Want to stop drinking pop?
By Karen Caffarini
GateHouse News Service
For die-hard soda lovers, it’s a combination of the sweet taste, carbonation that tickles the taste buds and caffeine (for cola fans) that makes the soft drinks so addicting.But doctors and registered dieticians say this is one habit that should be kicked as quickly as possible, both for health and weight reasons.
“How quickly to change? As quickly as you can, taking care not to cause a bad caffeine withdrawal,” recommends Dr. Dana S. Simpler, an internist with 25 years’ experience in primary care in Baltimore.
Experts admit it could be difficult to wean yourself off soda, but say there are plenty of substitutes that will quench your thirst and satisfy all three sensations. Some suggestions:
Replace soft drinks with healthy beverages such as unsweetened iced tea or coffee, or water, says Dr. Kira Schmid, who recommends going cold turkey. Schmid is staff doctor and associate director of scientific affairs with Life Extension in Fort Lauderdale, Fla. Because it can be difficult to avoid overindulging on soft drinks when dining out, especially if free refills are offered, Schmid suggests ordering unsweetened iced tea or water instead.
Simpler strongly encourages her patients to just drink just water. “They can add a little bit of juice to it — maybe 1/4 cup juice to 3/4 cup water — if they really need some flavor,” Simpler says. Or, she says, cut up an orange or lemon and leave it in a pitcher of water in the refrigerator all day. The water will get some of the fruit flavor.
If you need the carbonation, try carbonated water, suggests Angela Douge, a registered dietician with Dominican University’s Nutrition Sciences Department in River Forest, Ill. She says you can dress it up with some lime or lemon juice.
Unsweetened ice tea with a level teaspoon of sugar is OK as long as you don’t drink it within six hours of trying to fall asleep, Simpler says. She recommends skipping the bottled ice teas, which she says are generally packed with sugar.
If you can’t go cold turkey, Douge suggests grabbing a glass of soda with ice when you want a treat, not when you’re thirsty: “Drink water when you’re thirsty. If you want a soda, sip and enjoy it, put it on ice and be done with it. Only do it, though, when you’re craving it.