 litres of oil
If you’re about to start making your own coconut oil for the first time, this probably shouldn't be the first question you Google?
can you eat the avocado seed
Not sure why you’d want to?
paleo before and after losing thigh fat
paleo emergency travel vegetables
You know when you’re travelling, and you’ve forgotten to bring some veggies with you, then it’s an EMERGENCY?
cheap paleo pills
Is this those awesome paleo pills that you can take before and after eating junk food, to mitigate the effect?
low fat pailo lunches
Low fat? Low fat paleo? Is that a thing?
This may or may not have been written by the people who Google searched for:
are soft drinks paleo?
is bread paleo
can you have margarine on a paleo diet
We need to talk.
Any tips for our Google searchers? Help them out in the comments below!
Over the last few years, every company I have worked for has supplied some kind of food. Most commonly free fruit for all employees on a weekly, but usually a daily basis.
Most companies have also supplied unlimited free soft drinks (i.e. cans of coke and other fizzy drinks) and a few offices have even offered free breakfasts in every kitchen. Free breakfast usually consists of a huge range of different types of bread, “healthy” margarines, spreads and jam. There is also typically a wide choice of breakfast cereals and of course, skim milk to pour over the cereal.
Whilst it’s nice to have things provided for free, unfortunately, on a Paleo Diet, nothing typically provided in an office environment is “proper food!” The fruit tends to be the fruit highest in fructose (and also cheapest), such as apples and bananas – never berries, which would be a good on occasion.
The breakfast foods on offer are all very high in refined carbohydrates, which cause a big spike in blood sugar levels – and then a crash soon after eating; making a rapid return to the refined carbs very likely. On top of the effect on blood sugars, bread and cereals are all grain based. This means an inflammatory reaction in the gut as well as having an acidic effect on the body. Not an ideal choice.
Unfortunately the typical office food on offer needs to be easy to store and prepare; bread and cereals couldn't be any easier to store – and are ready to eat as they are. These types of foods are also very cheap for a company to provide and popular with the low-fat-healthy-whole-grains conventional wisdom crowd.
Paleo food would be a lot harder for a company to provide in a work place environment. Most of the Paleo options would need to be freshly made and made with good quality ingredients; not very realistic in an office setting.
Does your employer supply any food or drinks? What do they provide – is anything Paleo?
It seems that everywhere bottled water is sold, “Vitamin Water” is sold. Every day I see people buying it.
It annoys me that these drinks are sold as health in a bottle. They have names like “Energy”, “Calm”, “Power”, “Essential”, “Revive”, “Recoup” and “Focus” and their bottles boast of the amazing health benefits and wealth of vitamins contained in each bottle. I think a lot of people genuinely believe that by drinking this, they are nourishing their body with a supremely healthy product. This belief is highly encouraged by the marketing of these drinks, which is what I take issue with.
Instead of reaching for a “Revive” drink when feeling worn-out, I'm sure a hydrating drink of water, a healthy Paleo meal and a power nap would be far more reviving than the sugar crash that will come after drinking a bottle of “Revive”.
The ingredients contained in all of these Vitamin Water drinks are: –
Water, Fructose, Sucrose, Flavour, Food Acids (citric acid, mono-potassium phosphate), Vitamins (C, Niacin, Pantothenic Acid, B6, B12), magnesium lactate & calcium lactate.
Depending on the flavour, these ingredients are also found too: –
Flavour (including D-Ribose), dragonfruit flavour (0.015%), Food Acids (di-potassium phosphate), Vitamins (E, A, Folate), Colour (Fruit Juice, Vegetable Juice, Beta-carotene), Caffeine, Lutein, Guaranna & Extracts of Apple, Blueberry, Pomegranate and Acai (0.026%)
What do you think about “vitamin” drinks? Is your low-energy solution a bottle of “energy”, or your method of concentrating a bottle of “focus”?
It’s good to see yet another study on the detrimental effects of Soft Drinks. This time a study from the University of Oklahoma compared two groups of women over a five year period. One group in the 4,000 strong study consumed two or more sugary soft drinks, whilst the other group drank one or less. The participants had their weight, waist size, cholesterol & triglyceride levels measured and compared over the course of the study. The study concludes that woman drinking two or more soft drinks a day are at a higher risk of developing cardiovascular disease and diabetes.
The study indicates that whilst the woman’s weight didn't necessarily increase on this soft drink regime, their risk of developing high triglycerides increased four-fold – therefore bodily fat doesn't appear to be the sole reason for the risk.
An observational study like this has far too many variables, yet it is still useful, especially if it leads to further (ideally clinical) studies. It’s also useful if it makes those who consume soft drinks question their nutrition. I think it likely a woman who consumes several soft drinks a day isn't likely to be following a healthy Paleo diet in every other aspect of her nutrition. This makes it impossible to attribute the declining health of that group to their soft drink consumption alone. I also have trouble with the category of “one of less” soft drinks, as I’d consider one soft drink a day to be very high use – especially where those drinks contain High Fructose Corn Syrup (HFCS)! I look forward to the full peer reviewed study which may address some of these points.
