By All You
August 16, 2015

This article originally appeared on allyou.com.

If you’ve always wanted to quit soda for good, there’s now a pretty persuasive reason to do so: (practically) everyone else is doing it.

The New York Times this week reported that the number of full-calorie soda drinks consumed has dropped by a whopping 25 percent since the late 1990s.

Also worth noting: The amount of calories in total that Americans consume is in a downward shift—and researchers suggest that public health campaigns (perhaps even ones showing how liquid calories can result in weight gain) may have contributed to this positive trend.

Soda has been linked to everything from an increased risk of type 2 diabetes to heart disease and weight gain—all reasons why quitting is probably a wise idea. Even diet sodas have been tied to weight gain.

Still, the craving for soda is real—especially on these hot summer days. Rebecca Scritchfield, RDN, a registered dietitian in Washington D.C., shares how you can quit your soda habit once and for all.

1. Question yourselfFirst ask, why are you drinking soda in the first place? Some people are genuinely sipping it for the flavor, though others can’t remember why. For example, it could just be a habit, or something you turn to in order to cope with stress, anxiety, or days you feel down. Asking yourself whether you actually like soda can be a game-changing first step in the decision to quit.

2. Jot down your goalsNext, come up with at least three reasons how quitting will benefit you—perhaps those benefits are to lose weight or get more energy (all that sugar can really mess with your energy levels). Keep these reasons handy, like on a note card in your wallet, when you’re “on the fence” about quitting.

3. Take it one step at a timeSet a realistic goal for cutting back until you find yourself without a single drink in your day. For example, cutting down your typical amount per day by one serving at a time may help you believe that you can accomplish it.

4. Make soda less convenientDon’t buy soda in bulk, and if you do end up picking it up from the store, keep it in your garage where it’s warm—the process of having to put it in the fridge to cool it down for a few hours will make you reconsider the drink. (And rule of thumb, never store it in the fridge).

5. Find an enjoyable replacementWhat other drink could you reasonably enjoy instead of soda? When I was cutting back on diet drinks, I went for sparkling water with fruit. For something tropical, try chopped kiwifruit in sparkling water. For something refreshing, go for mint and cucumber.

6. Just breatheTake five calming deep breaths before you reach for any drink. This will give you a moment to think about what you’re sipping, so if you do reach for a soda, you’ll be in the habit of mindfully drinking.

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