Reader Question: How Bad is Diet Coke?

Can you drink water instead of Diet Coke?

Are you a diet soda drinker?  If so, you’re not alone.  A North Memorial Healthy Weight Loss reader recently asked the following question:

I drink water, but I also drink 24 ounces per day of diet soda.  How bad is Diet Coke? 

Diet Coke is one of the most popular diet drinks available.  Many people drink it even though they are not on a diet.  So, what are the pros and cons of drinking the soft drink?

Drinking Diet Coke: Pros

If you are trying to lose weight, drinking diet soda is a better choice than full calorie soda and flavored drinks.  For many people, it provides a satisfying treat during the day and doesn’t add any calories to their total caloric intake.

Drinking Diet Coke: Cons

The downside to drinking Diet Coke can include financial factors as well as nutritional factors.  Many people don’t realize that the cost of drinking soda every day can add up to hundreds of dollars every year.

But there are nutritional considerations as well.  Some studies have found that dieters tend to make poor food choices when they drink soda instead of water.  Another consideration is that soda consumption often displaces water consumption.  That means when that we drink diet soda, we often don’t drink enough water, which we need to stay healthy and hydrated.

And lastly, the caffeine in Diet Coke may affect your ability to sleep at night.  A good night’s sleep is important for good health and may even improve your ability to lose weight.

So, is drinking Diet Coke bad for you?  As with many decisions, there are pros and cons.  My advice is to keep your consumption limited and see if you can make your own flavored water to drink instead of diet soda to satisfy your craving for taste.

Do you have a question about diet, exercise or weight loss?  Post it in the comments section below, or find us on Facebook and post it there.  Then, stay tuned for your answer!

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Reader Question: Is Sobe Water Bad for Me?

Make your own flavored water (source:mconnors/morguefile)

A reader recently submitted a question to the North Memorial Healthy Weight Loss Program about a popular flavored water drink. She wrote:

I like Sobe Water. Is it bad for me?

The answer to the question may depend on your typical drinking habits and your goals for weight loss and weight maintenance.

What’s in Flavored Water Drinks?

The best way to know what’s in the drinks we consume is to ignore the package advertising and look at the Nutrition Facts Label. Sobe Lifewater Strawberry Kiwi flavored drink contains 40 calories per serving. Each bottle contains 2.5 servings. If you drink the whole thing, you’ll consume 100 calories.

You should also look at the ingredients list. SoBe advertises that they manufacture “water with benefits.” The first ingredient in Sobe Lifewater Strawberry Kiwi flavored drink is water.  The second is sugar. After that, you’ll find ingredients such as erythritol, natural flavor, fumaric acid, potassium citrate, ascorbic acid, calcium lactate, and modified food starch. Other than water, these aren’t necessarily ingredients that are essential for good health.

Should You Drink Flavored Water?
So does this mean that Sobe water is bad for you to drink? Not necessarily, if you drink it in moderation. But you if you are trying to improve your health with water or trying to lose weight, you might want to think about healthier and cheaper alternatives.

Why not skip the commercially produced drinks and choose regular no-calorie water instead? If you like extra flavor, fill a pitcher with tap water and add a few strawberries and kiwi slices. You can also flavor water with cucumber, orange slices, or herbs. It takes a little bit more time, but you’ll save money and calories at the same time. You’ll also benefit from knowing what’s really in your water.

Do you have a question about diet, exercise or weight loss?  Post it in the comments section below, or find us on Facebook and post it there.  Then, stay tuned for an answer.  Thursday, I’ll answer a question about diet soda.

Best Way to Burn Off Thanksgiving Calories

Time to get moving (source: alal/morguefile)

How many calories will you consume during the big Thanksgiving feast?  Some estimates put the total count of a typical meal near 2000 calories.  Your intake may be lower, but the bottom line is that most of us will eat more than we usually do and will have some extra calories to burn off.  So what’s the best way to burn off the Thanksgiving feast?  Let’s start by eliminating the worst option.

The Worst Way to Burn Off Thanksgiving Calories

The worst thing you can do after consuming a large meal is to do too much in a single workout.  You might feel guilty about overindulging, but if you try to work off the guilt in a single session, you can easily end up injured or exhausted, and unable to continue the workout habit.

The Best Way to Burn off Thanksgiving Calories

Your best bet is to start a moderate program of physical activity.  Or, if you already exercise on a regular basis, add 10 or 15 minutes to your regular workout session to compensate for the extra holiday treats.  You’ll burn off the excess calories and build a healthy exercise habit at the same time.  Here’s a general guide to the number of calories you’ll burn in a 40-minute session.*

  • Ride a stationary bike: 363
  • Walk at a moderate pace: 150 calories
  • Take an aerobics class: 227 calories
  • Swim laps:  318 calories

(*Estimates are based on the number of calories that a 150 pound woman would burn.  Source: American Council on Exercise Physical Activity Calculator)

Find more eating tips, recipes and exercise advice on the  North Memorial Healthy Weight Loss website, Facebook page and Twitter feed.

3 Ways to Prevent Overeating on Thanksgiving

Do you have a plan to prevent overeating during the big Thanksgiving meal?  If you don’t have a plan, chances are good that temptation will take over on Thursday and you’ll eat too much.  Instead, use these three steps to prevent overeating and keep your healthy eating plan on track.

