mindless eating

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.