From the 4th of July, 2014 to nearly the end of that year, I went without soda (I call it pop because of my regional language, but I’ll refer to it as soda throughout this article) or coffee. I’ve never really had coffee anyway, not really a fan, but the soda thing was really hard for me at first. I love soda, I’ll drink Coke at every meal if it’s offered. It was especially difficult in the first few weeks, as I was on campus where there was a prominently placed soda machine in the middle of the dining hall. It was so hard at first, but the longer I went on, the easier it as to avoid drinking it. I finally broke my fast at my aunt’s funeral, where we all had Coke to celebrate her memory (we joked that her death resulting in 2 layoffs at the Coke plant for the amount that she drank). My goal for 2015 is for it to be my soda-free year, and I have some tips and tricks to help you acheive that goal as well! Even if you don’t go soda-free every day, maybe you can cut back on your intake a few days every week.
You have 2 options: ease out of the habit, or quit cold turkey. I’ve tried both options in the past, and I honestly found that quitting all at once was easiest for me to deal with. I wasn’t at the point where I had a legitimate caffeine dependence, so I didn’t suffer any adverse side effects from cutting back on my soda habit. For those who may be more dependent, it may be better to cut back the amount you drink every day over the course of a few weeks. Either way, there will come a day that you aren’t drinking any soda.
When that day comes, have water handy! If you have a refillable water bottle by your side, it can give you something to drink when the craving comes. Some people swear by putting lemon extract or other slight flavoring into water to give it taste, but that’s a personal opinion. If you simply can’t drink plain water, try a light flavoring like lemon or orange to help give it a taste. But if you do, make sure those don’t have sugar or weird ingredients, as that kind of defeats the purpose!
Keep pushing! There will come days at the beginning where all you want is a Coke (or your other soda of choice), but you can beat it. It was so hard for me in the first few weeks to not drink soda, since it was my drink of choice at almost every meal. I had to make conscious choices for my health, such as ordering water instead of soda at restaurants. After a while, it became almost instinct to order water. There will come a day that the cravings are gone!
It can be a long process, but a journey can be steps forward and backward. If you slip up and simply drink a soda, don’t beat yourself up. Just start over again. It really helped me to have an app with a “Don’t Break the Chain” function, where it kept track of how many days I had gone without my bad habit. I printed a calendar for this year with that same concept, where you cross off every day that you go without (or with) a habit, and it forms a long chain throughout the entire year. I know I’ll be bummed if I break the chain, so I simply reevaluate my choices.
Good luck, and don’t break the chain!