How to Wean Yourself Off Sugary Drinks

Infused Water

photo: MyHealthysteps.com

This is a guest blog post by Heather K. Jones, RD

Whether you’re trying to clean up your diet, eat healthy, or lose weight, one thing is for sure: drinking sugary calories is a healthy diet DON’T. Downing sugary drinks increases the risks of overweight and obesity, which, in turn, increases the likelihood of developing diabetes, heart disease, stroke, and many other health problems.

And soda consumption can have effects other than weight gain. Higher consumption of sugar-sweetened beverages is associated with the development of type-2 diabetes and metabolic syndrome (a group of risk factors, including excess weight in the torso and insulin resistance, that together lead to increased risk for coronary artery disease, stroke, and diabetes).

Think diet soda is the answer? Nope, the no-calorie sweeteners like those found in diet soda may actually make you hungrier and cause you to overeat, as the body can get confused by artificial sweeteners. And a study published last month showed that daily diet soda drinkers had a 44% greater chance of heart attack or stroke than those who don’t drink diet soda. This increased risk was not seen in those subjects who drank regular soda.

More bad soda news: Recent chemical analyses by the Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI), a nonprofit nutrition watchdog group, showed that Coca-Cola, Pepsi-Cola, Diet Coke, and Diet Pepsi contain high levels of 4-methylimidazole (4-MI), a known animal carcinogen. Based on a risk model used by the state of California, CSPI estimates that that the 4-MI in Coke and Pepsi causes about 15,000 cases of cancer in the US.

Soda has also been linked to osteoporosis, although scientists aren’t sure of the mechanism – it may relate to the phosphoric acid or caffeine content of soda.

Juice isn’t much better – juice actually has more calories per ounce than soda and elevates blood sugar more quickly than whole fruit. Even more disturbing is a recent study by Consumer Reports showing that 10% of the apple juices they sampled had total arsenic levels that exceeded federal standards for drinking water.

While the American Heart Association recommends that we limit our intake of sugary drinks to about 450 calories per week (about three 12-ounce cans of soda), on average we’re consuming more than twice that. One 20-ounce soda a day (keep in mind that many restaurants serve drinks in much larger containers) adds an extra 93,440 calories per year – about 25 pounds of extra weight!

Your best bet is to stick with water. If you find it hard drink unflavored water, mix-up your hydration choices by add citrus, cucumber, or other fruits to water.

If you don’t have time or patience to create your own flavored water, you can buy infused water such as HINT Water and HINT Fizz (disclosure: I am working with the company). These zero calorie, unsweetened essence waters are a great way to ease you into a water drinking regimen.

For a bit of extra motivation I created a healthy hydration challenge on HINT’s Facebook page. Check it out and sign up, for a chance to win 10 cases of HINT Water, 10 cases of HINT Fizz, a $250 gift card to Athleta and much more!

Heather K Jones headshotHeather K. Jones (a.k.a. The Diet P.I.) is a registered dietitian, a health journalist, and the author of several nutrition books. Her work has been published in national magazines including SELF, Fitness, and Prevention, and she also spent seven years working for the Center for Science in the Public Interest and its award-winning newsletter, Nutrition Action Healthletter.

 

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  • Guest

    To be fair, you should probably put that disclaimer at the top of the article rather than near the end. I know that the relevant product isn’t mentioned till that point, but it still comes across as something that is relevant to the tone of the entire article. 

  • guest

    Great article.. mentioning all the ‘evil’s’ of drinking regular and sugar-free pop.. however it is misleading in the title.. ’How to Wean Yourself off Sugary Drinks’ makes one believe that there may be a how-to guide posted.  This article just mentions the downside to drinking pop, then suggests water… not so easy for those with caffene addictions

    • Heather K. Jones, RD

       Hi, Hi! I created the 21-day HINT Healthy Hydration Challenge to help people clean up their drinking diets. It’s fun and it’s free…and it will help with the caffeine! You can sign up here… 

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      {page:Section1;}http://www.facebook.com/drinkhint

      • Heather K. Jones, RD

         http://www.facebook.com/drinkhint

  • Easyasthebreeze

    So…where is the “how-to” part?

