Ask LH: What Are Some Tasty, Healthy Alternatives To Soft Drink?

I’ve decided it’s finally time to get rid of my twice-a-day soft drink habit, but the problem is, I really like soft drink. What are the healthy alternatives that can still match my cravings?


Mr Pibb

Photo remixed with Vitaly Korovin/Shutterstock.

Dear Mr Pibb,

Cutting soft drink out of your daily diet is a great idea, but finding a great replacement makes dropping the habit a lot easier to do. We all know soft drink isn’t good for you for a number of reasons, including the fact too much sugar can lead to liver toxicity, soft drink decays teeth and studies indicate that even diet soft drink can increase your risk of a heart attack. Thankfully, a few alternatives to soft drink will satisfy your cravings without affecting your health.

To find the best alternative for you, let’s break it down by trying to match what you crave most in a can of soft drink.

Soft Drink Alternatives For The Sweet Tooth

Sometimes you just want something sweet to drink and there’s nothing wrong with that. We’ve taken a close look at sugar’s effect on your mind and body before. In short, you want to stay away from consuming too much of it, but don’t cut it out completely. This is especially the case with soft drink because on top of a considerable amount of sugar, it’s often packed with sodium as well. So what’s the best way to satisfy your sweet tooth without resorting to a can of Coke? Let’s look at a few options.

  • Iced Tea: The nice thing about a cold glass of unsweetened iced tea is that you can sweeten it to your liking with sugar. If your sweet tooth is truly tingling for a lot of sugar, a glass of sweet tea will scratch the itch without totalling trashing your teeth.
  • Fruit juice mixed with sparkling water: Fruit juices like apple and orange have more calories per millilitre than soft drink, but tossing a splash of 100 per cent juice into some sparkling water keeps the calorie count low and still maintains a perky sweetness. It’s also carbonated, so it closely matches the consistency of soft drink.
  • Make your own soft drink: Food blog Gilt Taste has 11 tasty recipes for making your own soft drink if you have your own carbonation machine at home. If you don’t, you can make your own out of a few odd parts from around the house. This obviously requires a lot more work than grabbing a can out of the fridge, but the fact your recipes won’t be filled with excessive amounts of sugar means they’re a healthier treat.

Image: Evan Bench.

Soft Drink Alternatives For Caffeine Lovers

If it’s the caffeine that attracts you to soft drink, there’s some great alternatives as well. As with sugar, we’ve looked at how caffeine affects your brain and while it’s not particularly nasty for you, it’s best consumed in moderation.

  • Coffee: It might be the most obvious choice, but coffee usually has significantly more caffeine in it than a can of soft drink, so a single small cup will curb your craving for a caffeine boost. If you don’t want a warm cup of coffee, you can make your own cold brew at home easily. Just go easy on the sugar.
  • Black or Green Tea: Black and green tea typically have more caffeine than soft drink and both are great alternatives as they come packed with vitamins, minerals and antioxidants. Both can be served hot or cold to match your preference. If you’re looking to add a little sweetness but don’t want to use sugar, honey is a good alternative.

Image: Timothy Boyd.


Soft Drink Alternatives For A Cool Drink On A Hot Day

A hot day is begging for a cool glass of liquid, but soft drink never really feels like it quenches your thirst very well. These options will do just that.

  • Lemonade: While there’s no scientific proof that lemonade is the absolute perfect summer drink (there should be!), it certainly quenches your thirst on hot day better than a can of soda can. Better still, you can improve on the already great taste of lemonade by adding ginger.
  • Arnold Palmer: Speaking of summer, nothing says a bright sunny day like a round of golf and a cold Arnold Palmer-style drink in your hand. The standard Arnold Palmer is simply 1/2 iced tea and 1/2 lemonade, but we’re particular fond of commenter GringatchoDemonto’s variation: 2/3 unsweetened black tea, 1/6 limeade, and 1/6 orange juice. This mix provides a caffeinated, sweet and refreshing supplement to a can of boring old soft drink.
  • Water: Yes, there’s the, “well, duh” point about the benefit of drinking water on a hot day, but it’s much better at hydrating you than a can of soft drink because there’s no sodium in it. For an always ice cold glass of water you can store water bottles in the fridge to make them just as easy to grab as a can of soft drink.
  • Image: Eun Byeol.

    In the end, it’s all about deciding what it is about soft drink you love and supplementing the craving with a drink that both satisfies that craving and is healthier. These are just a few suggestions, but plenty of alternatives to soft drink are out there. Speaking from experience, it doesn’t take long to cut the soft drink habit. Get rid of the soft drink in the fridge and find another drink you enjoy to supplement it. Within a couple weeks you’ll forget soft drink even exists.



    PS. Have you quit drinking soda by substituting it with something else? What’s your favourite alternative?

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