Ask Jill
12.24.2019

“Sweet Enough” to Reduce Sugary Beverages

Here at the holidays, a little attention to healthy habits can go a long way to giving us the energy and wellbeing we need for this festive season. RiseVT’s “Sweet Enough” campaign across the state helps each of us be more attentive to the beverages we are drinking, as they can be a hidden source of unneeded and unhealthy calories! “Sweet Enough” is all about making delicious swaps that are healthier choices. Visit the campaign website at www.risevt.org/sweet-enough for helpful information on sugary beverages, their health impact, and how to make healthier choices. I’m pleased to be able to share some of those great ideas with you here.

Why the concern over sugary beverages? Amazingly, “Liquid sugar, such as in sodas, energy drinks, and sports drinks, is the leading source of added sugar in the American diet, representing 36% of the added sugar we consume.” So, moderating our intake can have a real impact, as “Consuming excess sugar can negatively affect your body in many ways: type 2 diabetes, gout, obesity, heart disease, macular degeneration, addiction, and tooth decay.” All of that driven in part by your choice of beverages.

RiseVT offers these key tips to healthier beverage choices: “choose water or lightly sweetened beverages over sugary ones; carry a water bottle with you and fill it throughout the day; don’t keep sugar-sweetened beverages in the house; add fresh fruit to your water for an added pop of flavor; mix sparkling water and fruit juice for a healthier carbonated drink; and if you opt to have a sugar-sweetened beverage, smaller sized is the way to go.”

Swapping healthier beverages into your selections does not mean giving up taste and fun. Instead of a highly-sweetened sports drink, try coconut water! Want to enjoy the taste of juice but don’t want all the sugar it contains? Try swapping in seltzer with a splash of juice – you will get the taste you crave with far fewer calories. Similarly, instead of reaching for a soda, try fruit-infused water or unsweetened ice tea. Instead of an energy drink, try coffee without sugar. Speaking of coffee, instead of a highly-sweetened specialty coffee, brew your own!

Here at the holidays, festive drinks are part of many celebrations. Again, RiseVT has suggestions for swaps that can help the health aspect. The Sweet Enough website (above) carries recipes for low-sugar pumpkin spice lattes, pomegranate ginger mocktails, golden milk, peppermint hot chocolate, and chai tea – and all of these fit right in at holiday celebrations.

I’m proud of Senator Corey Parent from here in Franklin County who has shared his story regarding reducing his consumption of sugary beverages as part of the Sweet Enough campaign to show that it can be done. Corey shifted from Diet Coke or Dr. Pepper to unsweetened tea, both hot and iced, and both black and green, and is healthier because of it. He says, “Starting small might be a better way to go for you, though. If you have several sugary drinks a day, start by just swapping one of them out. It’s amazing how your taste buds can change, and you can begin to develop cravings for less sugary options.”

I love the positivity of the “Sweet Enough” campaign. You are sweet enough. With some simple and delicious swaps, you can reduce your sugar intake and take another great step forward on your personal well being journey. Please join me in this effort! Visit www.risevt.org/sweet-enough for more information and watch for Sweet Enough materials in social media, in the St. Albans Messenger, and soon at local stores near you!

— Jill Berry Bowen, RN, NMC’s Chief Executive Officer