    • Heather K. Jones, RD

       Hi! I created the 21-day Healthy Hydration Challenge on HINT’s Facebook page to motivate and encourage people to drink smarter and avoid sugary beverages.
      Heather K. Jones

      • Heather K. Jones, RD

         http://www.facebook.com/drinkhint  The Challenge is free… : )

  • Guest

    So where are the tips on how to wean yourself?

    • Heather K. Jones, RD

       

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      The tips are in the above link in the Challenge…
      HINT Water’s 21-day Healthy Hydration Challenge—a kick-it-for-good sayonara to
      sugar-sweetened beverages that promises to show you how to retrain your brain
      to love drinking water, not sugar.  It's free and fun! 

    • Heather K. Jones, RD

       http://www.facebook.com/drinkhint

      • Heather K. Jones, RD

        You’ll find the tips in the above the link… The 21-day Healthy Hydration Challenge will show you how to retrain your brain to love drinking water, not sugar (or chemicals).

  • http://www.scribblesandsonnets.blogspot.com/ Jessica Isabel

    Where exactly is the “How” part? This seems like a thinly veiled product placement.

    • Heather K. Jones, RD

       http://www.facebook.com/drinkhint

      • Heather K. Jones, RD

         Hi Jessica – You’ll find the “HOW” in the link above.  I designed the 21-day Healthy Hydration Challenge on HINT’s Facebook page
        to motivate and encourage people to drink smarter and avoid sugary
        beverages.

  • http://profiles.google.com/alina.nancy18 Alina nancy

    Good  article,
    actually informational as well as well reviewed. Appreciate your entire effort.

     diet doctor 

  • Dfrk28

    it’s basically an ad for Hint Water

    • Heather K. Jones, RD

      For healthy hydration! : )  The Healthy Hydration Challenge sweeps you into 21 fun, motivating, and pain free days of healthy change. HINT, water infused with real fruit, is just one tool to help people hydrate.  You can also drink plain ol’ water, or infuse your own water with fruits and veggies – I give lots of tips on how to do so in the Challenge and on my blog. 

  • Questions

    Regarding the singular study referenced above about drinking diet soda, this is what is quoted within the study’s own conclusions:  ”Further research is needed before any conclusions can be made regarding the potential health consequences of diet soft drink consumption.”
    Nutritionists and the media have been quick to jump on the bandwagon with their own conclusions that diet soda is bad.  There are so many variables within the controls of these studies, no matter how meticulously done, and variables regarding the makeup of the sample size of people, that to narrow the cause down to a single substance and conclude as such is irresponsible.  There have been other products or additives once considered bad that have later proven to be harmless.    

    • Heather K. Jones, RD

      But why risk it? For all
      natural, calorie-free water, there is simply no substitute.

      • Norma

        OH! But if natural, calorie-free water is “too boring” for you, you can pay a couple of dollars a bottle for my “naturally” fruit flavored bubbly water! It comes from a spring in a glen under a rainbow with tropical birds flying around!

        • Heather K. Jones, RD

          Only HINT Fizz is bubbly. HINT Water is flat. Both are natural, calorie-free water infused with fruits and/or veggies. HINT Water was created to help people stay hydrated – it is just one tool.  You can infuse you own water or just drink plain water – the choice is yours. Sorry this post offended you, Norma.   

          • Gerome

            The problem, Heather, is this isn’t a “post”, it is advertising. I’m with Norma one this. You are vigorously supporting a worthless product (I can’t wait for your defense of the worth of HINT). You wrote for Nutrition Action. Please explain why they do not accept advertising, okay?

