Why You Need to Swap Soda for Water

Grab an ice-cold, refreshing glass of water to save cash and boost health

About to crack open a can of fizzy sweetened soda? You might want to wait before you pop the top. The number of Americans who drink sugary beverages has climbed over the past 30 years, with at least half of the population filling up on their fair share. And according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), sugary drinks are thought to be strongly associated with the nation’s obesity and type 2 diabetes epidemic.

Swapping the Soda Out

Soda is filled with sugar—more than 9 teaspoons in a 12-ounce can, and about 16 teaspoons in a 20-ounce bottle. It also provides a hefty amount of empty calories—calories without any nutrition return whatsoever.

If that isn’t reason enough to go cold turkey, check this out: A study published in the journal Nutrients set out to investigate the effects of swapping a single 8-ounce serving of soda with water. Researchers reviewed data from the 2007-2012 National Health and Nutrition Surveys (NHANES), which included more than 19,000 Americans over the age of 18. The team looked at the specific impact of replacing one sugary drink—including soda, juice drinks, and sugar-sweetened coffee—with water on Healthy Beverage Impact (HBI) scores and obesity.

What they found was that those who replaced at least one sweet drink with water every day showed improvements in healthy beverage scores, a reduction in daily calories, and less weight gain leading to obesity. These findings show that cutting back by even half of what you’re currently guzzling could provide significant benefits.

The 2015-2020 Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommends we get only 10 percent of our calories from added sugar—easily reached with just one 20-ounce bottle of pop. I suggest nixing sugary drinks and instead saving your daily quota for other more delicious and memorable items, like some ice cream or cookies (just my personal opinion!). Also, it’s important to know that drinking your calories won’t fill you up like real food will.

One last benefit: Now that cities across the country are imposing a sugary drink tax, you’ll be saving hard cash if you forgo the purchase.

How to Quit Soda for Good

A few ways to quit soda:

  1. Baby steps. Going cold turkey may be your style, but for others, it’s not realistic. If you fall into this camp, try weaning yourself off liquid calories slowly. If you currently drink three sodas per day, try cutting back to two. Do this for two weeks, and then cut back again—this time to one per week. Giving yourself time to make a gradual change will help you sustain the change for the long haul.
  2. Switch to seltzer. You’ll still get the same bubbles you love in soda, but without the sugar and calories. And if you’re craving more flavor, try adding a splash of fruit juice to the seltzer, or fresh-squeezed citrus.
  3. Jazz up your H2O. Water can sometimes be boring—I admit it. You’d be surprised how plain water can go from lame to exciting simply by adding fresh fruit or natural flavors. Think sliced lemon, orange, cucumber, floating berries, or even crushed mint.
  4. Keep a log. Tracking how much sugary drinks you’re consuming each day can be a shock, and super-motivating when it comes to minimizing your amount. On the flip side, a water log can be just as useful. Challenge yourself to 8 daily glasses of water for 30 straight days and make it happen. There are apps available on your smartphone developed for this purpose. And keeping a water bottle around to sip from and refill gives you an alternative for when soda cravings creep in.

    Soda-Free Drink Recipes

    Check out a few of my favorite slimming sips:

    By Joy Bauer, MS, RDN, CDN, Health and Nutrition Expert for NBC’s Today Show and founder of Nourish Snacks.

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