When making changes for a healthier lifestyle, do you remember to include what you are drinking? Beverages are the number one source of added sugar in our diets, which increase your risk for tooth decay, obesity, type 2 diabetes, and heart disease. Truth be told, a lot of empty calories and added sugar may be hiding in some of your favorite drinks. In order to make healthier beverage choices, here are a few things to consider.
First, know what you are drinking. Many popular drinks are full of added sugars (link to added sugar video). In fact, you may be surprised to find out that most contain more than your recommended amount of sugar for the entire day! For example, one 16oz Monster energy drink contains 50g of added sugar. A 20 ounce bottle of Pepsi contains 70g of added sugar! One 20 ounce bottle of a Gatorade contains 35g of sugar. The American Heart Association recommends no more than 25 grams of added sugar for women and 36 grams of added sugar for men. Therefore, read your food labels to see how much sugar is in the beverages you consume. If you’re consuming too much sugar, make the switch to a healthier sugar free alternative.
Second, pay attention to portion sizes. The nutrition labels on most labels show the amount of sugar for an 8 ounce serving size. The problem with this is most popular drinks are sold in much larger portions! Barista coffees are often sold in a 20 ounce portion. Sports drinks are routinely sold in a 30 ounce portion. And soft drinks are sold in up to 40 ounce portions and more! If you are finding it difficult to cut out your favorite sugary beverages completely, consider reducing your portion size to an 8 ounce glass. In doing so, you are taking the right steps towards decreasing your sugar and calorie intake!
Lastly, here are four tips to help you successfully drink healthy beverages:
1) Carry a water bottle with you throughout the day. When you start to get thirsty it will be right within your reach!
2) Keep the sugar-sweetened beverages out of your home. Instead, stock your fridge with a jug of water or individual bottles to grab and go.
3) If you don’t like the taste of plain water, try adding slices of lime or lemon. Cucumber, watermelon, mint, or ginger can also be flavorful water additions.
4) Try adding a splash of 100% fruit juice to regular or sparkling water for a low-calorie drink.
Remember, what you drink is just as important as what you eat! Know how much sugar your drink contains, reduce portion sizes of unhealthy beverages, and make the switch to water or sugar-free drinks to maximize your health!
Meet with your registered dietitian to learn more about managing the sugar in your diet and healthy lifestyle changes.