Our food choices tend to be the focus of our attention when we look at our diet. But don't forget that beverage choices can add a lot of unintentional calories, carbohydrates/sugars, and in some cases fat if we are not careful.
Water is typically the very best choice for quenching our thirst and meeting our body's fluid needs, keeping us hydrated so everything in our bodies works better. Water has no calories, and is relatively easy to find. Keep water handy all day to sip on. When it is hot out and you are more physically active, make an effort to drink even more.
Try to limit the sugary drinks you consume like regular soda, fruit punch, energy drinks and sweet tea. They will contribute a lot of simple sugar and empty calories to your diet, and raise your blood sugar rapidly if you have diabetes. One twelve ounce regular soda has about 150 calories and 40 grams of carbohydrate. This is the equivalent to 10 teaspoons of sugar.
Milk can be a healthy addition to your beverage choices, in moderation. It is a great source of calcium and vitamin D. If you are counting your carbs, watch the portion size and keep to about an 8 ounce glass. The calories can add up quickly when you go from skim or 1-2 percent to whole. Fruit juices (without added sugars) can be a healthy part of your diet, but in moderation. A four ounce glass (1/2 cup) is typically considered a serving. For people with diabetes, caution needs to be exercised when including fruit juices.
Coffee and tea without added sugars can be a part of your diet. The general caffeine recommendation is 200 mg or less per day. That's about two cups of brewed coffee. Energy drinks typically contain a lot of caffeine and sugar. Too much caffeine can raise your blood pressure or add to your jitters if you have anxiety-type tendencies.
If water gets boring, or you're trying to switch from sugary drinks to water, you may like to mix it up a little with some flavor enhancers. Natural ways include fresh citrus slices, cucumber slices, crushed berries or fresh mint.
Try the following recipe for a simple way to spruce your water up.
Emily Aughtman is a registered dietitian and certified diabetes educator who has worked at SSM Health-St. Mary's Hospital in Jefferson City for more than 15 years.