Some refreshing healthy drink ideas…
It is astounding to see, not only the variety of sweet summer drinks, but just how bad they are for you. Every few minutes on TV we are reminded of the summer caps and the $1 drinks at at McDonalds and the myriads of ways to keep yourself cool through the consumption of excess calories and sugar. It really is hard to escape. So in their place I am going to offer a small list of relatively healthy things you can drink this summer to keep cool.
I know this sounds lame and it is, but hit the water. Make sure you take a refillable water bottle with you and put some ice and water in it before going out. Make sure you have a big cup or glass in your office and keep it full of cold water, same with at home. Keep yourself topped up with cold water and you won’t be so thirsty in the first place and then you will be less likely to make some terrible beverage choices. You can add a squeeze of lemon, lime or orange if you like, although I prefer mine straight.
#2 Iced Tea
Not the sweetened type you typically find in bottles at stores, but the actual brewed tea that is served with ice. This drink is very popular in the southern US and pretty much everywhere else in the world (with the glaring exception of Canada) and for good reason, it is remarkably refreshing and it isn’t sweet. You can make your own if you can’t find any for sale in stores. Make sure that you buy totally unsweetened tea. You don’t want an artificial sweetener in your summer refreshment, although at least they are calorie free, but I find that they are just as likely to stimulate my hunger response. I personally haven’t seen any evidence to believe they are dangerous, and I am far from a ‘only eat natural’ person, just that I have found that on days I drink a diet Dr. Pepper I am more likely to crave candy and sweet foods. Here are some good recipes for iced tea, just don’t add any sweeteners.
#3 Iced Coffee
I probably should have listed this as number one as it is my favourite. It is easy to make and tastes great. Given you have followed the instructions in my book and you have cut sugar out of your coffee this is already a low calorie or no calorie drink (depending if you have milk in your coffee or not). I do, and I think for iced coffee it is the normal way to serve it. In any case, the key to a good ice coffee is the preparation. Ideally the best and easiest way to make iced coffee is to brew some strong coffee well in advance and store it in the fridge. Then put some ice in a glass, add the cold coffee and some milk and voila. Another option is to make a cold Americano. If you have access to an espresso machine you can add the shot of espresso to a cup of cold water and then add ice and milk. If all else fails you can always just add some ice to your coffee, but this produces a waterier version.
Watch out for all of the iced cappuccino drinks that retailers are selling currently. They are all sickeningly sweet, high calorie beverages. Even the iced coffee at McDonalds is difficult to get unsweetened and the one time I tried I quit. I have heard though if you can get the unsweetened iced coffee it is very good.. All of the major coffee outlets appear to have an unsweetened ice coffee so instead of getting something high in calories go for that.
#4 Sparkling Water
Sparkling water is a great drink at lunch. I find it strangely refreshing and it is anything but sweet. Sparkling water always tastes like the opposite of sweet to me. I love it over ice with a slice of lime. It certainly isn’t ‘refreshing after a workout’ refreshing, but it is hard to beat when you are sitting out on a patio at lunch and not drinking wine. The real strength of sparkling water is the ability to mix it with other drinks and juices and not make a final sweet drink. You can add a little of your favourite juice (no more than a quarter of the end product if it is a sweet juice such as passionfruit) and make a great tasting, slightly tart and bubbly drink.
#5 Grapefruit Juice
I tend to drink the Florida Natural’s Ruby Red Grapefruit Juice, and although it is unsweetened it isn’t as bitter as you might think. In fact the Ruby Red Grapefruit is a pretty sweet grapefruit, I would guess having been pollinated and selected over successive generations, but that said, grapefruit juice isn’t very sweet compared to other juices. Make sure when buying grapefruit juice, that it has no sugar added. The juice should be 100% juice. If you see the word cocktail on the box, don’t even bother looking at the ingredients, just walk away. A great option with Grapefruit juice is to cut it with the sparkling water in #4. This makes for a great, refreshing drink. Careful though, if you are on some medications, grapefruit juice is not recommended.
When I was in China we had a plum juice tea. It was a refreshing offering during some sort of Mongolian Hot Pot. I was thirsty and I just kept downing the juice tea. It was incredible. By Chinese standards it was quite sweet, but by western standards it was almost bitter. You can make your own Tea Juice at home by adding a little bit of fruit juice to an iced tea. Again, as in the sparkling water, when you are adding sweet juices like plum or passionfruit, only add a little, no more than a quarter of the drink. I have noticed some of these products showing up on the market. If you are going to try them be warned that they are probably too sweet and they may have sugar in them.
- Always add ice to your juices. As the ice melts it will continue to dilute your drink making it more like the ideal refreshment, water and less like a juice.
- Don’t bother sweetening what you drink. When you do this, you artificially raise your need for sweets and this reflects on everything you eat and drink. You can and will get used to unsweetened drinks and and this will have a massive impact on your weight in both the short and the long term.
- If you buy a drink in the stores and it tastes too sweet, try adding some water or sparkling water to dilute the sweetness. You don’t want to get used to sweet flavours so don’t start the habit.