We often think the way to health is exercise and what we eat. However, we often overlook that what we drink can also prevent us from being fit and healthy. If you haven’t discovered how to beat a soda habit, the time is now.

What makes soda unhealthy?

Store-bought sodas and energy drinks are full of empty calories. According to the USDA, 16% of calories in the typical American’s diet come from refined sugars. HALF of those calories come from beverages with added sugar.

When it comes to unhealthy decisions and soda, it has also been shown that once you pop, you just can’t stop.

Yale University researchers found that people tend to eat more calories on days when they drink a lot of sugary drinks, and “that soda drinkers tend to be heavier than people who don’t drink soft drinks.”

But what about diet soda?

It seems like there’s been millions of studies about the effects of diet sodas, and now some states require companies to label potentially harmful chemicals on the packaging of diet soda. Here are some of the more significant findings, according to WebMD.

  • In 2014, a study reported that overweight and obese people who drank diet sodas ate between 90 and 200 more calories of food per day than those who drank regular sodas.
  • Also in 2014, a review of several studies, published in the British Journal of Nutrition, revealed that people who drink diet sodas raise their risk of type 2 diabetes by about 13% for each 12-ounce can they drink each day.
  • A 2015 BMJ review of studies also found that a single daily serving of diet soda boosted the chance of diabetes by 8%.
  • A 2012 study found that daily drinkers of diet soda who were, on average, 69 years old had a 43% higher chance of heart attack, stroke or dying as a result of blood vessel problems.
  • Israeli researchers who studied 381 adults without diabetes showed that diet soda drinkers had many things that raised their odds of having type 2 diabetes, including higher weight and belly fat, higher levels of blood sugars, and more glucose intolerance. Their 2014 study suggested a cause: Artificial sweeteners affected gut bacteria, which in turn affected metabolism. But that connection was only noted in mice.

The bigger problem with switching from regular to diet soda may not be the sugar, but that the habit remains the same. You’re still craving sugar so you may have a harder time making other healthy decisions.

How to Beat a Soda Habit

The soda habit is not an easy one to break. You may think that in order to break a bad habit you have to go cold turkey, but that can be more damaging than a tapered approach.

First: collect some data. Keep a health journal for one week to track how much soda you consume on a daily basis.

Then, begin cutting back. Reduce that amount by a quarter the first week, a third by the second week and half by the third week. By the fourth week, either cut soda out completely or allow it as a weekly treat.

The Best Replacements for Pop

Water is of course the healthiest drink out there, but if you need some fizz in your life, an in-home soda machine allows you to make your own bubbly water! You can then purchase natural syrups and control that goes into your soda, You can indulge here and there, without loading up on all of the bad stuff. As a bonus, making your own soda saves you money and cuts down on cans and plastic!

woman looking at sparkling rose tea as the best replacements for pop farm to fit

Not into DIY? Try out one of these refreshing alternatives to soda

  • Organic raw kombucha
  • Sparkling water + organic juice or bitters
  • Fruit-infused water
  • Iced coffee
  • Organic unsweetened Green and herbal tea (iced or hot).
  • Peppermint and ginger teas are great for satisfying cravings for something sweet
  • Fresh pressed green juice. Keep it low on the fruit, carrots, or beets
  • Unsweetened coconut, cashew, or almond milk

Don’t give up!

If you’re struggling with how to beat a soda habit, go back to your health journal and remind yourself why you’re on this fitness journey. Think of a healthy, non-food related reward for yourself for every week you go without drinking soda. Write down your goals and the ways you are going to stick to them. Ditch the drink and dive into healthier habits!

If you pick up a soda, make sure to take a look at what you are really drinking. Google the super-long chemical names. Add up the calories and sugar, it by how sodas you are drinking each week and you really might begin to realize the negative consequences drinking soda is having on your body. Take this information and allow it to help you break the habit loop.