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What Happened When I Gave Up Soda

Photograph by Twenty20

Since high school, I have had a love affair with soda—mainly, Dr. Pepper and Diet Coke. For many years, I couldn't go one day without it. As a busy mom, I came to rely on the constant stream of caffeine and it wasn't unusual for me to drink two (or more) 32-ounce bottles of Diet Coke in one day.

A few weeks ago, after reading about the very real health risks of regularly drinking soda, I got a little freaked out. According to Harvard, “sugary drinks increase the risk of type 2 diabetes, heart disease and other chronic conditions.” Diet soda doesn’t appear to be any better—one study showed that diet soda drinkers nearly tripled their odds of stroke and dementia.

So, I decided to make a change in my life and give up soda. I'd like to say that I gave it up entirely for health reasons. But the truth is, I also had fantasies of dropping a few pounds as well. For me, the key to giving up soda was finding something healthier to replace it with. I chose kombucha, because I like the fizziness, taste and the fact that it contains probiotics.

The key to giving up soda was finding something healthier to replace it with.

The combination of giving up soda, and replacing it with a healthier alternative, caused me to not only lose a little weight, but it also helped me in a way that was unexpected.

I was diagnosed with irritable bowel syndrome when I was 18 years old. IBS affects between 25 to 45 million people in the U.S., and two out of three sufferers are female. One of the most common symptoms of IBS is chronic bloating—which I have dealt with on nearly a daily basis. I'm talking about the kind of bloating that makes me look six months pregnant and can be very painful.

Some days, my bloating was so severe that I would get physically ill, and experience vomiting and nausea.

Since giving up soda, my bloating has all but disappeared. It hasn't been easy and I still get cravings, but what I have found the couple of times I gave into my cravings, however, is that I no longer enjoy soda the same way I used to. What I have gotten in return has had a dramatic impact on my daily quality of life and will hopefully benefit my health in the future.

For me, soda is not worth the pain and embarrassment of frequent bloating—or the risks to my health. I am feeling and looking better, and that is all the encouragement I need to stay away from it.

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