I always get a kick out of meeting people who are super conscientious about what they eat, and how they work out, yet are completely oblivious (sometimes deliberately oblivious, I’m sure) to how their drinks affect their overall health and well-being—not to mention their appearance. I don’t think we all need to become puritans about what we drink, but I do think having a healthy acknowledgement of how our drinks factor into the rest of our efforts is key.
Here are a few examples of what I mean…
Guys, come on. If you like diet soda, and you just don’t want to give it up, that is fine. That is a choice you are making, and even if I think diet soda is possibly the most toxic popular beverage around, I am not going to hassle you about it. My issue is with the “healthy” people who choose this over sugary soda because it’s the “better” choice. Coach Kendra says that it absolutely is not the healthy or better choice. If you’re going to have soda at all, the “better” choices on the market today are any of the natural cane sugar sodas. If you’re just looking for something fizzy, the flavored sparkling water trend is making it easy to find something you’ll like. Diet soda, though… it’s just chemicals. It’s extremely dehydrating, and it tends to stoke cravings for salty foods. I knew a distance runner who suffered from terrible migraines, and as soon as I saw how much diet soda she drank every day and how little water she ever had, I had a clue as to what might be contributing to them. Sorry, diet soda industry, but I am NOT a fan.
I’m using Starbucks generally here, meaning “coffee drinks you buy from a coffee shop with frequency.” The caffeine and calorie content of the drinks we buy out can vary dramatically from the coffee we all used to just brew at home—and that doesn’t even take the cost of buying coffee into consideration. I like to treat myself to a fancy coffee drink sometimes, but I definitely think of this as a treat. Again, if it’s the thing you want to do with a full awareness of what that choice includes, go for it. But if you haven’t done a real assessment of how much coffee you’re buying, how often you’re buying it (or letting others buy it for you), and how it differs from what you’d make yourself at home, it’s time. And if you feel like you’re ready to cut this cord, the Fizz Sticks I love from Arbonne are a great alternative, and Green Tea can be a successful stepping stone.
I’m pulling beer out from alcohol in general because it contains gluten AND alcohol. Beer is one of those things (like coffee, but not like diet soda) where you’ll see articles about how moderate consumption is actually good for your health. I can get behind some of the claims I’ve seen, but the key is MODERATION. Beer is a beverage that leaves a distinct trace on people who go too hard. You’ve heard of a “beer belly,” right? They’re real, and unless looking like you’re pregnant (when you aren’t) is your #goal, beer should be consumed moderately. Once again, if heavy beer consumption is a choice you want to make with your eyes wide open, that’s your business, but if you’re doing everything else you can to live a healthy lifestyle and then not tracking the number of beers you drink every weekend, you’re missing a step.
You might be thinking, “Whaaaaaat?? But juice and smoothies are so healthy!” Sorry, y’all. They usually aren’t. When you juice a fruit or vegetable, you lose most of the fiber while maintaining most of the sugar. Add in some (frozen) yogurt, chocolate or peanut butter, and it doesn’t take much to move from healthy drink to milkshake. When you’re at the juice bar, really look at the calorie count most places have posted on the menu these days. You might be shocked to find out that your green smoothie that has kale in it also has as many calories as a full meal. If you just burned 500 calories at the gym and grab one of these calorie-bombs on your way out… let’s just say it’s probably not working for you.
One of the songs you’ll hear me sing over and over is that you should probably be drinking more water. Everyone thinks that means eight 8-oz glasses a day, but if you’re drinking a lot of caffeine or alcohol—or if you’re working out a lot, or if it’s really hot, or if you’re somewhere dry, etc.—your intake probably needs to go up. And tea isn’t water. Gatorade isn’t water. Lemonade isn’t water. For our purposes, assume that when I say water, I mean plain old water. Drinking enough is made so much easier if you just have a reusable water bottle you carry with you everywhere. (One of my friends has three that she cycles in and out of the fridge all day so there’s always a bottle of cold water waiting for her.) And make sure that if you’re making the effort to drink water all day, you aren’t blowing through a ton of plastic in the process. In addition to being terrible for the environment, plastic water bottles can leech chemicals into the water you’re drinking, so I recommend glass or metal reusable bottles.
Obviously, I could harp on about being mindful of your drinks all day. Maybe I’ll do a follow-up post that includes dairy, acidic beverages, sports drinks and the rest of alcohol. The big take-away today should be that when you’re evaluating your lifestyle choices, you need to include your drinks in that. Look at what you’ve had to drink in the last week, and contrast that against how consciously you’ve made other choices about your health. How are you doing? As always- if you need some help sorting out better choices, let me know!