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?

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

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.

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

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?