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How can I stop drinking so much soda?

How can I stop drinking so much soda?

Do you have a soda habit? Here are some tips on how to reduce

By Elaine Magee, MPH, RD
WebMD Weight Loss Clinic – Expert Column

Soda – it's everywhere! Even if he wanted to take something else, it would be difficult for him to find it as shown prominently in the vending machines, in the fast food chains and in the boxes of the supermarkets. You may not realize the omnipresence of Coca Cola, Pepsi and the like in our society until you try to stop drinking sodas.

For some people, drinking several soft drinks a day is a fierce habit. You know that drinking soda is a habit when you find yourself going to the grocery store at 10 p.m. because your refrigerator is clogged, or you feel like having a tantrum when the driving assistant tells you that the soda machine is broken. If the idea of ​​taking a token soda a day is unfathomable, you may have a serious habit of drinking a soda.

Why stop drinking so much soda?

So, why would you want to make the effort to give up the habit of soft drinks? As the beverage industry comes out, soft drinks, by themselves, are not necessarily a "no" diet.

"All beverages in our industry, including regular or diet sodas, can be part of a healthy lifestyle when consumed in moderation and as part of a balanced lifestyle," says Tracey Halliday, spokesperson for the American Beverage Association. .

The problem, many health experts say, is that Americans do not always drink their soft drinks in moderation. Many believe that we should reduce our intake of the two sweeteners that are used in sweetened sodas: fructose (such as high fructose corn syrup that is often used in soft drinks) and sugar. The calories in beverages represent 21% of the total daily calories consumed by Americans over 2 years of age, according to a 2004 article in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine. And the proportion of calories Americans consume from sugary soft drinks and fruit "drinks" has tripled between 1977 and 2001.

"Many people forget or do not realize how many additional calories they consume in what they drink, but beverages are a major factor in the alarming increase in obesity," Barry Popkin, PhD, director of the University's Interdisciplinary Obesity Program. North Carolina says in an email interview.

In 2006, a panel of experts assembled by Popkin developed the first Healthy Beverage Guidelines, which recommended that people drink more water and limit or eliminate high-calorie beverages with little or no nutritional value.

So, is simply the change to diet soda the answer? Not necessarily, some experts believe.

Popkin has said there is no evidence that artificial sweeteners are bad for you, but because the data is scarce, the Beverage Guidance Panel was uncomfortable recommending it.

Michael Jacobson, executive director of the advocacy group Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI), suggests that people who drink diet soda should choose those sweetened with Splenda whenever possible.

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Of the alternative sweeteners used in sodas, the CSPI gives the label "avoid" to Acesulfame-K, aspartame and saccharin, but the label "seems to be safe" to sucralose (Splenda). All these sweeteners have received the approval of the FDA. And, in a 100-page report published in Critical reviews in toxicology In September, a panel of experts said he was confident that aspartame does not pose health risks. But CSPI believes that those on its "avoid" list need more or better tests.

However, while Jacobson believes that "less is better" when it comes to alternative sweeteners, he admits that taking diet soda is better than swallowing the equivalent of 10 teaspoons of sugar – What do you get in a regular soda can?

And how are you going to kick a soda habit? If you want to stop drinking so much soda, it basically comes down to four steps, according to the experts:

1. Make your mind. You have to make a decision to give up, says Jacobson. Even if you are just trying to reduce your consumption of soft drinks, you can take a firm commitment to make this happen.

2. Switch to diet sodas. Gradually make the switch to diet sodas, suggests Paul Rozin, PhD, professor of psychology at the University of Pennsylvania. "Just make a small decrease at a time, like a sugary soda a day," he says in an email interview. If you are taking much more than one soft drink a day, work to reduce the amount of diet soda you also drink, eventually.

3. Go without caffeine. Popkin and Jacobson believe that caffeine, and the fact that it is slightly addictive, is part of the reason why soda is such a difficult habit to break. Look for carbonated beverages without caffeine and gradually decrease the amount of caffeinated beverages you consume each day while you work to completely eliminate the habit of soft drinks. If you are addicted to caffeine in soft drinks, you are really kicking two habits: the habit of soft drinks and the habit of caffeine. "It takes a few weeks to really forget the desire," says Popkin.

4. To stock up on alternatives. Keep a large amount of tasty non-soda drinks on hand so that giving up sodas is as convenient as possible.

What are some soda alternatives?

Here is a list of non-soda beverage possibilities to consider. You will notice that drinks that contain calories also contribute important nutrients such as calcium or vitamin C.

Give soy milk a try. If you want to work on one serving of soy a day, try soy milk. Many brands and flavors are available. If calories are a problem, try one of the low-calorie options. Do not skimp on skim milk. Skim milk is an excellent way to increase your intake of protein, calcium and vitamin D, and other important nutrients. A cup of skim milk has only about 85 calories. The Beverage Guidance Panel recommends up to two servings of non-fat or 1% milk daily and fortified soy drinks. Pimp Your Water. For an avid soda drinker, the water may seem a little uninteresting. One of the best ways to avoid it is to add non-caloric flavors to your water. A sprig of mint or a slice of lemon or lemon will do wonders. If you like more subtle flavors, try a slice or two of cucumber or a frozen strawberry. Make green or black tea your new drinking habit. Popkin says that tea is a healthy alternative to water for people who prefer flavored drinks. Tea contains no calories and contains potent phytochemicals such as green tea antioxidant, epigallocatechin gallate (EGCG). Great tasting green and black teas are available in supermarkets and specialty stores. If you are reducing your caffeine intake, look for teas without caffeine. Think outside the juice box. Although 100% fruit or vegetable juice contains important nutrients, the Beverage Orientation Panel recommends not taking more than one serving per day because they can also contain many calories (approximately 100 in 1 cup of orange or carrot juice). One way to reduce those calories is to make a spritzer of homemade juice: combine one or two parts of seltzer, mineral water or soda with one part of 100% fruit juice (try fresh orange juice). Or try the new flavors of vegetable juice in your supermarket, as well as the mixtures of fruit and vegetable juices. While they are not very low in calories, each serving contains a serving of fruit and a serving of vegetables. Discover the cure of coffee. For java lovers, coffee can be a tasty, calorie-free alternative to soda. And you can easily find low-caffeinated coffees in coffee shops and supermarkets. But to keep coffee low in calories, be sure to make it simple: skip syrups, whipped cream and whole milk. Make Good Old H2O convenient. The Beverage Guidance Panel recommends at least 4 servings a day of water for women and at least 6 servings for men. When you need to quench your thirst or hydrate your body, nothing does it better than water. If the cold and refreshing water were more convenient, and if we were reminded to drink it during the day, many more people would reach this daily goal. So keep the bottles of water ready to go into your refrigerator, and each time you leave the house, bring a bottle with you. If cold water is sitting in your car or on your desk at work, you will be more likely to get into the habit of drinking water.

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Originally published on November 19, 2007.


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