7 steps to wean yourself off soda fizzy drinks coke

7 steps to wean yourself off soda

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?

7 steps wean off soft drinks sofa fizzy sugary habit quit Paleo Network

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?

Are doughnuts healthier than fruit juice paleo network-min

Are doughnuts healthier than fruit juice?

I had breakfast with some friends at the weekend, and seeing some cranberry juice on the table, thought I’d try some instead of my usual tea. Now cranberries are pretty sweet on their own – but this juice was so sickly sweet, I thought my teeth were going to fall out. I looked at the ingredients (should have done that first) and saw:

Ingredients: Water, Cranberry Juice from Concentrate (25%), Sugar, Vitamin C, Flavourings

Yep, sugar and flavourings added to an already sweet and flavourful drink! And why add vitamin C to a juice made from the very fruit that contains vitamin C?

How much sugar? In a 500ml bottle a total of 53.5 grams (nearly 2 oz) of sugar. There are 4 grams of sugar in a teaspoon, meaning this one little bottle contained almost 14 teaspoons of sugar! 14!

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For comparison an original glazed Krispy Kreme doughnut (surely everyone would agree this is most definitely not a health food) contains 10g of sugar. In fact, the most sugary Krispy Kreme doughnut I could find (Butterscotch Fudge) contains 53g of sugar – marginally less than the bottle of cranberry juice. Yet we all see doughnuts as a bad food – and amazingly many people still push fruit juices as a health food.

The sugar pushers seem to try to get around the ridiculous sugar contents, by giving nutritional information based on a 100ml serve. But how many people have you seen with a 500ml bottle divide it into five servings? None, because almost everyone absent-mindedly finishes the bottle. And how many people get a calculator out at the breakfast table?

PS these are the ingredients for the Krispy Kreme doughnut, that contains the same amount of sugar as the fruit juice (recognise many of these?!):

Doughnut: Wheat Flour, Dextrose, Vegetable Oil (Palm Oil,  Sunflower Oil), Water, Sugar, Wheat Gluten, Egg Yolks, Yeast, Skimmed Milk, Salt, Emulsififers (E471), Preservative (E282), Stabiliser (E466), Flavourings.
Kreme Filling: Sugar, Vegetable Oil, Vegetable Shortening (Vegetable Oils, Emulsifier (E471)), Water, Ground Coffee Beans, Dried Glucose Syrup, Salt, Emulsifiers (E471, E435, E322, E477, E475), Flavouring.
Icing: Sugar, Water, Vegetable Oil, Fat Reduced Cocoa Powder (32%), Dried Glucose Syrup, Emulsifiers (E322, E471), Salt, Flavouring
Caramel Flavour Fudge: Sugar, Full Cream Sweetened Condensed Milk, Fondant (Sugar, Glucose, Water), Glucose, Vegetable Oil, Butter Oil, Natural Flavour.


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Free Food?

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.


Paleo Food?

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.

Until beef jerky, kombucha and bacon are common place in the office, I’d rather go without the free food and bring in my own.

Does your employer supply any food or drinks? What do they provide – is anything Paleo?

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Vitamin water paleo healthy diet soft drinks supplements-min

Vitamin Water – Health in a Bottle?

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.

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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”?

What's so bad about soft drinks fizzy coke paleo not healthy-min

Another Nail in the Coffin for Soft Drinks?

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.

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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?

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Does Drinking Alcohol Fit With Paleo?

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?

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  • 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?

What's so bad about soft drinks fizzy coke paleo not healthy-min

Soft Drinks and Violence?

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.

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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?

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What’s So Bad About Soft Drinks?

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.

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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?

Personalised-Coke soft drinks-minTry 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?