This week’s EmpowerMEnt Challenge is an easy one — replace sugar-added drinks with water. Or, if you want to take it further, cram your blender full of green goodness and get five + servings of veggies and fruits in one delicious gulp. I’m a major fan of green smoothies (see this post on my other blog where my co-author waxes poetic about them and share our favorite recipes). They keep you full and make you feel great — and they taste great too, I promise!
I’m sure you know why you should avoid sugar-added drinks (and even naturally sweet drinks like fruit juices), but just in case you don’t or need a little nudge to give up your favorite soda, here are few reasons (Source: Take Care New York):
- Sugar-sweetened beverages—which include soda, sports drinks, fruit drinks, and tea drinks—add calories to your diet without providing nutrients or even making you full. Don’t drink your calories!
- Americans now consume 200 to 300 more calories each day than we did 30 years ago; more than half of those excess calories come from sugar-sweetened drinks.
- The empty calories in these drinks can lead to weight gain, diabetes and other chronic diseases.
- Teenagers who drink sugary beverages get an average of 360 calories from them each day. That adds up to 130,000 calories per child over the course of a year.
- A kid’s risk of becoming obese increases by 60% for every additional sugary drink consumed per day.
- Women who drink one sugar-sweetened beverage each day have almost twice the risk of diabetes.
- A single 20-ounce soda contains about 16 teaspoons of sugar. Can you imagine adding that much sugar to your coffee?
- A typical adult has to walk briskly for 46 minutes to burn the calories in a 20-ounce soda.
- A typical 10-year-old has to bike vigorously for 30 minutes to burn the calories in a 12-ounce soda.
If that’s not enough to convince you, read this for more: Water first, splurge second.
Here’s a recipe from the American Heart Association’s Healthier Kids website if you want to try out a green smoothie with your kids. Maybe the “Big Green Monster” name will get them to try it!
Big Green Monster Smoothie Makes six (6) 4-oz. (1⁄2-cup) servings
- 1 green apple, cored and cut into large chunks (leave skin on)
- 1-2 handfuls of washed spinach
- 1⁄4 large cucumber, peeled and cut into chunks
- 1 kiwi, peeled and cut into chunks
- 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
- 1 cup low-fat milk (or milk substitute or water)
- 2 teaspoons honey
- 1 cup ice cubes
Add all ingredients into a blender and blend to desired consistency. (I blend mine to completely smooth.) Try adding cinnamon, vanilla or ginger to change the flavor of the smoothie.