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In my world, 500 calories of cake tastes a lot better (and lasts longer) than 500 calories of soda. I’d prefer to use my calories on food not drinks. Occasionally I’ll have some iced tea, a glass of orange juice, or a chocolate milk, but the amount of sugar in those bad boys adds up real quick. Can you believe that a large caramel iced mocha iced coffee from Dunkin Donuts has 350 calories and 48 grams of sugar?! Like money, I’m thinking of all the ways I’d rather spend those 350 calories.

Below are a few quick guidelines on making healthy beverage choices.

Healthy Beverages Look for drinks with 10 calories or less per serving (except for milk…milk is OK). I recommend staying hydrated with mostly water and milk.

Choose

  • Water and lots of it (enough to stay hydrated)
  • Seltzer water
  • Naturally sweetened fruit flavored sparkling water (Whole Foods, Polar, Poland Springs)
  • Herbal teas (peppermint is a favorite)
  • Crystal Light Pure (sweetened with Stevia)
  • Vitamin Water Zero (sweetened with Stevia)
  • Milk/milk substitute (rice milk, soy milk, almond milk, coconut milk) drink with calcium!

As a general rule, I make an effort to go very easy on the drinks listed below. Drinks with 10 calories or more per serving can quickly turn into a liquid deathtrap of sugar and wasted calories.

Limit/Avoid

  • Regular soda
  • Juice/juice drinks
  • Flavored milks
  • Milkshakes and large smoothies (not homemade)
  • Coffee drinks
  • Iced teas/lemonades
  • Sports/Energy drinks
  • Most drinks with artificial sweeteners

Here are a few beverage FAQs

What about milk? Can’t I get my calcium from foods like broccoli?

  • Milk (either cow’s milk or from vegan source) is an excellent source of calcium and we all need calcium. Yes, it is true that you can get calcium from foods like broccoli, BUT you would need to eat an obscene amount of broccoli to meet your calcium needs from food alone. For example, women between 19-50 years old need 1,000 mg of calcium in a day and 1/2 cup of raw broccoli contains 47 mg. A serving 8oz of cow’s milk or soy milk contains 300mg. The math speaks for itself. Even if you are not a fan of cow’s milk, there are so many tasty calcium rich alternatives to try! Here are a few to consider: Silk, Dream, Blue Diamond.

Is it OK for my kids to have drinks with artificial sweeteners?

  • This is really up to you. The research suggests that artificial sweeteners are safe. Personally, I’m not a huge fan of consuming large quantities of unnecessary man-made chemicals in my foods and beverages.  I will occasionally have a diet soda but that’s about it. I would not serve these drinks to my children if that helps.

How much juice should I give to my kids?

  • Infants under 6 months of age should not be given juice
  • Infants between 6 and 12 months can drink up to 4 to 6 ounces of juice a day in a cup (not a bottle)
  • Children aged 1 to 6 years should have only 4 to 6 ounces of juice a day
  • Everyone else….skip the juice and eat the whole fruit!

Reference: American Academy of Pediatrics

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