Monday, August 05, 2013

How and Why I Cut Down on Soda

Blueberry Smoothie
A little over three years ago I was diagnosed with type 2 diabetes.  I knew I had pre-diabetes and I was warned that if I get diabetes there's no turning back.  Once you have it you always have it.  When the day came that I was officially diagnosed with diabetes I felt there was no hope.

I was wrong.  There is hope.

While it's true that once you have diabetes you always have it, it's not necessarily true that there's no turning back.  You can control it and make it better.  I began seeing a nutritionist and taking my dietary habits very seriously.  In three years I was able to lower my blood sugar to the point where I'm now in the pre-diabetic range.  I accomplished this by making my health my number one priority through exercising and eating healthy. 

One of the things I did to improve my blood sugar was cut down on soda.  I did not completely eliminate it from my diet, but for the most part I cut it down to once or twice a week.  Whereas before it was a regular part of my daily diet, it became more of a treat.  While my nutritionist says that it's not necessary to cut it out completely, I'm on a mission to improve my blood sugar even more.

I've heard a lot about how it takes 21 days to make or break a habit.  This seemed like a reasonable goal so I set out to eliminate soda from my diet for 21 days.  Yesterday was my 21st day and I met my goal with success. I've now extended my goal by one more week.  While I can't say that I feel any differently physically, I know that I'm reaping the benefits in other ways.  Perhaps if I had been drinking more soda in the first place I'd be able to feel the difference physically.  My reason for continuing this mission goes far beyond the negative effects of soda.  Emotionally, there's something so rewarding about taking on a challenge - a true challenge - and accomplishing it.  It makes you stronger, and with this strength you are able to deal with so many other life challenges.

Unsweetened Iced Tea
So how have I been able to stay away from soda?  Here are a some tips that have helped me:

1.  Identify your reason for quitting.  When you have a reason for doing something - anything - you are more likely to get it done.
2.  Set a realistic goal.  Set a goal that's not too high and not too low.  If the goal is too high you may set yourself up for failure.  If the goal is too low you won't know just how much you're capable of doing.  Some people can quit altogether and some people need to cut down gradually.  Everyone's different.  Set a goal that's right for you.  If you drink soda daily a realistic goal for quitting might be just one week.  When you become better at that you can set a higher goal. 
3.  Set your intention every single day.  Wake up with the resolve to achieve your goal and make it positive.  Instead of saying, "I will not drink soda, say something like, "I will only drink water or unsweetened iced tea today."
4.  Broadcast it to everyone that you're quitting soda.  You will find a lot of support, possibly from people you never thought would support your efforts.  I have been posting daily on Facebook when I meet each day with success.  The "likes" and comments I get provide an enormous amount of support.  One day I even posted, "I want a soda!!!  Tell me again why it's bad!".  You should have seen the comments I got almost immediately!  Another great thing about that is that it's still there and I can always go back and read those comments.
5.  Have healthy substitutes on hand.  My favorites are homemade smoothies, unsweetened iced tea, and ice cold water.  Even if you have other beverages with some sugar, like sweet tea, it's not nearly as bad as soda. 
6.  Read about how bad soda is for you.  Google it.  The research says it all!
7.  Figure out what triggers cravings and stay away from the triggers if possible.  Sometimes eating one food leads to the desire to have another.
8.  Just say no.  There will be times when nothing else satisfies that soda craving and you just have to exercise willpower.  You'll be grateful you did when you wake up the next morning and realize you exercised such strength.  Remember that the craving is temporary and it will pass. 
9.  Track everything you drink.  When you write down what you put into your body you'll be amazed what you find.  Plus, if you're like me you'll feel guilty writing down soda, so you'll want to avoid it.
10.  Don't give up!  If you give in, don't give up.  Just start again!

Have you quit soda or anything else?  What worked for you?  Share your thoughts below!