stephanie karpinske

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.


How Much Sugar Are You Drinking?

soda

photo via flickr.com/rorowe

If you’re at a healthy weight and aren’t concerned about calories, do you really need to worry about sweetened beverages? Yes! A high intake of added sugars isn’t just linked with obesity, it’s also tied to high triglyceride levels—both factors that boost your risk of heart disease. And “sweetened” beverages can be very high in sugar, with some drinks containing more of the sweet stuff than you should consume in an entire day!

How much sugar is OK in a day? The American Heart Association recommends limiting added sugars to 6 teaspoons per day for women and 9 teaspoons for men. You won’t find “added sugars” listed on labels, but you will find “sugars” which includes naturally occurring, as well as added ones. Most sugary beverages, such as soda, contain only added sugars so it’s easy to calculate how much you’re getting. On labels, you’ll see sugar listed in grams so to convert that to teaspoons, simply divide by 4 (since 4 grams sugar=1 teaspoon).

Some beverages, such as fruit juice, have calories and sugar but also contain vitamins. So is fruit juice a good beverage choice? That all depends. Get the answer at my blog, “Fruit juice: To drink or not to drink” 
to sip smarter.

How many glasses of fruit juice do you have in a day? Leave a note and tell me here.

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.


Wine and Weight Loss

Red wine

When I first met the Lehman family, Tiffany told me that she–like many women–LOVES red wine. No problem, I told her, adding that she could still drink wine, but would just have to limit it to a few 4-ounce glasses a week. What I didn’t realize is that a 4-ounce glass is not enough for someone who LOVES red wine. Tiffany and Andy both like having 3 (or maybe 4) large glasses of wine at dinner on the weekends. And sometimes Tiffany will have a couple big glasses with girlfriends during the week.

It’s not surprising that Tiffany and Andy drink more than the recommended amount. A lot of us do. Even though research says to limit alcohol to one drink a day for women and two for men, our environment encourages us to drink more than that. Wine glasses are getting bigger and bigger. (And what’s with those 40-ounce cans of beer?!) But for the Lehmans, cutting back had to become a priority–for their health, but also for their weight loss.

Alcohol has 7 calories per gram, almost as much as fat! With big serving sizes at home and in restaurants, you can easily rack up 500+ calories of alcohol at a meal. Plus alcohol suppresses your level of control, so you’re more likely to eat that bowl of chips and salsa or order a dessert.

So what’s a wine lover to do?

  • Find out how much you’re really drinking. Use a measuring cup to see how much wine you’re pouring into your glass. Tiffany used Wine-Trax glasses, which have a 4-ounce mark right on the glass.
  • When you’re at a restaurant, stick with just one glass of wine. Restaurants typically use large glasses, which can hold 8-10 ounces.
  • If you know you’re going to have more than a 4-ounce glass of wine, reduce your calories elsewhere to adjust for those extra wine calories. For instance, ordering two glasses of wine means no dessert or no appetizer.

How many glasses of wine will you have in a day? Post a comment and confess.

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.


4 Ways To Jazz Up Plain Water

Basil

Add fresh herbs to water for a flavorful, calorie-free treat

You know you should drink more water. But plain water? It’s so boring. Especially when you’re surrounded by a sea of tempting beverages. So what are some homemade alternatives to regular H20? Here are some ideas that can help the Lehmans drink more water–and you, too.

Try Iced Tea. Boil water and make a super concentrated batch of tea. Let it steep and cool a little, then add cold water to reach your desired flavor level.

Create Your Own Flavors. I mix peach tea with green tea or blueberry tea with black tea. Since most fruit teas are herbal blends, you’re adding health benefits by mixing in green, black or white tea bags. But you can make all herbal blends too. Try combining blueberry and peach tea or raspberry and lemon.

Get Garden-Fresh Water. Fresh herbs give a ton of flavor to water. I use fresh mint. Also try adding fresh produce, such as cucumber slices or fresh berries. Drop them into a pitcher of water and let it sit in the fridge for a few hours before drinking to get maximum taste.

Put Coffee on Ice. Use decaf coffee to prevent the dehydrating affects of caffeine. To keep the calories down, go easy on the sugar and cream. Instead pour in some skim milk and a drop of vanilla extract for flavor. Or make your iced coffee from freshly brewed flavored coffee.

How do you add some pizzazz to plain water? 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.


Is It Ever Okay To Drink Your Calories?

Kiwi-Honeydew Smoothie

After reviewing the Lehman family’s food journals the past few weeks, I’ve found that they get more fruit servings a day when they drink a smoothie for breakfast. Their smoothies usually contain a banana, a cup of berries and orange juice—3 servings of fruit! Sometimes they put spinach in their smoothies, adding a serving of vegetables.

Although smoothies can be a healthy drink, some are better than others. In fact, I usually tell people to eat, not drink, their calories. I say this because beverage calories add up quickly and for many of our favorite drinks–sodas, caramel lattes, shakes, energy drinks, cocktails–those calories come in the form of sugar.

Plus, it’s easy to forget those calories and not count them. In fact, drinks are often left out even when people keep a food journal. When I review logs and ask people about their beverages intake, they are shocked to find out how many calories they’ve been drinking each day.

So if you want to jump on the smoothie bandwagon, here are the top two smoothie do’s I shared with the Lehmans:

Do Ask How it’s Made. Smoothies sold at shops or health clubs may be comprised of sugary mixes rather than real fruit. Ask about the ingredients before ordering or, better yet, make your own smoothies at home so you know exactly what’s in them.

Do Add in Protein. That makes it more filling. To boost the protein, pour in some regular milk, soy milk or plain Greek yogurt.

Go here for more smoothie do’s and dont’s.

What’s your favorite smoothie combination? Post a comment and tell me!