Tip 7: Mind the drinks

One area which people often overlook is when cleaning up their diet is what they are drinking. We all know that too much alcohol isn’t good for us, but what about other drinks? When you are thirsty do you reach for a glass of water or something like juice, cola or tea? If you are looking to get healthy and save money, you need to mind the drinks!

The biggest issue is that many popular drinks are just not that healthy. Fizzy drinks in particular provide nothing in the way of nutrition – no vitamins, minerals, protein, fibre, etc. Many of the most popular beverages – such as squash, smoothies, energy drinks and cola – are also loaded with sugar. Plain tea and coffee are fine in moderation, but most of us put milk and/or sugar in our hot drinks. Three large coffees with two sugars (2 tsp or 10g per coffee) adds up to your entire daily allowance of added sugar! Plus, squash, fizzy drinks, and store bought smoothies are highly processed. As I discussed in a previous post, the more processed your food and drink, the more likely you are to be obese.

Many of my clients are surprised at just how many of their calories come from juices, teas, coffee, fizzy drinks and alcohol. The problem is the body does not register liquid calories in the same way as solid ones. This makes it easy to consume loads of calories though drinks without it affecting your appetite for other foods. You may have had over 300 kcal in your giganti-whipped-mocha-frappuccio but still be hungry enough for the cake to go with it. This is bad news for both your waistline and your wallet!

What’s more, too much caffeine can really interfere with sleep. Most people don’t realise that the half life of caffeine can be anywhere from 4 to 6 hours. This means it takes at least four hours for the amount of caffeine in your system to decrease by half.  An average cup of coffee has 95mg per 250mL mug, with black tea coming in at 30-45mg per mug, depending on how long you brew it for. Plus,  some coffee shop coffees can have insane amounts of caffeine, not to mention sugar.  A venti (20 oz.) Starbucks blonde roast coffee can have 475 mg of caffeine, more than the daily recommended amount of 400mg! With a half life of 6 hours, it could take 24 hours for that amount of caffeine to leave your system.

One of the easiest things you can do to save money and improve your health is to drink more water. Tap water is free and has no calories. Note that bottled water is no healthier than tap water, and often contains far higher concentrations of microplastics. Water also fills you up and keeps you hydrated, which means you are less likely to overeat. In fact, studies have shown that people who drink a glass of water before a meal eat less. One of the reasons for this is that we often confuse hunger and thirst. We get a significant amount of the fluids we need from the foods we eat, so it’s understandable. But the next time you feel hungry between meals, start with a glass of water!

By all means, have a small glass of juice with breakfast or a morning coffee. Just be mindful of what you’re drinking and how often. Because no matter how cheap the drink, it’s still more expensive than tap water.

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