Showing posts with label sugar-free diet soda. Show all posts
Showing posts with label sugar-free diet soda. Show all posts

Friday, June 21, 2013

Alternatives to Drinking Soda in the Summer

As any child or teenager knows, what can be more refreshing on a scorcher of a summer day than an ice cold drink?  Problem is, the common choice – a cola or other sugar-sweetened soda beverage or sports drink – is high in calories and low in nutrients. It’s important for parents to find healthier, yet still refreshing, alternatives to cut back their kids’ consumption of soft drinks and other sugar-sweetened drinks.  We've got some great alternatives here!

In recent studies, including a CDC 2010 study, Beverage Consumption Among High School Students, we see that kids are generally heading in a good direction, consuming fewer calories from soda than in the recent past.  Water, milk and fruit juices have become the most commonly consumed beverages among high school students.  But for those whose kids are still loading up on sodas, sports drinks, and other sugar-sweetened beverages, you may want to let them know that the CDC says those sweetened drinks are one of the top five contributors of calorie intake. 

So, even if soft drink intake among children and adolescents fell in 2010 compared with 2000, there’s room for improvement, as data from the 2008 National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey revealed.  What researchers learned:
  • Teenagers and young adults consume more sugar drinks than other age groups.
  • About half of the U.S. population drinks sugary beverages daily.
  • Certain U.S. minorities consume more sugary drinks in relation to their overall diet than others.
  • Sugar drink consumption is highest among low-income groups.

Studies have linked sugar drinks to poor diet quality, weight gain, obesity, and diabetes, which is why U.S. dietary guidelines issued in 2010 recommend limiting the consumption of foods and beverages with added sugars, and why the American Heart Association recommends no more than 450 kilocalories of sugar-sweetened beverages per week—that’s about three 12-ounce cans of carbonated cola.

Healthier Alternatives to soda

Get your kids on the right track to reduced sugar consumption and increased health by employing these habit-changing healthy hydration tips.

1.  Limit bad choices where you can

While you may not be able to control what your kids drink at school or at their friends’ homes, you can play the most important role: promote access to healthful beverages and limit sugar-sweetened beverages at home:
  • First, don’t keep sugar-sweetened beverages in the home.
  • Second, kids will often go for what’s refreshing and easy to grab, so make sure that jugs or pitchers of water are easily accessible in the home fridge.
  • Third, lead by example.  Model the behavior you desire them to emulate; drink water and limit junk drink consumption.
If your children have a routine that involves soda, they’ll need a substitute routine to replace the first, so don't remove the soda option without providing a healthy substitute.

2.  Get your fizz on with carbonated water

Let's face it, sometime it seems that nothing is so satisfying as that glorious burning-tickling sensation of a carbonated beverage sliding down the throat on a hot summer day.  If you or your kids have that same insatiable desire for fizzy sodas, try an unsweetened carbonated water.  That's the easiest way to get a sugar-free, calorie-free guzzle buzz.  If you've got a hankering for a little bit of flavor in your drink, try one of these carbonated water twists:
  • Add a couple squeezes of fresh lime juice or lemon juice.
  • Mix in a little bit of 100% fruit juice.
  • Put some crushed spearmint or peppermint leaves into the drink to add a refreshing zip.

3.  The healthier sweetened drink: 100% fruit juice

While fruit juice can have as many calories and carbohydrates as many soft drinks, a glass of 100% fruit juice can have a lot more nutritional value than a soda, especially if it’s fresh squeezed fruit juice, and therefore vibrant with phytonutrients and antioxidants.  If your kids crave the sweetness that they are accustomed to from consuming soft drinks, real fruit juice may be the best option for them. Fruit juices certainly are as flavorful, and much more beneficial.

Here's a recipe to make a fresh, refreshing fruit-based beverage your whole family will enjoy: Watermelon Mint Iced Tea – refreshing and healthy!

What about diet sodas?

You may be wondering why we haven't recommended diet sodas as an alternative. Yes, a sugar-free diet soda will help your kids to cut back on calories, but diet sodas still lack needed nutritional content, and introduce potential health risks (read about it in Is There Danger in Your Diet Soda?).

To learn more about healthy alternatives to soft drinks, listen to the "Shun the Sodas" podcast from the CDC, discussing the importance of limiting the consumption of sodas and other sugar-sweetened drinks by teenagers.

Ric Moxley
Contributing Writer