Everybody knows that soda is terrible for you- it’s not rocket science. Yet millions of people drink gallon after gallon of soda every day. So where is the disconnect, here?
The reality is that people won’t change until they see the value in that change. Unfortunately, it’s all too easy to focus on the here and now, and ignore the future consequences of our actions because they’re not tangible yet! In the example of the soda drinker, the benefit (taste) of the sugary soda somehow outweighs the potential health problems in the future, making it harder to find the motivation to change that negative behavior. That is part of my goal with this blog- to bring attention to the future that you are molding for yourself each and every day so that you can no longer forget about it. People place little value on the intangible, distant future until you make it a reality for them today.
The other problem I see with trying to get soda drinkers to kick the habit is that their taste buds have grown accustomed to that level of taste stimulation. I have heard many, many friends and patients complain that they “just can’t drink plain water”- “it tastes so plain!”
Taste can be a very real addiction- your taste buds (and brain) have literally become desensitized to what things should taste like after a while. After your taste buds get used to the amount of sugar and salt in soda, everything else will taste especially bland. The good news is that the brain (and taste buds) can and WILL mold to their new environment, and soon you will see that things you once thought were bland actually have quite a bit of flavor! The key is to work our way back to water gradually so you don’t go completely insane.
Here are some ideas for soda replacements-
1. While soda in and of itself is NOT HEALTHY, one baby step may be trying stevia flavored soda, Zevia. Again, this is by no means a health food, but it’s a step in the right direction on the way back to drinking plain water.
2. Try infusing water with different herbs and fruit– for example, put a little fresh mint and some fresh strawberries in cold water and let sit for a day or two in the fridge. For other recipes and ideas, this website looks like it has some good ideas, or you can try a simple google search for recipes for infused water.
3. A little lemon in water goes a long way. You can also try brewing some green tea, chilling it, and drinking cold with a little bit of lemon. Get creative!
4. Watered down, real juice may serve as another good stepping stone on your way back to drinking water, but beware of many processed juices. Juice “cocktail”, etc is usually code for “this product has almost no real juice, and is mostly just high fructose corn syrup and coloring”.
5. Again, water is obviously the ultimate goal and should be the source of 90+ percent of your fluids.
Here are some things I personally would encourage you to NOT replace soda with:
1. Milk and milk products. For health concerns I will describe in another post, I personally do not endorse dairy consumption for most people.
2. Juice and juice coctails are sugar-ridden and should be avoided. At least if you eat real fruit you will get the fiber and additional nutrients from the food, but juice is not as healthy as many seem to think it is.
3. Gatorade is almost as bad as soda- it’s basically salt water loaded with sugar. While many athletes seem to like it, I think there are healthier ways to replace electrolytes while you work out. Also, I would say that 75% of people I see drinking Gatorade are not actually working out, but they try to pass it off as juice, and therefore a health food. Don’t be fooled- Gatorade is not juice, and it is not healthy.
I hope this gives you all a fun starting point to jump into your new soda-free life! Shape your future today, and take charge of your health!