It’s like a diet ad you’d see in the back of a magazine: Lose weight, feel better, and control your diabetes, all without changing the food you eat.
The secret? Cut out sugary sodas, fruit juices, and sports drinks. Instead, sip water, unsweetened tea, diet soda, or other beverages with few or no calories.
On any given day, about half of Americans drink at least one sugar-sweetened beverage. Besides soda, added sugars lurk in many other cans and cups, including:
• Sports drinks
• Energy drinks
• Vitamin-type waters
• Coffee drinks
• Juices with sugar added
Regular soft drinks are the number one source of added sugars in Americans’ diets, according to the American Heart Association. Experts there recommend men consume only nine teaspoons of sugar per day and women no more than six. But each 12-ounce can of soda contains eight teaspoons. That’s 130 calories from sugar alone.
Drinking sugar seems to lead to weight gain faster than eating it. That could be because liquid calories don’t fill you up like calories from solid foods. What’s more, sugary beverages have been linked to developing type 2 diabetes if you don’t already have it. They also make it harder to control your blood glucose if you do have type 1 or type 2 diabetes.
Water is the simplest alternative to sugary drinks. And it helps keep you hydrated and healthy. But you don’t have to quench your thirst with only plain old H2O. Try the following:
• Squeeze a lime or lemon into your water to add flavor.
• Sip tea or coffee without sweeteners, or with artificial sweeteners. One type, sorbitol, is absorbed more slowly than sugar and has about half the calories.
• Find low-calorie drinks or drink mixes.
• Switch to diet soda.
• Drink fruit juice with no sugar added — it will say “100 percent juice” on the label. You’ll still need to limit your portion to 4 to 6 ounces per day. Better yet, eat whole fruit. It hydrates you and also contains more nutrients and fiber to fill you up.
For diet sodas, 100% fruit juices and other low-calorie drinks and drink mixes, check out your local Rite Aid. Be sure to talk to your Rite Aid Pharmacist about your diabetes management plan.
“Ask the Registered Dietitian Archives.” American Diabetes Association, www.diabetes.org/living-with-diabetes/treatment-and-care/ask-the-expert/ask-the-dietitian/archives/my-husband-has-been-drinking.html.
“Consumption of Sugar Drinks in the United States, 2005–2008.” C.L. Ogden et al. NCHS Data Brief. No. 71. www.cdc.gov/nchs/data/databriefs/db71.pdf.
“Frank Hu, MD, PhD, MPH: Sugar-Sweetened Beverages Increase Risk of Type 2 Diabetes and Metabolic Syndrome.”American Diabetes Association. www.diabetes.org/news-research/research/research-discoveries/in-the-news/sugar-sweetened-beverages.html.
“Frequently Asked Questions About Sugar.” American Heart Association. www.heart.org/HEARTORG/GettingHealthy/NutritionCenter/HealthyDietGoals/Frequently-Asked-Questions-About-Sugar_UCM_306725_Article.jsp .
“Reducing Access to Sugar-sweetened Beverages Among Youth.” Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. www.cdc.gov/Features/HealthyBeverages .
“Sweeteners and Sugar Substitutes.” American Academy of Pediatrics. Healthychildren.org. www.healthychildren.org/English/healthy-living/nutrition/Pages/Sweeteners-and-Sugar-Substitutes.aspx.