I became addicted to soda (“pop” to us in the North Country) in college to help me with late-night studying. In the military, I became even more hooked on soda. Even though all the studying and physical exertion really took it out of me, I was skinny and athletic and I felt fine. Why did I need to drink plain old water?
What I did not realize for a long time was that while I felt “fine” in my athletic body, my frequent drops in energy and struggle to think clearly were byproducts of uneven blood sugar levels and occasional dehydration from my soda habit.
Years into my soda addiction, I started putting on weight and switched to diet soda. This helped with weight gain for a time, but I still did not feel great. I researched studies on how fake sugars impact health and based on that research, made the decision to quit soda altogether. What was I going to drink now? Plain old water?
Breaking My Soda Habit
At first, I had a hard time getting myself to drink plain water. It was unpleasant and something I had to force myself to do. As a compromise, I started drinking fruit juice with a little water to dilute it. Over the next few weeks, I added more water to the fruit juice until eventually I was drinking straight water. Then, I set a goal to drink only water for the next two weeks.
Around the 10-day mark, I discovered that I actually liked water. It had a refreshing and subtle sweetness that I started to crave. I bought a water bottle and carried it with me everywhere (and still do). I noted changes in myself, and as I promoted water to my clients and friends, I noticed several recurring positive benefits for them also, with the increased water intake. You can read all about them in my last blog post.
Our bodies are made of 60 percent water. Every cell in our body needs water to flush out toxins and function optimally. Water helps our brains stay sharp, our joints lubricated, and our digestive system break down and remove waste. Without it, we often feel foggy, tired, achy, and yes, constipated.
Water supports many health functions, but many of us have lost our thirst for water. Taste buds, like other cells in the body, are being continually replaced as they die off (approximately every 10 days for the tongue taste buds). When we become accustomed to strongly flavored beverages such as soda, our taste buds no longer perceive water the same way. We train our taste buds to sense water as bland and tasteless.
But fortunately, most of us can retrain our taste buds to tolerate and even crave water in just 10 days (or better yet, 21 to develop the habit of drinking water). Having a timeline and a plan for developing a taste for water makes it easier to make the switch from our favorite sugary beverages. When you replace sugary, caffeinated beverages with consistent water intake for at least 10 days, you’ll start to enjoy the sweet and appealing taste of water and actually grow to crave it.
At first, increasing the amount of water you drink may not seem like it’s making a big difference (other than increasing the number of trips to the bathroom you take). Pace yourself early on, as chugging mass quantities of water all at once can throw off your body’s sodium balance and leave you feeling dazed and confused. As your body gradually regains its full hydration level, you’ll start to notice positive changes (including fewer trips to the bathroom).
After years of developing the habit of drinking more water, I am personally sold on the value of this wondrous liquid. Use my Water Renewal Tool to create your 21-day hydration plan (download it by clicking the link to the right). Please share your successes, the changes you experience, any challenges you had along the way, and the strategies you developed for getting around them with us on Facebook or LinkedIn.