Ever wonder why you crave bubbly or sweet drinks? If you can’t pass up that daily super-sized soda, your body may be trying to compensate for a vitamin or mineral deficiency. First, see your doctor and make sure your diet meets your nutritional needs. If not, there are lots of healthy, refreshing alternatives to carbonation and high fructose corn syrup. Here’s how to blend familiar favorites to create new tastes; plus, we’ve got the most innovative recipes for warm-weather beverages.
Your cravings explained
Sugar gives you a quick energy boost, but the downside is the ‘crash’ that follows.
- “A typical 12-ounce can of regular cola contains 9 ½ teaspoons of added sugars; a 20-ounce bottle contains 16 teaspoons of sugar.” The daily dietary guidelines for added sugar is nine teaspoons for men; six teaspoons for women.
- “In either case, one sugary drink a day puts you at or over the recommended level.”
- “ … according to the Center for Science in the Public Interest, soda is the single greatest source of calories in the American diet, representing about 7% of our calories.“
How common soda ingredients affect you
“Caloric beverages contribute to weight gain more than solid foods because the body doesn’t compensate fully for beverage calories by reducing calorie intake from other foods. Adults who drink one sugary drink or more per day are 27 percent more likely to be overweight or obese than non-drinkers, regardless of income or ethnicity.”
Quick: when you think of cutting back on caffeine, are you more likely to skip that Starbucks run or pass up soda? Many people don’t realize that all colas and many other traditional varieties of soda contain caffeine. Depending on your taste preferences and whether or not you supersize, you may be getting as much caffeine from soda as your co-workers get in a venti latte.
- How much is too much? The Mayo Clinic advises Americans to limit caffeine consumption to 400 mg. per day. The experts warn that excessive consumption can lead to a host of problems including headaches, stomach complaints, urinary problems, muscle tremors, increased heart rate, nervousness, irritability, and insomnia.
- Caffeine affects people differently. Factors such as body weight, general health, and frequency of consumption should all be considered.
- The Center for Science in the Public Interest has all the info you need about the caffeine content of soda, tea, and coffee.
Artificial colors and flavors
Consumer Reports advises that caramel coloring has been identified as a possible carcinogen. “Some types of this artificial coloring contain a potentially carcinogenic chemical called 4-methylimidazole (4-MeI). The brand cited in this article has since changed its formula, but you should check with the manufacturer of your favorite brand.
The American Chemical Society recently published an article on the subject of natural and artificial food colorings. Click here for information on the seven FDA-approved artificial colors.
How to kick the soda habit
Experts suggest you gradually introduce different beverage to optimize your chances for lasting change. Your best bet is to drink more water, so start with swapping one soda for a glass of flavored water. Flavored waters can be pricey, so why not make your own. It’s easy if you buy a bottle or pitcher that has an insert for fruit or herbs such as mint.
Caffeine withdrawal strategies
Again, you’re most likely to succeed if you slowly reduce your consumption. If you’re craving an energy boost, try adding ginger to soft drinks such as lemonade or including it in main dish recipes. Ginger tea or ginger tea blends are an easy way to get that ‘kick’ you need. (Reflexology practitioners advise massaging your ears from tip to lobe if you need a quick pick-me-up!)
Avoid temptation by steering clear of the soda aisle or by keeping it on hand only when you’re expecting guests.
Hectic schedules and long work days increase the temptation to take shortcuts. You should be getting the energy you need from a balanced diet, not a bucket-sized serving of cola. Check with your doctor to see if you have any nutritional deficiencies and make the appropriate changes.
Flatulence Cures advises readers to stave off sugar cravings – which indicates you’re compensating for being tired – by eating “a substantial breakfast.”
Again, most people should try to increase their daily water consumption. Make it more palatable by adding berry, lemon, or mint to your glass. (See above for links to an infuser bottle or pitcher.)
If you just can’t stand to down any more water, try herbal tea.
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*These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease.