Today is Tuesday-As-Friday for me…so here is a post I wrote a little over a year ago that got recognized by the WP powers-that-be. It was a very last-minute post, written after I had come out of the hospital and needing something to still be “in” NaBloPoMo 2012.
While I have cut back dramatically on the soft drinks since this was written, I could still use some improvement. Now is as good a time as any for me to recommit to becoming healthy-ish and not wait until January.
Tomorrow, I start the steps to say goodbye to a long-time companion. After 30+ years of being my go-to beverage, I will be cutting out diet soda from my life.
My motivation for this is simple: water is free and soft drinks are expensive.
Of course, there are health benefits involved with this change, even if they aren’t visible to me. But to be honest, even though I hate Splenda and HFCS, Nutrasweet/aspartame is one of those food chemicals that I paid little attention to. Sure, I could read the warnings on the drinks, but after starting out in my life with an occasional drink up to my current several-a-day habit, I figured I would keep taking my chances on the lab rat-carcinogen that gave me fizzy taste with no calories. It had to be better than smoking, right?
It started out innocently enough. If you had a parent in the house that was on a diet, it was expected they may have bought diet cola as an occasional treat for themselves and you could have one. When there was a field trip and you were told to bring two drinks wrapped in foil, that is what you got. Or, if your grandfather had diabetes, all sodas at his house were diet, from cola to ginger ale (to expand your horizons some). I got used to drinking the artificially sweetened stuff, but I also drank my milk like a good kid was supposed to do.
As I got older, I started to prefer to drink only the diet sodas when we could get them. Milk was now disgusting and I had always hated our well-water. I would use my lunch money to buy diet cola instead of actual food. Other than preferring the taste, the soda can itself became a way to announce “Hey! I’m on a diet!”. You know, just in case anyone thought I should be watching my weight besides me.
Over the years, I have tried to quit this habit. The cost of these drinks are phenomenal. I would alternate brands to match what was on the best sale that week. I would switch to store brands to try to wean off the taste and save a few bucks. But none of this really worked. It is my caffeine source, helping me wake up since I have never liked coffee or tea, and my replacement for sweets when I have a sugar craving.
There are a lot of tips and tricks out there on how to cut sodas out of your life in general. Here are the ones that I have tried and the results:
Try seltzer water with a splash of fruit juice–This one I have seen before in health and diet articles, but my darling son brought this suggestion to my attention during one of my times trying to quit before. Sounds yummy, right? Blech. Instant cotton mouth, with a fruity aftertaste.
Slice up fruits and put the pieces in ice cubes/into your water–Now, this option sounds nicer than the one above, but one little issue. I do not care too much for fruit, but I especially hate fruit flavored drinks. Unless they contain alcohol, but that doesn’t help this habit and unfortunately encourages a different habit instead.
Use Crystal Light, GatorAde, KoolAid, etc. drink “straws”–You know what these are, right? They are little thin packets of powdered drink mixes fine enough to mix into a bottle of water without having to use a spoon to make sure they are all dissolved? They come in everything from a Tang-creatiion, flavored teas, energy drinks or other flavors. Now they even have them in “drop” form so you don’t have to use your keys or pen to open the package of powder. Yummy, right? Nah. When I said I hate fruit flavored drinks, that wasn’t limited to natural fruit.
Drink water at room temperature/lukewarm–I can drink sodas at room temperature, water is another story. And that story is “no”.
So, what does work? I have actually done this before for months at a time, only to back slide when faced with illness or stress. Here’s my plan so far:
Baby steps–I will finish the few sodas I have left in the house, and I will not buy any more bottles of soda when I go out. If I go to eat at an real restaurant, I will allow myself one diet drink but no refills except for water. Hold the lemon, of course.
Some water with my ice, please–I have discovered that the more ice I have in my cup to make the water as cold as possible, the easier it is for me to drink it. My last diet soda fast, I ended up buying bags of ice to keep up with the demand that I needed to keep everything as cold as possible. I could not keep the trays filled fast enough to meet my demand. I would spend $2 a week on a bag of ice from Sonic (the best ice ever!) vs. a lot more than that each day for enough of the fizzy stuff to get me through.
Find the right container–Since I am an ice-queen in this respect, it is also important that whatever I use as my beverage container hold a bunch of frozen water and keep it cold. Right now, I have two “mega cups” that you see at the convenience stores. Yes, the ones that are $5 or more, look like a keg or have FIZZINATOR or QUAD GULP on them, and offer the owner 99 cent refills on soft drinks for life. Not the prettiest things, but they work at insulation and don’t puddle all over my desk. I would love to find a cup that is a little more “me” that insulates worth a darn, but for now I will work with what I have. The bonus for these is that I can go back to the store that I got the cup, get free ice and take a few of the extra long straws to use with it too.
Water, water everywhere–This ties into my search for the perfect beverage container. If I wake up and my water from the night before isn’t icy, I am not going to want to drink it because it won’t be cold enough, and I will be cranky. If I am cranky, I will likely hit up the Hardee’s on the way to work for my morning diet drink in their super large cups.
Giving up soda in the winter is probably not a bad thing since it is more likely the water won’t be hot in the morning after sitting bedside overnight, but I still like to hear that clink of the ice shifting when I go to get a drink. Silly, but true.
So, that is my plan. Start out with the baby steps. During work, I am sure I can stick to the water plan without a problem. It is the making excuses for trying to get moving in the morning or treating myself at the end of the day that I will have to really change in order to make this stick. I should keep track of how much money I save this week and in the coming weeks to see what the true impact is on my bottom line.
Unless, of course, I can figure out a way to like and get addicted to coffee instead. Coffee with lots and lots of artificial flavoring.
More from health