Quit Soda: 5 Tested Techniques That Work

Filed under Habits

Sugar-sweetened soda drinks continue to get bad press. Recent researchers compared the effects of soda to that of smoking.

That may be a bit of an exaggeration. However, ditching the soda may well be the simplest thing you can do, with the greatest payback to your health and weight.

Simple doesn’t mean easy, so here’s a roundup of some techniques to defeat the sugar drinks.

The Pre-Soda Water Chug

Before drinking that glass of soda, drink a glass of water.

This successful technique does two things:

  • If you are trying to quench your thirst, this begins to disassociate thirstiness with a desire for sweetness.
  • Forces you to drink the soda more slowly, as you are no longer thirsty.

The Slow Wean

Track consumption, and reduce little by little.

This 5 step technique is helpful if you are a person that does well with data, and a bit of self-awareness.

  1. Track how many cans and bottles you have each day.
  2. Do this for a week, and multiply by 52, then divide by 12. This is your monthly total. It may frighten you.
  3. The next week, reduce by one serving.
  4. Repeat.
  5. Continue until you hit one bottle per week.

The Sparkling Water Connoisseur

Replace sugary soda with sparkling water*. Then wonder why you didn’t try this years earlier.

This is what I drink. I love looking at the nutrition label and seeing zero calories.

Drinking sparkling water still provides that bitter tingling on the tongue… just like coca-cola. Try it. You might just become a convert.

*There are all sorts of other names: carbonated water, seltzer, soda water. You could even get a Soda Stream and don’t bother with the flavorings.

The Gourmet Can Drinker

Go from 12oz cans to the 7.5oz cans.

It’s not an elimination – but it is a start. If you like to reward yourself and hold an ice-cold can in your hand — try the little cans.

The Self-Starting Experimenter

Chilled water dispenser, ice, and a dash of lemon.

Many of our food and drink choices are governed by habits, or a self-made reward system. This is why it can be so hard to change.

Some of us like to sit down on the couch with some kind of special drink in our hands. Lukewarm water from the tap just doesn’t cut it. One of the best things I ever did was get a chilled water filter (and eventually a fridge with a dispenser). This instantaneously cut down the need for bottled soda drinks.

Throw in some ice, and a squeeze of lime, and you’re away.

A Word About Caffeine…

If you drink a lot of Coca-cola, Pepsi, or Mountain Dew – you might be in for a rough time when cutting down.

If you don’t believe me, just read some of the comments from these poor souls. For some serious help: read the caffeine detox guide.

Oh, and Tonic Water…

I once thought Tonic water was a healthy drink. Hey – it’s got the word “tonic” in it! In reality it has the same amount of sugar as any other soda (like Sprite for example). The sugar is used to mask the bitterness of the quinine.

What’s Your Soda Strategy?

Let me know. If you manage to cut down or quit – well done.

All in all it’s a win: less money, less cavities, smaller waistline.

Scientific Reference:
Leung, C. W., Laraia, B. A., Needham, B. L., Rehkopf, D. H., Adler, N. E., Lin, J., … & Epel, E. S. (2014). Soda and cell aging: associations between sugar-sweetened beverage consumption and leukocyte telomere length in healthy adults from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Surveys. American journal of public health, 104(12), 2425-2431. Study Link.

Image credit

Ted Kallmyer is an ISSA certified Specialist in Fitness Nutrition, author, and macros coach. He has helped hundreds of clients reach their body transformation goals.
Updated June 30, 2019


  • Michelle

    i drank about 6 or 7 cans of Mt Dew a day. I’d tried for years to back off. Finally a cracked tooth and more and more weight gain scared me. I picked my B-Day to start weening myself off of it. Each week i eliminated one until i got down to two a day without any headaches or problems. (i couldn’t believe it!!) And i switched to Pepsi. Been a two a dayer for almost a year now. In a few weeks i’m planning on complete elimination.

    • Ted Kallmyer (Certified Macro Coach)

      Great work, Michelle!

  • Lissa

    I know I drink to much fizzy soda drinks I have cut down a lot since I first moved out I have a learning disability and I used to drink 2lt bottles in 1 hour and now I have cut down but not a lot and I know it now I’ve tried the changing to water and tea coffee and things like that but its not worked well as I’ve managed to last 2weeks before buying a bottle of cola i’m over weight anyway but that’s one problem why I can’t loose weight can anyone help with some advice

    • Ted Kallmyer (Certified Macro Coach)

      Hi Lissa, It would probably help if you are aware of how much nutrition your body needs and how much you are currently eating. Use our calculator to help you get started. Flexible Dieting Macro Calculator

  • Sandra Huff

    What about Crystal Light? I drink Green Tea with Mango Crystal Light.

