The holidays are here and its time to have hot chocolate, eggnog, holiday punch, and all those other high calorie beverages that are popular this time of the year. Well, we can cut back on our calories by rethinking our drinks.
Choosing healthy beverages is a great first step to an overall healthy diet.
Americans are drinking more soft drinks than ever. Per capita soft-drink consumption has increased almost 500 percent over the past 50 years. There is enough regular soda produced to supply every American with more than 14 ounces of soda every day. One reason for the steady rise in soft drink consumption is larger portion sizes; fountain drinks can range in size from 22 to 64 ounces. Children start drinking soda at a remarkably young age, and consumption increases through young adulthood.
People who drink soft drinks generally take in more calories than those who do not. Drinking sugar-sweetened beverages has been associated with weight gain, overweight, obesity, and type 2 diabetes. A 12-ounce can of soda has 150 calories and 10 teaspoons of sugar in the form of high fructose corn syrup. If these calories are added to the typical diet without cutting back on something else, one soda a day could lead to a weight gain of 15 pounds in one year.
Sports drinks, another popular soft drink, are for athletes who participate in high-intensity, aerobic exercise for at least 90 minutes. Most kids are not this active. The added sugar and sodium in sports drinks are unnecessary for children and youth. Sports drinks offer little advantage over water for kids.
Try these tips to help you and your family to rethink your drink:
• Help children learn to enjoy water as the thirst quencher of choice.
• Make soft drinks a “sometimes” beverage to be enjoyed in moderate amounts. Remember that soft drinks include fruitades, fruit drinks, lemonade, energy drinks, sweet tea, and sports drinks.
• Keep a pitcher of water in the refrigerator for easy access.
• Add lemon, lime, other fruit, or a splash of juice to water.
For more information contact Lethia Lee, EFNEP Program Assistant with the North Carolina Cooperative Extension Service at 910-592-7161.