Have you heard the term: Sugar-Sweetened Beverage? Perhaps you have seen materials labeled “Re-think Your Drink”. Both of these refer to the movement in public health agencies, health organizations, and school systems to reduce the amount of sugary drinks people consume. These organizations and many other health professionals are promoting replacement of added sugar drinks with drinks like water, to help people lower their disease risks.
A recent article on the New York Times blog Well stated that the Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee is getting onboard with this guidance by officially reporting their recommendation to limit added sugars to no more than 10% of an adults total calorie intake. This ends up looking like about 12 teaspoons of added sugar that may come in the form of soda, juice, energy drinks, or sports drinks. These recommendations are what is put into a report every five years and then is sent to the US Department of Health and Human Services, along with the US Department of Agriculture who then use them to publish the Dietary Guidelines for Americans.
So, why is everyone picking on sugary drinks and not just sugar in all foods? According to this report, American’s on average drink 22-30 teaspoons of sugar per day instead of healthier drink options. Beverages are so easy to gulp down, that most people forget to think of these as a big contributor to weight gain and then disease risk. Starting with a healthy change in American’s beverage choices could decrease disease and obesity risk more than focusing on general sugar, fat, overeating, exercise, and all the other recommendations for solving these problems.
Here are some tips on how to start making this change in your own life:
- Only keep water in the house. Save sodas and other high-sugar drinks for special occasions or nights out. By doing this you keep them to a minimum.
- Replace your sugar-sweetened beverage habit with a healthier one. Make your own fruit or herb-infused water beverage at home. You can be creative with seasonal fruits (berries, melon, grapes, etc.), or other herbs (mint, thyme, rosemary, etc.), or you could use sparkling water instead of still.
- Replace your sugar-sweetened beverage habit with a diet choice. While, water is the #1 choice, some people have a really hard time with their cravings for sodas or sweetened tea drinks. So, swap out for the diet version that may satisfy that sweet tooth without adding in all the sugar and calories.
The sky is the limit when it comes to your creativity. So, play with your infusions and ask friends or family to weigh in on which flavor they like best. Remember that you’re making this change in order to benefit your health and to lower your risk of obesity-related diseases like diabetes. And here’s to smart sippin’!
Special thanks to dietetic intern Rebecca Dehamer for her contributions to this post.