Sodas may be delicious but they can come with consequences for your health.
According to the Harvard T. H. Chan School of Public Health, regularly drinking soda can lead to obesity, diabetes and a greater risk for heart attack and heart disease, all of which are near the top of the list of truck driver wellness concerns.
In an interview with Health magazine Lona Sandon, assistant professor of clinical nutrition at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center, said the biggest risk for soda drinkers is the excess calories.
“The calories in regular soda are coming entirely from added sugar, and you’re not getting any value in terms of vitamins or minerals, or even good quality carbohydrates,” Sandon said.
1. Start Slowly
Cutting sodas off completely and immediately isn’t a realistic solution. Avoid setting yourself up for failure and instead begin cutting back on your soda intake slowly. If you average several servings of soda each day, cut back to one a day. Then gradually take it down to fewer days each week, such as three sodas a week the second week. Cutting back slowly gives you time to adjust.
2. Track Your Calories
There are several apps available to help you track your calories. Apps like MyFitnessPal allow you to scan the barcode on the drink or food and it automatically uploads the nutritional information, or you can search and input the information yourself. Use the calorie counter of your choice and then look at the number of calories you intake from soda alone, then look at how much exercise you would have to do to accommodate those calories. Looking at the numbers can help you see just how much soda impacts your diet and fitness level.
3. Find Substitutes
The carbonation in soda is a large part of its appeal for some. You can try using flavored seltzer water as a way to satisfy your carbonation cravings. If you don’t have a substitute on hand and you need to satisfy your urge for a soda, drink a glass of water first. This will help satisfy your thirst and will fill you up so that you aren’t as interested in the soda. Add fruit to your water to give it a taste if you aren’t a fan of the way water tastes. For truckers who thrive on caffeine, switch to an unsweetened tea to still get that energy boost you need.
4. Avoid Triggers
Out of sight, out of mind. Identify your triggers and the times and places that you consume the most soda. If you’re tempted by the vending machine in your company breakroom, don’t venture in there. If you’re tempted by the 12-pack of soda in your fridge, buy a pack of bottled water next time instead. If restaurants and truck stops are a trigger for you, make it a habit to order water instead.
5. Stay Motivated
Remember why you decided to stop drinking sodas in the first place: to improve your health and live a healthier lifestyle. Create a calendar and mark off each day that you’re able to go without a soda so that you can visualize your progress. If you do struggle with eliminating sodas from your diet, think of it as a temporary change instead of a permanent one. Giving up soda for a temporary time period may seem more manageable than giving it up entirely, and you can build on your progress when the time period is up.