Health Department

Rethink your Drink

Rethink your Drink

by Larry D. Jones, MPH, Health Director

January 30, 2012

Getting enough water every day is important for your health. Healthy people meet their fluid needs by drinking when thirsty and drinking with meals. Most of your fluid needs are met through the water and beverages you drink. However, you can get some fluids through the foods that you eat. For example, broth in soups and foods with high water content such as celery, tomatoes, or melons can contribute to fluid intake.

Water can help your body in numerous ways. It can help keep your temperature normal, lubricate and cushion joints, protect your spinal cord and other sensitive tissues, and get rid of wastes through urination, perspiration, and bowel movements.

When it comes to weight loss, there's no lack of diets promising fast results. There are low-carb diets, high-carb diets, low-fat diets, grapefruit diets, cabbage soup diets, and blood type diets, to name a few. But no matter what diet you may try, to lose weight, you must take in fewer calories than your body uses. Most people try to reduce their calorie intake by focusing on food, but another way to cut calories may be to think about what you drink.

Calories in drinks are not hidden (they're listed right on the Nutrition Facts label), but many people don't realize just how many calories beverages can contribute to their daily intake. As you can see in the following example, calories from drinks can really add up. But there is good news: you have plenty of options for reducing the number of calories in what you drink.

Instead of your morning medium latte, try a small latte with fat free milk and save 140 calories. Instead of a 20-ounce cola, try a bottle of water and save 227 calories. Instead of sweetened iced tea, try water with a lemon slice and save 180 calories. By trying these mentioned switches, you will save more than 500 calories in one day!

Now that you know how much difference a drink can make, here are some ways to make smart beverage choices.

Choose water, diet, or low-calorie beverages instead of sugar-sweetened beverages. For a quick, easy, and inexpensive thirst-quencher, carry a water bottle and refill it throughout the day. Don't "stock the fridge" with sugar-sweetened beverages. Instead, keep a jug or bottles of cold water in the fridge. Serve water with meals. Make water more exciting by adding slices of lemon, lime, cucumber, or watermelon, or drink sparkling water. Add a splash of 100% juice to plain sparkling water for a refreshing, low-calorie drink. When you do opt for a sugar-sweetened beverage, go for the small size. Some companies are now selling 8-ounce cans and bottles of soda, which contain about 100 calories. Be a role model for your friends and family by choosing healthy, low-calorie beverages.

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