The graphic above caught my attention recently and really got me thinking about all the sugary, calorie-laden beverages available to all of us so easily on a regular basis. Ironically enough, the message really hit home while sitting at a restaurant one Friday night after dumping a sugar packet into my previously unsweetened iced tea. If I added the rest of the sugar packets in the small container on the table, I wouldn’t even come close to the 22 packets that could be found in a regular 20 oz. soda. YIKES – that’s a lot of sugar!
In fact, 46 percent of added sugar in our diets comes from soda, energy drinks, sports drinks and sugar-sweetened fruit drinks (source). Not only is all of this sugar bad for our waistlines, it is awful for our overall health. Excessive sugar intake can lead to chronic disease such as diabetes or heart disease as well as contribute to obesity, high blood pressure and nutrient deficiency. The more calories consumed in foods with added sugar, the less room in the diet for other foods with natural sugars (fruits, vegetables, etc.) and the less essential nutrients our bodies get to function properly.
So if a large portion of our added sugars are coming from sweet beverages, why are so many of us avoiding the cookie jar like it is the next coming of the black plague with a sugary, high calorie soda in our hand? According to the Nestle Tollhouse Chocolate Chip cookie recipe, one cookie has 10 grams of sugar which comes out to about 30 grams less than a 12 ounce can of Coke. Think about that. You could eat 4 cookies and it would equal the amount of added sugar in one soda beverage. (Note: I’m not advocating that cookies have better nutrition value overall, just that they have less sugar than a soda. I by no means think you should replace soda in your diet with cookies — this is just an observation used to put something into prospective.)
No one is perfect and we can’t expect to cut sugar out of our lives completely, but it is best, like everything else, in moderation. Luckily, kicking a sugary soda habit may be easier than you think. I’ve found that with strong will and by filling up on plenty of water, your body begins to feel different, better in fact, making it easier to keep up with the healthy choices you’ve previously made. If you are looking to lose weight, small changes are key. A simple change like ditching sodas and other sugary beverages just may jump start the pounds falling off.
Take away: We don’t (usually) eat all the cookies in the cookie jar without remorse, so why are we drinking all the soda in the fridge without a blink of an eye? Cut out or cut back on sugary beverages and get healthier.