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The Snowball of Savings and Health Benefits From Eliminating Pop/Soda

January 12, 2011 · 54 comments

in Health & Fitness, Personal Finance

Ok, so I am only two weeks in to my pop-free life, but I am loving it so far.   Keep in mind, my goal is not to eliminate  caffeine.  I don’t really think caffeine is all that evil.  My reason for eliminating pop is that I don’t want all that extra sugar in my body, among other things like phosphorus and caramel coloring.   As I progressed through my two weeks without pop, something else happened.   I lost my desire for sugary foods as well.  What a bonus!  Once I realized my cravings were all but gone, I sat and thought about all the ways I will benefit from not drinking pop.   Let me count the ways for you:

  1. Pop goes great with junk food. When I drank pop at home, I almost always accompanied it with some bad-for-you food.  If I had Doritos in the house, I might dig into those while drinking the Coke.  I am saving money not just from not buying soft drinks, but I also won’t buy (or eat) as much junk food.
  2. Pop costs money at restaurants. I rarely bought pop at a sit-down restaurant in the first place because it was way too expensive.  However I do eat fast food some and I almost always bought a value meal.  No more!  Today I went to Taco Bell and my total bill was $2.63 . Yes I do recognize I could save even more by eating at home, but this was my social time.  The other night my daughter was starving after a late basketball practice so I drove her through Wendy’s.  I hadn’t eaten either, but I didn’t order anything because nothing really seemed like it would taste very good without my former-friend Coke accompanying it.  I saved 5 bucks just from not ordering anything for myself, and I ended up eating some leftovers that were at home instead.
  3. My purposeful trips to McDonalds will all but disappear. When I craved a Coke, quite often I would also crave some nice, salty fries along with it.  Sometimes I would just choose to hit the drive-thru instead of waiting to eat until I got home just so I could have a Coke.  Not hitting McDonalds will be big savings once you consider the kids are with me a lot when I am in the car.  (Don’t hate me because I love salty-fries…)
  4. I will be healthier! I have a lot more energy since I am not inundating my poor body with all that sugar.  I also have a stronger desire for healthier foods.  Not to mention the benefits to my teeth. I may have the softest teeth in the world as it seems like they find something wrong with my teeth every time I go in for a cleaning.   I am hoping my checkups will go better without the added sugar in my diet.
  5. I will be lighter (hopefully). On average, I drank about sixteen ounces of pop a day.  I believe Coke contains about twelve calories an ounce, so I was ingesting about 185 empty calories a day.  Add some more empty snack calories that went with the drink and I was probably ingesting about 250 harmful, useless calories a day.  That equals 68,133 calories a year, which equates to almost 20 pounds.  20 pounds!  So, I wonder, would I be 20 pounds lighter if I stopped the pop habit a year ago?  I would a be a lean, mean, blogging machine instead of someone that needs to hit the gym!  I cringe at that thought.  Although I am sure I am probably eating some extra, more healthy calories to compensate for the calories I am not ingesting from pop and Doritos.  So, maybe I would only be 15 pounds lighter.  Still, what an easy way to keep 15 pounds off the body.  Plus, I have more energy to exercise since I am not sluggish from my sugar crashes, and I am more active.

Have you ever given up pop/soda entirely?  If so, were you able to stop completely?  Did you lose any weight?  Please feel free to share any experiences you had from eliminating pop from your diet.

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{ 49 comments… read them below or add one }

Jaymus (RealizedReturns) January 12, 2011 at 7:24 am

I made the same cuts 3 or so years ago. I eat out a lot, so sticking to water at restaurants provided some good savings right off the bat. If i have anything now, it is always going to be a diet soda (Coke Zero is my poison of choice right now). Certainly not as healthy as a glass of water, but it satisfies the craving well enough. And yea, if your an addict and can kick the habbit, the weight starts to fall off quickly I found.

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Everyday Tips January 12, 2011 at 2:51 pm

Jaymus, so far, I have been handling my pop free life surprisingly well. (I think my husband is shocked.)

You are right, you can definitely save a ton by not drinking pop at restaurants. The real test for me will be when we are on vacation.

