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Don't drink your calories!

Happy St. Patrick's day to you all! Today, I celebrated by treating myself to something healthy and sweet after lunch from the yogurt shop in our hospital. I chose a green fruit & veggie smoothie that was packed with nutrients. The drink inspired today's "Healthy Tip Tuesday" post in honor of National Nutrition Month!


In my "real" life I teach weight management classes in pediatrics. One of the biggest problems I see is that many drinks contain added sugar and offer little or no nutritional value. There are also some drink choices that may have more nutritional value, but also have excessive calories and fat. This is a problem not only within our pediatric population but with adults as well. The thing we have to remember is that we need what we put into our bodies to have a balance of nutritional value and decreases calories, fat, and sugar.


EMPTY CALORIES ARE NO GOOD!


Avoiding high calorie and sugary drinks can reduce our overall calorie intake throughout the day leaving more room for nutritious healthy meals. Wouldn't you rather eat a meal than drink a soda for lunch? Depending on the size of your soda, you could be consuming just as many calories from it as you would be from your healthy meal!


Here are a few tips on how to drink smart:


1) Drink Water - water is zero calorie and zero sugar and its FREE. Hydration is so important to our entire body. Every little thing from how we digest food, our blood pressure, brain and muscle function all depend on how hydrated we are. Our first and primary beverage choice should always be water. Aim for half your body weight in fluid ounces. So (for example) if you weigh 120 lbs, half of that is 60, you would need 60 fluid ounces of water a day. If you need to change it up, add fruit to your water to add flavor and give it a kick.


2) Avoid sodas that are both high calorie and high in sugar. Try to limit these to two a week. Choosing sugar free or diet sodas is not any better. Though they may not have any real sugar they will still be packed with salt and calories. If you're looking for something carbonated try a flavored carbonated water instead. Dasani has a whole line that you can buy canned or bottled to keep at home.


3) Be sure you're drinking less juice. If you really want something with flavor juice is a great option, especially if your drinking REAL fruit juice. Aim for only 1 cup a day, that's about 8oz. AGAIN, be sure we are drinking 100% all natural fruit juice with no added sugar and be sure to read your food label! Check and compare calories and sugars to ensure you're buying the best option. Processed fruit juices that are made with artificial flavorings and added sugars may not be the best option.


4) Avoid drinking sports drinks when you're not being active. Too often I see parents and children alike sipping on Gatorade like it's tea. While sports drinks are made to hydrate, they are targeted at people who are BEING ACTIVE. When you're active you're sweating and losing  key electrolytes like sodium and potassium. Sports drinks are made to replenish those stores so, they are made with high amounts of salt, sugars, and calories. If you are not exercising for more than an hour and sweating fairly well, you can skip the Gatorade. When you are being active be sure to find sports drinks that are lower in calories like G2, Nuun, or pHenOH. These drinks are made to replenish stores without all the extra stuff.  For information on hydration during exercise click here


5) Don't forget your dairy! We need to be sure we're getting adequate calcium and vitamin D. Milk is also a great way to rehydrate after (not during) exercise. Milk is natures sports drink and it provides plenty of nutrition. Be sure to go for either low fat (1%) or fat free (skim) milk. 2% and whole milk carry unnecessary calories, fat, and cholesterol. Most adults and children over the age of 9 don't need more than 3 cups of diary total per day. If you prefer a milk alternative such as soy or almond be sure to buy brands that are fortified with calcium and vitamin D as they are much lower in the nutrients than regular cows milk. Also, be aware of added calories from flavored options.


6) Go for hebal tea. Herbal teas like green tea offer antioxidants which can improve immune function. Adding excessive sugar to sweeten may not be the bet option however. If you can tolerate unsweetened tea, this is your best bet. If  not, keep it to a minimum, 1-2 tsp or less.


You may be wondering about my inspiration for today? How do smoothies fit in? Well, I tend to count these as a food rather than just a drink. Due to the high amount of fruits and vegetables used and the minimal amount of water or fruit juice, I consider them snacks or meals which means I don't have one everyday unless it replaces a meal.


I hope you're all having a healthy NNM and happy Running!
Priscilla



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