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By now, you know sugary sodas and artificially sweetened diet sodas aren’t great for your health. That doesn’t exactly make it easy to quit drinking them, especially since soda can hijack your brain’s reward centers, causing strong cravings for — you guessed it — more soda.
If you’re trying to kick the soda habit, it can be really hard to overcome these cravings — whether they’re for the sweetness, the bubbles, the caffeine, or the flavor.
Luckily, you can find whatever it is you miss about soda in a drink that’s made with natural, better-for-you ingredients. Here are five alternatives that have all the bases covered — and yes, we taste-tested them all.
Editor’s note on price: All beverages we list range from about $1-5 per can, based on prices from nationwide and online retailers. In comparison, you may be able to find slightly cheaper prices than this, even from the same manufacturer.
Try it if: You miss classic soda flavors
Virgil’s line of zero-sugar sodas come in all the classic flavors you may be missing since cutting soda from your diet: cola, lemon lime, root beer, and orange — to name a few.
Best of all, they’re zero calories and made with natural sweeteners like monk fruit and stevia. This puts them a cut above most other diet sodas, which contain artificial sweeteners that can potentially affect your gut health.
While Virgil’s very much satisfies that “real soda flavor” craving, their flavors are sourced from nature — making them a much better choice than the stuff you can pick up at a convenience store.
Try it if: You want something sweet to sip on
If your soda habit got you used to sipping on something sugary throughout the day, you may be missing that bit of sweetness since dropping soda.
Spritz Sparkling Tea is a great way to fill that gap. Spritz’s fizzy teas are lightly sweetened with zero-calorie, natural sweeteners and flavored with real tea leaves and fruit juice. The green tea flavor has a little burst of caffeine (30 mg) to pep up your day, too.
Spritz comes in two fresh flavors: hibiscus and green tea, both of which are accented with some unexpected fruit combinations and just the right hint of sweetness to satisfy.
Try it if: You crave the carbonation
If the thing you miss most about soda is the fizziness, Perrier is your answer. Perrier’s classic carbonated mineral water is completely unsweetened, allowing the bubbles to take center stage.
Even better, Perrier’s water is naturally carbonated — sourced from a bubbling spring in the south of France since the 1800s.
In addition to their original mineral water, Perrier offers several unsweetened, natural flavors. Pink grapefruit is an enduring favorite.
Try it if: You usually sip ginger ale to ease an upset stomach
Like other people, you may reach for ginger ale when you’re feeling a bit queasy. Unfortunately, most ginger ale is artificially flavored, so you’re not getting any of the nausea-soothing benefits of real ginger.
Poppi is a fantastic alternative to sip next time your stomach feels unsettled. It’s a prebiotic soda — meaning it feeds the healthy bacteria in your gut — made with apple cider vinegar and the tiniest bit of real cane sugar, and sweetened with stevia.
Apple cider vinegar is a powerful antioxidant that can kill harmful bacteria, and Poppi’s lime ginger flavor is made with real ginger — making it a perfect stomach soother.
Try it if: You miss the caffeine
If you find yourself dragging without the caffeine boost of a soda, Upruit is here for you. It’s a sparkling coffee that can perk you up without the harshness of an energy drink.
One can has about the same amount of caffeine as a cup of coffee, so it’s sure to provide that midday jolt you used to get from a caffeinated soda.
Best of all, it comes in unique, luxe flavors like Montmorency cherry and tangerine pink salt.
These alternatives are perfect if you’re at home, but finding a great fizzy drink when dining out is a bit more difficult.
Unfortunately, most restaurants will offer plenty of soda and diet soda, but very few have healthy bubbly options. Here are some workarounds:
- At restaurants with a bar: Ask for seltzer water or club soda. You can even ask for a mocktail with lemon juice and muddled mint leaves, or whatever flavors you like. Avoid tonic water as it’s typically loaded with sugar.
- At restaurants with no bar: Some may offer club soda or sparkling water, but you might have to make do with a non-fizzy drink like unsweetened tea.
- At fast-food restaurants: Unfortunately, the choices are limited here. If they have a Coca-Cola Freestyle machine (Wendy’s and Burger King, for example), Dasani Sparkling Water is an option.
If you really need those bubbles no matter where you are, a portable drink carbonator may be the answer — but you might get some weird looks when you whip it out. A small cooler to carry some drinks listed above is probably a more convenient option.
There’s a healthier choice to sate every kind of soda craving, and these alternatives will ensure your post-soda drink experiences don’t fall flat.
SaVanna Shoemaker is a registered dietitian nutritionist and freelance beverage writer living in Little Rock, Arkansas.