Does Coke Zero taste close to the same as Coke? I have never been able to handle diet coke.

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101 Centavos January 12, 2011 at 7:39 am

Good for you, Kris. The high fructose corn syrup used to sweeten soda pop is a killer…. literally.
Recommend switching to beer, it’s very nutritious. 🙂

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Everyday Tips January 12, 2011 at 2:56 pm

101 – I have been having trouble with drinking beer the last few years, I get killer headaches. Any brews you recommend for sensitive people like me?

I wonder how long until it is universally accepted that high fructose corn syrup is super bad for you. (I wonder the same about Nutrasweet too…)

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101 Centavos January 13, 2011 at 6:22 am

Ah, well, beer is one of those highly personal choices. As long as I have a frozen glass to pour it in, I’m not too particular.
HCFS is profitable to a lot of special interests in big Ag, so I suspect it’ll be around for some time to come.

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Kris January 13, 2011 at 8:05 am

101- you need to tell me what beer in a chilled glass I could drink that won’t give me headaches! (I am not a fan of bitter beer at all though, so please keep that in mind. 🙂 )

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retirebyforty January 12, 2011 at 7:54 am

Wow, you are doing a great job so far. We haven’t given up pops completely and still drink some once in a while. I probably have a pop every month or two. 🙂
I don’t know if you will lose much weight just by eliminating soda pop. This will be a great experiment. Keep everything else the same though and don’t change your gym habit. We want to see a controlled experiment.

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Everyday Tips January 12, 2011 at 2:57 pm

Drinking pop every month or two? That is fantastic. In my goals, I stated I planned to cut it by 90 percent. That way I can still enjoy a pop while watching the superbowl if I so chose. (I didn’t want to hate myself if I screwed up.)

I will see what I can do about the controlled experiment…

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Moneycone January 12, 2011 at 8:11 am

Congrats Kris! Not to mention a can of coke contains 40 grams of sugar! That’s what, 7 or 8 teaspoons? Ok, not even sugar but HFCS, at least in the US. We don’t need so much sugar and caffeine to function! Plus your teeth won’t get stained either!

I didn’t do it for health reasons, I wasn’t much of a soda fan. I do drink sometimes, just not regularly.

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Everyday Tips January 12, 2011 at 2:58 pm

MC- I admire those that never craved pop in the first place, hats off to you.

It is scary when you actually visualize the teaspoons of sugar going in to your body, it makes me cringe. I hope I can keep it up.

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Money Reasons January 12, 2011 at 8:24 am

Yep, I don’t drink pop anymore either (well occasionally diet coke), but new poison is McDonalds Lattes… 🙁

You identified some great side benefits!

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Everyday Tips January 12, 2011 at 2:59 pm

MR- I have substituted Coke with the occasional coffee. However, coffee does have its benefits, and it isn’t loaded with the sugar.

Enjoy your lattes- life is to be lived!

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Nicole January 12, 2011 at 8:52 am

DH gave it up entirely in graduate school after several (expensive) fillings and an ultimatum from his hygienists. It did save money, helped him lose weight without effort, and enabled him to start enjoying bitter things like coffee which he had never liked before.

I never tended to drink it because I get really embarrassing hiccups with carbonation.

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Everyday Tips January 12, 2011 at 3:00 pm

Nicole, sorry, but I chucked at the thought of someone not drinking pop because of hiccups! At least that eliminates something that isn’t good for you quite easily.

Does your husband miss it? I can say that I am developing a slight appreciation for coffee, but it must be flavored.

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Nicole January 12, 2011 at 4:35 pm

He used to, but he doesn’t anymore. And he’s become a real coffee snob. When he started it had to be flavored coffee, but now he’ can appreciate the differences between the beans in black coffees.

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lovely leverage January 12, 2011 at 9:19 am

I saw a documentary the other night, and it showed that both regular and diet pop contain aspartame. The truth about aspartame is that it is poison and it will slowly kill you. I still drink pop sometimes, but I really should quit.

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Kris January 12, 2011 at 3:05 pm

LL- I didn’t think that regular pop had aspartame…although I do agree that it is bad for you.