    • Ted Kallmyer (Certified Macro Coach)

      That sounds like a good tool to use as well.

  • kathryn yousef

    how can I stop drinking so much soda?……well my boyfriend raul and other people tell me I drink too much and I might end up a diabetic or have diabetes

  • Mike

    None of this works. I repeat,,, none of it. The longest I quit was a month, and I was an absolute monster. For me, it’s like heroin. I’ve tried all the “tricks”, it’s the only thing I can think about when I try to stop. I drink about 4 sodas a day.

    • Sandy 9 months ago

      I agree with you whole heartedly. I’ve quit for a month, three times! And all I thought about was…Pepsi, Pepsi, Pepsi! I too was a beast and it wasn’t fair to my family for me to be grouchy ALL! THE! TIME! Or, depressed because I “couldn’t” have my Pepsi. So I always went back to drinking it. I’ve always quit cold turkey. So I’m going to try the gradual quit and see if I can make it stick. I believe I am mentally ready too. I’m tired of the belly fat I’ve gained since my metabolism has slowed down over the last couple of years. I’m ready for a change.

  • Connie

    Hi I’m at the point that I know I have to do something. I am pleased to see that the strategies suggested are already the ones I have just started. I hope this works. I drink about 5 – 8 cans of ginger ale every day, and it’s time to stop. I’ve gained weight and I’ve had a lot of dental work done. I used to drink coke and switched to ginger ale. I am 66 and I know I have to stop. I just started my program of keeping track and hopefully will be able to reduce and eliminate. This is so hard cause I love it. Good advice and I’m going to try. I commend all of you with the will power you have.

  • Anna

    I used a modified version…. basically I took sparkling water and watered down my drinks slowly increasing the sparkling water vs pop every time as well as drinking a half glass to a glass of water before hand. Now regular pop tastes way to strong for me. Over time it broke the cravings for it and made it easier to stop almost completely. Only downside is I cant drink it straight up anymore because I’m so used to it being watered down

  • Charline

    I am in my late 60s and I drink coca cola, so I have to stop drinking soda. I am a breast cancer too. Cokes ARE NOT good for the bladder, believe me I know that. So I am on my way to cutting out soda. Just need encouragement.
    Many thanks, Charline

  • Neutral

    Sparkling water with lemon is always the best substitute for me! Works well every time

  • spectra311

    I cut way down using the counting cans technique–I kept track of how many I was drinking a day and cut back by a good 10 cans a week. I still indulge in diet Coke, just not as many as before. I replaced the sodas I was drinking with water and I find I’m not nearly as thirsty.

    • JamesF

      I’ve read on a number of forums of people who did the counting technique and found it really worked. Hard habit to break…

  • Ted

    Great suggestions for quitting. I quit back in my 20’s and I’m so glad I did as it was a big contributor to me forming kidney stones. I still like an occasional soda on the weekends, but it’s usually a caffeine-free Coke Zero or a Sprite. I think it’s the daily habit that needs to be broken as 1 or 2 sodas a week are fine health-wise.

  • Sue

    I switched to being a water drinker over 20 years ago and I’m so glad I did. Sparkling water is my favorite. For the past year I’ve been experimenting with making my own flavored water. I fill a drink dispenser in the morning so we have enough to enjoy throughout the day. My newest combination is a delicious apple-cider flavored water (no cider or apples involved). Try this: 2 quarts unsweetened orange flavored sparkling spring water, 1 quart plain sparkling spring water, 4 chai tea bags steeped in 1 cup boiling water and then cooled, 1 quart of ice cubes and 1 thinly sliced orange. for more ideas here’s a recent article I wrote on the topic

    • JamesF

      Sounds nice. The chai tea bags would add an interesting flavor.

    • spectra311

      That sounds delicious. I sometimes put lemon slices and a sprig of thyme in my plain water and it tastes kind of nice. I like the apple cider flavor idea, though.

      • Sue

        What a coincidence, thyme and lemon is one of my favorites too! I also like lime slices with basil. I bruise the basil leaves to release more flavor.