3 Steps to Prevent Overeating

  1. Do your research.  Find out what will be served at Thanksgiving meal.  If the meal is not at your house, you can ask in advance or assume that the traditional favorites will be served.  Plan out your menu and decide which foods you’ll eat.  Use a portion control guide to estimate how much of each food you should consume in a single serving.
  2. Make a contract.  Write out your meal plan and create a contract to sign.  You can use this Healthy Eating Pledge from North Memorial as a guide.  Try to recruit other family members to sign a pledge as well.   Post them in a place where you see them throughout the day.
  3. Plan an activity. Sometimes the biggest calorie intake doesn’t happen at mealtime, but after the meal is over.  Leftovers are a common source of temptation.  To help prevent grazing, plan an activity for the evening after the meal is complete.   Go for a hike at a nearby park, play tag football in the front yard or have the kids teach you the latest dance steps.

Find more eating tips, recipes and exercise advice on the  North Memorial Healthy Weight Loss website, Facebook page and Twitter feed.

Get Diet Support From Family and Friends

Go for a walk before the big meal.
(photo source: jzlomek/morguefile)

The holidays are a joyous time to celebrate with family and friends. But if you’re trying to lose weight, these festive occasions can be stressful.  It’s hard to stick to your diet when so many social occasions revolve around food.  And to make matters worse, family members and friends aren’t always supportive of your dieting process.

If you find yourself without enough support during the holiday season, don’t be afraid to speak up and make suggestions that will make the day easier for you.

3 Ways to Ask for Help

  1. Suggest a healthy activity.  Thanksgiving day is often centered on the big meal. But there is no reason that you can’t include a healthy walk or hike in the day’s activities.  Get the kids involved, too.  Walk to a local park or give the kids a map and let them navigate a route.
  2. Offer to bring food.  If the big Thanksgiving meal isn’t at your house, it’s possible that there won’t be healthy menu items to fill your plate.  So offer to bring some healthy alternatives to share with the crowd.  Your hostess will probably appreciate the help.
  3. Deflect negative remarks.  If a family member makes a negative comment about your weight or about your commitment to your weight loss plan, be prepared with a positive reply.  A simple statement like:  “I’m proud of my commitment to my health” should do the trick.

Find more eating tips, recipes and exercise advice on the  North Memorial Healthy Weight Loss website, Facebook page and Twitter feed.

4 Healthier Grab-and-Go Lunch Ideas

Is this your lunchroom? (photo source: cohdra/morguefile)

One of the greatest challenges to eating a healthy diet is trying to find low-calorie, low-fat food on the run.  If you don’t have time to pack a healthy lunch at home, and you don’t have access to healthy cafeteria food, use these ideas to find healthier lunch options when you are on road and on the go.

  1. Grocery Store.  Your best bet is to find a full service market.  Make a healthy salad at the salad bar, order a lean meat sandwich at the deli, or grab hard-boiled eggs, sushi, or non-fat regular or Greek yogurt from the dairy section.
  2. Fast Food.  We all end up in the drive-thru lane once in a while.  Try to find a fast food restaurant that provides nutritional information on the menu board, like McDonalds. You’ll find several fast food options for under 400 calories.  Skip the French fries and soda and choose apple slices and water instead.
  3. Sandwich Shop.  Restaurants like Subway and Jimmy Johns make sandwiches to order.  To make a healthy sub, choose lean meat like turkey or chicken.  Skip the mayo and load up on veggies like green peppers, cucumber slices, tomato and even jalapeno if you like a lot of flavor.  Most sandwiches are very large, so eat half and save half for dinner.
  4. Gas/Convenience Store.  Believe it or not, you can find reasonably healthy options at the convenience mart.  Don’t go to the prepared food section, you’ll probably just find hot dogs and doughnuts.  Instead go to the refrigerator section and grab an individual serving of skim or low-fat milk and skim mozzarella string cheese.  You’ll probably also find bananas or apples near the check out area.

Remember, there are healthy food options if you’re on the run at lunchtime.  Before you give in to a burger and fries habit, take a few minutes and see if you can make one of these choices instead.

Find more eating tips, recipes and exercise advice on the  North Memorial Healthy Weight Loss website, Facebook page and Twitter feed.

Healthy Potluck Recipes

Delicious grilled vegetables

How many family dinners, social hours, and festive meals are on your calendar during a typical holiday season?  If you’re like most people, your schedule will start to get busy and you’ll find yourself in the kitchen searching for recipes and cooking potluck dishes to share.  And if you are trying to lose weight, the challenge is even greater.  How do you find recipes that will make guests happy but still keep your diet on track?

Here is a list of healthy dishes that are also delicious and satisfying.  Bookmark this link and use the recipes throughout the holiday season to keep your healthy eating plan on track.

Looking for more? Check out this  Holiday Eating Guide & Recipes The tip sheet from the American Associate of Diabetes Educators is for anyone who wants to eat healthier meals and enjoy better health.  You’ll find recipes for:

  • Spinach Roasted Red Pepper Dip
  • Herb Roasted Turkey
  • Crispy Potato Latkes
  • Pumpkin Maple Pie
  • Gingerbread Cookies

Find more eating tips, recipes and exercise advice on the  North Memorial Healthy Weight Loss website, Facebook page and Twitter feed.