In December, a three part series called Rethink Your Holiday Drink ran on the blog. Amy Meehan, our Healthy People Program Specialist, wrote about how sugary drinks can negatively impact our budgets and our health. This is true not only during the holidays, but all throughout the year! According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), sugar-sweetened beverages are the largest source of added sugar in the American diet. Most people consume more sugar than they might realize in a typical day. This is worrisome because added sugars contain calories that have few to no nutrients. One gram of sugar is equal to four calories, and since the average person consumes about 30 teaspoons of sugar per day, that translates to 476 calories nutrient-less calories.
The Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommend limiting added sugar intake to 12 teaspoons a day. The American Heart Association is even more conservative, suggesting a limit of nine teaspoons of added sugars per day for men and six teaspoons per day for women. No matter which set of recommendations you follow, one sugary drink a day puts you at or over the recommended daily limit for added sugar.
If you consume sugary drinks like sodas and sweetened teas on a regular basis, try to start cutting back slowly. The American Heart Association offers the following tips for making the switch to water:
- Always go for water first when you are thirsty. We often hear we should drink water every day, but that can seem like a challenge if you aren’t a big fan. One thing you can do is carry a water bottle with you, so water becomes an easy option and you don’t have to buy a drink if you’re thirsty.
- Add slices of fruit, vegetables or herbs (e.g. oranges, lemons, berries, mint, cucumbers, etc.) to your water to enhance the flavor. Live Smart Ohio offers the following suggestions to create water with a twist or Ohio- themed infused water.
- Opt for sparkling or seltzer water if you crave a bubbly beverage.
- If you are in a mood for something a little sweeter, try a fruit smoothie or fruit juice spritzer. You can create your own fruit juice spritzer by mixing sparkling water with 100% fruit juice.
When you are craving a beverage other than water, try unsweetened coffee or tea before turning to soda, juice or an energy drink. These drinks are usually loaded with sugar, even if they do contain some nutrients, and they can leave you feeling more tired than energized after the initial sugar high.