A few months ago, I shared this picture from MyPlate on our Facebook page. It really surprised me because 400 calories is how much most people need for an entire meal. Much of those calories are coming from added sugar in soda or fruit-flavored drinks (not 100% juice).
Why does it matter?
- We are getting way too much added sugar in our diets. Regular soda is the leading source of added sugar in our diets.
- Drinking calories doesn’t make you feel full in the same way that eating the same amount of calories would. So you end up eating more later on.
- Buying soda and fruit drinks takes away from money that could be spent on nutritious foods. This is a major issue for those of us with limited food budgets.
- Many children in America don’t drink enough water. (Read more about how much water kids need every day from Kids Eat Right.)
Water is Better.
- Water is one of 6 essential nutrients your body needs to function. In fact, our bodies are about 60% water.
- Water is sugar and calorie free. You can drink it without worrying about your weight.
- There is some evidence that drinking water before meals can actually help you eat less calories, aiding in weight management.
- Tap water is available and free, at home and in most restaurants. There’s no need to spend extra on bottled water, when a lot of times, it’s also just tap water, too.
- Water doesn’t have to be boring or flavorless. You can jazz up plain water with sliced fruit, veggies, or herbs.
Got Milk and Juice?
Milk and 100% juice have calories. But they also have essential nutrients, like vitamins and minerals, that soda doesn’t. We need 3 cups of dairy a day, but this also includes low-fat cheese and yogurt. Most days, you won’t need to drink 3 cups of milk to get all your dairy.
Likewise, 100% juice is an easy way to get fruit. But whole fruit (fresh, frozen or canned in 100% juice) has more nutrients, especially fiber, than juice. For that reason, we should limit 100% juice to just 1 cup (8 ounces) a day. For young kids, who need less fruit, ½ cup (4 ounces) a day is all they should drink.
Some beverages that contain calories (milk and 100% juice) are fine to drink, but most of our hydration should come from plain old water. Cutting out sugary drinks is better for our waistlines and wallets. Here are 10 Tips for Making Better Beverage Choices from MyPlate to help you drink smarter.