Screen Shot 2014-09-08 at 1.25.20 PM 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):

  1. 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!
  2. 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.
  3. The empty calories in these drinks can lead to weight gain, diabetes and other chronic diseases.
  4. 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.
  5. A kid’s risk of becoming obese increases by 60% for every additional sugary drink consumed per day.
  6. Women who drink one sugar-sweetened beverage each day have almost twice the risk of diabetes.
  7. A single 20-ounce soda contains about 16 teaspoons of sugar. Can you imagine adding that much sugar to your coffee?
  8. A typical adult has to walk briskly for 46 minutes to burn the calories in a 20-ounce soda.
  9. 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.