            Back to the product: you are aware that most of the responsible world is moving away from trash-producing plastic bottles, right? This is an environmentally unfriendly product. And what’s with “weaning” yourself off sugary drinks? Is there any evidence that sugary drinks are addicting, and that your beverage address that addiction?  

          • Norma

            Had to come back just one more time; thanx for the additional input…I am also annoyed with her promoting yet another environmentally damaging bottled UNNECESSARY beverage when plain water is free and responsible. K…signing off…Fooducate has lost my respect and this chick gives RDs a bad name.

          • Heather K. Jones, RD

            Hi Gerome,

            I’ve teamed up with HINT because I believe this product is a healthy and
            helpful tool to help people stay hydrated. And it an excellent
            alternative to soda and other sugary drinks.   My relationship with HINT is transparent.
            Sorry if this post offended you.

          • Gerome

            I would have preferred an answer to my questions instead of an apology. It’s not that the post offends (well, it does… but) it’s that you do not answer my questions. So, I will assume that you have no satisfactory response to the notion that one must be “weaned” off sugar, or that we actually do not need more plastic bottles in the waste stream when there is a superior alternative in the kitchen sink.

          • Antonkiz

            Sugar raises your energy level quickly and lets it down just the same. It gives temporary energy, converts to fat in your body and rots your natural teeth in time. NOTICE THE COLOR AND CONDITION OF SOME PEOPLE’S WEIGHT AND TEETH??? SUGAR, SUGAR IS IN JUST ABOUT EVERYTHING YOU EAT & DRINK.
            AND THIS IS THE TRUTH.
            If you had health & Hygiene in high school back in the  1940′s, you’d know what is good nutrition. CORN, PEAS AND CARROTS HAVE VALUE BUT CONVERT TO SUGAR, SO EAT IN MODERATION.  DON’T ASK A DIETIAN, SHE RECOMMENDED PLENTY OF PEAS, CARROTS AND CORN FOR DIABETICS, NO WAY MY FRIEND. DIETICIANS ARE NOT ALL THAT LEARNED. TAKE THIS INFO AS MY HUSBAND WAS DIEBETIC AND GAINED TOO MUCH FAT IN THE STOMACH. IT WAS VERY UNCOMFORTABLE FOR HIM, COULDN’T WEAR HIS SLACKS BELTED ANYYMORE, STOMACH OVERHUNG IS WAIST & AWFUL AS A WOMANS’S STOMACH WITH EXCESS FLAB HANGING IN THE BREEZE.

  • Norma

    Fooducate, you of all people know that “natural flavors” is MEANINGLESS and unregulated when used on food labels; the word “natural” is unregulated and very vague in a list of ingredients.  I would think you and a REGISTERED DIETITIAN would be more ethical than to shill for a trendy “healthified” product. A long winded post about the evils of sugary and diet drinks (and I agree they are absolutely evil) and “advice” about how to stop drinking them that states plain FREE water is best…is just foreplay for the actual point of the post: THE SALES PITCH!  ”BUT, if you don’t like water, drink our carbonated (carbonation is no friend to your body and I think you and the RD know this) pricey beverage!”  Kinda disappointed in you, Fooducate.  I don’t come here for commercials.

    • Heather K. Jones, RD

       Hi Norma – HINT Water is purified water infused with real fruits and vegetables—no extra calories, no added sugars, and no chemicals. Water is the absolute best choice for healthy hydration. But drinking plain water can be a bit boring – HINT was born out CEO Kara Goldin’s desire for something flavorful to help meet hydration goals without adding sugar, calories or anything artificial. 

      All of the HINT flavors come from plant-sources and are obtained using
      techniques chefs have known for hundreds of years.  ”Other natural
      flavors” means any natural flavors that are not part of the named
      flavor. For example, if HINT used orange essence in a tangerine flavor
      product, then that would be considered an “other natural flavor” since
      it does not come from tangerines.

