(NaturalNews) Millions of Americans are hopelessly addicted to soda pop beverages, whether they be the sugary varieties loaded with high-fructose corn syrup (HFCS), or the chemical varieties loaded with aspartame and sucralose. Both are harmful, of course, and can lead to a future filled with chronic pain and disease. But if you are one of the many who feels unable to make it through the day without at least one can of your favorite soda, there is hope for kicking the habit completely. Here are some helpful ways to wean yourself off soda for good:
1) Squeeze citrus fruit into fizzy water. One of the most obvious, but often not considered, ways to end the soda habit is to gradually start substituting healthy carbonated beverages in its place. An excellent soda alternative is carbonated water mixed with freshly-squeezed lime, lemon, or orange, for example. Not only will the fresh citrus help stimulate your salivary glands and digestive system in preparation for food, but it will also add an extra kick of health-promoting vitamin C into your diet -- and it also tastes great!
If your taste buds have become so accustomed to the intense sweetness of soda that this type of citrus-infused concoction tastes bland, try adding some liquid stevia extract to help sweeten things up a bit. Over time, you can gradually decrease the amount of added stevia until you no longer have to add any at all, if you so choose. Or if you prefer, you can safely continue to add as much stevia as you would like, as the natural extract contains no sugar and will not negatively affect your blood sugar levels.
2) Make homemade lemonade, iced tea sweetened with stevia or agave. If carbonation is not a requirement for your beverage cravings, you can also try making pitchers of homemade lemonade or iced tea, and carrying it around in a glass or stainless steel bottle with you throughout the day. Many people who try to kick the soda habit cold turkey have trouble switching immediately to water, so iced tea and lemonade can work well as transition beverages. Just be sure to sweeten your tea or lemonade with stevia extract, agave nectar, honey, or evaporated cane juice rather than refined sugar.
3) Blend green tea, yerba mate with fruit juice. Since caffeine is a major factor in soda addiction, it is important to find an effective caffeine replacement, as cutting out caffeine completely and abruptly may cause withdrawal symptoms. Try mixing two parts club soda with one part green tea or yerba mate, and add a splash of fresh fruit juice for flavor. The caffeine content in both green tea and yerba mate is far more balanced than it is in soda, and is accompanied by nutrient cofactors that help modulate its effects on the body, so mixing it with other blended soda alternatives can help quell the craving.
4) Start making fresh juice in the morning. If you want a real energy kick without the jitters, you can eventually phase out the caffeine altogether and stick primarily with fresh juice out of the juicer. The fresh, enzyme-rich juice of beets, apples, and celery, for instance, delivers an instant infusion of nutrients directly into your system, which will help supercharge your day and make soda seem like "chopped liver," so to speak.
5) Stick with 'natural' sodas made from wholesome ingredients. If you find yourself still craving soda from time to time even after experimenting with these recommended options, you can make the conscious decision to buy only natural sodas made with healthier ingredients such as natural fruit extracts and evaporated cane juice, a healthier and more complete form of cane sugar. The Austin, Texas-based Maine Root soda brand, for instance, is certified fair trade, and is made with organic evaporated cane juice and contains no caramel color or other toxic additives. And every flavor the company offers is made with real ingredients and spices rather than artificial flavor chemicals (http://maineroot.com/).