Stop and Think Before You Sip that Drink!

The following post was written by our Chief Dietitian Samantha Mark, RD, CDN

Congratulations, you’re finally enjoying your healthy food choices when you’re suddenly invited to meet a friend or business colleague for dinner. With good nutrition in mind you order a salad (with light dressing on the side), and a soda instead of alcohol.  For the main course you choose to order a piece of grilled fish and rice, and a second soda.

This dinner was picturesque nutritionally–but you still lose!

Why? The sodas!

Many of us often forget that sodas contribute calories to our diets. Lots of them, at times. According to the Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI), carbonated soft drinks are the single biggest source of calories in the American diet, providing about 7% of calories.  One can of soda can set you back over 140 calories. As the USDA has noted, it would require the average person to walk an additional 30 minutes just to burn off those calories!

Instead, hydrate the right way. Drinking enough fluids is always important but make sure you make the best beverage choice. Nowadays, unfortunately, we are surrounded by sugar-laden drinks. (Natural sugars are okay and should be the preferred choice of sugar in our diets. But be careful of additives and added sugar.)

So how to choose? Water is a great place to start. It has zero calories and can help to nourish your body.  Consume six to eight (eight ounce) glasses of water each day. Everyone’s needs will vary a bit based on height, weight, gender and activity level.

You can always try adding a little fresh fruit to water (citrus works well). Cucumber water is also incredibly refreshing (merely slice up cucumber and add to chilled water).

If you are going to have fruit juice, always choose 100% fruit juice and limit yourself to four ounces (half of a cup) per day. You can water it down or add seltzer to make it last a bit longer.

It seems that diet soda will forever be surrounded by conflicting points of view. My best advice? Consume them in moderation–the Mayo Clinic recommends limiting yourself to one can or less per day. And although they contain no calories, in most cases they do not contribute many nutrients, either. In short, diet and sugar-free beverages should not take the place of water.

Looking for something different to sip on? Try seltzer (naturally flavored works well), fat-free or 1% milk, unsweetened iced tea, or plain coffee (those fancy double-flavored doozies add a ton of calories!).

A quick, easy way to be sure you’re getting enough fluids: check your urine, aim for clear.

A well-hydrated body is a happy one!

Until next time,



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