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Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Time to Review: What Are You Drinking?

In March of 2009, I wrote about beverages and how they can be part of a healthy diet or contribute to a disastrous diet.  I am writing about what we drink and how it affects your body again because of a teen I met who is seriously overweight and already has some serious health problems.

I grew up drinking the occasional soda, usually grape or orange, but it wasn't an everyday thing.  My parents served me milk, water and orange juice most of the time.  As I got older, I became addicted to caffeine and drank sodas everyday.  At some point, I grew tired of being tied to caffeine and weaned myself off sodas.  Now I rarely drink one because they are too sweet.  My husband drinks coffee and tea with Splenda.  My kids have sodas once in awhile but drink G-2, milk or water most of the time. 

What's wrong with sodas?  A 12 oz. can of soda contains around 160 calories but has no nutritional value.  All that drink has to contribute to your body is another layer around your waist.  Let's say you need 2000 calories a day to maintain a normal body weight.  (Of course, your calorie needs vary based on age, sex, activity level, etc.)  And, let's say you drink about 6 cans of soda a day.  That's 960 calories just for the soda and you haven't eaten a thing.  If you add just two slices of pepperoni pizza to your day, that's about 580 calories, leaving you with only 460 calories or one quarter pounder with cheese but no fries, to eat.  Not alot of food for one day if you are concerned about not gaining weight. 

If you drink alot of soda or other sweet drinks, you could see a big difference in your health just by switching to water, unsweetened tea or nonfat milk.  You have to remember that most everything you put into your mouth has calories in it and contributes either to your good health or to wrecking your health.  All that sugar in soda also causes problems for your body that can eventually lead to diabetes. 

I am hoping that young man can get the help he needs to understand how important better nutrition and exercise is to his health.  Otherwise, he may find in a few years that he was middle aged when he was 17, like so many who start having health problems, even heart attacks, in their 30's. 

In the meantime, try this drink as an alternative to sodas.  Fill a glass with ice, then at least 1/2 way with seltzer water.  Top it off with limeade and a tsp. of maraschino cherry juice.  It still has some carbonation and fewer calories.  Use more seltzer water for even less calories.  It's light and refreshing.      

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