Would you like your ice-cold soda with a side of type II diabetes, heart disease or weight gain? According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, over-consumption of sugar-sweetened beverages are associated with these serious risks. If you’ve had bariatric surgery or are considering it, you should stop drinking soda now. I understand how hard it is to stop. At my worst, I drank three to four cans of soda a day! At my bariatric surgery information session, my doctor said something that prompted me to stop drinking soda forever. Turns out, there are several benefits when you stop drinking soda. Just follow the same seven steps I did to kick your soda habit today. When you stop drinking soda, you’ll feel so much better.
From Treat to Habit
Going to the movies is always a treat. There’s something special about spending some time with friends or your significant other in a darkened theater, watching the newest movie to pique your interest and munching on some yummy treats. The warm, buttery popcorn seemed to disappear even before the previews were over! Followed by some cool, refreshing soda to wash it down, it was the perfect way to treat ourselves.
I always looked forward to a Cherry Coke at the movies. It was pretty much the only time I would drink it, and it tasted so good. Eventually, this treat turned into a once-a-day habit when my work started selling cans for 50 cents. Cherry coke was no longer something I had once in a while at the movies or occasionally at a restaurant. It was something I was having nearly every day with lunch.
The Soda Drinking Snowballs
From there, it just kind of expanded. I eventually turned to Cherry Coke whenever I was feeling low on energy for the caffeine boost. I turned to it when I had a headache. Also, I always said it helped to drink a cold drink with caffeine with the ibuprofen to get rid of my headache. I turned to it when I was feeling a little depressed, thinking somehow this magical elixir would cure my blues.
I ended up drinking three to four cans of Cherry Coke (sometimes mixing in Dr. Pepper or regular Coke) while I was at work a day. Sometimes, I’d go home at night and have another one too. It was getting to be too much. It didn’t help my weight either and partially led me to my heaviest weight of 428 pounds. I was bloated, although I couldn’t tell because I was somehow getting used to the feeling.
The Only Time Bariatrics Drink Soda
When I went to the bariatric surgery information session, my surgeon said something that made me think twice about drinking soda. He said there is a surgical weight loss procedure where they put a stainless steel balloon in your stomach to take up space to encourage you to eat less. When they take it out six months later, they ask you to drink a Coke the day before because it cleans off the balloon. He said it is the only time he ever allows his patients to drink a soda.
I was baffled. Was soda that bad for me? Of course, I knew it wasn’t great for me, but never would I have imagined that it was strong enough to clear off a balloon that has been sloshing around in a stomach, getting food particles and whatever else attached to it. I knew I had to quit drinking it. The damage it was doing to my body was not worth the few minutes of relief it gave me from whatever was ailing me that day.
Mold, Dirt and Lime, Oh My!
Similarly to my story where learning a piece of information made me think twice about drinking soda, Brianne at Her Hashtag Life had a similar experience. When a plumber came to fix an ice machine at her job, he told her about how flecks of mold, dirt and lime can easily make its way into the water and ice it supplied. Additionally, any of the chemicals used to clean the machine always end up in the ice. This one interaction grossed her out so much, it helped her stop drinking soda.
The Health Benefits to Stop Drinking Soda
As if my story and Brianne’s story wasn’t enough to make you take a second look at your soda-drinking habit, let’s look at the health benefits that happen when you stop drinking soda. Geisinger lists several on their Web site. For example, you’ll be more hydrated. Soda contains caffeine, which is a diuretic. When you drink soda, you’re dehydrating yourself. When you stop drinking soda, you stop stressing out your kidneys who are desperately searching for water.
You’ll also have better teeth. The sugar and acid in soda is not good for your tooth enamel. It eats away at it and could cause your teeth to deteriorate overtime.
You’ll be consuming less sugar and calories, which can lead to weight loss. In fact, quitting soda was one of the first habits I changed when I started losing weight before my surgery. I really do think stopping it super-charged my weight loss and helped me lose 17-pounds in four weeks.
When you consume less sugar, you lower your risk for diabetes and heart disease. Geisinger states that soda drinkers have a 20 percent higher risk of coronary heart disease and diet-soda drinkers had a 61 percent higher risk of heart disease and stroke.
How to Stop Drinking Soda
I’d like to tell you some sort of secret weapon that I used to stop drinking soda. However, it was as simple as picking a day and deciding I would no longer drink soda. I decided to stop drinking soda on November 13, 2017, and at the time of originally writing this post, I am nearly one-month soda free. I’m now rewriting this post and adding additional information, and it’s been nearly two years without a single drop of soda.
