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How Can I Stop Drinking So Much Soda?

Do you have a soda habit? Here's some advice on how to cut back.

Why Stop Drinking So Much Soda? continued...

Still, while Jacobson believes "less is better" when it comes to alternative sweeteners, he concedes that drinking diet soda is better than gulping down the equivalent of 10 teaspoons of sugar -- which is what you'll get in a can of regular soda.

And just how do you go about kicking a soda habit? If you want to stop drinking so much soda, it basically comes down to four steps, according to the experts:

1. Make Up Your Mind. You have to make up your mind to give it up, notes Jacobson. Even if you're just trying to cut back on your soda consumption, it can take a firm commitment to make it happen.

2.Switch to Diet Sodas. Gradually make the switch to diet sodas, suggests Paul Rozin, PhD, a psychology professor at the University of Pennsylvania. "Just make a small decrease at a time, like one sugared soda a day," he says in an email interview. If you're drinking much more than one soda a day, work toward decreasing the amount of diet sodas you drink as well -- eventually.

3. Go Caffeine-Free. Popkin and Jacobson believe that caffeine, and the fact that it is mildly addictive, is part of the reason soda is such a hard habit to break. Look for caffeine-free soft drinks, and gradually decrease the number of caffeinated drinks you have each day as you work toward kicking the soda habit completely. If you're addicted to the caffeine in soda, you're really kicking two habits -- the soda habit and the caffeine habit. "It takes a few weeks to truly forget the craving," Popkin says.

4. Stock Up on Alternatives. Keep plenty of tasty non-soda drinks on hand to make giving up soda as convenient as possible.

What Are Some Soda Alternatives?

Here is a list of non-soda beverage possibilities to consider. You'll notice the drinks that contain calories also contribute important nutrients like calcium or vitamin C.

1. Give Soy Milk a Chance. If you'd like to work in a serving of soy a day, give soy milk a try. Lots of brands and flavors are available. If calories are an issue, try one of the lower-calorie options.

2. Don't Skimp on Skim Milk. Skim milk is a great way to boost your intake of protein, calcium, vitamin D, and other important nutrients. One cup of skim milk has only around 85 calories. The Beverage Guidance Panel recommends up to two servings a day of nonfat or 1% milk and fortified soy beverages.

3. Pimp Your Water. To an avid soda drinker, water can seem a little unexciting. One of the best ways around that is to add noncaloric flavors to your water. A sprig of mint or a slice of lemon or lemon will do wonders. If you like subtler flavors, try a slice or two of cucumber or a frozen strawberry.

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