Most of us try to drink eight glasses of water a day, but sometimes, we crave something a little less…boring. Unfortunately however, most thirst-quenchers in the grocery aisle are a minefield of health issues. They’re either too high in calories, are loaded with sugar or just don’t live up to their tall claims. There are several healthy drinks you can sip on when you’re in the mood for something snazzier than water, but these aren’t one of them. If you love guzzling down any of these seven drinks, it might be time for a change of habit.
1. Diet Soda
We know regular soda isn’t exactly healthy, but diet soda isn’t any better. Artificial sweeteners that are used in diet soda are much sweeter than regular sugar. If you drink diet soda regularly, you’re making your brain become accustomed to this intense sweetness. Because of this, your sweetness threshold increases and you begin to crave sweet foods. Your taste for healthy less-sweet foods like whole grains and vegetables completely disappears. This might be the reason why researchers found that people who drink diet soda regularly are three times more likely to gain belly fat than those who drank regular soda.
Coffee In Different Flavors
Coffee often gets a bad reputation in nutrition circles, but this judgement isn’t completely fair. Black, unsweetened coffee is full of antioxidants and can even help you work out better. The problem with coffee begins when you start mixing in other ingredients. Sugar and creamer are bad enough, but flavored coffee is the biggest culprit. Pumpkin spiced lattes are everywhere these days, but fight the urge to order one for yourself. Flavored coffees are full of artificial and natural sweeteners, both of which are often a cocktail of harmful chemicals. If you want to jazz up your coffee, add your own flavorings like cinnamon, coconut oil or vanilla extract.
Flavored water sounds harmless enough. It has ‘water’ in its name so it can’t be all that unhealthy, right? But flavored water doesn’t just contain water, it also has artificial flavors, aspartame, food coloring and many more harmful ingredients. Luckily, there are many healthier alternatives to flavored water. Coconut water is deliciously healthy and will transport you immediately to white, sandy beaches. You could also infuse water with fresh fruits overnight to make your own healthy, flavored water. But the simplest way to flavor your water is to just add a squeeze of lemon in it to make it more refreshing.
4. Packaged Smoothies Or Fruit Juices
Most of us don’t have enough time to make our own smoothies or juice our own fruits and vegetables. When you’re on a tight schedule, bottled smoothies and fruit juices can seem like a lifesaver. But many scientists now believe that fruit juice is almost as bad as soda. Fruits contain sugar, but the only thing that keeps this sugar from being rapidly absorbed by our body is their fiber. Fruit juices remove all the fiber from fruits, leaving just the sugar. Most packaged fruit juices also have additional sweeteners and fruit concentrates added in them to make them sweeter. Bottled smoothies do include fiber, but even they are often sweetened with fruit concentrate. To save time making your own smoothies, pack your ingredients in individual mason jars and store enough to last for a week. This way, all your prep work is done and you just need to blend everything together in the mornings.
Flavored Vegan Milk
Flavored vegan milk is the best example of the fact that not everything labelled ‘vegan’ is healthy. Flavored variants of nut milk contain sugar and artificial flavorings that can bring you dangerously close to your recommended sugar limit for the day. They also don’t offer any health benefits, so if you’re trying to eat better, there’s no reason to include flavored nut milk into your diet. You’re better off buying unflavored nut milk and flavoring it yourself with vanilla extract or raw cacao powder.
Don’t give yourself a pat on the back just yet for choosing iced tea over soda. If you’re drinking packaged iced tea, then it’s no better for your health than regular soda. Most packaged iced tea contains artificial flavors, high fructose corn syrup and other types of sweeteners. Drinking iced tea too often can add unnecessary calories to your day and fill you up with sugar. If you love iced tea, then make your own instead of buying packaged ones. Instead of sugar, you can use honey to sweeten it. Even better, drink unsweetened iced tea to get all of the health benefits of tea with none of the sugar.
Bottled water isn’t really bad for you, but it’s terrible for the environment. Manufacturing and transporting bottled water involves massive amounts of fossil fuel. There’s also the fact that bottled water is made from plastic which is harmful to the environment. The United States alone uses 3.5 billion pounds of PET plastic each year manufacturing plastic bottles. Barely any of it gets recycled and most of it ends up in the ocean. Apart from the environmental damage bottled water causes, there are also no real health benefits to choosing it. Analysis on bottled water and tap water shows that there isn’t much of a difference in the number of contaminants between the two. And what’s more, most bottled water comes from tap water anyway.