Parents (not to mention national and international food regulation boards) tend to disagree on a number of issues regarding kids’ diets. Some veggie-loving parents contend that kids can be healthfully vegetarian (and vegan!) from a young age, while the meat-eaters argue that animal protein is the way to go. Some parents say allowing kid’s processed sweets puts them right on a path to dangerous health problems, but others maintain that some candy now and then won’t hurt.

However, one thing we should all agree upon is the terrifying, horrific evil that is soda. No matter what you call it (“pop” in the Midwest, “coke” in the South) soda has absolutely no health benefits; in fact, with each serving containing 10 teaspoons of sugar ― well over the daily recommended dose ― and the excess sodium and caffeine causing dehydration and high blood pressure, soda is conclusively awful for anyone’s health. To prevent your kids from drinking 56 gallons of soda a year like the average American, here are six steps to a soda-free life.

Step 1: Examine

Before you become unduly worried about your family’s soda consumption, you should evaluate just how much of the fizzy drink your family imbibes. The American Heart Association advises that no more than 450 calories per week come from soda, which actually allows for up to two pops per person every week. If your loved ones enjoy soda as an occasional treat rather than a go-to beverage, you don’t need to stress about their intake. You should compile a chart of who drinks how much soda to determine the worst offenders in your home.

Step 2: Explain

More likely than not, a few members of your household will rage against your end to fizzy drinks. To address this backlash, you should prepare a thorough explanation of the reasons behind your soda cessation. It may help to have data from respected sources that extoll pop’s dangers ― such as people who consume soda daily have a 26 percent higher likelihood of developing Type 2 diabetes or that soda also increases the risks for enduring life-threatening health problems, like heart disease and gout. However, soda addicts may also need emotional reasons to quit, so you must be ready to open up about your feelings and fears, as well.

Step 3: Moderate

It is incredibly difficult to end any habit cold-turkey, so creating and maintaining a soda stopping schedule is crucial to successfully weaning your family off the sweet stuff. Every soda drinker in your home should be allowed only a certain number of fizzy drinks per week, and that number should decrease steadily until you no longer have soda in the house.

Step 4: Substitute

The desire to drink soda is often incited by hunger or thirst, and you should have viable substitutes for soda on-hand to prevent your family from sliding back to old habits during times of weakness. Replacing soda with water is the cheapest and healthiest option, but bland, boring water rarely satisfies cravings.

Instead, you might try infusing water with flavor, perhaps with fresh fruit or natural tea. Unlike juice, which can have just as much sugar as soda, water infusions are entirely healthy and hydrating. Plus, you can discover your favorite with tea bundles, which allow you to order many varieties at once.

Step 5: Prepare

If your home contains some serious soda drinkers, you will undoubtedly experience the effects of soda withdrawal. Containing sugar and caffeine, soda can cause real physical addictions that are difficult to break, and the symptoms of cessation come on fast and hard.

You and your loved ones will likely feel tired, cranky, and achy while you make the switch to a soda-free life, and cravings for something sweet will increase dramatically. It helps to prepare by having mild painkillers, sugar-free pick-me-ups (like tea or coffee), and plenty of distractions during the process.

Step 6: Celebrate

In truth, stopping soda doesn’t mean eschewing the drink forever and always. Once your family stops relying on soda every day, you should feel comfortable allowing your loved ones to indulge in a sugary drink once a month or so. Then, soda will feel like a real treat, akin to birthday cake ― as it should, considering the similar sugar contents. Of course, you must always be careful, lest soda make its way back into your home once more.

As with anything in life, moderation is key. We can make healthy choices and still enjoy little treats in life. Soda just needs to be viewed as a treat, not something you turn to every time you are thirsty. You may find once your family kicks the soda habit that they won’t even like the syrupy sweet drink anymore. Once you change your taste to drinking more water and natural teas, you prefer that over soda any day!

To learn more about sugar, how it affects your children and some alternatives to common sugary snacks, read Children & Sugar: The Not So Sweet Side.

Photo Credits: Remus Pereni


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