When you think of the word addiction, what comes to mind? Heroin, cigarettes, prescription drugs? Most of us would think that we are not addicts because we do not use any of those kinds of substances, but I am here to say that there are addictions beyond the obvious ones. I am coming out and saying I was addicted to soda.

Just because something is not illegal or because it is a part of our everyday lives does not mean excessive use is not an addiction. Researchers are finding that addictions to fast food, candy, soda, etc. are very much real, just as any drug addiction. The study demonstrated how animals who were fed a high fat diet had clear changes in their dopamine receptors causing them to become more compulsive eaters. The animals also refused to eat healthy food even when that was the only kind of food given.

So what is the big deal about dopamine receptors? Dopamine receptors are in charge of managing the body’s pleasure responses to drugs, foods, alcohol, etc. so when we indulge again and again, the body starts reducing the number of these receptors. The big problem with this is as the number of receptors decreases, we need to increase the amount we intake in order to get that same pleasure response. Are you starting to see how you can be addicted to that cheeseburger and how it is very similar to drug and alcohol addictions?

Currently, I do not eat fast food very often but my one addiction has always been soda. I have never gotten to the point of drinking various 2-liters a day, but for most of my life I have drank 1-2 cans a day. I have tried to quit drinking soda but just like a drug, I relapsed again and again. I realized that to quit soda I had to do it gradually.

First, I stopped drinking soda at home. This was pretty easy because if you realize when you crave things like soda it is usually when you are out to eat at a restaurant, or eating really greasy foods at a fast food joint. You will quickly find that water goes just fine along side a healthy meal you prepare yourself. I then started eliminating the soda I drank when I was out. You have no idea how hard it is to resist the value meal option at Subway! I actually had them give me water in the same cups they serve soda so I could trick my brain. This was actually pretty helpful.

The biggest advice I can give about any addiction (and I used this myself with soda), is something I picked up from a past drug addict talking on The Doctors show. He said that every time he had a craving, he would urge himself to wait until tomorrow to get his fix. He told himself that he would get through today and have his fix tomorrow. By the time tomorrow came, the urgency was no longer there and he could keep on. It sounds silly but it really works. Next time you are going to go get ice cream, tell yourself you will get it tomorrow and watch the days between servings increase!

Although I still have the occasional soda, I am definitely not addicted to it anymore. I hope that you all are inspired to break one addiction you have today!