Getting healthy doesn’t happen all at once. It’s a process of commitment to small changes, shifts in mindset, and trying new things. My best strategy for navigating that process is to make one change at a time, creating habits that you can stick with. Rather than trying to change everything today (and likely ending up back at square one), make one change (big, small, or anywhere in between) that is doable for you. Not sure what your one change should be? Start here!
Most of us know that drinking soda isn’t doing our health any favors. It adds on tons of calories (all from sugar) and doesn’t provide any redeeming nutritional benefits like vitamins, minerals, or antioxidants. Time and time again, research has linked the consumption of soda and other sugary beverages with weight gain, diabetes, inflammation, and increased cardiovascular risks like LDL cholesterol.
Switching to diet soda may seem like a great idea, but research shows us they’re not much better. When you drink artificially sweetened beverages (like diet soda) your BMI is higher in the long run and you increase your risk for diabetes.
There’s really no getting around it, your best bet is to kick the soda habit all together.
I understand the allure of a refreshing carbonated beverage! But when you crave something bubbly or flavorful, you don’t have to settle for plain ole’ water and hope for the best. A super simple strategy it to swap out your soda for a better for you carbonated drink. There are plenty of alternatives that satisfy your need to sip without sabotaging your health or enjoyment. Here are a few of my best soda swaps:
Flavored Sparkling Water
Flavored sparkling waters like LaCroix are all the rage right now, so new flavors are coming out seemingly every day. Sparkling water satisfies cravings for carbonation without tacking on any sugar. Test out several flavors and choose your favorites. Give Pamplemousse or Mango LaCroix a try, or any brand of sparkling water with lime. Don’t want to splurge on pre-flavored waters? Just add some fruit to the bottom of your glass, mash with the back of a spoon, and pour sparkling water over top.
I’m a big fan of fermented foods, thanks to their gut-healing and immune system benefits, and kombucha is one of my go-to favorites. Kombucha is made by fermenting sweet tea. Although there’s sugar added at the beginning of the process, that sugar is eaten up by the healthy bacteria, leaving you with a tangy sparkling probiotic drink with very little sugar. Kombucha is also super trendy right now and new brands and flavors are popping up left and right. Test them all out and pick some favorites! Most kombucha is flavored with fruit juice, which adds some extra sugar, but not nearly as much as you’ll find in soda – look for bottles with fewer than 5 grams of sugar per serving. Since it’s a little sweet and super flavorful, kombucha is the perfect swap for when you’re craving soda!
Iced Green Tea
I love sipping on iced green tea throughout the day. Since it has more flavor than water, it keeps me hydrated without getting bored. I make a big batch of green tea and then stick it in the fridge to sip on all day long. I love to switch it up with different flavored green teas and herbal teas, too. To get your bubbly fix, just top off your tea with some sparkling water. Remember, green tea is packed with polyphenols and antioxidants, so cutting out soda and swapping in green tea does double the good for your body.
Chia fresca is one of my favorite refreshing drinks and I think it’s perfect as a soda substitute. It’s not traditionally made with sparkling water, but you can certainly make it bubbly using club soda, sparkling water or even tonic water. The basic recipe is fresh water, plus chia seeds, plus lemon — and then you can add fruit and herbs to the mix. Super delicious! My Pineapple Turmeric Chia Fresca was on the rotation for several weeks last summer. You can also add frozen berries like I did here with my Wild Blueberry Chia Fresca.
What happens when you make this one change and stick with it? Drinking less sweet beverages helps to retrain your taste buds, so eventually soda will taste too sweet to you, and you’ll start craving healthier drinks instead. Give it a shot and then move on to another One Change habit!