I gave up soda for a month and by the end, I broke my habit

I (not pictured) tried to stop drinking soda for 30 days.

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I (not pictured) tried to stop drinking soda for 30 days.
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iStock

  • I don’t drink soda every day but I recently found myself craving it often so I decided to give it up for a month.
  • Giving up soda was hard at first, especially when I was trying to order my go-to cocktails.
  • By the end of the month, I found I had stopped craving soda.

Growing up, I always treated soda like an occasional treat that was to be enjoyed with particular foods, like greasy pizza and buttery popcorn. Soda was always accessible to me – my mother never banned it from the house or told me not to drink it.

As I got older I just began pairing soda with most junk foods, similar to how I would pair red wine with most pasta dishes. I didn’t drink soda every single day, but I never really restrained myself whenever I was craving a soda.

But for the past year or so, I’ve felt an unshakable desire to drink soda more often. To try to kick this almost-daily craving, I decide to go an entire month without the carbonated stuff.

Here’s what it was like trying to give up soda for an entire month

After just a few days, I almost gave in to my soda cravings

Many sodas contain sugar or artificial sweeteners.

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Many sodas contain sugar or artificial sweeteners.
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Dan McKay/Flickr/Creative Commons [CC BY 2.0]

To make life a little bit easier during this 30-day trial, I spoke with Monica Reinagel, a licensed nutritionist and creator of the Nutrition Diva podcast, about how I would be better able to eliminate the drink from my diet.

Reinagel said if you’re looking for a way to satisfy soda cravings without drinking the stuff, she recommends drinking plain, carbonated water (seltzer) with a squeeze of citrus, like lemon, or a splash of cranberry juice or pomegranate juice.

So, with her advice in mind, I began my 30-day challenge. It didn’t get off to a great start, especially since I don’t like seltzer. I also struggled to avoid drinking soda when I discovered my office had a few free cans of this fruit-flavored soda that was my favorite drink when I was a child. Remembering how much I loved the grapefruit-flavored soda, I instinctively grabbed a can.

But then I remembered that I was giving up soda in the name of journalism, so I ended up leaving the drink on the corner of my desk while I longingly stared at it throughout the day.

The second week of my no-soda challenge was just as difficult as the first

It was a bit tough for me to order a cocktail that didn't contain soda.

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It was a bit tough for me to order a cocktail that didn’t contain soda.
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Marilyn La Jeunesse

Since this week consisted of a lot of social obligations and late-night takeout orders, I found myself struggling to deal with a lot of soda cravings.

At one press event I attended this week, I ate a few bags of potato chips, which gave me a strong craving for soda. It took a lot of will-power to not pair the salty snack with a whiskey and cola or even a vodka soda.

I also struggled not to order soda when I was at a work-related meeting at a bar. I had to vet the menu beforehand and ask the waiter several times to confirm that there was no soda in the cocktail I ended up ordering.

Things didn’t get much easier at the end of the week. My at-home movie night involved pizza, which made my craving for soda so strong that I almost gave in. It was tough knowing there was a perfectly chilled can of soda in my fridge that I wasn’t able to consume.

In order to satisfy my craving for a fizzy drink, I decided to try sipping a can of sparkling water. I ended up taking one sip before throwing it out. It wasn’t going to work for me – in my opinion, strawberry-flavored fizzy water is just not an adequate substitute for soda.

Read More: 8 sodas from around the world that you can’t find in the US

The third week of my 30-day challenge went quite smoothly

Fortunately, my cravings were under control this week and there were no moments when I almost gave into temptation.

I attribute my lack of cravings to the fact that I drank ready-made, cold-pressed juices with my lunch almost every day this week. Since these juices are naturally sweetened, they seemed to have curbed my cravings for sugary drinks.

This week, I also made a few smoothies for breakfast and dessert to further eliminate my desire to consume liquefied sugar. And although I didn’t drink soda this week, it sure felt like I was consuming more sugary drinks than usual, even if they were naturally sweetened.

One of the toughest parts of the third week was when I was trying to figure out if I could drink ginger beer or not. Some of my friends said ginger beer technically is a soda because it is carbonated – but by that same logic, seltzer and beer would sort of also be considered soda, which didn’t quite make sense to me either.

With no real, satisfying answer, I ultimately decided ginger beer was not a soda and I mixed it with gin and lime juice for my own version of a delicious, soda-free cocktail.

By the last week of the challenge, my soda cravings were gone

I made sure to keep my water bottle with me this week.

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I made sure to keep my water bottle with me this week.
source
Marilyn La Jeunesse

Equipped with my 32-ounce water bottle and an array of organic, cold-pressed juices, I hardly realized that I was doing the no-soda challenge at all. Since my cravings had essentially vanished, I actually continued the no-soda challenge for an extra week.

Overall, I thought this no-soda challenge was relatively easy to complete – but it may be because I’m not someone who really ever drank soda on a daily basis

For me, the hardest part of the entire month was the fact that I was actively thinking about something I couldn’t have. At first, not being able to have soda almost made me feel like I was craving it more.

To be fair, I feel like the challenge was probably a bit easier for me because I’m not someone who used to drink soda every single day. Before this challenge, I had really only consumed one or two sodas per week even though I craved it somewhat often.

That being said, if you’re someone who consumes soda on a regular basis and you want to cut back or quit drinking it altogether, you may not want to quit cold turkey as I did. Reinagel said the best way to wean yourself off the sugar-filled drinks is to do so gradually, especially if the soda you’re drinking is caffeinated.