Nutrition Advice from Elizabeth Fassberg, R.D.

How to Calculate the Amount of Sugar in Drinks

bowl of sugar and spoon

The enemy in your drinks is sugar. And the empty calories it brings may be causing you to gain weight and damaging your teeth.  A United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) survey showed that sugar consumption continues to increase every year and most of that increase was due to people drinking more sweetened beverages.

To figure how much sugar is in your favorite can or bottle, take a look at the label and get ready for some math. Four grams of sugar = 1 teaspoon of sugar. So if a drink has 65 grams of sugar, that’s more than 16 teaspoons of sugar.

Now put on your detective hat. Sugar goes by many names, so don’t be fooled if you don’t see it explicitly on the ingredients list. Look for pseudonyms for the sweet stuff, such as high fructose corn syrup, fructose, fruit juice concentrates, honey, syrup, corn syrup, sucrose, dextrose, maple syrup, agave, and molasses.

If the amount of sugar in a drink doesn’t scare you off, then the excess calories will. If you’re having a 20-ounce bottle of soda, then you’ve just consumed about 240 calories worth of empty calories. Sweetened iced tea in a bottle isn’t a better option—a 16 ounce bottle has 200 calories.

You’re probably thinking about “sugar-free” beverages now. But don’t rely on those diet drinks. Just because they don’t have calories does not mean they are healthy. We’re still not sure of the long-term effects of artificial sweeteners, so I say water or seltzer are the best options to quench your thirst!

How much sugar is in your favorite drink? Post a comment and tell me!

Registered dietician Elizabeth Fassberg runs Eat Food, a New York City-based company that designs and delivers custom food and nutrition programs for businesses, organizations and individuals. She’s coaching the Avagliano family through the six-month Healthy Family Challenge.


4 Easy Ways To Drink More Water

water

To pump up your intake, you first need to recognize all the places you can (and can’t) turn to for hydration. Yes, beverages like milk and juice give you a dose of H20. But so do popular summertime foods like watermelon, tomatoes and leafy greens. A glass you don’t want to reach for if your goal is hydration: a tall iced coffee or a margarita. Anything that contains caffeine or alcohol will act as a diuretic, causing you to lose water through frequent urination.

Committed to the “clear” choice? Here are some simple ways to get more water into your day:

  • Drink up first thing. Instead of a hot cup of coffee, start your morning with a cool glass of water.
  • Dilute your fruit juice. Try mixing it with seltzer or water. Consider filling your glass ¾ or almost full of water and just topping it off with a little cranberry juice or orange juice.
  • Keep a large water bottle on your desk and make sure to finish it every day.
  • Drink a full glass with each snack and meal of the day.

Reminder: It’s important not to wait until you are thirsty to drink water. By then you’re probably already dehydrated!

How do you get more water into your day? Post a comment and share here!

Registered dietician Elizabeth Fassberg runs Eat Food, a New York City-based company that designs and delivers custom food and nutrition programs for businesses, organizations and individuals. She’s coaching the Avagliano family through the six-month Healthy Family Challenge.


Are You Hungry? Or Just Thirsty?

water

Did you know a hunger cue is the same as a thirst cue? It’s true. And it’s another eye-opening tip I provided the Avagliano family.  Because the signal your body sends when it wants a tall glass of water can be mistaken for the sign it sends when you need a snack, you have to react wisely to save yourself hundreds of calories. Your best bet: have a drink first, wait to see if you’re satisfied and then eat if you are still hungry.

You can avoid cue-confusion by staying hydrated in general. How much water should you be drinking every day? According to the American Dietetic Association’s (ADA) Complete Food and Nutrition Guide, the average adult loses about 10 cups of water daily. You’ll need to replenish at least this. If you are a smaller person, you may need less. If you’re a bigger person or you’re sweating a lot due to exercise or the weather then you’ll need more.

That probably sounds like a lot. But consider this: You could survive without food for a month or so. When it comes to water, you probably couldn’t last longer than a week. Water is essential and is needed in almost every part of the body including the cells, tissues, and organs.

How much water do you drink in a day? Post a comment here and tell me.

Registered dietician Elizabeth Fassberg runs Eat Food, a New York City-based company that designs and delivers custom food and nutrition programs for businesses, organizations and individuals. She’s coaching the Avagliano family through the six-month Healthy Family Challenge.


Don’t Drink Your Calories

water “Eat your calories, don’t drink them.” That’s the first suggestion I gave the Avagliano family this month. Challenge #2 is all about hydration. They’ve been asked to decrease their consumption of sugar-sweetened and caffeinated beverages and up their intake of water.

But don’t be fooled. This challenge isn’t about deprivation. It’s about smart substitutions. You can skip having coffee with sweetened vanilla milk and have coffee with skim or 1% milk instead to save calories. You can avoid fruit juice and instead eat the fruit (with all the nutrients and fiber to boot) to help you lose weight.

Willing to go “cold turkey?” There are plenty of options. Consider unsweetened herbal teas and seltzer. And, of course, there’s plain water. All three are great ways to hydrate your body and keep energy levels high.

If plain water is too boring for you, spice it up by adding some citrus fruit. Orange, lemon, lime or even grapefruit work well. Throw in the slices so you can eat the fruit when the water is all finished. Cucumber, fresh raspberries and mint are also nice. I personally love a cold bubbly seltzer with a squirt of a Meyer lemon to quench my thirst!

What’s your favorite way to add flavor to water? Post a comment and let me know!

Registered dietician Elizabeth Fassberg runs Eat Food, a New York City-based company that designs and delivers custom food and nutrition programs for businesses, organizations and individuals. She’s coaching the Avagliano family through the six-month Healthy Family Challenge.


How To Skip Your Daily Multivitamin

Colorful fruits and vegetables

Variety is the spice of life when it comes to eating fruits and vegetables. It’s also one of the first tips I gave the Avagliano family at the start of the fruit and vegetable challenge. Sure, you can eat grapes every day. But it’s even better to eat a variety of fruits–apples, oranges, berries, mangoes and bananas–since they all provide different benefits to your body.

Eating fruits and vegetables at meals and snacks and getting variety means you can probably skip your multivitamin. A medium red pepper contains 74% of your daily value for vitamin A and more than 200% of your daily value for vitamin C. Instead of swallowing an expensive flavorless pill you can enjoy the delicious tastes found in iron-rich spinach and folate-rich strawberries.

There’s more than just vitamins and minerals in produce. There’s fiber that helps keep us full longer and makes sure our bowels are regular. And there are disease-fighting antioxidants. Scientists continue to discover different antioxidants so even though blueberries were considered one of the top foods to eat, all fruits and vegetables are good for us. Vary your intake by aiming to eat different colors of the rainbow!

Do you have a go-to dish you make when you’re trying to add more fruits and vegetables to your plate? Post a comment and tell me what it is!  

Registered dietician Elizabeth Fassberg runs Eat Food, a New York City-based company that designs and delivers custom food and nutrition programs for businesses, organizations and individuals. She’s coaching the Avagliano family through the six-month Healthy Family Challenge.