replacement to soda
December 14, 2003 10:56 PM   Subscribe

I'm interested in no longer drinking soda, because I've started to get headaches when I drink it. The problem is, not much comes in easy to carry multi-packs like soda does. What are tricks to giving up soda, and what's a good replacement that sidesteps high sugar and caffeine?
posted by drezdn to Food & Drink (38 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
I drink bottle water all the time now.
posted by feelinglistless at 11:15 PM on December 14, 2003

I picked up a habit of drinking something called Cascadia (couldn't find a good link). It's fruit-flavored sparkling water, but it uses Splenda, which is really sweet to the taste, so it drinks like a normal soda, but leaves no jitters/headaches/side effects. Of course, I am still waiting for the other shoe to drop and someone wll announce in 2009 that Splenda causes cancer. If you can't find Cascadia, just try a couple things sweetened with Splenda (list here in pdf).
posted by kokogiak at 11:58 PM on December 14, 2003

Try green tea - it has caffeine, so you won't totally go cold turkey, plus it's high in antioxidants and other super healthy bits (cholesterol fighting, etc.).
posted by theNonsuch at 11:59 PM on December 14, 2003

I second Nonsuch's green tea recommendation, just don't touch that vile sugary abomination labeled "Green Tea" made by the Sobe Beverage Co.
posted by planetkyoto at 12:29 AM on December 15, 2003

I quit soda over a year and a half ago, but a little differently:

I went to college. Suddenly, I realized soda costs money, and I didn't need it. So, I promptly stopped buying it.

I substitute juices, milk, and lots of water. Green tea is also a good treat.
posted by tomorama at 12:37 AM on December 15, 2003

Just drink water. Everything else is just water with stuff in it, some good stuff, some bad stuff.

The only thing I ever drink on a regular basis is water, and I've never had a cavity, never had caffeine withdrawal, never had trouble finding a place to get it, never had to make a special trip to the store for it, never supported a big evil stupid ad-bombarding corporation, and have saved thousands of dollars compared to people who drink even only one can of soda a day.

(pats self on back)

But seriously, if you're going to make the effort, might as well switch to water as anything else.
posted by Hildago at 12:46 AM on December 15, 2003

i've swapped from soda to fruit juice from concentrate. it's not fresh fruit juice, but it tastes pretty good - it comes in metallic envelopes as a concentrate that you add water to (made by watts or andifruit). the big advantage (for me) is that the envelopes are much easier to carry to work than bottles.
posted by andrew cooke at 1:03 AM on December 15, 2003

soda water comes in the same size containers as soda but has no caffeine, sugar, or calories.
posted by dobbs at 1:33 AM on December 15, 2003

Its all a matter of re-training your taste, which you can do in a few weeks with only minor application. I dumped soda 10+ years ago in favour of water or milk or fruit juice (and beer, wind and spirits obviously). I switched over to skimmed milk only too and it only takes a little while to not being bothered by its thinness compared to fatter kinds.
Can't comment on containers as they tend to depend on where you are located.
posted by biffa at 2:47 AM on December 15, 2003

Water is definitely the ultimate goal. A small amount of OJ in soda water is a good halfway house.
posted by fuzz at 3:02 AM on December 15, 2003

Flavored seltzer water is cheap and plentiful. And good.
posted by adampsyche at 3:36 AM on December 15, 2003

A little vodka will do wonders for any juice, just as a little gin will give meaning to Schweppes tonic water. Nothing goes better with food and water than wine. Alcohol is sugar made good. This is true and had to be said, drezdn! :)
posted by MiguelCardoso at 3:52 AM on December 15, 2003

(and beer, wind and spirits obviously)

posted by armoured-ant at 5:00 AM on December 15, 2003

Heh indeed, I looked at that 3 times before spotting the typo, and the sun is barely over the mainbrace.
posted by biffa at 5:24 AM on December 15, 2003

