Thanks to Nestle for sponsoring this post.
Let’s chat about water today! As a Registered Dietitian, I think any time is a good time to talk about positive nutrition choices but sometimes the seasons make it easier to chat about certain subjects . Winter brings the holidays, a perfect time to talk about making healthy choices at parties and family gatherings. Spring brings the opening of farmer’s markets which makes it easy to talk about upping your vegetable intake and eating locally. Summer brings hot weather, which means it’s the perfect time to talk about hydration, ways to drink more water and why it’s important!
You’re probably familiar with the My Plate image, but did you know that many health professionals are encouraging the government to add water to the diagram to remind people to drink more water? I think it’s a great idea!
The reality is, there are far too many people out there drinking too many sugar-sweetened beverages and not enough water. Did you know that on average 20% of daily calories and nearly half of all added sugars come from beverages (not counting milk and 100% fruit juices)? Almost half of all kids and adults drink at least one sugar-sweetened beverage per day – ranging from coffee and tea to soft drinks to fruit and energy drinks.
Need another visual eye-opener? One 12 oz sugar-sweetened beverage has about 10 teaspoons of sugar! That’s over 3 Tablespoons!
So here’s the bad news- obesity rates (for both children and adults) are far higher than they should be and most people simply don’t drink enough water throughout the day. Americans purchase about one billion beverage servings (canned, bottled or in a cup) every single day and studies show that if bottled water isn’t an option, almost two thirds of people will choose soda or another sugar-sweetened beverage.
The good news is, people are starting to take action. Many studies have shown that the majority of Americans are interested in reducing their soda intake and bottle water sales are on the rise. The simple act of replacing one 12-oz (140 cal) sugar-sweetened beverage with water each day would cut 50,000 calories and more than 65 cups of sugar from your diet in a year!
When I talk to people about nutrition, I always make sure to address liquid calories. Beverages can quickly add hundreds of calories to your daily intake and many people fail to take this into consideration. In reality, your total daily calories from beverages should only be about 10-15%. That’s about 200-300 calories for a 2,000 calorie diet.
There are lots of reasons people don’t drink enough water but if you’re on a mission to increase your intake, here are four easy ways to make water more enticing:
- Add bubbles.
- Recently, my hubby made the switch from drinking mostly beer in the evenings to drinking unsweetened sparkling water and I’m so proud of him. It’s such a healthy change and for him, the carbonation and hint of flavor make it more desirable than plain water. He’s even lost a few pounds as an added bonus! And it’s cheaper than beer 🙂
- Add flavor, but not sugar.
- Buying unsweetened, flavored water or making your own flavored water using fruit or herbs can definitely make water more exciting.
- Change the temperature.
- If room temperature water doesn’t do it for you, change things up. Add lots of ice to make it ice cold, or heat it up. Remember that unsweetened tea can also be a great way to hydrate and add flavor!
- Make it available.
- The simple act of having water on-hand and available can also make a huge difference in your quest to make better beverage choices. As a general rule for many people, if something is there, they will eat or drink it. Take advantage of this built-in mentality and make water easily accessible. It’s easy to store in your lunch, purse, gym bag or car and just seeing the bottle is an easy way to remind yourself to drink more of it!
*Important note – During the summer months, when many people are more active and sweating more, it’s extra important to make sure you’re staying well hydrated and water should be your #1 choice! Be sure to bring water with you as you head to your workouts.
Are you happy drinking plain water or do you have to jazz it up a bit in order to get excited about drinking it?