Soda Withdrawal: What Happens When You Quit Drinking Soda Cold Turkey
I will admit that I was never someone who went out of their way to drink soda. My childhood wasn't filled with sugary beverages that hit my sweet tooth, but yet, when it came to soda, my family kept it as a treat. Our Fridays, as American as this could be, was a time where we would order in pizza, my mom would find a movie for my siblings and I, and my dad would treat us to whatever soda we wanted that night. It was simple, but something to look forward to!
As I grew older, soda was still something that I never went out of my way to have, probably because I craved coffee more than anything else. But I do have several memories of watching people obsess over diet soda. I remember specifically, back in elementary school, I had a history teacher who would drink diet Coke maybe three to four times a day. It got to the point where I remember my classmates and I actually getting concerned - we noticed mood swings when she would skip one, her energy levels shifting between mania or laziness. It probably wasn't really our business, but as a bunch of elementary school kids, you cannot help but naturally wonder what is going on.
Finally one day, we made a bet with her to stop drinking her diet Cokes! We complied a bunch of research on to how terrible diet soda was, said that if we all did amazing on our next test or quiz, she would have to stop drinking it... I will be honest in saying that I am not 100% sure what happened, but I swear we were able to get her to quit for a couple of days.
If this sounds like you or even anyone you know, you may get that quitting anything, whether it is soda or anything else, could be quite hard. Whether you are quitting soda cold-turkey or even slowly ease your way out of drinking it, there are definitely a few things you should know! So if you want to stop drinking soda, here is our guide on what happens when you quit drinking soda cold turkey!
What Are The Symptoms of Quitting Drinking Soda Cold-Turkey?
Soda is, at the end-of-the-day, a psychoactive substance. This means that it is a central nervous system stimulant, meaning it affects neural activity in the brain and increases alertness while reducing fatigue. Since soda is full of sugar and caffeine, eliminating it from the diet can cause soda withdrawal symptoms that typically begin 12–24 hours after stopping caffeine, similar to that of coffee. Here are common symptoms that may happen when you stop drinking soda cold turkey:
- Headache - Headaches are among the most commonly reported symptoms of caffeine withdrawal. Caffeine causes blood vessels in the brain to constrict, which slows blood flow. Since caffeine consumption causes blood vessels to narrow, reducing or stopping intake allows blood vessels to open up and increases blood flow to the brain. This sudden change in blood flow can cause painful withdrawal headaches that can vary in length and severity as the brain adapts to the increase in blood.
- Fatigue - Many people use soda as a common means for an energy boost. When you stop drinking soda, you may experience drowsiness or fatigue, as you aren't able to maintain the same energy levels as you would when you were drinking soda or heavily caffeinated beverages.
- Anxiety - While caffeine can actually cause people to feel jittery or anxious, withdrawing from soda can also cause similar feelings. The body can become mentally and physiologically dependent on it, causing feelings of anxiety. Plus, if you consume the majority of your caffeine in the form of soda, the sudden reduction in sugar may make caffeine withdrawal-induced anxiety even worse.
Other symptoms may include irritability, depression, or low energy levels. If you do not want to experience these issues, here are ways to safely and effectively cut out soda from your diet.
How To Safely Cut Out Soda From Your Diet
If you are looking to reduce the amount of soda you drink, it is actually more effective to cut it out slowly than to end cold-turkey. Here are some tips and tricks that can help you live healthier and make sure you aren't experiencing any of those symptoms when cutting soda out of your life:
- Scale Back Slowly: If you drink 3+ sodas a day, switching to tap water cold turkey will most likely make every sip feel like a punishment. We recommend that you start to cut down to two a day, then slowly bring yourself down to one or none as time progresses. This can be on a scale of a couple of weeks or even months. Over time, you’ll miss those first few sodas less and less and eventually you’ll be ready to cut out one or two more.
- Explore Alternatives: Once you start cutting out soda, you’re going to want to replace it with other fluids so you don’t get dehydrated. If you miss that combo of sugar and carbonation, get experimental and see what you can do with sparkling water or seltzer. For example, you can add a splash of juice into sparkling water - 1-2 ounces of cranberry, orange, or any other 100% fruit juice blend can make all the difference. You can also add some cucumber slices, berries, citrus fruit or fresh mint to a pitcher of water gives it a refreshing essence of flavor.
Adopt A No Soda Policy: When creating a no soda policy, we do not mean that you have to stop drinking soda altogether here or there - rather, we mean that if you aren't at home, do not drink it. For example, you could say that you will not drink soda at these places:
- At work
- On campus
- On road trips
- Before 5pm
- At restaurants
- At the movies
- As mixers in alcoholic drinks
- Redefine What "Stop" Means: So if you really want to stop drinking soda, you can all around aim to stop drinking it altogether. However, if you change what "stop" means to you, it will make your life a lot better. For example, instead of saying, "I am going to stop drinking all around," you can say, "I am going to stop drinking 4 cans of soda a day and start drinking 2 a day," is a lot more easier to follow and stick with than the other.
At the end of the day, do what works for you and your well-being. You do not have to cut soda completely out of your life to maintain a healthier lifestyle! Take it in strides. You'll see the accomplishment in no time!