I’ve never been one for New Year’s resolutions, mostly due to the fact that I lack any semblance of self-control. Seriously, I’m the girl who quits a 48-hour juice cleanse 8 hours in to get Chipotle (side note: it was totally worth it). However, this year I wanted to make a change.
At the end of 2015, I was averaging four cans of Coke a day. Though I’m not big on counting calories, that’s 560 calories per day from liquid alone and that doesn’t even factor in soda from restaurants. By this point, it’s no surprise that soda is bad for you. In fact, it may come with a warning label soon. But like many other addicts, I wanted to believe the side effects didn’t apply to me.
I didn’t want to admit it, but I really was addicted to soda. As someone who is a big fan of being in control, it was scary to realize a liquid had more control over my life than expected. So I joined the ranks of people who make grand resolutions and on December 31, 2015, I had my last can of Coke.
In the interest of being upfront, I should say, the first few days of giving up soda suck. They suck so much. One of the first things I learned is that water doesn’t always pair well with my favorite food. I know water is better for your body and everything, but have you ever tried to eat an All Star Special from Waffle House with a glass of water? It’s tragic.
Another downside that thankfully only lasts for the first week or so are the caffeine headaches. When your body is used to a crap ton of sugar and caffeine, then all of a sudden both are taken away, your body doesn’t know what to do. It’s also really scary to have your body react that way over something as small as soda. It was a huge wake-up call saying “Hey girl, you’ve been treating your body like crap.”
The almost relapse
Around the end of the first week, I hit a bit of a speed bump. I was rear-ended driving home from class and I quickly learned that I reach for sugar when I’m stressed. I tried to rationalize quitting my experiment and pulling into the first fast food chain for a large Coke. After all, I was just in an accident so I deserved a soda, right? I came really close to breaking, we’re talking can of coke up to my bottom lip close. The only thing that stopped me was my supportive mother who pried the can away from me and hid the rest of the cans that were in my apartment. Family goals, am I right?
Once I made it past the week of withdrawal symptoms, I started to feel better. At the same time, I still craved something sweet to go with my meals but I knew if I caved now, I would never quit. Thus came the week of substitutions.
I asked all of my friends for their favorite non-soda drink that could hopefully satisfy my sugar cravings. I took every suggestion I could get from friends, which led me to three main soda substitutions.
The first drink I tried was LaCroix. It seemed like it would be a good fit considering it was carbonated and still had a flavor to it. I was mistaken. For me, tasting LaCroix was like biting into a candy you thought was chocolate only to find out it was black licorice. I still have an eight pack in my apartment if anyone wants to take it off my hands because God knows I won’t be finishing it.
The second suggestion I tried was green tea. I have never been a huge tea drinker, despite my southern location, but I thought now is a better time than ever to learn how to drink it. What I found was that while LaCroix punched my tongue in the worst way, my problem with green tea was its subtle flavor. I wanted more but alas, you can’t always get what you want. Thanks for letting me down, green tea. I appreciate it.
The final suggestion I tried was Crystal Light. Now my only previous exposure with Crystal Light was using it as a mixer with Capri Sun and Dragonberry vodka because I’m the classiest broad this side of the Mississippi. I was hesitant but hopeful that maybe this would stick. Surprisingly and thankfully, I didn’t hate it. I only used half a pack for one bottle of water because oddly enough, it’s too sweet for me, but it’s zero calories and it’s getting me to drink more water.
As much as I bitch to friends about quitting, I’m really enjoying the perks of less soda and more water. My skin no longer looks like it belongs to a pubescent boy and I’m no longer staying up until 4 am because of caffeine.
I may only be a month in, but I will hopefully continue my soda-free lifestyle the rest of 2016. My advice to anyone who wants to quit drinking soda is to go for it. It’s hard and you might hate yourself for the first few days, but if you stick with it, your body will thank you.