A Year Without Soda: A Tale of Addiction

by Josie on October 5, 2010 · 12 comments

in Food,Lists,Milestones and Goals,Reviews

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.

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.

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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]
  4. 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.
  5. 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.
  6. 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. :lol:
  7. 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

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{ 12 comments… read them below or add one }

Pubsgal October 5, 2010

Congrats on breaking a really difficult addiction! Whether diet or regular, that stuff is everywhere; even when it’s not an addiction, it can be a habit of convenience. For me, it was more of a habit. I didn’t vow to get rid of it completely, but it sort of worked out that way when i decided I wanted to make healthier choices. (And after awhile of consciously using my substitute – tea – it became an automatic thing to not go for the soda.) Your advice is excellent, and it’s what worked for me, too.
Pubsgal recently posted..Weekly Update- 9-29-10

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Joanna October 5, 2010

Wow a whole year? I’m impressed! I quit caffeine a couple of weeks ago – I switched diet coke and coffee for water and fruit tea. I’m winning so far, and thankfully, my giant headache only lasted a day. Thanks for sharing your tips!
Joanna recently posted..Bonjour blog-world!

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Alan (Pounds Off Playoff) October 5, 2010

Wow, a whole year. And probably forever. I am very impressed! I’ve been off DC seven weeks now and am considering writing a post about it. I don’t miss it, although I don’t think it’s done much for my weight one way or another.

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Scale Warfare October 6, 2010

I think you can be addicted to anything really, soda included! Its wonderful that youve gone an entire year, congratulations! All of these steps could apply to food (which is likely my addiction!)
Scale Warfare recently posted..The Non-Weigh In Wednesday

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ShrinkingGirl (Rhonda) October 7, 2010

Awesome job on kicking the habit!
I used to love what I used to call “regular Pepsi” the kind loaded with sugary goodness. I wouldn’t have it all the time as I have never bought soda to keep around (yep, because if you keep it around… you drink it!) but I sure did find myself buying it a lot when I was out of the house.
Giving up my regular Pepsi hurt a bit at the time but these days I rarely want anything but water to drink and I totally don’t miss everything else.
Way to go!

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paula October 7, 2010

Congratulations for be 1 year soda free. My sister is a pepsi-holic and I can imagine what it was like to quit. I don’t drink anything but water and maybe 1 cup of coffee in the morning. I much rather spend my calories on food vs. drink.

I agree an addiction is an addiction. Mine is to pastry. Any advice on how to quit sugar? I’m still struggling with that but not giving up.

I’m sure many soda-like-minded folks will find this post helpful.

paula

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tammy October 7, 2010

way to go I don’t drink soda anymore and my sister just quite to that was a big step for her she weighs almost 500 I ‘m proud of her ,she just got out of the hospital and the doctors gave her a big wake up call to do something and exercise too or she will die glad that we have alot of support and seeing your post about soda just brought back memeries glad I did stop and have more energy and glad that you are looking awsome and good luck

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Brandon October 8, 2010

Wow, great job on going a year soda-free, that’s definitely a big accomplishment! I used to drink A LOT of diet soda myself, which has its’ own host of problems. Nowadays, all I drink are water, and coffee in the morning (which I’ve been cutting back on lately).
Brandon recently posted..Taking a Look Back on 30 Days of Primal Living

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beej October 9, 2010

You know, Josie, this really is one of the aspects of you journey that inspires me the most. It makes me smile just to read it!! You sure have come really far.
beej recently posted..Rehearsal Dinner

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Fran October 9, 2010

Congrats on a year soda-free!

I don’t drink soda that much, maybe a few evenings a week 1 glass. I don’t really like it that much, I prefer coffee, tea, water or a good glass of wine.

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Phil October 10, 2010

Great post and accomplishment. I’ve been drinking coke and diet coke for decades, and just last week decided to stop cold turkey. Reading your story says to me I can keep it up – no need to give in.

Thanks also to the link to nuun. I’ve not heard of it before, and generally stay away from sports drinks. I’m going to try nuun.

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Makayla December 19, 2010

Congrats on the 1 year. I understand the whole addication to soda. Im trying to figure out a way that I can get rid of that addication because I know that I drink way to much. Thats all I ever drink and I know I need to change that habit. Your story has inspired me to go on and do it. You gave me some really great tips. Thanks for the inspiration and once again way to go!!

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