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I Went A Week Without Drinking Soda And Here's What Happened!

Photo by Artem Beliaikin on Unsplash
There's no way around it: I like to drink soda. I'm not obsessed, I just enjoy a nice, cold glass of Dr. Pepper every once in a while (okay, maybe like a couple of times a week. If I'm being good).

But as pretty much everyone knows, soda is super bad for you. It has a buttload (that's an official term of measurement, I believe) of sugar (including America's favorite: high fructose corn syrup!) and so many different kinds of chemicals that I probably could never even pronounce, even if I studied the names on flashcards for a few weeks. And diet soda is no better than regular soda. Sure, diet soda may not have the calories, but the artificial sweeteners they use in most of them has been shown to cause cancer in people. Um, no thank you!

And while I love Dr. Pepper (regular, not diet), I decided to break the bad habit that I had brought upon myself: I was drinking more soda than I know I should have and wanted to try to quit for a week. I knew I could do it; a few years ago I decided to stop drinking soda because I got very badly dehydrated around the time I was drinking too much soda. I quit cold turkey and didn't have a soda for over a year (just lots and lots of lemonade when I went out with friends). But sadly, the siren call of soda lured me back and here I am, ready to make a change again!

So back in October, I went a week without soda. And boy, was it hard! And here are a few of the things I realized while going through my caffeine withdrawal period:

#1: I never realized how addicting soda is!

Sodas are the perfect storm of sugar, caffeine, and chemicals, all of which are addicting (and sadly delicious). I would literally crave a soda (instead of water) on a hot day. I mean, there really isn't anything more refreshing than a large fountain drink from a fast food restaurant (as the recent McDonald's commercials have taught me. Also, I live in Arizona, so I'm blaming some of my soda cravings on the weather. We don't really have a "fall" or "autumn". We have what some people may call "spring," but much, much hotter). With the lid, and the straw, and the condensation rolling down the sides of the paper waxed cups... there's really nothing better! I literally had to fight the urge to stop at a fast food place or a store to buy a soda, and instead either just stuck with lemonade (sorta healthier) and water (the healthiest!). It was struggle, but I did it!

#2: The caffeine withdrawal headaches and feeling tired were THE WORST

A couple of days into being soda free and while the cravings were at their peak, the headaches and feeling of being tired kicked in. HARD. I felt groggy and my head was pounding, which made me want a soda even more (it's a family home remedy to have a Coke when you have a headache. And yes, caffeine can help headaches- especially migraines- but I didn't just have one small amount for medicinal purposes- I would end up drinking way more than I should have!). But after a few days of literally dragging myself through the motions, I was over that wretched hump and doing much better! It just goes to show that my body was much too used to all of the unnatural caffeine that I was putting into my body and got very confused when I stopped consuming it. Which is a bit of a scary thought, and gave me that push to keep on my cleanse from soda!

#3: I was drinking soda when I should have been drinking water

They say when you're thirsty, that means that you're too late and already on the road to becoming dehydrated. So obviously turning to a can of soda is NOT the way to go if you're thirsty. I always make the mistake of thinking that water is boring or unappetizing and that I need something with flavor when I drink. When I stopped drinking soda for a week, I drank a lot more water, and honestly felt a lot better. I learned that I prefer water to be ice cold, but not freezing, and to always keep a water bottle with me, at home or on the go. That way I wouldn't be tempted to spend the money on soda (and ruin my perfect week without soda!). I know some people put fruit or cucumbers in water to mix it up a bit, but for me, just a glass of cold water with ice cubes is just perfect.

#4: Finding satisfying alternatives to soda are hard

Soda is yummy for a reason. You have all of the different sweet, unnatural flavors and the fun, popping bubbles. Nothing else tastes like it and is healthier for you, and that's the problem. There aren't a lot of good alternatives to soda. Lemonade, which I usually turn to in times of being soda free, though made with lemons, is chock full of sugar- maybe even just as much as soda! Just because sugar is made from real cane sugar doesn't make it healthier! I also turned to juice, which again, has a bunch of sugar, but I tried to drink ones that were actually made from real fruit, and not some artificial Kool-aid mix. I also diluted the juice to add to my water intake (and stretch the bottles of juice. Penny pinching is in my blood!). I've also tried drinking sparkling flavored water, just to have at least a less bad for you carbonated drink, with a little flavor in it. It's not the same as soda, but it'll do if you're desperate for the soothing and refreshing flavor of a Dr. Pepper (I really like Dr. Pepper guys).

#5: I actually felt a bit better after the week was up. And saved a bit of money!

Once I stopped craving/daydreaming about the bubbly, crisp taste of Dr. Pepper, my caffeine withdrawal headaches went away, and I stopped feeling like I had been hit by a truck (aka very tired), I actually felt pretty good. I was drinking more water, my energy level was back up again, and frankly, I was pretty proud of myself that I went through a whole week without giving in to my cravings. Plus, it's nice to know that the money I could have spent on random stops to get a bottle of soda can now go towards buying more books. Yay for more money for books! Books books books!! I'll take books over a soda any day!

#6: I burped a LOT less

Gross? Yes. But so, so true.

So I survived my week without soda! But after the week was up, you guessed it: I went back to soda. But, it's been about a week since I've had any soda (aka Dr. Pepper) and I'm determined to continue this winning streak! I don't think I can go totally soda-less (my family loves to drink soda, and it's so hard to resist the urge to drink soda when everyone else is drinking it around you), but I am totally for everything in moderation. So if I'm at a special occasion or function (party, out to eat, etc.) I'll allow myself one glass of soda. And that's it! I'll force myself to savor that one glass of Dr. Pepper (and it better be Dr. Pepper if that's the only soda I'm going to have for a while!) because who knows when I'll be having another soda again, so I'm going to enjoy it!

But all in all, I'm just happy knowing that I'm making a better, healthier decision for myself and my body. But I'll always remember you, Dr. Pepper. And love you. Don't forget me. I'll see you soon. One day...

What did you think about my week without soda? Is anyone else a Dr. Pepper fan? Please comfort me in knowing I'm not alone! Let me know!

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