I went to diet/caffeine free soda back in July. And now rarely have a regular soda. One of the things that held me back was the taste of aspartame. I hated it.... it gave me worse headaches than caffeine withdrawl... however once I went for a few weeks, it was no big deal. I still taste the aspartame, but it's just one more thing. During the transition I was drinking close to 2 gallons of water a day. I have a 7-11 Double Gulp cup - 1.9Litres - I'd fill in the morning, and again after lunch. Sometimes I'd steep a decaf teabag and add it to the ice water for variety.
posted by TuxHeDoh at 5:28 AM on December 15, 2003

I only drink water, too. I think a great transitional drink, although a bit on the pricey side, would be Pellegrino sparkling water. Unlike club sodas and seltzers, the bubbles in sparkling mineral water like Perrier or Pellegrino are naturally occurring, it's good for you, it comes in cute little recycable glass bottles (no gross leeching of estrogen-laced plastic into your drink), and it has a nice soda-like mouth feel.
posted by iconomy at 5:32 AM on December 15, 2003 [1 favorite]

Water is a great thing. There's no liquid more perfectly suited to your body's needs.

I used to be a very heavy sugar/caffeine drinker, and I credit my wife (a water fan) with gradually shifting my tastes over time. The only soda I drink now is the occasional Diet Sprite, and even that gives me the hiccups because I'm not used to it.

Avoid "new age drinks" (Sobe, et al.) at all costs. They're nothing but corn syrup in healthy-looking bottles.
posted by oissubke at 5:53 AM on December 15, 2003

Fresca with a splash of OJ (still has caffeine, but minimal calories, and tastes like orangina)

Water is so.... watery.
posted by jalexei at 5:59 AM on December 15, 2003

following oissubke and others, Sobe is gross; and avoid all 'healthy/natural' drinks that have high fructose corn syrup as the principal ingredient.
posted by carter at 7:27 AM on December 15, 2003

Has anyone mentioned water yet? Oh. Well... yeah. Water.

As far as convenient transitional drinks, OJ (even the pulp-free kind, yeah!) is usually available at convenience stores in pint containers. You can often find the kind with Calcium and Vitamin D as well, in case that's what you want in a drink. I can't stress enough to stay away from aspartame - if you have a choice between raw sugar and aspartame, take the sugar every time.

But in the main, eventually anyway, go for the water.
posted by soyjoy at 7:41 AM on December 15, 2003

Perhaps a summary is in order: Try bottled water, fruit-flavored sparkling water with Splenda or aspartame, green tea, fruit juices, milk, soda water, beer, wine, hard liquors, diet or caffeine free soda, and most importantly, water. Water appears to be the front runner. Everything else is basically colored or flavored water anyway. However, Jalexei is right in saying Water is watery. We add stuff to it to break the monotony.

I used to drink two Mountain Dews before entering my first college class in the mornings years ago, and averaged about ten cans of soda a day. Needless to say I was (and still am to a lesser degree) a manic train wreck. I swore off caffeinated soda as a primary source of liquid intake about seven years ago. Went cold turkey for years, and now I generally use caffeine as a pickmeup, drinking it only when I want that boost.

Instead of soda, I drink tap water, fruit juices, milk, and less often tea and coffee. With milk, I went from regular milk to 2%, then skim, and now I drink soy milk. In the past year I've learned to appreciate diet coke with lemon, and vanilla coke has become a guilty pleasure. I drink just straight tap water whenever I can. I can't rationalize buying bottled water, because I honestly don't see much difference between that and tap water. Others do. That's fine for them. To me tap water is sufficient.

Ultimately it comes down to variety and moderation. There's no one surefire drink that you should resort to for the rest of your life. You should drink just plain water as often as you can tolerate it, because it's the best to flush out your pipes. However, pretty much all the other drinks mentioned, from 'healthy/natural' stuff to crud that could pass as battery acid, isn't quite gonna kill you, so long as you don't drink so much of it that you poison yourself.

