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Think before you drink

November 16, 2017
Amanda Bohlen , MOV Parent

On average, Americans are drinking more soft drinks, sports drinks and sweetened tea, not to mention sweetened coffee beverages. And just because we're drinking more calories, studies show we are not exercising more or consuming fewer calories from our food choices. This energy imbalance can lead to weight gain. To maintain your energy balance, here are some healthy, thirst-quenching tips.

WATER: The old hard and fast rule was that you were to drink six to eight 8-ounce glasses of water a day. However, the rule was actually just an estimate and the amount you should be drinking can vary based on gender, weight, activity level and other special considerations. Larger, more active people need more fluids. A general guide is around 125 ounces for men and 91 ounces for women. Your goal should be to drink enough for your urine to be mostly colorless and odor-free. According to the CDC water helps your body:

Keep your temperature normal

Lubricate and cushion joints

Protect your spinal cord and other sensitive tissues

Get rid of wastes through urination, perspiration, and bowel movements

They also report that your body needs more water when you are:

In hot climates

More physically active

Running a fever

Having diarrhea or vomiting

Do you find yourself struggling to get your water intake in? I grew up with a pitcher of sweet tea in the refrigerator at all times so drinking plain water was very difficult for me. I craved flavor. So I started to infuse my water with fruit. If you are new to fruit infused water you may be taken back by the fact that it's not sweetened. It's a little hard on the taste buds at first especially if you are used to drinking sweetened beverages. I would recommend starting with fruit that is already really sweet, like pineapple, to help trick your taste buds since there is no added sugar. Then, as you become accustom to the less sweet taste, you can experiment with other flavors. Make sure to prepare your infused water at least 2 to 3 hours before you plan to drink it to allow time for flavors to blend. Refrigerated infused water can be kept for up to 3 days. A couple of my favorites are:

Orange Pineapple 16 ounces water, 4-6 inch pineapple spear, 1 small orange sliced

Berry Splash 16 ounces water, 4 raspberries, 2 blackberries, 2 strawberries

Grape Pineapple 16 ounces water, 6 grapes and a 3-4 inch pineapple spear

Sparkling water with a splash of juice 12 ounces sparkling water and 1-2 ounces of juice

Maybe you infuse your water already. I encourage you to think about what fruits and vegetables are in season where you live and try different combinations. Are you feeling a little more adventurous in your selection? Why not try going gourmet with these flavors:

Green Apple Raspberry Rosemary Sliced apple, whole raspberry and 1 sprig of fresh rosemary

Orange Chai Spice Sliced oranges, cardamom, cinnamon, clove, allspice

Vanilla Basil Strawberry Vanilla bean (remove seeds first), handful fresh basil, 1 cup sliced strawberries

Mango Pineapple Mint Slice of firm-ripe mango, slices of pineapple, handful fresh mint

Drink Other Beverages in Moderation

Other beverages, such as soft drinks, sports drinks, sweetened teas and fruit drinks contain a lot of sugar and caffeine. Coffee drinks are often high in calories and sugar as well as fat. Alcoholic drinks are full of empty calories. Just one can of soda may contain upwards of 45 grams of sugar! That is over 11 teaspoons of sugar and almost the total amount of added sugars we should consumer in one day, according to the 2015 Dietary Guidelines.

Here are some ways to think before your drink:

Read nutrition facts labels. Check calories, caffeine, sugar and fat before you drink. You can also check the company's website. (Remember 4 grams of sugar equals 1 teaspoon.)

Avoid "energy" drinks. They may contain dangerously high amounts of caffeine. Do not consume highly caffeinated beverages with alcohol.

For the occasional splurge, choose the smallest sized portion you can buy. Moderation is always a great way to treat your body well.


Amanda Bohlen is the new family and consumer science educator for The Ohio State University Extension in Washington County. She received her bachelor's in family and consumer science education from Ohio University and her master's in curriculum and instruction from Ohio Valley University. For the last seven years she has been in the classroom teaching high school students' financial education, child development, nutrition and culinary skills.



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