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How to: Go sugary drink free

Posted by Shona

You wouldn't eat sixteen packets of sugar in one go. Would you?

The idea is enough to make the sweetest tooth ache but that's how much sugar there is in the average 600ml bottle of cola. Sounds like a lot doesn't it? Just imagine for a moment what this means if you have a bottle every day – an extra 23kg of sugar a year. Enough to fill a wheelbarrow.

Sugary drinks are a major culprit in the nation's obesity problem. That half of all adults and a quarter of children are overweight or obese may have something to do with the fact that Australians drink 1.2 billion litres of sugar sweetened soft drink every year. Imagine how many wheelbarrows you could fill with that much sugar.

The Rethink Sugary Drink campaign wants people to think about the amount of sugar in soft drink, and choose water or low fat milk instead.

The problem with soft drink is that it is full of empty kilojoules and next to no nutritional benefit – so you consume all that sugar but you still feel hungry. In fact some studies have shown that soft drink actually stops feelings of fullness, leading you to eat more.

With this in mind, cutting out sugary drinks is a great way to reduce your kilojoule intake, and help you maintain a healthy weight. Here are some tips to help you go sugary drink free:

  • Find out how much sugar is in your favourite drink. The label will tell you how many grams of sugar it contains per serve. A packet of sugar is 4g so a 600ml bottle of Solo contains 18 packets of sugar! 
  • Watch out for meal deals. If you're ordering a fast food meal, don't go with the default regular/sugar soft drink, see what other options there are, or just ask for water.
  • Carry a water bottle so you don't have to buy a drink if you're thirsty. It's a good way to save money too.
  • If you're thirsty, have some water first. Once you've quenched your thirst, you may find you don't really fancy a soft drink after all.
  • Be wary of any health or nutrition claims on sugary drinks. Many producers are now trying to make their beverages sound healthier than they actually are – just check the sugar content. As an alternative, low fat milk is full of vitamins and nutrients, or you could have a glass of water and some fruit.
  • Avoid sugary alcoholic drinks. Alcohol alone is loaded with kilojoules so cutting back on the booze is a good idea. If you choose to have an alcoholic drink, see if there are lower sugar options.
  • Don't get sucked in by promotions. Avoid the soft drink aisle at the supermarket and try to ignore specials at the checkout and the service station.

To see how much of a transformation going sugary drink free can make, read Mani's success story.

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