If you are looking for your first new habit for 2019, try eliminating soda (diet and regular) from your diet.

Every time I give a speech, I use “giving up soda” as an example of a health habit to adopt. I talk about the incredibly huge amount of sugar in soda: there are 39 grams of sugar in a 12-ounce Coke. That’s nearly 10 teaspoons of sugar. And most people who drink soda, drink far more than 12 ounces. (To calculate the amount of sugar in anything, look at the nutrition label and divide the number of grams of sugar by four. That will tell you how many teaspoons of sugar are in one serving of that item.)

Even if we stick with 12 ounces, think about how much 10 teaspoons of sugar is. If you are a coffee drinker, would you put 10 spoons of sugar in your coffee?

“Soda is poison,” I always say in my speeches.

That is why I was heartened to read that Americans bought nearly four times as much sparkling water, seltzer, and club soda in 2018 than they did in 2008.

The big soda companies are getting into the act. The Wall Street Journal reported:

  • In 2017, Coca-Cola Co. bought the sparkling mineral water brand Topo Chico. They already produced carbonated versions of Dasani and Smartwater.
  • In 2018, PepsiCo Inc. launched a flavored seltzer brand called bubly, and announced a $3.2 billion deal to buy SodaStream International Ltd., which makes countertop seltzer machines.

It’s understandable that making the switch from soda to seltzer isn’t easy. Soda, like most foods that are not good for you, tastes good. And seltzer has no flavor. Even “flavored” sodas are only mildly flavored compared to sugar-saturated soda.

I recommend making the transition easier by doing it in steps. For example, start with a combination of seltzer and orange juice that you find tolerable—perhaps 50% of each. Stick with that for the 21 days it takes to turn it into a habit.

It’s important to move on from this step because juice has nearly as much sugar as soda.

After the first 21 days, reduce the amount of orange juice and increase the amount of seltzer by that same amount. For example, maybe now you are at 75% seltzer, 25% orange juice.

After that becomes a habit, move on to even less juice. Perhaps just a splash of juice, or even just a squeeze of a lemon. Switching to 100% unflavored seltzer is not necessary, but you may even get there someday. (I almost exclusively drink water. I know to many people that sounds boring. But, it quenches my thirst and that’s all I need.)

More than six years ago, my college best friend made the switch from soda to seltzer. He had been drinking diet soda, which is poison for its own reasons. He wrote about how he did it here.

How did you make the switch from soda? Please join the conversation with your comments…

Best regards,