Each American drinks approximately 38 gallons of soda every year, and that number is a 25 percent decrease from its high in 2000! About half of the population drinks a soda every single day. Soda, of course, contributes to the obesity epidemic in this country. A single can of soda has as much as 16 teaspoons of sugar. When you’re ordering that soda at a drive-through or picking up a fountain drink at the corner market, those larger sizes are giving you even larger doses of refined sugar with no nutritional value. Some people think they’re dodging a bullet with sugar-free sodas, but the artificial sweeteners used in mainstream sodas are still linked to weight gain, along with brain tumors, cancer and cognitive diseases like Alzheimer’s. The best thing you can do is cut soda out of your life altogether. Here’s how.

Switch To Tea

You’ve got to stay hydrated, and for many soda drinkers, the main complaint against water is the “taste.” Of course, most water doesn’t have a taste, which could be the problem if you’re used to the sugary-sweet acidity of soda. Keep the flavor and caffeine, but dump the sugar by switching to gourmet tea. You can test several varieties to find the flavor profile you like. Go for something fruity, spicy or have an herbal tea in the evening so you can sleep.

Tea has a couple of benefits beyond a straight switch. Tea might stain your teeth, but it isn’t going to make them fall out of your head, and you can always use whitening toothpaste. You also have control of the sweetness. If you find yourself really missing the sweetness of soda, you can add a natural zero-calorie sweetener like stevia or monk fruit. You’ll get a sweet taste without calories and without giving yourself brain damage. Tea is great hot or cold, so it’s the perfect drink for every season. Tea is also good for you. Some types of teas have been shown to reduce your likelihood of developing cancer or Alzheimer’s and they can bring down your cholesterol and blood pressure.

Avoid Soda Triggers

By switching to another caffeinated beverage you shouldn’t experience withdrawals from soda. That doesn’t mean that drinking soda isn’t a habit that’s hard to break. If you’re used to grabbing one at the corner market, it can be hard to remember to make yourself a tea before you leave the house. Plan your tea habit. Make a gallon of iced tea to keep in the fridge. Make another gallon for the fridge at work. Get comfortable with ordering tea at a restaurant, even hot tea. Carry some good tea with you in case you have limited options. If you grab a soda when you fill up the tank, avoid going into the store and pay outside.

A soda habit is like anything else, easy to start, harder to give up. Don’t beat yourself up if you aren’t perfect. Every soda you skip is one less that’s eating up your teeth and waistline. Developing a tea habit helps you make the change easily and painlessly.

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