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Cutting Soft Drinks

You don’t need to be a dentist to know that most (if not all) soft drinks are not good for your teeth. Likewise, you probably don’t need to hire a dietician to find out that soft drink consumption simply ‘fills’ your body with empty calories. When it comes to ‘cutting back’ on soft drinks, the difficult question is not so much ‘why to’ but ‘how to’.

The first step in this process is simply to recognize that soft drinks are not good for you. Unless this problem is recognized, no action can follow to fix it.

Simply taken on its own, however, this recognition is not enough to get a person to actually cut back on their soft drink intake. (How often do people know that doing something is not good for them, and yet they proceed to do it anyway?) So, the equally crucial second step is to take a small leap of faith: In order for your corrective actions to follow, you must first believe that your life will actually be better – either if you lower the amount of soft drinks that you consume, or if you cut out soft drinks altogether. Once you know that “soft drinks are not good for me” and believe that “my life would be better without them”, you have laid the groundwork to take action – perhaps using one of the following approaches to reduce (or eliminate) your soft drink consumption.

(1) Quit Cold Turkey. No one is saying that this will be easy, but if your motivation for quitting is high enough (life would be better without soft drinks than it is with them), then you should be willing to do whatever it takes to cut those soft drinks out of your life. Return unopened beverages to the store. Pour opened beverages down the drain. Remove every temptation; stock your shelves with healthy alternatives – such as water, juice, and milk. Have a plan in place, so that when temptations arise (to go purchase forbidden beverages), you can ask yourself such things as: “Why did I give this stuff up in the first place?” “What is more important to me? The sweet taste of this drink? Or not having discolored teeth?”

(2) Set a Daily Amount, and Plan to Stick to It. If you are not quite ready (or willing) to quit cold turkey, you can still have a plan to limit your daily soft drink intake. Whatever limit you set for yourself, put concrete systems in place to help you stick to your limits. For example: You might decide to allow yourself one twelve-ounce canned soft drink per day. In order to make sure that you stick to your allotted amount, you could label each can a specific date: “For Nov. 3”, and then only drink each can on its assigned day.

(3) Count, and then Gradually Reduce. You may know that you need to cut back on your soft drink consumption, and you may believe that your life would be better if you did consume less. Yet, you also know that you lack the will power to follow through. This third process is the one for you.

First, you probably have no idea as to the amount of soft drinks that you are consuming each day. Before you will be able to ‘cut back’, you will first need to figure out ‘how much’ you are consuming. Keep a daily journal, tallying the amount of beverages that you drink. Once you have that number, take the amount, and base your goals off of this amount – making reductions that you believe will be attainable for you. For example: If you find that you are consuming ten cans of soda pop each day, you might plan to start tomorrow and drink only nine cans each day for the rest of the week, and then eight cans a day next week, seven cans per day for the week following, until finally you get down to your desired daily intake. (You may wish to label each can as in the second process outlined above; or make tally marks on your calendar for each beverage that you drink, keeping track of your daily intake so that you stay within your allotted amount.)