-- intro: We all know sugar-sweetened beverages aren’t good for your health, but new research suggests that drinking them can actually be deadly.
The scientists’ conclusion: One simple step—cutting out sugar-sweetened beverages from our diets—could prevent death and disability in countries all over the world, including ours.
But that’s not as easy as it sounds if you’re hooked on soda (or sweet tea, or blue-colored water). Here are five expert tips for cutting out the sweet stuff for good:
quicklist: 1category: The Scary Reason You Really Should Give Up Sodatitle: Wean yourself off slowlyurl:text:
Once you’re addicted to sugar (yep, that’s a thing!), it can be hard to go cold turkey. Lona Sandon, RD, assistant professor of clinical nutrition at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center, told Health in a previous interview that cutting back gradually can work. She sometimes suggests that her clients replacing half their soda intake with water at first. “You’re automatically drinking less [soda] and hydrating and filling up with water, which is a good thing,” Sandon said. “If you’re drinking less sugar, your taste buds will change and soon you won’t need that sweetness anymore.”
quicklist: 2category: The Scary Reason You Really Should Give Up Sodatitle: Drink a glass of water firsturl:text:Along the same lines, try drinking a glass of H20 first when you’re craving something sugary. People often drink sugary drinks because they are bored or thirsty. Chances are, downing water will quench your thirst and satisfy your boredom just as well (or even better) than soda or another sweet beverage. Even better: Bring water with you on the go so you’re not tempted to go buy a sugary drink every time you get thirsty.
quicklist: 3category: The Scary Reason You Really Should Give Up Sodatitle: Try seltzerurl:text:
If you’re a big fan of bubbles, replacing soda with a better-for-you carbonated beverage, like plain or flavored seltzer water, can do the trick. You can buy it or make your own at home with a SodaStream machine.
quicklist: 5category: The Scary Reason You Really Should Give Up Sodatitle: Steer clear of triggersurl:text:
Pay attention to when you tend to drink soda or other sugary bevs so you can troubleshoot those times in advance. For example, if you tend to hit up the office vending machine every afternoon for a can of something cold just because it’s there, bring a refillable water bottle to use or sugar-free drink to have at that time instead (or choose seltzer from the machine, if it’s available). Or if you notice yourself craving soda when you eat a certain type of food, try steering clear of that cuisine for a while to help you break the habit.
This article originally appeared on Health.com.