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Published on September 06, 2012

Cutting Soda to Cut Health Risks

As a health coach, I have the opportunity every day to assist people in becoming their best! Health coaching is a process that involves identifying behaviors that are keeping people from living their best life.

A common goal among my clients is their desire to cut back on their soda/sugary drink intake. This can be a giant leap for some clients who have been consuming soda/sugary drinks for as long as they can remember. The major challenge, for many, comes down to the cravings and actual taste of the drinks. Clients struggle with how to overcome the perceived value of these types of drinks.

So, what is the first step? To help identify the problem, let’s start with a few stats from the August edition of the Harvard School of Public Health Nutrition Source.

  • A typical 20-ounce soda contains 15 to 18 teaspoons of sugar and upwards of 240 calories.
  • The sizes of soft drinks have increased from 12 ounces in the 1950s to 42 ounces today.
  • People who consume sugary drinks regularly—one to two cans, or more, per day—have a 26 percent greater risk of developing Type 2 diabetes.
  • Another study found that people who increased their sugary drink consumption by one 12-ounce serving per day gained more weight over time—on average, an extra pound every four years—than people who did not change their intake.
  • Artificial sweeteners, found in some diet sodas, could confuse the feedback loops that involve the brain, stomach, nerves, and hormones. If this happens, it could throw off the body's ability to accurately gauge how many calories are being consumed.

The above points clearly indicate that there are risks associated with consumption of soda/sugary drinks. Now, let’s focus on ways to reduce the consumption. Here are some things to think about as you progress to a soda-free life!

  • Mix it up. Try making your sugary drink with half water and half juice.
  • Jazz up your water. Choose flavored waters or add some fresh fruit to your water pitcher.
  • Make it teatime.  Black or green, caffeinated or decaf, leaf or herbal, hot or cold—tea is an excellent choice for a calorie-free beverage.
  • Be free with coffee.  Have it black—without sugar or cream.
  • Limit diet soda.  Enough said.
  • Fresh fruit cocktail. Instead of yogurt or milk-based smoothies, try blending up fresh fruit, ice and some sparkling water.
  • Make it milk.  Low-fat, skim or soy milk are the best choices.
  • Keep it natural. Strive for tap or bottled water daily. At least half of your fluid intake should come from water.

Many of my clients, including myself, find the best thing to do is it to cut the soda completely and try mixing juice with water. It took me several years to become a water-only drinker. I cut out my Sunkist soda and then moved to a half water/half juice mix. Finally, I moved from about 3/4water/juice mix to all water.

It won’t be easy, but it will be worth it!

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