I don’t think the occasional pop is any big deal. However, I am hesitant to try it again because I am afraid I will fall back to old habits. I will wait until the Superbowl and my pop free habit is better established. (If at all.)

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Jacq January 12, 2011 at 9:23 am

Does the pop have vodka in it?
Can’t say we drink much – 2L every couple months. It usually just goes flat after 2 weeks in the fridge. FYI for your readers, when my son worked at a fast food chain, he would drink a lot of (free) diet coke. Had terrible headaches and finally figured out it was the aspartame. I don’t seem to have a problem, but switched to sugar in 1 coffee a day anyway. No perceived weight gain but it wasn’t a controlled experiment. 😉

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Kris January 12, 2011 at 3:07 pm

Jacq- our definitions of ‘flat’ must be different! I cannot stand drinking from a 2 liters more than 2 days after it has been opened. But then again, I am probably a pop-purist.

Did you think you would gain weight from your one tsp of sugar coffee? I would think it would keep you cleaning the house even more vigorously than you already do. More energy for folding socks, and drinking pepsi and vodka.

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Roshawn @ Watson Inc January 12, 2011 at 9:39 am

A friend and I were just talking about eliminating pop yesterday as well. For some reason, diet soda works just fine for me and is not associated with junk food, so I haven’t been concerned about eliminating it for calorie reasons.

Congrats on two weeks!!!

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Kris January 12, 2011 at 3:10 pm

Shawn, I never was able to accept diet pop, I just could not stand the taste. So, I will be just banishing it as long as I can. (Hopefully forever.)

What did your friend think? Was he/she thinking of giving it up?

Thanks for the congrats!

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Roshawn @ Watson Inc January 12, 2011 at 4:17 pm

She “rarely” drinks it anymore, but I’m unsure what that means since she had some as we were talking for the “caffeine”

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Kris January 12, 2011 at 4:37 pm

Oh that is funny!

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SavingMentor January 12, 2011 at 9:43 am

Eliminating pop from your diet is a fantastic idea! I used to drink a fair amount of Coke until I became a type I diabetic. I could still continue to drink pop and take enough insulin to go along with it, but I decided just to give it up entirely and most of the time I don’t miss it at all.

It’s really great that you are getting all these side benefits of saving money and eating less fast food just by giving up pop!

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Kris January 12, 2011 at 3:11 pm

SM- I cannot imagine trying to manage diabetes, and I would think drinking pop would make it even more difficult. Glad you were able to give it up!

I will miss it most when eating pizza I think.

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Melissa January 12, 2011 at 10:26 am

Great work! I was a Mt. Dew fiend in my youth. I gave that up over 3 years ago and never looked back, but now that my Pepsi consumption is WAY up (I blame it on a baby that is up too much during the night so I need the caffeine), I know I need to give Pepsi up too. Thanks for listing all of the benefits!

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Kris January 12, 2011 at 4:41 pm

You know what? I have found that coffee wakes me up way better than pop and so I think of coffee when I am tired instead of coke.

I will say though that I drank a ton of pepsi when my kids wqere babies!

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Linda January 12, 2011 at 10:31 am

Congrats on giving up such a destructive habit! It may not be as bad as smoking, but it’s still very unhealthy and costly.

I haven’t given up drinking soda pop completely, but it’s so rare for me to do so. Growing up, we had pop available all the time and regularly drank it with meals. But once out on my own I stopped doing that. For many years now I choose to drink water as my “beverage of choice.” It’s not just about saving money for me; water really quenches my thirst, so that’s why I drink it. At home I drink water all day long, and I have a metal water bottle (Klean Kanteen brand) that I carry with me at all times so I can have a sip whenever I’m thirsty. (My purse has a great pocket on the side that the bottle slips right into.)

I still have soda pop every once in a while as a treat, but that may be about once a month. I just don’t desire or crave sweet liquids. When I do get a “value meal” from a fast food place, (which is also quite rare) I usually order an unsweetened iced tea with lemon.

