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Soft Drink Alternatives


QUESTION:

I'd like to decrease my consumption of soft drinks.  I drink a lot in the summer though and don't know what else to drink.  I don't really like plain water that much.  Can you recommend some cool drinks for summertime?

ANSWER:

Replacing sugared soft drinks with cool, refreshing drinks that you find enjoyable is a wonderful way to make a positive, healthy change for summer.  Making such a painless change can definitely impact your health in a big way!  A typical 12 oz soda will contain anywhere from 9 to 12 teaspoons of sugar.  Quadruple that (yes, that's 36 to 48 tsp of sugar) if you partake in the super size drinks that can contain near 50 oz of soda!  It is quite easy to consume one third to one half of the calories your body needs on a daily basis in one of these super size drinks.

One characteristic of soda that many people enjoy is the bubbles and fizz that come with carbonation.  You don't have to give this up!  There are carbonated waters on the market now that are fabulous.  They come in plain or lightly flavored with lemon, lime, orange or other fruit essence.  Read labels and avoid ones with artificial flavors and sweeteners.  You can now purchase home carbonator units that can carbonate water from your tap.  This is an economical and environmentally friendly way to enjoy carbonation.  Add a slice of citrus fruit and you have a refreshing drink.

Spritzers are a great way to add some variety.  Mix one half carbonated water with one half fruit juice.  Cranberry juice is a favorite, but any kind will work.  For example, experiment with orange, grape, pineapple, grapefruit juices until you find ones that satisfy you.  Spritzers are half the calories of soda and you get a dose of vitamins and antioxidants to boot.

Juice mixed with shaved ice is another revitalizing way to ward off the summer heat and re-hydrate as well.  There are many different snow cone makers and ice shavers available now.  Food processors and blenders can also pulverize ice cubes.  When purchasing juice for ice drinks or spritzers, once again read labels and look for brands with no added sugar.

Tea is another good option.  There are many different varieties ranging from caffeine free herbal teas to deep, rich green and black teas.  Sun brew your tea choice and spruce it up by adding a twist of lemon and a mint leaf.

Throw out the paper cups and treat yourself to a new set of brightly colored tumblers or elegant drinking glasses to celebrate your new thirst-quenching drinks.  You'll find it is much more satisfying to indulge in a nicely prepared drink than it is to pop open a sugary drink from an aluminum can.  Enjoy!

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Our expert, Dr. Sharon E. Griffin, holds a B.S., M.S., and Ph.D. in the areas of exercise science/physiology.  She also holds a second M.S. degree in Nutrition and is a licensed nutritionist and an ACSM certified health and fitness instructor.
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