4 Tips for Kicking Your Soda Habit
Credit: Soda photo via Shutterstock

I have a dear friend who is battling an addiction — a soda addiction. I've spent entire days with her and have seen her drink nothing but diet colas all day. For years, I've warned her of the dangers of soda, but she never took it seriously. That is, until I told her about a recent study that indicates that her soda consumption might be the reason she's holding onto those five extra pounds.

A study published in the March issue of the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition found that obese participants who swapped out soda and instead drank water were twice as likely to lose 5 percent or more of their body weight than those who didn't change their drinking habits.

Once Martha learned that she might be able to go down a dress size just by giving up soda, she finally decided to make a serious effort.

I've kept her abreast of studies about soda consumption because, frankly, her habits have always worried me. I eagerly shared the news of a study published in January in the Journal of General Internal Medicine that suggested that daily diet soda drinkers were 43 percent more likely to suffer a heart attack than those who don't drink soda.

I also told her about the link between pancreatic cancer and soda consumption found in a 2010 study in the journal Cancer Epidemiology, Biomarkers and Prevention. According to this research, those who drank two or more glasses of soda per week were 87 percent more likely to be diagnosed with pancreatic cancer. (Still, pancreatic cancer is not a common disease — 140 cases developed among the 60,000 participants over that 14-year study.)

But the weight loss study was the one that hit home with her. I'm glad to see that she's replacing soda with some healthier options. I know it's an adjustment, but here are some of the tips I've given to help her through the switch:

  1. Drink more water. Okay, I know; you aren't likely to enjoy trading the sweet taste of soda for plain old water. But, what if you dressed it up with lemon and a little honey?
  2. Need the fizz? If the zing of the bubbles is what you're looking for, you can get it from carbonated water. And if you can't live without a flavor in your drink, you can find a fruity seltzer to quench your thirst.
  3. Make a mocktail. A mocktail is essentially a "mock cocktail," or a cocktail without alcohol. This way, it makes hydrating yourself (with something other than soda) seem more fun. You can even serve it up in a martini glass to reinforce that "party time" feeling. My favorite mocktail consists of coconut water, hibiscus tea and a splash of lime juice. I call it a hibiscus cooler.
  4. If all else fails, water down your soda. You can use water or plain seltzer. Start with a small amount and work your way up until you're drinking only about a half of a glass or less of soda.

Healthy Bites appears on MyHealthNewsDaily on Wednesdays. Deborah Herlax Enos is a certified nutritionist and a health coach and weight loss expert in the Seattle area with more than 20 years of experience. Read more tips on her blog, Health in a Hurry!