The United States still has the highest per capita consumption of carbonated soft drinks anywhere in the world, at 760 servings (8 oz.) in 2008. That’s 6,080 ounces for each person, or just over 506 cans of soda.
A. In 2009, Americans spent $66 billion dollars buying soda.
B. In the U.S., 600 cans of soda per person are consumed on average each year.
C. Obesity, which is thought to be connected to soda consumption, costs $95 billion each year in medical treatment.
D. In 1986, soda surpassed tap water as Americans’ most chosen beverage.
E. A 20-oz. bottle of soda contains 17 teaspoons of sugar.
F. Soda contributes to tooth decay.
G. Soda is directly linked to diabetes.
H. Soda is connected to bone weakening.
I. Soda may even be connected to Irritable Bowel Syndrome.
Clearly, this should raise a red flag. It's enough to convince me that the best thing we can do for our wallets and our health is to sidestep the soda. Here's how to refocus that attention:
You Don't Have To Drink Boring Water
It’s common knowledge that water is the best beverage for you, but there's no guarantee of the purity of bottled water. As a matter of fact, tap water is more rigorously regulated than bottled water, so go the free route when in doubt. If you miss the added flavor of soda, try adding mint, cucumber, and lime to your tap water. Other ideas: squeeze orange in the water or add some watermelon. These are cheaper, healthier, and fresher than the syrups in soda.
Go Green (Tea)
Whether hot or brewed for iced tea, green tea is a great for your health. Aside from its holistic benefits, it’s loaded with antioxidants that lower cholesterol, and prevent cancer and heart disease. A couple of tea bags will yield a quart of cold tea. If you have a sweet tooth, add a couple of drops of honey when the brew is still hot, so it dissolves to sweeten the tea uniformly.
Seltzer Is My Savior
Personally, I average about two root beers per year. The reason I can resist is because I realized it’s the carbonation that I crave. I find that bubbles quench my thirst in a way that water sometimes can’t. So, I buy seltzer (with no sodium….read the label) and add flavors to it. I like a drizzle of vanilla extract, hazelnut, or—my favorite—anise. These extracts add no calories but allow me to feel like I’m drinking a decadent concoction. If you're already hooked on seltzer, take it to the next level by purchasing your own “soda system." It's an initial investment that pays for itself after the first three CO2 canisters, which yield 60 to 80 liters of bubbly water each. You’ll save cash, the environment, and your teeth (store-bought seltzer often lacks the fluoride found in tap water).