Residents of the City of Brotherly Love are finding it a lot easier to say “no thanks” to sugary sodas these days.
Philadelphians are much less likely to drink soda each day since last year’s full implementation of a city-wide soda tax, according to a Drexel University study.
In the wake of the new soda levy, Philadelphia residents were 40 percent less likely to drink soda -- and 60 percent less likely to drink an energy drink -- daily than residents in surrounding cities such as Trenton, Camden and Wilmington.
Of course, most of us do not live in cities with such a built-in financial incentive to go soda-free. And that is bad news for our health.
“Regular soda is a source of empty calories,” says Caroline West Passerrello, a Pittsburgh-based registered dietitian nutritionist and spokesperson for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. “It provides calories without any nutrients.”
Fortunately, there are things you can do to kick the soda habit.
1. Ask yourself why you drink soda daily
It is easy to fall into bad habits and not even realize how or why they began.
“I encourage my clients to think about why a soda – or five -- is a daily occurrence,” Passerrello says.
She says a few common reasons often pop up. They include:
- Needing an energy boost from caffeine
- Wanting a “treat”
- Because plain water is boring
Others admit to simply drinking soda out of habit, Passerrello says.
“Once we determine why soda has become a daily ritual, we can put a plan in place to reduce or eliminate the soda while still meeting the need it provided,” Passerrello says.
2. Look for alternatives to drinking soda
Giving up a bad habit is much easier if you replace it with something appealing.
When clients see that they can still meet their needs without the soda, they are more likely to kick the habit for good, Passerrello says.
If you drink soda primarily for the caffeine kick it provides, consider switching to coffee or green tea for that morning or afternoon jolt of energy.
3. Keep soda out of your home
It can be tempting to keep a six-pack – or more – of soda around so you can indulge in a special treat from time to time. But if you have been drinking soda regularly for years, it is probably a bad idea to have even one can of soda constantly within reach.
If you plan to have the occasional soda, it makes more sense to buy it one serving at a time.
Also, consider cutting back on meals in restaurants or even simple strolls by the office vending machine during the initial phase of your soda-free lifestyle. Avoid anything that tempts you until you have cemented your commitment to a more healthful routine.
4. Remind yourself of the benefits of skipping soda
Most of us know that increased soda consumption puts us at risk for tooth decay. But soda also is associated with other negative health effects that range from increasing the risk of kidney stones to promoting weight gain.
“One 12-ounce soda contains eight teaspoons of added sugar, which is more than the daily maximum recommended for women and close to that for men,” Passerrello says.
So, when a craving for a Coke simply will not cease, remind yourself of all the positive benefits of skipping that sugary treat.
“The added energy, weight loss and or money savings they sometimes see is an additional motivator,” Passerrello says.