On a slightly different note, I find that two large glasses of water after a binge of alcohol the night before lessens the hangover - often removes it entirely. But that's just me.
posted by ZachsMind at 7:48 AM on December 15, 2003

Bailey's Irish Cream now comes in a four pack... is that what you're looking for?
posted by o2b at 8:26 AM on December 15, 2003

Fresca with a splash of OJ (still has caffeine, but minimal calories, and tastes like orangina)

There's caffeine in OJ? I never knew that. (There's none in Fresca.)
posted by kindall at 8:35 AM on December 15, 2003

I'm addicted to plain unflavored seltzer. Water's great and all, but I find myself drinking less when there's only water available than when some seltzer's handy. It just seems to provide that satisfying "I'm having a beverage" sensation in a way that water doesn't, but without, well, ingredients. (I trust someone will now post a link to a study on the harmful effects of carbonation.)

In New York, almost every corner store carries cold cans and bottles of seltzer. Most other places I've been, you generally only find it in supermarkets.
posted by staggernation at 8:50 AM on December 15, 2003

I'll add my vote for water regularly and everything (even the occasional soda pop) in moderation. I broke the soda habit by going to flavored seltzers -- and still love those in the summer when the thirst needs quenching and I want to resist having a lager. You'll find yourself migrating to non-flavored seltzers next.

My dad used to always say, if he thought we were drinking too much soda, "if your thirsty, drink some water". Well, dad, fact is sometimes water just does not quench one's thirst like other drinks can.

I've never understood the rise of juice drinking. Juice is little more than a disguise for empty calories. If you want vitamins, take them; the juice-is-good-for-you band wagon is the result of a giant marketing push by citrus concerns.

If you're not drinking a small glass of fresh squeezed or mixing it with alcohol, it simply should not be consumed. Anyway, eating the fruit it came from is generally a greater pleasure (not literally of course as eating a juice orange is not always a pleasure but you get the idea.)
posted by Dick Paris at 8:59 AM on December 15, 2003 [1 favorite]

Oh, one more note on tap water. I'm not hung-up on what's in it necessarily but some people recognize the distinct flavor of chlorine. Filter it out for a better experience.
posted by Dick Paris at 9:01 AM on December 15, 2003

On a slightly different note, I find that two large glasses of water after a binge of alcohol the night before lessens the hangover - often removes it entirely. But that's just me.

Considering that alcohol dehydrates you (including the brain), it's not all that surprising that rehydrating yourself helps out. Plus the added fluid reduces the concentration of alcohol in the system... I had roommates who were convinced cherry slurpees had magic qualities, and other swear by chocolate milk, but really it's just the fact you're adding fluid to your body that's reducing the hangover.
posted by GhostintheMachine at 9:50 AM on December 15, 2003

Whats a seltzer? Fizzy water? As to the original question - get yourself a few small plastic bottles, fill them with tap water, and drink to your hearts content. During summer, I like to freeze bottles of water, and let it melt through the day.
posted by Orange Goblin at 10:08 AM on December 15, 2003

I'm tapering off soda myself--I used to drink two cans a day, so what I did the last time I went to the store was, instead of buying a 12 pack of cans, bought a 6 pack of 1/2 liter bottles--it's about 2/3 the amount of soda I was drinking, and I'm limiting myself to one bottle a day. After about another week, I'm going to try to switch to some variety of carbonated water, supplemented with hot tea if I feel I need the caffeine (the point here is get the caffeine monkey off my back)--and eventually to plain water. With luck, it'll work. Because soda is expensive and water isn't.
posted by eilatan at 10:11 AM on December 15, 2003

I can't remember the last time I had a proper soda, but I like fizziness, so I sometimes have tonic water, seltzer, or orangina (which they do sell in soda-cans). Tonic water is still sugary, but it has a more interesting taste than the pure corn syrup-y-ness of soda. I mean, to me. Probably that's not true for you at this point. Oh, V8 comes in cans, too, if that's a significant issue - totally different from soda, obviously, but you might find it tasty.

