Our resident Nutritionist and Health Editor, Melissa Fine gives us the lowdown on the nasties hiding in some common, everyday drinks.
Sometimes obvious, sometimes not, sugar is abundant in commercial drinks, from soft drinks and sports drinks to fructose-loaded fruit juice…And there’s a reason why it’s easier to drink your morning chai than it is a coffee: Syrup - Stick to chai made with a tea bag and a drop of milk instead.
Also be cautious of packaged coconut waters which claim to be ‘all natural’ – Some are loaded with added sugar (AKA ‘evaporated cane juice’) when you read the ingredients list; Unnecessary seeing that coconut water has a subtle, natural sweetness and a nice nutty flavour anyway – No need to add the refined white stuff, which has no nutritional value and encourages weight gain when consumed in excess.
I know it’s tempting to crack open an ice-cold diet cola in this heat and yes it doesn’t have any kilojoules, but what it does have is things like aspartame, an artificial sweetener that contains phenylalanine – I’m not even going to tell you how to pronounce this one because it’s an ingredient you’d never find in your pantry.
Another thing with artificial sweeteners: They aren’t tummy friendly because our bodies aren’t designed to digest them – The reason why the label on many diet food products (which aren’t really real food at all) includes a warning in miniscule writing about a high consumption having a laxative effect.
I also know if I have a diet soft drink to curb a sweet craving, it initially does the trick, but then leaves me feeling unsatisfied, and I end up following it with something sweet anyway. If you get a sweet craving or need an energy hit, go for a piece of fresh fruit with a handful of raw nuts instead, or a couple squares 85% dark chocolate for a little caffeine hit; This will actually satisfy your sweet tooth and help steady your blood sugar and energy levels.
If you’re a bit addicted to diet soft drink, you could try wean yourself off the stuff by substituting it with Stolen Recipe’s Mint Lemon Lime Ice Tea – 100% natural, it’s made with freshly brewed, refreshing peppermint tea (no tea extract); And unlike diet soft drink, it may soothe your gut due to peppermint’s anti-spasmodic properties…I also like to jazz up a glass of ice cold water with a splash of this. Yum!
I fell for the hidden kilojoule trap with the one-too-many coffees I had back at uni; I would have a large chai latte mid-morning and a soy latte come 3.30, followed by a yoghurt or a nut bar for my snack. A few months of this and a few sneaky kilos crept on.
It’s easy to forget (or pretend to forget ;) that bar water, beverages contain energy – So for the average person, if you’re going to have an afternoon milky coffee, consider that your snack. And I know it might only cost $1 more, but skip the large size of whatever you’re drinking (be it a coffee, juice or coconut water); Your waistline will thank you and you may feel more energetic too – All that extra liquid can weigh you down.