I’ve been thinking about how sugary drinks affect Americans’ health lately. Recent findings published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition showed that sugar sweetened beverages promotes weight gain in children and adults. And I was preparing for an interview on foods I avoid/limit in my diet – like sugary drinks.
AICR’s expert report and updates also find that these drinks cause weight gain and obesity. And excess body fat is one of the causes of 7 different cancers, including post-menopausal breast and colorectal.
These drinks are everywhere and they’re inexpensive. It seems that America is hooked on liquid sugar and that’s one significant driving force in our obesity epidemic.
Public health groups are working to promote policies for schools and government that will reduce kids’ access to these drinks and promote alternatives that are easy to find and affordable.
At the supermarket though, it’s not always obvious which drinks are good choices. I know I have to look closely at the list of ingredients to see what I’m getting and carefully check the nutrition facts to see how many calories are really in one container.
But with a little time and creativity, there are things you can do now for you and your children and grandchildren to cut back or even eliminate sugary drinks.
1. Make Water More Interesting
Fill a clear pitcher with water and add washed and clean pieces of fruit and herbs. How about strawberries and mint or blueberries and basil? Or mix in a medley of fruit like peaches, raspberries and kiwi. The fruit can be fresh, frozen or canned (choose unsweetened). The flavor is mild, but adds some extra zing. For more ideas see “Not Your Ordinary Water”.
2. Stretch the Juice
A little fizz can up the refreshing value and add interest. Add a ¼ cup of 100% fruit juice to a glass of sparkling water, for a little color and subtle fruit flavor with very few calories.
3. Explore Tea
Spend a little time browsing the tea section of your supermarket and you’ll find a whole world of flavors and colors. From black teas to herbal fruity or spicy teas you can brew up a blend – hot or cold – to please anyone. Here’s a dressed up version of tea – with just a little added sweetener: Iced Almond Chai.
4. Drink Your Veggies
If you’ve got a blender, try experimenting with vegetable smoothies. Watery veggies like cucumbers, tomatoes and summer squash are good bases. Have fun experimenting with the kids. Here’s an idea for drinkable gazpacho.
What are some of your favorite low sugar, low calorie beverages?