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As soda is made from potentially habit-forming ingredients, like caffeine and sugar, it can become addictive and cause a number of physical and mental health problems.
Are you or a loved one drinking too much soda? In this article we look at the signs and health impacts of soda addiction, as well as how to prevent or stop it.
Gaming out of control? Get immediate help for you or your loved one’s gaming problem. Book a free Gameplan call now to learn if our program is the right fit for you.
What is a soda addiction?
Is soda the first thing you think about in the morning? Do you constantly crave soda throughout the day? Do you drink soda at every mealtime and often in between? If so, you may have a soda addiction.
Soda addiction (also known as soda dependency) involves consuming excessive amounts of soda without being able to moderate your intake, despite negative health consequences.
Although soda addiction is not officially recognized as a disorder, it is a type of food addiction that releases the same feel-good hormone in the brain that can cause drug and alcohol addiction.
Signs of soda addiction
Soda addiction has many symptoms in common with alcohol or drug addiction such as cravings, lack of control, tolerance and withdrawal. Here are some common signs that you or a loved one may be addicted to soda:
- Constantly preoccupied with thoughts of drinking soda.
- Experiencing strong cravings for soda that are difficult to resist.
- Needing to consume larger quantities of soda to feel the same level of pleasure.
- Often drinking more than intended.
- Having a thirst that can only be quenched by soda.
- Repeatedly trying to control, cut down or stop drinking soda without success.
- Hiding soda consumption from others.
- Feeling guilty after drinking soda.
- Having withdrawal symptoms such as a headache, irritability or difficulty concentrating when unable to have soda.
- Suffering from physical health problems like tooth decay and unwanted weight gain.
- Experiencing mental health issues including depression and anxiety.
If these signs of soda addiction resonate with you, see the ‘How to stop soda addiction’ section below.
What makes soda so addictive?
There are three main reasons why soda can be addictive.
Potentially addictive ingredients
Soda has just the right amount of sugar, caffeine and carbonation to make the body crave more.
One 12 oz can of Coca-Cola contains 39 grams of sugar – that’s the equivalent of about 10 teaspoons. It produces a rush of sweetness that triggers a release of dopamine, the brain’s reward system. In fact, research has found that sugar can be more rewarding than cocaine.
Caffeine is another soda ingredient that can be addictive. It is a stimulant that speeds up messages between the brain and the body which can lead to increased energy and alertness. High consumption can cause irritability, restlessness and insomnia whereas withdrawal symptoms include headaches and poor concentration.
The fizziness of soda can also be addictive. The carbonation adds a small amount of acidity and when combined with sugar, it intensifies the ‘high’.
Drinking soda can become associated with everyday activities such as eating meals, watching a movie, scrolling through social media or playing video games. These occasions can feel incomplete without drinking soda.
Many people prefer the sweet, fizzy taste of soda to water and other beverages. So even when different, healthier options are available, they will always choose soda.
How soda effects your health
Drinking soda as an occasional treat is unlikely to be harmful, whereas excessive consumption can have adverse side effects. How soda addiction impacts your health varies from person to person but here are some of the common physical and mental health risks:
- Tooth decay
- Unwanted weight gain
- Increased heart rate
- Heart disease
- High blood pressure
- Kidney stones
How to stop soda addiction
If you are concerned about your drinking habits and want to know how to consume less soda, here are helpful tips to help prevent or stop soda addiction:
Reduce your soda consumption
It can be difficult to stop drinking soda all at once. If you experience withdrawal symptoms, gradually cut down the amount of soda you are consuming. Start by drinking one then two less cans a day to wean yourself off it, building up to going for a whole day without soda. Eventually, you may choose to only drink soda when socializing with friends or at weekends.
Drink plenty of water
The best soda alternatives are still or sparkling water. Try to drink as much water as you do soda. Add mint, cucumber or fresh fruit to make it more flavorsome. Keeping hydrated with water – which has no calories, caffeine, sugar or additives – will quench your thirst, fill you up and stop you consuming so much soda.
Stop using soda as a reward
Often people use soda as a reward which can trigger dependence by promoting a high dopamine response to the drink. There is nothing wrong with rewarding yourself – just replace drinking soda with a healthier behavior that addresses the same need.
Choose a substitute for soda
Plan ahead for how you will respond when you get the urge to drink soda. Perhaps you could try breathing exercises, go for a walk or find a replacement activity.
Cut out triggers
If you drink soda when watching movies, don’t do the cinema for a while. If you always order a soda when you get a takeout, prepare food at home. Make it easier on yourself by avoiding the things that trigger your soda cravings.
Visualize yourself succeeding
Imagine yourself not needing soda to feel happy, regaining control of your life and enjoying your success.
Although these tips are not guaranteed to stop soda addiction, they may reduce your risk of developing it.
Need help to build better habits?
If you or a loved one are addicted to soda and the above advice has not helped, consider talking to a health professional or therapist. We have a database of therapists worldwide so you can contact one close to where you live.
As soda addiction is not a recognized disorder, there is no formal treatment. However, cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) can be effective at targeting problematic thought patterns that can cause unhealthy behaviors such as drinking excessive amounts of soda.
Sometimes, people with soda dependency also struggle with gaming or digital addiction. They spend hours playing video games or scrolling through social media, despite negative consequences. If you or someone you care about is addicted to gaming or tech, get in touch to book a free 30-minute Gameplan strategy call.