Think Before You Drink

Concerned about your family’s health? Start by cutting back on sugary drinks; HEALTH outlines the tips below to help.

drinkDrinks like sodas, sports drinks and some juices can contain lots of added sugar. With absolute numbers of 79 million obese people and 180 million overweight people living in the MENA region we are becoming more aware of nutritional topics like the link between sugar-sweetened drinks and weight gain. Cutting back on sugary drinks will help you and your family cut calories. Cutting calories, along with adding physical activity, is key in slowing down the rate of weight gain.

Avoid Hidden Calories and Caffeine in:

Sports drinks – In most cases, your kids don’t require these sugary drinks. Suggest plain water.
Oversized sugary drinks – many bottled soft drinks actually contain two (or more) servings. Choose smaller drink sizes.
Vitamin waters – These can contain 50 or more calories a serving. Choose vitamin waters that have no calories.
Energy drinks – Many have more caffeine than colas do. Too much caffeine can lead to increased anxiety and sleep problems.
Sodas of a different shade – some orange and lemon-lime sodas contain caffeine. Read the labels.
Gourmet coffee drinks – these can pack a lot of calories, especially if they have flavorings, whole milk and whipped cream.

Replace Sugary Drinks with the Following:
• Water-plain or fruit-flavored (no-calorie or low-calorie).
• For kids, use fun-shaped cups or containers.
• Sugar free coffee or tea – replace your sugar with a no calorie sweetener, like sucralose, that tastes like sugar but doesn’t contain the empty calories.
• Soda water-plain, pre-flavored, or mixed with unsweetened juice.
• Lemonade or fruit drinks made with no-calorie sweeteners, instead of sugar.
• Nonfat or low-fat milk (after age 2), which provides calcium, protein and vitamin D. Children 2 to 8 years old should have 2 cups of nonfat/lowfat milk or dairy products per day; children 9 years and older should have 3 cups per day.

Steps to Converting Your Family to Low-Sugar Drinks 

• Have low-sugar drinks around. We drink what’s handy. So don’t stock the sugary stuff.
• Give your family choices so you won’t feel deprived: bottled water, sugar-free lemonade, nonfat/low-fat milk, iced tea flavored with no calorie
• Take your kids to the supermarket and let them pick their choice of no-calorie or low calorie drinks.

The Lowdown About Juice Boxes For Kids

• Choose one hundred percent fruit juices; other types will have added sugar. Look for those with fiber and calcium.
• Stay within these daily limits: 115 to 175 ml per day for ages 1 to 6; 235 to 355 ml per day for ages 7 to 18.
• Avoid juices at least two hours before meal times. When kids fill up on juice, they have less room for healthy foodsand they miss out on important vitamins.
• Reduce the juice…slowly. If your kids are big on juice, mix it with a small amount of water; every few days, use more water and less juice.

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