      You can also easily infuse your own water – just thinly slice  fruits, vegetables, and/or herbs, add them to a pitcher of filtered water, and refrigerate (anywhere from 2 hours to overnight—the longer it sits, the more intense the flavor will be). I created the 21-day Healthy Hydration Challenge on HINT’s Facebook
      page to motivate and encourage people to drink smarter and avoid sugary
      beverages – HINT is just one tool to help people do so.

      I’ve included some links below on carbonation…

  • kira

    What a crock of shit.  I read this site for reliable information, not thinly veiled advertising. Very disappointed.

    • Heather K. Jones, RD

       Hi – HINT is just one tool to help people hydrate.  You can also drink plain ol’
      water, or infuse your own water with fruits and veggies – I give lots of
      tips on how to do so in the HINT Challenge and on my blog. 

      • Norma

        Okay Spamela.  Congratulations, you just made me quit reading Fooducate.

  • Anonymous

    This is just an ad!  Terrible article. Why not flavor your water with real fruit?  This product is fake – it has “natural flavors.”  You just got sucked into their ad campaign. Congratulations.

    • Heather K. Jones, RD

       HINT is just one tool to help people hydrate.  Yes, you can absolutely infuse your own water with fruits and veggies, or just drink plain water. 

      All of the HINT flavors come from plant-sources and are obtained using
      techniques chefs have known for hundreds of years.  ”Other natural
      flavors” means any natural flavors that are not part of the named
      flavor. For example, if HINT used orange essence in a tangerine flavor
      product, then that would be considered an “other natural flavor” since
      it does not come from tangerines.

  • Shawna

    I love Hint!  Thank you for making something I can actually drink!

    • Heather K. Jones, RD

       Thanks, Shawna! 

  • lateleaves

    I do expect better from Fooducate. This is silly; “infused” with “essences”? I mean, whatever, I drink filtered tap water, and I’m insulted by the idea of water attached to a brand name (I’m saying, you can’t sell this stuff to me in any case)–but seriously, what does that even mean?

    • Heather K. Jones, RD

      Hi – the HINT flavors come from plant-sources and are obtained using
      techniques chefs have known for hundreds of years. HINT Water is purified water infused with fruits and vegetables—no extra
      calories, no added sugars, and no chemicals. Drinking filtered tap water is a great choice for hydration – you can also infuse your own water. It’s easy and delish. Thinly slice
      fruits, vegetables, and/or herbs, add them to a pitcher of filtered
      water, and refrigerate (anywhere from 2 hours to overnight—the longer it
      sits, the more intense the flavor will be).

      • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100003239260702 Ruth Stone

        And what are flavours, except chemicals? Everything is chemical. Stupid marketing gimmick.

      • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100003239260702 Ruth Stone

        And what are flavours, except chemicals? Everything is chemical. Stupid marketing gimmick.

  • Norma

    I’ve been reading Fooducate first thing in the morning every morning for at least two years and have used the search feature many times to look back at prior posts I’d missed on topics I’m interested in.  And I’ve always been impressed by your site’s integrity and investigation and presentation of facts. However, you fell from the sky HARD with this RIDICULOUS “HINT” water post.  What a sell-out.  I have lost all respect for this site and won’t be reading, recommending or linking to it on my blog any more.  I really thought you were above that kind of thing.  And, for the record, if the post had been a thinly-veiled plug for an actual FOOD, like one written by someone on the payroll of “The Carrot Farmers’ Association” or something, I would STILL be offended. I was under the impression this is an independent forum, not a platform for particular brands, foods or interests.  Bye!

  • Jessburrowsbewell

    I think this is a great article and thank you for providing the research. I am a Holistic Health Coach and I find that my clients become threatened and defensive when I suggest the negative impacts of soda’s and juice. Once they rid themselves of this habit, however, they can understand better the cleansing and refreshing aspects of just “plain old water”. I’m gonna give HINT a try, thanks for the info!

    • Heather K. Jones, RD

       Thank you!