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Kris January 12, 2011 at 4:46 pm

We didn’t have a ton of pop growing up, just on Saturday for our homemade pizza lunch. However I did learn to love pop in college. Probably because I needed to stay awake and I hated coffee.

I often thought about how people should all give up smoking but then I realized I was a hypocrite because I couldn’t even give up my pop habit. Pop doesn’t cause cancer as far as I know, but nothing good comes from ingesting it, except maybe the caffeine affect that lasts a little while.

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Heather January 12, 2011 at 10:49 am

When I was in 8th grade, my basketball coach told us that we’d have better performance if we didn’t drink soda during the season, so I didn’t drink soda during the season (I needed all the help I could get!). Once the season was over, I didn’t want it any more, and I haven’t had it since.

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Kris January 12, 2011 at 4:48 pm

Heather that is incredibly impressive. I think it is so great you got through your teen and college years pop-free. You should teach a class on how to accomplish that because pop seems to be such a huge part of the teen diet these days.

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Squirrelers January 12, 2011 at 12:31 pm

This post resonates with me. I have worked to give up caffeine (and soda) at different points in my adult life, with very good short-term results in those instances. One time was well over a year, and most recently I did it for a few months last year and posted about the experience. The thing for me is stick with this habit and make it so that I have caffeine very infrequently if not entirely. Maybe that’s the happy medium.

Anyway, so far this year I’ve had no caffeine, so I’m back at it. The biggest thing is giving up the soda, which is the topic of your post. For me, the health benefits are noticeable.

Before the new year, I had slipped back in the pattern of drinking my longtime friend/nemisis Diet Coke…we have a love/hate relationship:) It had gone back to the equivalent of several a day, almost each day.

Now, from January 1 onward, I haven’t had any soda and notice the difference. I don’t feel energy crashes or food cravings, and wake up more refreshed each day. Maybe it’s just the missing caffeine, but I also feel like sodas were tough on the body. It might not be noticeable on a day-to-day basis when you’re drinking them, but when you quit you notice. To me, this healthy feeling is better than any money savings – which, by the way, are nice in their own right. It’s nice to grab lunch and see the bill be $1.50 to $2.00 less than before!

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Kris January 12, 2011 at 4:53 pm

I totally agree with what you wrote Squirreler. In the past, I had always tried giving up caffeine and failed after a few months. What I realized was that caffeine was not my nemesis but the sugar water was. So I have a coffee once in awhile when I am just overtired and I dont even think about the pop anymore.

I wish you a ton of success. We will both be super healthy for giving up or vices! Just hate diet come and ignore the love!

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Miss T @ Prairie EcoThrifter January 12, 2011 at 1:25 pm

Congrats Kris!! That’s great. I have never drank pop, did’t like it, but my husband monitors his intake to a couple a month. I am glad you are noticing such great results.

I will be including this post in my Friday round up.

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Kris January 12, 2011 at 4:55 pm

Thanks for including my link on Friday.

I am really surprised by the number of people that never really did drink pop. Maybe it is a Midwest thing but just about everyone I know drinks pop. Good for you, I am very envious!

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The Biz of Life January 12, 2011 at 2:56 pm

No doubt that anyone who dramatically cuts back on their intake sugar will lose weight. Empty calories pack the pounds on.

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Kris January 12, 2011 at 4:58 pm

Biz, I am so curious to see if pounds just fall off my body from giving up my beloved coke. It would make sense because I am drinking and eating wayyyy fewer calories.

Maybe I will be a model when this is all said and done. Ha!

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Car Negotiation Coach January 12, 2011 at 8:18 pm

My wife calls it pop too! And I always make fun of her and say,”what?”. Does that mean you’re from the midwest?

Have you heard that you can pour coke on a car battery to eat off the rust and corrosion? And that goes in our stomach! But oh how i love it.

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Kris January 12, 2011 at 8:42 pm

It means I am from Michigan! My brother has become a traitor- he moved to California and now says ‘soda’. (It makes my ears burn to hear him say it too!)

I have heard some of the horrible things you can do with Coke. Toilet cleaning, disintegrate metals, etc. Why does it have to taste so good though?

