Avoiding all sugary drinks should be your goal. Not there yet? Here are some other steps you can take.
Sugary drinks are a major source of excess, empty calories — calories that lead to weight gain and increased risk of chronic disease. What do we mean by sugary drinks? Check the Nutrition Facts Label on a beverage. If you see anything other than “0g” under “Sugar,” it’s a sugary drink.
The healthiest approach to sugary drinks is to swap them for things like water, unsweetened tea, and coffee (not diet drinks, which can fuel sweet cravings). That works well for many Omada participants, but going cold turkey isn’t for everyone. If the idea of giving up your morning mocha or afternoon Fanta fills you with dread, you’re in the right place.
We’re firm believers in starting where you are and doing what you can. So while the following methods take a bit of planning and commitment, they don’t involve drastic change. Give them a glance and see if you’re open to trying one or two.
Order Two Drinks Instead of One
The strategy: Downsize your usual drink by half, and pair it with a second, sugar-free option.
Why it’s satisfying: Nothing gets watered down, and the quantity of liquid stays the same, so you feel just as full.
Try it with: Your coffee order
Let’s say you start most mornings with a 16 oz. flavored coffee drink that’s packed with sugar. Your new plan would be to order up an 8 oz. version of that, plus an 8 oz. coffee with skim milk only. You’re likely to save yourself at least 100 calories without having to give up your favorite beverage or cut your sipping ritual short. Same goes for soda, juice, beer, or energy drinks — serve yourself half of what you’d usually drink, then cue up an equal amount of water or seltzer.
Make It an Every-Other-Day Thing
The Strategy: Pick a sweet beverage that you currently drink daily, and limit it to every other day.
Why it’s satisfying: Skipping a treat today is easier when you know you’ll have it again within 24 hours.
Try it with: Your afternoon soda or evening beer/wine
If you drink the same thing at about the same time every day, this method is a simple way to cut back without going cold turkey. Stick with the same drink that you love, but switch to having it every other day. On off days, swap it with any calorie-free, unsweetened option. Make a note on your calendar so you’ll remember which day you’re on.
Pick One Day a Week to Indulge
The strategy: Designate one day a week to savor a favorite sugary beverage.
Why it’s satisfying: Like #2, a planned, once a week treat makes it easier to give up on other days.
Try it with: A sugary drink you currently have more than twice a week
If you’re willing and ready to cut back more, consider designating one day of the week to indulge in your favorite sugary beverage. Maybe it’s Monday, when you know you’ll be extra busy, Saturday when you have time to savor it, or Friday evening to kick of the weekend. Having a regular, weekly date with a delicious drink gives you an experience to look forward to, while also getting used to not having it on most days.
Create a Monthly Punch Card
The strategy: Write down the number of sweet drinks you’ll have each month and check them off as you drink them.
Why it’s satisfying: You can decide when a sugary beverage is worth having, while still confidently cutting back.
Try it with: All your caloric/sugary drinks
Review your food tracker or wrack your memory to estimate how many sweet and/or caloric drinks (soda, energy drinks, smoothies, sweet tea, juice, wine, beer etc.) you typically have each week, then cut that number by 1/3rd. So if you usually have about 12 sweet/caloric drinks per week, that would be 8. Now create a weekly “punch” card (write “Sugary Drinks” on a small piece of paper, followed by 8 little boxes). Check off a box every time you have one.
Make a Low-Sugar Favorite Your Go-To
The strategy: Compare the sugar content of the sweet beverages you like best, and drink only the one lowest in sugar.
Why it’s satisfying: You still drink something you love, it just happens to have less sugar.
Try it with: Cold beverages like soda, sweet tea, and energy drinks
Jot down a list of your top sweet drinks, then do some research. Check the Nutrition Facts Label on the side of the can/label or look it up online to find out which has the least amount of sugar per serving. (Be sure to note the serving size of each to make sure you’re comparing equal amounts.) Circle the one with the least sugar. Whenever you decide to have a sweet beverages, make it that one.