Cutting back on sugary drinks can improve your health, but that doesn’t mean it’s always easy to do. Every day, we generally consume or eat something that contains added sugar making it a challenge to reduce the amount of sugar we’re taking in.
Did you know that sugary drinks are the leading source of added sugar in our diet? According to the CDC, frequently drinking sugary drinks can lead to weight gain, obesity, type 2 diabetes, heart disease, kidney diseases, tooth decay and cavities, gout, and non-alcoholic liver disease. Sugary drinks can increase your risk of health problems overall therefore it’s important to limit the number of sugary drinks in your diet.
So, how can you switch out those sugary drinks? Our registered dietitian nutritionist, Sarah Wilcox, MS, RD, LD, shares 5 fun ways to reduce sugary drinks in your diet to help you maintain a healthy weight and have a healthy diet:
1. Switch out fruit juices with infused waters:
Here are a few ideas:
- Cucumber slices can make water taste fresh.
- Lemon, limes, and oranges slices make for a refreshing citrus flavor.
- Berries break down in the water, so an infuser works nicely to reduce the number of berry pieces that make it into your water while still allowing the flavor of the berry to shine through.
- If you do not want to purchase an infuser you can add fruit to water and then strain the water into another container to remove the fruit pieces or drink it with the fruit in it.
- Try adding fresh herbs to your water to add new flavors to water. Often these are best if mulled (pressed and lightly crushed, usually using a twisting and pressing motion in a bowl with a spoon or a drink muddle).
- There are lots of flavors that you can try and experiment with, some popular ones include watermelon or strawberry with fresh mint, grapefruit with fresh rosemary, or strawberry, lemon with fresh basil.
2. Limit sports drinks after exercise:
- If you need additional electrolytes, you can get them by consuming food.
- After exercising or working out, eat some snacks, fresh fruits, or vegetables.
- Snack on seeds: Chia seeds, flax seeds, and pumpkin seeds are high in electrolytes and can be added to meals throughout the day with little calorie addition.
- HYDRATE WITH WATER. The best way to prevent dehydration is by consuming enough water.
3. If you have a hard time reducing sugary drinks:
- Start small.
- Try watering down your sugary drinks, mixing sweet and unsweet tea, or water down the juice with water.
- Increase your fruit intake to provide alternate ways of consuming a healthy sweet.
- Cut back to 8 ounces of juice a day. (Daily recommendation is 8 ounces or less for most people)
- Cut milk down to two to three 8 ounce cups per day.
4. Cut down of fancy coffees or mixed drinks:
- Replace sugary coffee drinks with black coffee, or coffee with a small amount of creamer. Sugar-free flavors or low-sugar sweeteners can also help reduce sugar.
- Infuse hot tea with fruits, cinnamon, or other herbs as listed above.
5. Drink More Water
- Drinking water can help reduce your sugar intake and maintain healthy eating habits. It can lower blood sugar levels by reducing the amount of sugar in your bloodstream.
- Make sure you are drinking enough water in the day, eleven to fifteen 8 ounce cups are recommended per day.
Sarah Wilcox MS RD LD