Instead of Soda…

Hello Readers!  So, today’s focus is going to be on healthier beverage options than the typical soft drink, also known as soda, pop, coke, and soda pop.  In my region, we call it soda.

Okay, so we always hear that we should avoid this beverage, and it’s true that it is bad for us.  Even the newest types made with “real sugar” are bad for us.  But I know I’m not the only one who loves the stuff!  It’s an addictive substance, and soft drink companies know this.  Even though they keep trying to make them “healthier” a la Diet varieties, the truth is that the diet versions of your favorite soft drink may actually be more dangerous to your health than the regular varieties.  I’m not talking about the conspiracy theory floating out there that diet drinks are linked to everything from M.S. to cancer.  I’m talking about the use of artificial sweeteners like aspartame and saccharine and even sucralose, which is the latest sweetener found in diet sodas and Splenda and it replaces the previous ones.

Regardless of which artificial sweetener is in your favorite diet drink, the fact still remains that it is more harmful than you had thought.  Anyone who has ever tasted artificial sweeteners alone can tell you that these sweeteners are so sweet they are bitter.  In other words, they leave a bitter taste in your mouth that you immediately want to wash out.  So, you drink something.  And if you’re drinking a diet drink, you’re more likely to finish it faster and grab for another one than to reach for something like water.  To add to that, these artificial sweeteners hit your system with that superficial sweetness so fast that you spike and then crash faster, which means you are more likely to reach for the next diet drink than you are to let it pass.

Now, this isn’t to say that regular soda is any better for you.  No, these drinks are best had in moderation.  We all know we should always turn to water first and stay hydrated by drinking plenty of water in your day.

But, even I get tired of plain water.  It has no flavor, and even diffusing it after awhile gets old.  I am like most people: I like the bubbles and taste of soda.  And water isn’t that exciting.  So, I’ve looked into different substitutions.

The first, of course, is flavor based.  Juice.  I’m sure I’m not the only 90’s kid who grew up on Capri Suns, Sunny Delight, and Kool Aid.  It was juice, after all, and we always heard that it was better than soda.  Well, as it turns out, most of these “juices” of our childhood were nothing more than sugar bombs disguised as “healthy drinks”.  Even with a health conscious mom like mine, we still drank some of these.

So these juices are out of the question.  So, what about fruit juices from the store?  Even these juices aren’t best for you.  Most of them are made from concentrate, which means they’re pumped full of chemicals and sweeteners to make them more appealing.  And don’t think those ones that boast “100% Juice” are the best; if you actually read the fine print, almost all of them are made from concentrate, and they often list chemical ingredients among water and sugar.  In fact, the only time I’ve ever encountered 100% apple cider was at an apple farm, and it was pretty expensive.

Before you use orange juice as an example of real fruit juice, I have sadly burst your bubble.  Yes, orange juice tends to be real fruit juice  But the sugar content in a glass of orange juice is the same as a soft drink of the same size.  Therefore, these juices aren’t always best.  If you want true 100% fruit juice, it’s best to buy a juicer of your own and create your own drinks this way.  But, just one word of advice: most freshly squeezed juices will be sour and bitter like their fruits.  Sugar is a common ingredient for a reason, after all.

So, next let’s look at vitamin waters and sports drinks.  Here’s an interesting fact: if you are dehydrated, a sports drink will taste sweet; but if you are hydrated, it will taste sour.  I haven’t really tested this theory myself.  Actually, I’m not a fan of these elixir type drinks like vitamin waters and sports drinks.  I can’t get past their watered-down chemical flavors.  Even those colorful vitamin waters turn my tummy.  And I don’t always agree with the idea of adding vitamins to water.  We should be getting our nutrients from our food, and I don’t always agree with the idea of using supplements unnecessarily.  But, most of these drinks can be better than juice.  At least they tend to have electrolytes and can be better for you than soda or soft drinks.

But, what if you still crave the fizz?  I know I do.  And, while it’s taken me some time to find, I did find something that works for this.  I’m talking about sparkling carbonated water.  Now, this is a tricky one if you want to test this out, because there are often sodas that disguise themselves as safe drinks.  I’m talking about the artificially sweetened carbonated drinks like Sparkling Ice.  This is nothing more than a flavored 7Up or Sprite.  It may say it’s a zero calorie drink, but it’s loaded with artificial flavors and sweeteners.

I’m talking about carbonated water like Crystal Geyser or Sparkling Arrowhead or Perrier or San Pellegrino.  Even with the essences in them, like lime or lemon or even watermelon, these drinks have no artificial sweeteners.  I love this stuff!  Yes, it tastes slightly salty due to the sodium carbonation, but it’s still a fizzy alternative to water that won’t be loaded with sweeteners.  And, after drinking this stuff for about a year, I’ve grown accustomed to the taste.  I actually like them.  Best of all, it is made of natural water.  Which means it’s a fantastic option that still allows for hydration without disguising itself in any way.  I highly recommend trying some today.  If you still can’t get over the flavor, try squeezing a wedge of lemon into it for a bright burst of flavor that complements the carbonation just right.  I actually like to try lime wedges in mine for an even brighter twist.

Until next time,

-BBM

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