  • BB

    After reading the article, and the (at this point) 33 comments from readers, I am left wondering… what is Fooducate’s policy on self-promotion and advertising? 

    There is clearly a conflict of interest here with the author of the article promoting a specific product (in the body of the article, as well as in the spam that follows).  

    Has a policy on self-promotion and conflicts of interests been established?  I think those of us who read the blog on a regular basis might appreciate it (as seems clearly suggested from the comments from readers).

    • Heather K. Jones, RD

       Hi – I’ve teamed up with HINT because I believe this product is a healthy and helpful tool to help people stay hydrated. And it an excellent alternative to soda and other sugary drinks.  The HINT Healthy Hydration Challenge was created to help people drink more water (HINT or just plain water) and less sugar. My relationship with HINT is transparent. Sorry if this post offended you.

  • Jim

    While drinking sugar-sweetened beverages is surely unhealthy, your assertions regarding diet drinks do not hold up to scrutiny. Hannah Gardener’s study in your link concludes with ”
    Further research is needed before any conclusions can be made regarding the potential health consequences of diet soft drink consumption.”
    And the infinitesimal amount of 4-methylimidazole in caramel coloring is of no significance. If you read the papers on this, you would discover that you’d need to drink 115,000 cans of soda a day to reach a significant dosage. See my article on Gardener http://exm.nr/fwVrNM and 4-MI http://exm.nr/dMYWnq .
    And even WebMD points out that the association with osteoporosis is probably bogus: people drinking soda may not drink enough milk.

  • No Humility?

    Fooducate always has been a source of biased misinformation. I didn’t think it could get much worse but I was mistaken. At least when I blunder I will admit it. Not like Fooducate. Prideful sold-out shill, Fooducate.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100003239260702 Ruth Stone

    So just an ad. GREAT!! like we dont have enough of those in our lives.

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  • Asianchik435

    Jeez some of you people are nuts. If she didn’t even see her disclosure, you would probably run out and get some hint right now. All she is trying to say is water and water infused with natural flavoring is
    The best beverage to drink. Everyone needs to take a chill pill! Rather you drink water from the tap or bottled water. Drink it. Rather you infused your own water or
    HINT. Just drink it.

    • Asianchik435

      If *you* didn’t even see her disclosure

  • Guest

    This article is BS.  It’s title “How to…” is in no way similar to the contents, which contain “drink water” or “buy my product” as the ‘how.  This is just product placement, which was not disclosed until the end.  I’m not usually a blog commentator, but this pissed me off.

  • Guest

    This article is BS.  It’s title “How to…” is in no way similar to the contents, which contain “drink water” or “buy my product” as the ‘how.  This is just product placement, which was not disclosed until the end.  I’m not usually a blog commentator, but this pissed me off.

  • Guest

    This article is BS.  It’s title “How to…” is in no way similar to the contents, which contain “drink water” or “buy my product” as the ‘how.  This is just product placement, which was not disclosed until the end.  I’m not usually a blog commentator, but this pissed me off.

  • L DS

    Water is water is water. No flavorings, “essences,” “extracts” or other crap.

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  • MJ

    I have never tried Hint, but this is exactly how I weaned myself off of soda and juices when I was in college (around 2003). I began mixing my morning juice with sparkling water and after a few weeks full-strength juice tasted like syrup! Way too strong. I also began drinking Talking Rain and Tahoma (essence-flavored sparkling water brands that were popular in the Pacific Northwest). Before I started doing this, I had almost no desire for water. Once I began hydrating my body I could not go back. I have to have water with me all the time now–flavored or not! I am now a very fit and healthy 31-year-old and I suspect that if I hadn’t changed my drinking habits when I was 21 I would not look and feel the way I do now.

  • Esra Caglayan

    That title is so misleading. I ALREADY know why side is bad for me. I wanted additional info on how to get off the stuff. Instead all I got was a bunch of numbers and an ad. Go back to English 102! You need to learn how to write an essay and how to title it.