I think a lot of slim people consider themselves healthy and have an attitude that they can “get away” with a poor diet, including drinking regular soft drinks. This study goes some way to challenge those views, and perhaps might help make people realise even though they may feel healthy today, they may be storing up problems for their future health. I just hope studies like this don’t lead to diverted consumption of diet soft drinks, which in my opinion are often even more harmful.
What’s wrong with drinking water?
What do you think of observational studies like this? Do you think they will they one day start to change nutrition en masse?
When I go food shopping, I'm always really interested the see what other people have in their trolleys. Likewise, I get some funny looks, especially when I buy lots of red meat, eggs and coconut milk. I can just see the people wondering what I'm going to do with it all. Surely she can’t be going to eat all those foods we’re constantly told are bad, by herself?
People are generally quick to say how healthily they eat, but when you see their trolley, surely you are seeing what they actually eat, rather than what they’d like you to think they eat.
Trolleys full of processed junk food bother me far less; at least the people pushing those trolleys, on some level, know they have a bad diet. What bothers me more is the trolleys I see full of “healthy” foods. The type of “healthy foods” I wouldn't go near.
I see so many trolleys full of low fat, highly processed products (I can’t bring myself to call them food). Trolleys full of whole grains, as they are good for us, right? Diet drinks with ingredients I can’t pronounce. Spray on “vegetable” oils, to make sure as little fat as possible contributes to dinner. Processed low fat sauces to smother wholegrain pasta with. “Healthy” reduced fat chips, presumably to deal with the blood sugar crash that comes after eating the pasta. Huge bottles of orange juice. Skim milk to pour over the healthy low fat breakfast cereal. Margarine instead of butter, Weight Watchers low fat processed sweets to ensure there is never any need to go over three hours without eating.
I wonder, do people really think these “healthy” low fat processed products taste nice? I strongly suspect they are eaten for the perceived health benefits, not because they taste nice. My Paleo diet not only tastes amazing, but it is super healthy too.
This is my recent trolley. I generally buy all of my meat from my wonderful local organic butcher, so I usually just buy some veggies, fruit for my house-mate to take to work (I'm only eating fruit once or twice a week at the moment), coconut milk, almond butter (for use in an occasional NoOatmeal) and I sometimes buy nuts depending on which recipes are on my menu plan that week.
Are you guilty of trolley spying too? Are you frequently shocked by what some other shoppers fill their trolleys with? Do you get disapproving looks at your Paleo trolley too?
So, yesterday was my Birthday and I had a fabulous time. I hadn't drunk for a long time, but as it was my Birthday, it seemed only right to have a few drinks at my Halloween party last night! Alcohol and Paleo? Do they mix?
I think there are two main problems with drinking whilst adhering to a Paleo lifestyle. Clearly the ingredients in alcohol are often far from Primal. Alcohol can contain a lot of sugar and gluten in grain based drinks, such as beer. I think the other big issue with drinking is that you may start off with good intentions, but after a few drinks you may become less cautious with drink choice, and more prone to eat un-Paleo food when you inevitably get hungry later on.
Alcohol clearly is not Paleo, and I think it’s a best kept as an occasional treat. There, of course, are times that you want to enjoy a few drinks. At these times, by making good choices along with a degree of planning, you can minimise the damage from a night out.
Before Going Out
- Think about where you’re going and what you’ll be drinking before you go. This way it will be a lot easier to stick to your plans, instead of trying to work it out at the bar and ending up with a beer in your hand.
- Are you going to be eating at a Paleo friendly restaurant during the evening? If not, I think it’s very wise to eat just before you go out. Make sure you don’t shy away from fat and protein in your pre-drink meal.
- Also, I think it’s very wise to prepare some delicious Paleo food for when you get home! If you come in hungry with nothing ready, you might find non-Paleo food a more attractive proposition than you would usually!
At the bar
So, what are the least-bad drink options? And which drinks should you avoid at all costs?
- Many Paleo people swear by Robb Wolf’s NorCal Margarita. This is made with 100% agave tequila, juice and pulp of a fresh lime, ice and soda water. The tequila is made from fermented agave juice, so it is gluten and starch free. The lime is said to dull the insulin response to the alcohol sugars and provide a net alkaline load in the blood stream. The CO2 from the soda water is said to help the alcohol reach the blood stream sooner, meaning you need to drink less.
- Other than Tequila, vodka can be a reasonable choice. Look for vodkas distilled from grapes or potatoes.
- Gin can be an option too, but avoid those distilled from sugar and other grains (look for juniper berries)
- Red wine has the benefit of containing anti-oxidants; another fair choice. • Cider, especially if you can find a good, organic brand, is a far better choice than beer, though still high in sugar.
