Drinking Your Calories


I remember my 9th grade history teacher well, but not for what he taught me about our forefathers fighting in historic battles.  Rather, I remember that he always had a diet soda in his hand.  At the time, I drank regular soda and I thought diet soda tasted awful.  I have since trained my taste buds to enjoy the diet variety and don’t even enjoy the taste of regular anymore.  Funny how our taste buds can adjust like that.

Regular (non-diet) carbonated drinks are the biggest source of added sugars in the American diet1.   Have you ever wondered if sugar in liquid form is different than sugar as a solid?  I have often thought that liquids just don’t fill me up quite as much as solids do.

One fascinating study looked at this issue.  Imagine being part of this trial:  study participants were asked to either eat 450 calories from jelly beans or 450 calories from soft drinks for 2 weeks and then they switched.  The researchers found that the people who ate the jelly beans subconsciously ate roughly 450 calories less from other foods throughout the day.  But when they drank the same amount of calories in a soft drink, they didn’t eat less, resulting in an extra 450 calories in their diets those days.

I am not about to suggest that you can never drink anything that has calories—milk and 100% fruit juice are nutrient dense good choices.  When it comes to soft drinks, try to choose the diet variety to skimp on calories.

Plain water can get boring after a while, but there are lots of ways to make it more exciting.  At nice spas they put cucumber in the water—pamper yourself at home with a few refreshing slices in your water.  You can also squeeze some fresh lemon, lime, or orange into water for a little twist. 

Sparkling water provides that carbonation you may crave from a soft drink, but it is calorie free.  I love the Soda Stream to add bubbles anytime I want carbonation. There are also a variety of sugar free beverage sticks that can be added to a glass or bottle of water for a nice flavor punch.  Brewing up a nice pitcher of iced tea is also a great way to get flavor and antioxidants without the calories.

Tara Collingwood
Tara is a nationally recognized expert and spokesperson on nutrition, fitness, and health promotion and is quoted in a variety of media including television, radio, newspapers, magazines, and websites.

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