We’ve all heard the news about how soda is harming our bodies. (Latest evidence against diet soda: it adds significantly to belly fat, weakens bones, and leads to metabolic syndrome, the cluster of high blood pressure, high blood sugar, and high cholesterol that can result in diabetes and heart disease.) And yet, it might be really hard to leave behind the caffeine high, sweet jolt, and comforting ritual of popping open a can.
Resolving to beat this not-so-harmless addiction is a great call for your health – and good reason to familiarize yourself with some of the top habit-breaking techniques known to science.
While research suggests it takes about 21 days to fully form a new habit, cravings will begin diminishing after about 7 days, says psychologist James Claiborn, author of The Habit Change Workbook….
Write Your Manifesto – Jot down the pros and cons of quitting soda, and the pros and cons of not quitting. Keep the notes handy. “When temptation arises, it helps to review why you don’t want to give in to the addiction,” Claiborn says.
Replace The Addiction With Something Less Bad For You – Most people can’t just drop a bad habit – they replace it. If it’s a caffeine thing, could you switch to coffee, tea, or dark chocolate? If drinking soda is helping relieve boredom, how could you make things less dreary? Clairborn suggests opting for replacements that clash with the behavior you’re changing. “If you’re having coffee, you don’t need to have soda at the same time, for example,” he says. Same with taking a brisk walk.
Use Words Like They Matter (‘Cause They Do) – Quit with the “can’t”; instead, say “I don’t drink soda,” the same way vegetarians don’t eat meat. A study in the Journal of Consumer Research found that when people used the words I don’t to describe their temptation, they were less likely to choose a junky treat than people who used the words I can’t.
Make the Struggle Public – The more accountable you are to others, the more likely you are to stick it out. Recruit a buddy for taking walks or grabbing coffee as needed. The goal-setting app Coach.me allows you to invite friends to view your progress and leave comments as well as crowdsource encouragement.
Take A Bribe – Positive reinforcement works for kindergartners on up. Reward yourself with a meaningful treat – a weeknight movie, a spa visit, whatever gets you excited – for accomplishing 1 day, 3 days, a week without soda. Don’t skip this step. It’s key to motivation – and that’s what will get you through.