I was a little nervous since I did suffer from frequent headaches that I wouldn’t have my trusty headache cure to turn to anymore. However, I can honestly say that since quitting soda, I don’t get as many headaches. I have to say that the two may be related because I didn’t make any other lifestyle changes during the same period. Why would I suddenly go from three to four headache days a week to maybe once a week?
Step One: Pick Your Quit Date
Write it down on your calendar. Tell your family, friends and coworkers. Write a post on social media telling everyone that you are going to stop drinking soda and would appreciate their support. The more people you tell, the more likely they will encourage you and hold you accountable to your lifestyle change.
Step Two: Track Your Goal
Find a way to track your goal. Research has shown that if you do something consistently for three to four weeks, you will make it a habit. Make a calendar and mark off the days you are soda-free. Create a graphic or chart to color in as you each day without a soda. (Find out how this motivated me to keep losing weight here.) The visual representation will keep you on track and motivate you to succeed.
Step Three: Connect With Your Why
Write down all the reasons why you need to kick your soda habit. Is it to decrease your daily calories? Is it so you don’t feel so bloated? Do you want to drink more water? Maybe it costs too much to drink soda? These reasons are your motivating factors. When you feel weak, review this list and remember why you want to stop drinking soda.
Step Four: Replace Soda
If going soda-free cold-turkey gives you the shivers, try transitioning slowly. Replace soda with something else that tastes good to you. I started with tea and eventually transitioned to water. Perhaps making a schedule of how much soda you’ll drink each day will help keep you on track. Each week, drink a little less until you’re drinking none. Create a schedule for the next four to six weeks and stick to it. For me, I drank a glass of tea in the morning and one at night. Occasionally, I’d have one at lunchtime too. Eventually, I transitioned to water.
Step Five: Flavor Your Water
If water isn’t appealing to you, try adding flavor. I enjoy just simple lemon water, but the possibilities are endless. You could use mint, cucumbers, watermelon, strawberries, peaches, basil or any mixture of these. Experiment and see what you like. There’s also zero-calorie, sugar-free additives you can put in your water, like Mio or Crystal-Light. They even make soda-flavored ones if you’re jonesing for the flavor of a soda. A word of caution: having that flavor could make you crave the real thing. Tread carefully.
Step Six: Reward Yourself
At the end of your four-week countdown, make a reward for yourself. Buy that purse that you’ve been eyeing or the pedicure you’ve been wanting. Need a reward that doesn’t cost anything? Make time to do a hobby you enjoy. Allow yourself a whole day off doing whatever it is you want. This may mean your husband has to take care of the kids and house. Discuss this reward ahead of time so there are no surprises. They should be supportive and want to reward you for your efforts to be healthier.
Step Seven: Just Start
Stephen King wrote in his book On Writing, “The scariest moment is always just before you start. After that, things can only get better.” He’s right, you know. It’s always scary to change a habit or try something new. However, it’s only going to get better. You’re going to feel so much better in the end. I promise you it’s worth it, and you won’t even be craving soda anymore.
Stop Drinking Soda
Hopefully by following the steps I’ve outlined, you’ll be able to stop drinking soda. I understand how hard it is to do, but I promise you’ll feel better. When you think about how damaging it is to your body, perhaps you’ll pause and think twice about consuming them. There are so many benefits to avoiding soda that your body will thank you. Follow the seven basic steps I provided to stop drinking soda, and you’ll feel so much better! I believe in you! You can do it!
If this article gave you some great ideas to incorporate into your life, just imagine what other amazing strategies I have for you! Share this post on social media by clicking one of the sharing buttons, and don’t forget to join my email list! You’ll be the first to get updates, access to my new products and lots of tips, inspiration and motivation to help in your bariatric surgery journey. Just for joining, I’ll send you a free eBook with the 10 Habits to Change Before Bariatric Surgery, as well as some other pretty awesome goodies to keep you motivated. Join today!
1. Pick a date to stop drinking soda and stick to it. Tell other for accountability.
2. Track your progress using a graphic, chart or calendar.
3. Write down why you want to quit drinking soda. Refer to it whenever you feel weak.
4. Replace soda with a substitute you enjoy.
5. Flavor your water with fresh fruit, herbs or no-calorie, sugar-free flavor enhancers.
6. Reward yourself for kicking your soda habit.
7. Start today and reap the many benefits!