- Generally dry wines and spirits are the best choices in terms of low-carb content, but be careful with those ingredients!
- Beers are generally going to be heavily grain based. Some barley based beers (such as Belgium beers) may be rendered gluten free by secondary fermentation. You can also get gluten free beers, however they are likely to still contain grains, and other undesirable ingredients. Gluten aside, beer is also very carb heavy; another reason to make a different choice.
- Many drinks are extremely high in sugars. Avoid drinks with fruit juices (these are almost never made with real, fresh fruit juice anyway.
- Premixed drinks often have very un-Paleo ingredients as well as lots of sugars; avoid!
- Mixers such as fizzy soft drinks should be avoided as they are full of sugar and all sorts of artificial ingredients. Have your spirits with soda water, or on ice.
When you get home eat some good Paleo food containing good fat and protein and drink water. Even if it was a late night, try to get up at your usual time the next morning to avoid disrupting your routine for the next few days.
I stuck to vodka, fresh lime and soda water and had a great night. However, I probably won’t drink again for a long time as it doesn't fit in too well with my Paleo lifestyle!
What are your drinking strategies? Am I missing some good tips? What is your favourite drink? Or perhaps you don’t drink at all?
I was interested to hear about a study linking consumption of non-diet soft drinks with violence in teenagers. The study found teenagers who drank soft drinks frequently were 9 – 15% more likely to engage in violent activities, than those who were not frequent drinkers. Almost one in three pupils in the study group of 1,878 drank over five cans of soft drink a week. And if that's one in three, presumably many of the people in the study group must get the majority of their hydration from soft drinks.
This was an observational study, so perhaps the ingredients in the soft drink caused the anti-social behaviour in those who consumed it; or perhaps the anti-social behaviour lead to those teenagers drinking more soft drinks?
But surely with such a high correlation, it has to be beneficial to prevent soft drinks being so accessible to teens? Even more of a problem seems to be the prevalence of energy drinks that seem especially popular with young people. I'd love to see some studies into the effects of these chemically laden drinks.
Limit Soft Drinks?
Do you think teenagers should be given a free rein, or should soft drinks consumption be limited somehow?
I think most people realise fizzy Soft Drinks like Coke, Pepsi and Sprite are bad. But I see so many people going for the diet versions of these drinks. The word “diet” on the can, seems to make people think it’s not an unhealthy choice. If something has zero calories – well that’s healthy isn’t it?
When I first found got interested in nutrition (on my way to Paleo), I did a lot of research. As soon as I found out more about soft drinks, I stopped my occasional consumption immediately. I certainly understand the appeal. They taste sweet, they are cold on hot days, they are available everywhere; in fact most employers I’ve worked for have supplied them for free. I think a lot of people who perhaps aren’t so keen on water may even feel that they are getting hydrated. The caffeine and sugar content may also help consumers to feel more energised – at least initially.
The “non diet” versions contain significant amounts of some form of sugar; be it cane sugar, or even the nasty high fructose corn syrup (HFCS). Drinking this much sugar will cause your blood sugar to rapidly rise. The pancreas will respond by releasing insulin, to decrease blood sugar levels. When levels drop, hunger will result – often resulting in a craving for more sugary food or drink. But even more worrying are the “diet” versions of these drinks. Instead of sugar they use artificial sweeteners such as aspartame to make the drink taste sweet. Taking a Paleo viewpoint, aspartame is a relatively new chemical, though we know it is an excitotoxin, capable of passing the blood-brain barrier, possibly causing cellular damage, scary stuff.
There is also evidence suggesting artificial sweeteners may cause a psychological insulin response. So when you drink a diet soda, the brain recognises the sweet taste and prepares the body to launch an insulin response, to the expected increased blood sugar levels. This leaves an excess amount of un-utilised insulin in the blood stream, which may contribute to insulin resistance. This could result in decreases to the blood sugar level, increasing hunger, not to mention the effects of the insulin on the bodies fat storage mechanisms. Aspartame has also been linked with all sorts of issues, such as memory problems, birth defects, brain tumours and convulsions. Some fizzy drinks use other sweeteners, but I think the best advice is to completely avoid them; it’s just not worth it.
Another component of these fizzy drinks are Phosphates. Phosphoric acid is believed to interfere with Calcium absorption and may cause a loss of calcium from the body. The acidity of soft drinks also results in calcium leaching to buffer the PH levels. Osteoporosis anybody?
Caffeine is another big issue with soft drinks, but I think that it is worthy of its own future post.
Can’t break the diet coke habit?
Try sparkling water 1:1 with apple cider vinegar then keep reducing the ratio. I often drink sparkling water with a slice of lemon or lime. But ultimately, drink water (and perhaps the occasional cup of tea)!
What do you think about soft drinks? Do you still drink them?