In Australia, soft drink is commonly available, heavily advertised and affordable; which has led to a 30% increase in consumption over the past 10 years. That’s fairly startling considering we all know the high levels of sugar contained within those delicious bubbles – up to 40 g per can of cola, equivalent to 10 teaspoons! You wouldn’t pile 10 teaspoons of sugar in your coffee, so trying any of the alternatives below, even slightly sweetened, you’ll be ahead of the health curve compared to those slamming the soda.
1. Fruit infused water
Literally fruit added to water, not only do these drinks look fantastic, they also provide some extra nutrients. Experiment with different fruit and veg combinations to find your perfect blend. We recommend slices of orange, cucumber, ginger and mint to make a virgin Pimms cocktail, or strawberry and lemon for a citrusy boost with a bit of sweetness.
2. Iced herbal tea
Once you try this winning combo we promise you won’t go back! Brew a strong batch of your favourite herbal tea (such as cranberry, pomegranate or rose hip), let it cool and then combine in a glass with plain mineral water. It’s sharp and refreshing, and you can add a bit of honey or sugar if you’d prefer.
3. Juice and soda water
Dilute one third of a glass of juice with plain soda or mineral water for a fizzy, thirst quenching alternative. We recommend using freshly squeezed orange juice – kids love it!
4. Homemade lemonade or ginger beer
There are multitudes of recipes online for either of these popular drinks, and while they take a bit more effort, you have absolute control over the amount of sugar added. And, it uses up that pile of lemons from your neighbour’s tree.
5. Coconut water
Loved by health nuts and superstars, coconut water is definitely on the fad food list, dubbed ‘nature’s sports drink’ for its natural electrolyte levels. While it still contains sugar, it contains far less than juice or soft drinks. Watch out for the flavoured varieties as they can contain loads of added sugar – instead, infuse your own flavours with fresh fruit.
6. Iced coffee
As simple as an espresso shot and cold milk or milk alternative brought together with a touch of your favourite sweetener. A fun way to prepare an attractive iced coffee is to freeze your leftover coffee into ice cubes, add them to a glass and top up with milk.
Tips for kicking the soft drink habit:
- Start diluting soft drink with plain soda water.
- Gradually decrease the number of glasses of soda you have. Start having one of the alternatives every second time, then third, and so on.
- Be prepared – have your alternatives ready to go in the fridge so soft drink isn’t the easy option.
- Be strong – don’t give in to pressure from your kids and think of the long term benefits, like weight loss and increased (yes, increased!) energy.
Find out more at betterhealth.vic.gov.au