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Suba @ Wealth Informatics January 12, 2011 at 8:57 pm

I used to drink a lot of soda (I still drink a lot of soda compared to my husband). But I have reduced it now, mainly because I am working from home part of the week. My work provides soda/coffee for free, so I made it a habit to drink one around 3 and almost became an addict. If I have to do that at home it is going to cost me a lot (I don’t like the big 2 litre bottles, they taste like water to me after 2 days). I know it is bad for me, but it just tastes so good…

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Kris January 13, 2011 at 7:56 am

Suba, that is what is wrong- it takes so good! I can imagine I would have drank more if it was free and always at my disposal. I would totally be an addict.

I must not have been as addicted as I thought because I didn’t even get a headache when I quit. (Thankfully, because I have gotten those in the past.)

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krantcents January 12, 2011 at 9:18 pm

I gave up pop years ago. I think I have it 3-4 times a year. When I do it is diet coke. I don’t miss it, in fact I learned to like water. I sometimes drink ice tea. I feel healthier and my teeth are whiter because of it.

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Kris January 13, 2011 at 8:01 am

Krantcents- I am working on the ‘liking water’ part, but I admit, it is not easy. I sometimes add a little lemon, but I have a hard time just drinking water. (I am fine drinking it with a meal, although quite often I drink milk.)

It’s funny because it seems like my parent’s generation rarely drank water, but drank a lot of coffee. It is great that people are drinking more and more water nowdays.

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First Gen American January 13, 2011 at 5:14 am

I never really drank or liked soda. You may want to try seltzer if you get bored of water and juice. That’s the only bubbly thing I drink.

I gave up coffee and most caffeine 6 years ago due to some stomach issues I was having with it and unfortunately, it got substituted with sugary foods. I think I eat much more crap now than I did when I drank a cup of coffee or two a day. I haven’t found a good way to drastically reduce my sugar intake yet. 20 pounds would be a really nice number to lose. I hope you do.

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Kris January 13, 2011 at 8:04 am

First Gen – We are opposites! I have a cup of coffee a few times a week and have no need for the sugary foods! It has been a great discovery. I had hated coffee my whole life, but with a little french vanilla flavor, all is good now!

What if you had decaf? Or maybe mixed a cup of decaf with regular coffee, would that help you? Or would it be too hard on your stomach?

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JennyDee January 14, 2011 at 12:38 pm

Several years ago, I managed to give up soda for a year. Then one day, I HAD TO HAVE A PEPSI (caffeine-free). I got one and nearly spit it out. It tasted horrible to me! I can drink Dr Pepper and Mr Pibb, and any “white” soda (Sprite, 7Up), but the taste buds refuse my favored Pepsi.

A goal I have for this year is to seriously cut back or eliminate soda from my diet. I’ve tapered to one a week already, and last week when I got my Dr P, it tasted horrible. I think it was the HFCS/syrupy taste that finally got to me. That nastiness enabled me to tell my craving “no”. Next week, I hope to avoid soda completely!

After paying almost $3 for a glass of soda at a restaurant, I switched to water. That is just TOO MUCH money to pay for a drink. Now at Waffle House, I’ll get an OJ or apple juice, but sodas? Nope. I may pay more for my burger and fries at Burger King since I don’t get the “value” meals anymore, but at least I won’t be adding more sugary-evilness!

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Aloysa January 16, 2011 at 11:54 pm

I gave up caffeine once for about ten months. The results were great – I had more energy, I slept better and got tired less. But I missed my coffee too much… Soft drinks… I am not a big fan of them just because they are too sweet for my taste. Too loaded with calories… But they do go well with junk food. So from time to time I would have some… in the movies, with junk food. But because I do it so rarely, I never feel guilty.

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Jeff @ VintageSodas.com April 25, 2011 at 10:21 pm

I would love to give up soda pop but I just like it too much. Why give up something you love? There are other things I can do to keep healthy.

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Kris April 26, 2011 at 12:53 pm

Jeff, well one reason to give up something you love is because it is bad for you. Should people keep smoking because they can choose to exercise instead?

It depends on what your health issues are too.

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