Avoid Sweetened Beverages
In collaboration with Center for the Science in the Public Interest
“I feel great, life is better without soda, and sugar in general :)” -@Lotta
“I’m really proud of myself, I feel much healthier and don’t really crave soda anymore!” -@FabulousFreya
What’s In & What’s Out
- No liquids sweetened with sugar. Sugar comes in many forms including white, brown, turbinado, raw or powdered. Sugar also includes simple syrup, agave nectar, maple syrup, honey, high fructose corn syrup, date sugar, coconut sugar, molasses etc. Sugar has many names! Check out this list of 56 names for sugar!
- No liquids sweetened with artificial sweetener such as Sucralose, Aspartame, etc.
- No soda (aka soft drinks, pop) or diet soda. Organic and “all natural” sodas are still soda, and are not allowed.
- Tea sweetened with honey is a sweetened beverage and is not allowed.
- No fruit drinks or punches.
- No sports drinks or energy drinks. This includes Gatorade, Powerade, Vitamin Water, etc.
- No sweetened coffee drinks. This includes vanilla lattés, mochas, etc.
- No cocktails with sugary mixers such as tonic, soda pop, Red Bull, etc. (Note: soda water is an allowed mixer and does not contain sugar.)
- 100% fruit juice is allowed since it doesn’t contain any added sweetener, but your body processes it like liquid sugar, so drink in moderation. Try adding some water (either flat or sparkling) to dilute it.
- Sparkling water and seltzer are allowed and encouraged! Get creative!
- Beverages sweetened solely with stevia are allowed. However, one should note that stevia can cause gastric upset, gas and bloating if one consumes too much, so limited consumption is encouraged. There are many stevia blends on the market that contain additives, so make sure that you are using stevia leaf extract only.
- If you slip, no biggie. Slipping means you’re trying, which is what counts! You can get back on track for the rest of the day.
Why This Is A Good Idea
Sugar-sweetened beverages are the largest contributors of added sugar to our diets, and according to recent analysis, account for 184,000 deaths worldwide each year. Obesity, type 2 diabetes, cavities, heart disease, low bone-density, non-alcoholic fatty liver disease and many more potentially fatal diseases have been linked with the consumption of sweetened beverages. The World Health Organization’s 2015 guidelines state that less than 10% of the calories we consume should be from added sugars. Specifically, the American Heart Association recommends that women consume no more than 6 teaspoons (about 24 grams) of added sugar per day, and men no more than 9 teaspoons (about 36 grams). For reference, a regular can of soda has 8 teaspoons of sugar. One of the best ways to meet the WHO and AMA’s guidelines are to eliminate the consumption of sweetened beverages.
Over 70% of strokes and colon cancer can be avoided, as can at least 80% of heart disease and 90% of type 2 diabetes, and diet is a significant factor. Along with exercise and not smoking, developing good eating habits (less animal products, less processed food and more veggies and fruit) can help cut your risk of diabetes by 95%, your risk of heart attack by 80% and risk of a stroke by half.
Basic Tips & Useful Hints
- Check in whenever you a) consciously avoid a sweetened drink by making a checkmark on the check-in screen, or b) drink a sweetened drink by using a slip (aka free pass) on the check-in screen. If you realize you’ve made it the entire day without any sweetened drinks, check-in by making a checkmark at the end of the day.
- Hang tight, you’re probably going to crave sugar for the first few days. But once you get through that first stretch, it will get easier.
- Keep a water bottle with you at all times, and stay well hydrated. (Like an icy cold drink? Try keeping your water in a Yeti, RTIC, Thermos, or other insulated cooler.) You might think you need a sugar fix, when really you’re just thirsty.
- Add chopped fruit and/or mint to sparkling water. A minty, cold, fizzy drink with pieces of cantaloupe and watermelon, fresh berries, grapes or orange slices at the bottom is sweet, hydrating and refreshing—without the sugar rush.
- Clean out your fridge and stock it with sparkling water and unsweetened iced tea instead. If you’re craving a sugary drink and one is staring you in the face, you’re much more likely to slip.
- Stock up on fresh or frozen fruit and veggies. Simply putting something in your mouth will help take your mind off of your sugar craving.
- Eat protein and healthy fats which help keep you full and regulate blood sugar levels; beans, nuts, organic soy products, eggs, hummus, lentils, yogurt, cheese, fish and avocado are all great sources.
- Eat solid, nutritious meals to help regulate blood sugar levels, and keep cravings at bay.
- If you think you might cry without a quick sugar fix, grab a piece of fruit or a date to satisfy your craving.
- Read the label! Sugar is often hidden in beverages that are marketed as being healthy.
- Sparkling water (or a SodaStream) to get your bubbly fix.
- Hit the tea aisle (for loose or bagged tea) for a flavored drink alternative.
- Buy frozen fruit—mango chunks and frozen berries double as ice cubes in your fizzy water.
- The produce section is your new bff! Buy whole fruits to satisfy your sugar craving, and veggies to give you fiber.
- Buy veggies that can be eaten raw as a snack—zucchini, cauliflower, carrots, celery, bell peppers, green beans.
- Have hummus on hand, for the veggies.
- Your favorite proteins—sustainably sourced fish, lean meats, organic tofu, etc.
- Hit the bulk bins, the mothership of protein-rich beans and nutritious whole grains like amaranth, bulgur, brown rice, buckwheat and quinoa.
- Nuts and nut butters
- Brown rice cakes, for the nut butters
Smart Things To Read And Watch
- The Last Conversation You’ll Ever Need to Have About Eating Right
- A video on added sugar from the University of California
- Sugar industry’s funding of research - Marion Nestle’s commentary
- Sugar Shock
- CSPI’s Nutrition Action health letter Interview with Marion Nestle
- Non-Alcoholic Drinks and Fatty Liver Disease
- Harvard Nutrition Source Added Sugar in the Diet
- Labeling the Danger in Soda
- Why You Need To Say Goodbye To Soda For Good
- The Sugar-Heart Connection
- Here’s How Diet Soda Messes With Your Brain
- The sugar conspiracy
- CSPI Downgrades Sucralose from “Caution” to “Avoid”
- The Bitter Truth by Dr. Robert Lustig
- Sugary Drinks Take a Deathly Toll
- Cutting sugar from kids’ diets improves health in just days
- A Calorie is Not a Calorie
- 56 names for sugar
- Eliminate Most of Your Chronic Disease Risk in Four Steps
Note: Foodstand is not focused on the number on the scale. Weight loss can be a byproduct of developing healthier eating habits, but if you have questions about your weight, please contact your physician.