Yes, Addiction. Since my comment the other day about it being a year since my last soda, I’ve received a couple of messages asking me “what I did” to stop, or if I have any advice to help others stop. I decided to do a blog post about it and hopefully this will help someone out there struggling to stop drinking soda (or whatever else may have a stronghold in your life).
I know some people don’t think you can compare a soda addiction to something like alcohol or heroin, but I do. Sure, there are differences, but an addiction is an addiction all the same.
My addiction to soda began right after high school. We never really had a lot of soda around the house while growing up. In fact, the only times I can really recall having soda as a kid was if we ate out at a restaurant or were at someone else’s house, so it was like a special “treat”. So when I did have it, I loved it. When I left for college at the age of 17 I quickly came to the realization that I could eat/drink whatever I wanted. Oh what a dangerous revelation for a girl like me to have!
Before I knew it, Pepsi became the only thing I drank. Period. No tea. No water. No juice. Just soda. From the time I woke up to the time I went to bed. Pepsi, Pepsi, Pepsi. I was a walking billboard for the company, considering I drank around 2 two liters in a day.
This was my Facebook status back on 9/21 last year:
That was 7 days before this journey began and I enjoyed the hell out of that soda! Hah!
When I decided to stop drinking soda I got a lot of advice. Some people told me to switch to diet soda. Some people told me to gradually quit. I chose neither of those routes and decided to just stop cold turkey. I knew that if I just switched to diet soda, I would then become addicted to that instead. I knew if I took the gradual approach it wouldn’t work because I had already tried that NUMEROUS times. Even more than those reasons though, I knew that soda was my “drug”. Would you tell a cocaine addict to just start smoking weed instead? Would you tell an alcohol addict to just drink wine coolers instead of vodka? I don’t know. I just don’t really get the appeal of diet soda and always thought it was replacing one poison with another. I knew that drinking diet soda instead wasn’t going to help me overcome my addiction to soda (which is what I was trying to overcome anyway). It would just feed into it. Diet soda is still soda.
So I just stopped. I had my last soda on September 27, 2009. It wasn’t easy. In fact, it was anything but. I had a headache for a solid month and a half. I craved it so bad I had dreams that I was drinking it. I would even go so far as to say it was the hardest part of this whole process so far. Yes, for me, giving up soda was harder than changing how I ate. Harder than stopping my couch potato ways by working out and eventually running. It was that hard.
I’m going to share a few things that helped me in my quest to quit. They may or may not help you. I am not an expert; all I can do is share my experience and what worked for me.
- Stock: It’s easy to drink something you have on hand all the time. On the flip side of that, it’s easy to avoid drinking something you don’t have readily accessible. For me, this meant that we just didn’t buy the stuff anymore. This turned out to have multiple benefits in our house because not only did *I* stop drinking it, but so did my kids and husband. Well, almost. They still drink it occasionally, but not at home. Considering the amount I was drinking alone, we saved at least $1500.00 last year from just not buying soda.
- The headache: If you are a regular soda drinker, be prepared to have a headache if you quit cold turkey. This is a symptom of caffeine withdrawal and you will experience it and there’s not much you can do about it. For me, I took plenty of Advil, which helped ease them a little, but nothing got rid of it all together. Mine lasted for a month and a half, but knowing that it wasn’t permanent helped me get through that worst time. Your mileage may vary.
- Substitute: No, I’m not talking about substituting it with diet soda, but rather something else that you want to drink. For me, it was water. I never liked water at all, but wanted badly to have water become a staple in my life. I felt that if I just gave it a good solid effort, I would start to like it. And I did. It’s practically all I drink now and I LOVE it. It was difficult at first because like I said, I never liked it before. It took a while for me to get accustomed to it and then eventually I just started craving it. It may not be water for you. Maybe you like juice or green tea. Whatever it is, have plenty of it on hand. [see #1 above]
- Plan B: Always be prepared. There were times I got caught in a restaurant or at someone’s home where the only options were soda, alcohol, or water and even a few times where the only option was soda. Be ready for that. Try to plan ahead. For me, I started grabbing a bottle of water before I left the house to go anywhere. It seems as if I was always carrying a water with me. I never wanted to be in a situation where I was thirsty and soda was the only thing around me to drink. Have options.
- Keep Track: I know this might seem silly, but I really do credit my success to having kept a running tally of how many days I had been soda free. I remember one time specifically where I almost caved to drank some, but didn’t simply because I didn’t want to start over counting the days. That kept me from drinking it that day. Besides it’s so cool to say “I’ve been soda free for 372 days now!” Something I never thought I’d be able to say.
- Network / Support: The blogging community was instrumental in keeping me motivated and on track with this. Use this network of support to your advantage! It’s also nice to have someone in your personal life to support you and understand the challenge you are undertaking. So, let the people in your immediate family and circles of friends know that you’re quitting. This way they won’t offer you any when you’re over. Well, theoretically they won’t.
- Nuun: I only recently begun using this product, but I WISH I had found it sooner. Nuun is a portable, electrolyte, hydration drink. I get the tablets and add one to a bottle of water the night before a long run. It’s not an energy drink. There are no carbs and no sugars. It’s just electrolytes that you add to water. I had my first one a few weeks ago and the thing I immediately liked about it was how it “fizzed” in my mouth. Totally reminded me of soda, but it’s the furthest thing away from it! So, if you’re running, walking, biking, or otherwise working out and could use some extra hydration, check Nuun out.
These are just some of the general things that helped me. Am I completely over my addiction to soda? No. I still crave it from time to time and still have a hard time resisting it in certain situations. But it has gotten MUCH easier over this past year to “just say no”.
Everyone’s different and these “tips” may not work for you, but I hope you find something that does! If you have any questions, hit me up in the comments, or send me an email. Good luck!
Disclaimer: I have not received anything from Nuun for my small review above. This is simply my experience with a product that I bought for my own personal needs.
On this day last year: Week 1 – Weigh In and Pictures