Soda Addiction? Dr. Erica’s Alternatives

I would be a total liar if I didn’t admit that I personally have a weakness for Coca Cola. While it is tempting to get a Coke when I go out to eat, I have a handy back-up plan that many restaurants offer. Sparkling water with lime is my stand-by drink if I want something besides the tap water at a restaurant.

It might take a BIT of getting used to. But I have gotten plenty of people hooked on this as a substitute. You can carry it further by buying fancy bottles of sparkling water. Perrier is one of my favorites. Pellegrino is good too. Even the 2 liters of the store brand of sparkling water is fine. The wholesale clubs sell cases of individual bottles of Perrier. It is convenient to stash some of those at your workplace refrigerator to help you break the habit of the “fully-leaded” soft drinks, or even worse, the diet ones.

Some restaurant servers are really cool and won’t even charge you for giving you soda water, saving you upwards of $3.00 when you eat at a sit-down restaurant. But other servers will charge you for it.

I’ve even gotten my 8 year old to like it which is a good break from the juices and sodas while still being more of a treat than just regular water.

Need help converting over to soda water? Use your favorite juice to sweeten it. Start with half juice, half soda water for a fizzy refreshing drink. Decrease the calories by reducing the amount of juice as you get more accustomed to the taste of bubbly water without the caramel coloring and caffeine.

Pomegranate juice has incredible antioxidant effects. Mixing the tangy juice with sparkling water is delicious. I served it to guests and they were impressed. Though I’ve bought the big bottles of 100% pomegranate juice from the wholesale club, there’s something about the POM brand that I just love. If you won’t use it up very fast, it is worth it to buy a small bottle of POM–it’s in the refrigerator section at the grocery stores. If you will use pomegranate juice very regularly, look for the big jug of it in the dry foods aisle–it’s less than $8 at Costco and will probably go bad before you use it up! (Look on the label to make sure you’re not buying junky pomegranate juice that is watered down with apples).

If you really want to have something for a treat, I recommend cane sugar soft drinks. Blue Sky has a variety of flavors. Black Cherry is my favorite. (But Blue Sky’s regular “cola” is a real disappointment.) Boylan’s orange creme soda is tasty–Mod Market by my office carries Boylan’s in their soda fountain.

My wholesale club carries Cokes in 16 oz bottles made in Mexico from cane sugar. I’ve noticed an uptick in soda offerings made with cane sugar, like Pepsi and Fanta. It definitely isn’t HEALTHY to drink those. But it isn’t nearly as UNHEALTHY as having a high-fructose corn syrup-laden drink. Also it isn’t TOXIC like drinking diet sodas. We keep sugar cane Coca Cola from Mexico in stock for family movie night. It costs a little more, but we are judicious about drinking it and it really is the best way to have it–fully-leaded with real sugar and real bubbles!

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