Monday, January 13, 2014

4 Ways to Cut Back on Soda

Drinking less soda may be the single best step you can take for your health.

Soda and sugar cubes

If you ask dietitians or health experts for the single, best diet advice you can take right now to promote good health, it may be to minimize soda consumption.

Our bodies use sugar as fuel. However, when you consume too much sugar and engage in too little physical activity, unused sugar can contribute to obesity and other health problems. Some research has indicated that soda and sweetened beverages contribute almost half of the added sugar in the American diet. Recent science suggests that eating sugar may create an addiction-like response, making it difficult to put down sweetened fizzy drinks.

What about sugar-free diet sodas? There are ongoing debates about their potential health effects and association with obesity. Err on the safe side by limiting these too.

The first step in reducing soda consumption is to bring home fewer sodas from the store and to choose smaller cans or bottles. Less availability means better control.

What is left to quench your thirst? Try switching to the following. Do it at your own pace to make it less challenging.

  • Fruit teas and fruit-infused waters offer amazing aromas, exciting colors, and wonderful flavors with natural ingredients.
  • Miss the caffeine? Try unsweetened, lightly-sweetened, or self-brewed green or black tea. These also provide you with beneficial nutrients not found in sodas. 
  • Miss the fizz? Try mixing seltzer water with real fruit juice - a good option for those who struggle to transition away from sodas as it provides harmless fizz with less sugar. Also try kombucha, a fermented drink with a natural fizz and touted health benefits available at many grocery stores.
  • Don’t forget about good old water! Just make sure it is from a clean source meant for drinking.

By Terasak Roeksbutr, dietetic intern, and Debra Boutin, MS, RD, chair and dietetic internship director, Department of Nutrition and Exercise Science at Bastyr University.

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