Tips for People with Diabetes: How to Kick a Bad Soda Habit          

Tips for People with Diabetes

Learn these tips for people with diabetes (and everyone) to stop drinking so much soda!


A diabetes diagnosis invariably presents a need for lifestyle shifts.  For this reason, tips for people with diabetes often include suggestions that help to control weight and improve their overall health and wellbeing.  For people who are pre-diabetic or those already diagnosed with type 2 diabetes, weight management is usually a big deal. As such, it is especially important to evaluate the factors such as soda consumption that have been shown to contribute to weight gain in particular and diminished health in general.

According to Lona Sandon, RD, assistant professor of clinical nutrition at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center, the greatest risk of soda consumption is the excess calories they contain.  The calories in regular soda, she said, is primarily derived from added sugar and provides no nutritional benefit such as good carbohydrates, vitamins or minerals.  So, whether you are an avid soda drinker or have developed the habit of using sodas to quench your thirst or get through a midday slump, it may be helpful to understand the risks associated with drinking regular and diet sodas. And, while knowing the risks may be enough to convince you to limit your soda intake, halting habituated soda drinking can be a challenge. Therefore, tips on how to stop drinking soda typically also include suggestions on what to drink instead of soda.

Risk Factors of Soda Consumption

Based on a Harvard study, sugary drinks such as sodas have been linked to increased risk of chronic conditions such as heart disease and type 2 diabetes.  In fact, regular consumption of two cans or more of soda a day has been shown to significantly increase the risk of Type 2 diabetes by a whopping 26%. New research from the American Heart Association also suggest that drinking at least one artificially sweetened or diet soda a day more than doubles the risk of stroke and Alzheimer’s disease.  The artificial sweeteners used in the study included saccharin, acesulfame-K, and aspartame as well as sweeteners that have been approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) such as sucralose, neotame and stevia. In addition, diet drinks have been shown to have most of the health risks of regular soft drinks such as tooth decay bone thinning, heart disease, depression in women and dementia.

7 Tips to Kick the Soda Habit

The following are some helpful tips on how to stop drinking soda and what to drink instead of soda.

1. Make a commitment to gradually wean yourself off soda.

While it is idealistic to try to quit cold turkey, there is an addictive component to regular soda consumption that make this approach unrealistic. For instance; if you typically drink four sodas a day, it will be more sustainable if you begin by slowly reducing that number one at a time. After successfully cutting back just one soda a day continuously for two weeks, repeat the process until you are drinking one soda a day or less.

2. Dilute soda with water.

A common recommendation for clients seeking how to stop drinking soda is to add water to the soda. Nutritionists suggest that this method automatically reduces the amount of soda being consumed as well as increase hydration. Another advantage to diluting soda with water is that it will also reduce calorie intake by cutting back on sugar.

3. Count the Calories.

Start keeping track of the number of calories you are consuming every time you drink soda. For example, each 12-ounce can of Coke contains approximately 140 calories and a 20-ounce bottle reportedly has 240.  To prevent mindless consumption, start tracking the number of calories you are consuming every time you drink a can or bottle of soda. When you tabulate the calories at the end of the day, this simple step may motivate you to reduce the amount of soda you drink on a daily basis. It may also be helpful to use a tracking app to help you to see how much soda and sugar you are actually consuming.

4. Factor exercise requirement to soda calories.

One way to quantify calorie intake from sodas is relating it to how much exercise you will need to do in order to sufficiently burn off those calories. According to a 2014 Johns Hopkins University study, researchers found that it would take a five mile walk or fifty minutes of jogging to burn off a 20-ounce bottle of soda.

5. Temper soda cravings with water.

Logic suggest that by filling up with water before you drink a soda will reduce the amount of soda you can or want to drink. According to culinary nutritionist and author Stefanie Sacks, people typically reach for a soda because it is what they are used to doing. It is usually the beverage most readily available when they are bored, thirsty or feeling lethargic.  She suggests, drinking a glass of water first every time you feel a soda.

6. Identify healthier beverage substitutes.

In a 2015 study published in the British Journal of Nutrition, participants were divided into two groups. Although one group was given caffeine free sodas and the other regular sodas; there was no noticeable taste difference between the sodas.  All participants were instructed to drink as much soda as they like for 28 days. At the end of the study, the caffeinated group drank 53 percent more sodas over the 28 days than the caffeine free group. This, according to researchers revealed that when our bodies are accustomed to caffeine, it increases our desire or craving for more of it. To answer the question “what to drink instead of soda?” here are some healthier options to try during the transition period.

  • Unsweetened tea. If you have a distaste for unsweetened tea, add lemon, mint, or a small amount of sugar or sweetener of your choice.
  • Try drinking different herbal teas to avoid the caffeine in black or green tea.
  • Plain or flavored seltzer water provides the fizz without the caffeine and sugar. Add a piece of fruit or a dash of fruit juice if you need to jazz it up a bit.

7. Help support efforts to quit drinking soda by being prepared to avoid soda triggers.

Pay attention and make a note of where and when you drink soda. Although you may not be able to completely avoid triggers being aware can help you to make a more conscious decision to support your effort to stop over consumption of soda. If you naturally gravitate to the vending machine after lunch, take a bottle of water to your desk and sip it before heading towards the soda machine.  Also, pack your own healthy beverages or a refillable water bottle so you will have options.



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