Hmm, interesting that pretty much all my suggestions mix nicely with vodka. Who knew I was preparing myself so well for a future hidden alcohol problem...
posted by mdn at 10:42 AM on December 15, 2003

Invest in a few bottles of water, then buy yourself a filtering system (this is what I use) and drink to your hearts content. Water is the best for you.

I quit soda cold turkey when I started university and now only have it very occasionally. I drink 100% juice (apple, grape or orange) when I want a change from the routine or something sweet. Luckily, I'm one of those people who can eat or drink the same thing for weeks on end.
posted by somethingotherthan at 10:58 AM on December 15, 2003

Whats a seltzer? Fizzy water?

As I understand it (corrections welcome):

"Seltzer" is carbonated water. It's also often marketed as "sparkling water." But some "sparkling water" is naturally carbonated, while I've never seen a naturally carbonated "seltzer" on the shelves.

"Soda water" is carbonated water with sodium bicarbonate. Traditional "club soda" is carbonated water with sodium bicarbonate and additional mineral salts. However, "soda water" and "club soda" are often used interchangeably.

"Soda water" and "club soda" both often contain sodium, but there are now many low-sodium and sodium-free brands available (which essentially taste like seltzer). "Sparkling water" that's naturally carbonated may contain sodium. Unflavored "seltzer" almost never contains any sodium. (It sounds like "seltzer" has something to do with salt, but it actually comes from "Nieder Selters," a place in Germany.)

Usage may be different outside the United States.
posted by staggernation at 11:47 AM on December 15, 2003 [1 favorite]

Staggernation, club soda's sodium is often so low as to be negligible. I believe there's a potassium bicarbonate in it that has a sodium base, so it's not quite "salty."

Let me put in a vote for club soda. I curtailed my sugared-drink habit with seltzers and such but found them all bland. Club soda and Pellegrino have a distinct flavor to them beyond the "hint of lime" or whatever gets infused in flavored seltzers.

Look also for products like Honest Tea, which have traces of cane sugar rather than an overload of corn syrup or aspartame. (Most Honest Tea products have around 30 calories to a 16-ounce bottle, and great flavor.)
posted by werty at 11:56 AM on December 15, 2003 [1 favorite]

There's caffeine in OJ? I never knew that. (There's none in Fresca.)

Shit, I just assumed - I'm healthier than ever!
posted by jalexei at 12:29 PM on December 15, 2003

I am coming up on 2 years since I gave up diet coke. I was downing 18+ cans a day. I quit all at once and switched to nothing but water because I found winding down never lasted long. I craved for about 2 weeks. Then it went away. It came back around 3 months later. The real problem for me was that Diet Coke went with everything for me, and I missed the combination. Water seems like a weak substitute.

I got used to it, and now drink as much water as I did Diet Coke. I keep a case of bottled water in a mini-fridge at home, and I bring one bottle to work with me everyday, refilling it many times. If you are going to substitute habits, you may as well train yourself to accept the best choice. Plus, crystal clear urine is like an everyday miracle.
posted by thirteen at 2:17 PM on December 15, 2003 [1 favorite]

Plus, crystal clear urine is like an everyday miracle.

I still prefer seltzer.
posted by staggernation at 2:28 PM on December 15, 2003

My new favorite soft drink is Cricket Cola- it's part green tea and part cola, and the diet version is made with Splenda. Too much aspartame gives me a headache, and I think Splenda tastes a lot better too. Might be a good transition from soft drinks to tea.

Also, a squeeze of fresh lemon or lime makes plain old water or club soda taste lots better!

And note- refilling plastic water bottles with filtered water is a great idea IMO, but be cautious of breeding bacteria (more information here). I just keep refilled bottles refrigerated, and replace them periodically (and toss them all in the recycling at the first hint of a cold, of course).
posted by obloquy at 4:20 PM on December 15, 2003

Just to add, after not drinking cola for years, I find that if I ever have some now I'm left wondering what the hell anyone drinks it for, it just tastes too sweet and cloying, even in small amounts.
posted by biffa at 2:26 AM on December 16, 2003

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