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Rethink Your Drink: Reducing Sugary Beverages in Your Diet

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Rethink Your Drink: Reducing Sugary Beverages in Your Diet

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Did you know that the habit of drinking sugar-loaded drinks like sodas, juices, flavored coffees, and energy drinks has increased a whopping 500 percent in the past 50 years? These beverages have more added sugar than most processed and packaged foods, and they are the leading source of sugar in the American diet, especially in the diets of growing teenagers.

Many people may not realize how much sugar they are actually getting in their daily beverage choices. Drinks like soda, fruit drinks and juices, sweetened waters, sports drinks, and energy drinks can contain anywhere from two to 13 or more teaspoons of sugar per serving. This doesn’t include those giant flavored coffees and teas that many people grab on their way to work every morning. Added up, that’s a lot of sugar to consume just through beverages—even before you factor in the sugar in the foods you eat.

And there’s reason to be concerned: people who regularly drink sugary beverages are more likely to have health problems such as weight gain, obesity, type 2 diabetes, heart disease, kidney disease, gout, and cavities. Not to mention that excess sugar can make you feel lethargic and foggy, and drinking mostly sugary drinks and not enough water can also leave you dehydrated.

How much is too much?
According to the American Heart Association (AHA), added sugars should make up no more than half of your daily discretionary calorie allowance. For women, that amounts to no more than 100 calories per day, or about six teaspoons of sugar; for men, it’s approximately 150 calories per day, or about nine teaspoons of sugar. To put that into perspective, a 12-ounce can of soda contains 130 calories and around eight teaspoons of sugar, so if you are a regular soda drinker, you have met or exceeded your daily sugar and calorie intake for the day with just one beverage.

Every sip counts!
Reducing the amount of sugar in the beverages you consume is relatively easy; it just takes some willingness to change your habits and a little willpower.

Water, water, and more water!
Always choose water over a sugary drink. It can be tap, bottled, unsweetened, or sparkling water. If you want more flavor, you can add a slice of lemon, lime, cucumber, or even berries.

Cut back slowly.
Wean yourself off of a sugary drink habit by mixing half-sweetened and half-unsweetened drinks while you get used to less sugar. Gradually reduce the sweetness until you are drinking only unsweetened beverages.

Miss the fizz?
If you really miss fizzy drinks, try adding a splash of 100 percent juice to plain sparkling water.

Break the habit.
An easy way to break the habit is to just stop buying and stocking up on sugary drinks like sodas and sports drinks. Your wallet and your waistline will thank you!

Tired of water?
If you crave beverages other than water, choose drinks that contain necessary vitamins and nutrients such as low- or fat-free milk, soy, almond, or oat milk that is unsweetened, or fruit or vegetable juice without added sugar. Just be mindful of the total daily calories.

Read labels.
At the store, always read the nutrition labels on drinks to check for calories, added sugars, and saturated fats.

Coffee, coffee, coffee!
You don’t have to skip your morning joe, just lose the flavored syrups and whipped cream in those fancy, speciality coffee drinks. Instead, choose black coffee with low-fat or fat-free milk or an unsweetened milk alternative like almond, soy, or oat milk.

Pack a reusable water bottle.
When on the go, always carry a reusable water bottle with you and refill it throughout the day.

Still have cravings?
If you’re still craving sodas or sports drinks, choose the diet or no-sugar versions of these drinks, but limit these drinks as well as they contain artificial sweeteners and other chemicals that should be consumed in moderation.

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