drink more water

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.

Challenge Yourself: Drink Healthy Smoothies and Get Your Daily Fruit and Veggie Servings

Carrot-Peach Smoothie

You may not be avoiding produce like your kid. But chances are neither of you are getting the recommended amount of fruits and vegetables you should either. That’s where homemade smoothies can save the day. Not only are they packed with vitamins and minerals, but they’re also filled with fiber and natural sugars, unlike so many other drinks on the market. Plug in your blender and try whipping up these two delicious recipes from smoothie books that just hit shelves this spring.

Eastern Apricot Pistachio Smoothie
Serves: 2 (352 calories per serving)

1/3 cup pistachios
2 ½ cups chopped cucumber
10 dried apricots
1 cup chopped fresh parsley
1 ½ cups water

  1. In a high speed blender, combine pistachios, cucumber, apricots, parsley, and water
  2. Blend until completely smooth

Credit: The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Green Smoothies (Alpha Books)


Celerapple Frapple
Serves: 4 (124 calories per serving)

1 cup romaine lettuce
3 Granny Smith apples
2 celery stalks
2 cups orange juice


  1. Combine lettuce, apples, celery, and 1 cup juice into blender, and blend until smooth
  2. Add remaining 1 cup juice, and continue to blend until smoothie reaches desired consistency

Credit: 201 Healthy Smoothies & Juices for Kids (Adams Media)

For more delicious summer drink recipes, check out “10 Supercharged Smoothies.”

Think Before You Drink: Are You Drinking Lots of Calories Out of Habit?

not enough calcium

The Lehman family doesn’t drink many sugary beverages, but when they go out to eat, Tiffany said that the kids usually order soda. Several weeks ago, I recommended that she order the kids water instead of soda, but her journal continues to show that the kids have soda when eating out.

This isn’t unusual. In fact, when I tell people to order water at restaurants, they act like I’m crazy. It’s as if there’s an unspoken rule that says you must order a soda, sweet tea, wine or some other beverage with your meal. But doing so can add hundreds of excess calories to an already calorie-rich meal. And do you really need that soda, beer or other sweetened beverage? Or are you just ordering it out of habit?

Now think about your daily latte or mid-morning soda break. Are you drinking those beverages out of habit or are you truly enjoying them? There’s nothing wrong with having the occasional caramel latte or can of Coke, but consider them treats—something to sip and savor, not something to simply quench your thirst while eating a meal or racing to work.

You often hear the term “mindless eating” which refers to eating without really thinking about it rather than focusing on the food and the overall eating experience. But a lot of us are guilty of “mindless drinking” as well. We gulp down coffee drinks, smoothies, sodas and other calorie-rich drinks while doing a million other things and don’t take the time to sit down and enjoy them.

So next time you’re getting ready to indulge in a calorie-rich beverage, think before you drink. Are you just drinking because you’re thirsty? Then choose water instead. If you’re grabbing that soda or latte out of habit, try breaking that habit by gradually cutting back and replacing that drink with water. And if you truly want and crave a certain drink, sit down and savor it, sip by sip.

How many glasses of water do you drink in a day? Post a comment and let me know.

Through her Des Moines-based nutrition company, SK Health Communications, registered dietitian Stephanie Karpinske writes and develops recipes for magazines, books, supermarkets and food companies. She is the author of Read Before Dieting: Your 4-Step Plan for Diet Success and writes a blog about healthy eating, foodnuti.com. She’s coaching the Lehman family through the six-month Healthy Family Challenge.

Tiffany, Week 8: How to Fall In Love With Drinking Water

the lehmans

The Lehmans love water. This may sounds silly but water soothes me. When I feel stressed at work I love taking a drink of ice water. I don’t know what it is but the feeling just helps chill me out physically and emotionally.

Andy feels the same way about water as I do. He just needs it and neither one of us really understand why people are so fixed on all the sodas, energy drinks and coffees that are out there. (Don’t get me wrong, though. We love coffee. We just limit it to a cup or two). Cost is a big deterrent. Those babies are expensive and water virtually is free.

Our kids love water because they were never given a choice. I remember taking Anna to her well child visits when she was around a year old. Her doctor told us that juice is nothing but liquid candy–even 100% fruit juice–and that it will do more harm than good.

When Anna and Jack were both babies, if we ever served them juice I think it was 1 part juice to 3 parts water. Needless to say they never really desired the sweet drink. They always get milk and water. Juice and soda are a real treat and something that is not given often and they really don’t ask for it either. Jack is allergic to dairy and soy, so he drinks rice milk. Rice milk is expensive but you do what you have to for your child when he/she has severe food allergies.

Remember when you drink water, you’re nourishing your body. The majority of your body is made up of water. Do something good for yourself and drink up!

How have you gotten your kids to drink more water (and less soda and juice)? Post a comment and share!

Challenge Yourself: The Art of Making A Cup of Tea


photo via flickr.com/laurelfan

By Maria Masters

You’ve probably heard that wine is best when it’s allowed to breathe for ten or fifteen minutes before serving. Or perhaps you have your own tricks for making the perfect cup of coffee, like scrubbing that coffee maker down so residue doesn’t muddy up your brew. But did you know there are secrets for pouring the perfect cup of tea as well?

As Peggy and Tiffany mentioned, they received Lipton teas to help them stay hydrated. (Not only is tea delicious and calorie-free, but studies also suggest that it can speed up weight-loss and lower a person’s risk of type 2 diabetes.) So we asked Lipton for the inside scoop on preparing the perfect cup.  Follow their tips:

Get Fresh. Bottled is best for making tea. But if you’re going to the faucet, run the water for a few minutes. Doing so ensures that the water is as fresh as possible.

Watch The Clock. Green tea only needs about 1 to 4 minutes, but black tea generally takes about 3 to 5 minutes. For a stronger brew, let the tea steep longer.

Keep It Warm. If you tend to sip your tea slowly, use a tea cozy. Some of the brew’s flavor is lost when you reheat the drink.

What’s your favorite tea? Share in the comments below.