By Jane Sylvestre, RD - 5/31/2016

I’ll Drink to that!

Drinking is a touchy subject.  Many patients just don’t want to cut back or give up their calorie laden coffee, juice, soda and alcoholic beverages.  After 8 years of working as a bariatric dietitian (and 24 years as a dietitian in general), I believe that one of the biggest diet pitfalls that patients still have is drinking their calories.  

Now that the warm weather is approaching, I hear and see patients drinking some high calorie coffee beverages.  The new dietary guidelines may allow up to 5 cups of coffee per day, but you certainly would not want to drink that with all the calories one gets from adding cream and sugar.  Did you know that a large iced caramel latte with milk has 460Kcal!  Yes, if you ask for milk, they will give you whole milk.  Yikes! That calorie level is not even with cream.  The calories only go up from there.  Get rid of that one drink a day and you’ll already be on your way to losing weight.  You can always start cutting back slowly by changing to skim milk or unsweetened almond milk.  Think of the money you’ll save too!  

I have a lot of patients who change from coffee to tea because it is easier to drink without the cream and sugar.  A patient recently turned me on to Rooibos tea (pronounced roy boss) which means “red bush”.  This is a South African tea which is packed full of antioxidants and some minerals as well.  This tea does not have any caffeine.  Rooibos has a delicious mild coffee taste.  I love it with a little unsweetened vanilla almond milk in it.  I find it so soothing that I have a cup every night before bed while relaxing in front of the television.  This might make a great alternative for some patients to turn to instead of snacking.  I received a box of tea as one of my mother’s day gifts.  Here’s a link:

You don’t have to feel deprived when you know what to choose as alternatives and get adjusted to some healthier options.    They are out there.  

Unfortunately, carbonation is often not an option post bariatric surgery.  The bubbles are just not well tolerated well by many patients. Of course, you could let a carbonated beverage go flat.  I would still try to get all soda (diet or regular) out of your diet.  One of my favorite healthier carbonated beverages is Polar water.  This beverage has no artificial ingredients and taste great even when flat.  

Water is obviously one of the healthiest choices.  I love infusing water.  My favorite beverage in the summer is water with cucumbers and rosemary.  The correct way to do it is buy a pitcher that has an infuser in the middle.  I just never got one so I just put cucumbers and lemons right in the pitcher of water and keep it readily available in the refrigerator.  So refreshing!   Of course, I have to change the cucumbers every 2-3 days or they get nasty!   Other options for flavor include:  strawberries, watermelon, mint, lemons & limes or whatever pleases your taste buds.  

A patient turned me on to a new favorite APP called plant nanny.  I find it so fun.  You pick a plant and every time you take a drink you water your plant. If you don’t drink enough, your plant starts to die and as you water it during the day it gets more and more beautiful and healthy.   The app figures out your fluid needs based on your weight.  If you are a very large person, the app may suggest an astronomical amount of water.  You can adjust your goals to an amount that is more appropriate.  You shouldn’t need more than 64 ounces per day.  We always tell patients not to worry too much about the exact amount of water you get during the day because you also get fluids from food that you eat.  I just like the app because it reminds me to drink by sending me texts.  

Please, please, please…don’t drink your calories.  You will be pleasantly surprised at the positive results once you change your beverages.  Try some of the options noted above.  Also, have some fun with plant nanny.  The more you drink (no calorie) beverages, the better you look and feel.  

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