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Wednesdays With Whitney (or Katie!)

Today's special guest writer is Katie Davenport, Dietetic Intern from UMO, who is currently interning with our very own Whitney!

Question: What are good alternatives to the high-sugar cold drinks, like slushies and frappes, to beat the heat in the summer?

Before talking about how to cut back on sugar, let’s discuss why we should limit the amount of sugar we eat and drink.

Excess sugar is known to be a major cause of obesity and chronic diseases, such as diabetes, heart disease, cancer. Not only does extra sugar harm your body, it can also affect your mind. Sugar can make you feel sluggish, groggy, moody, or depressed. Often, when you cut back on sugar, you feel a lot better both mentally and physically.

Now, back to the question.

Sugar-sweetened drinks like soda, juice, and sweet tea are loaded with sugar. Dietary Guidelines for Americans 2015-2020 suggests limiting calories from added sugar to less than 10% of calories each day. This means if you eat 2,000 calories each day, you should limit your added sugars to less than 50 grams over the course of the day. To put this into perspective, this is how much sugar is in some popular drinks, and some better-for-you alternatives:

Drink options and alternatives with sugar per serving

Water, of course, is the healthiest drink you could be having. If you do not like the taste of water, I recommend adding either Crystal Light packets or real fruit pieces. Some favorite fruit combinations are lemon and lime, raspberries and blueberries, orange and strawberries, or mango and pineapple. Seltzer water and sparkling water are good options, too, especially if you like bubbly drinks.

In the summer heat, it is very important that you stay hydrated. If you do not get enough fluids each day, you could become dehydrated. Try to drink at least 8 cups of water or sugar-free drinks every day. If you are spending more time outside in the heat, drink more than 8 cups. Sipping on water throughout the day is the best way to prevent dehydration from happening in the first place.

Lastly, whenever you buy a drink, check the Nutrition Facts panel on the bottle or package. This can tell you a lot about the drink you are buying. Under ‘Total Carbohydrate’ on this panel, you will see ‘Total Sugars’ and ‘Includes ____ g Added Sugars.’ Aim for 0 g of added sugars and less than 15 grams of total sugars per serving. Following this guideline can help you cut back on sugars in your diet.

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