Rethink Your Drink

To cut down on sugars, grasp the grams

OSU EXTENSION interns Kainalu Bailey, left, and Nikki Thon at the Hood River County Fair, encouraging visitors to choose water.

Photo by Kirby Neumann-Rea
OSU EXTENSION interns Kainalu Bailey, left, and Nikki Thon at the Hood River County Fair, encouraging visitors to choose water.

It’s hot, drink water!

With temperatures reaching 100 degrees in the Gorge this summer, it’s important to keep your body hydrated. Water is the most efficient, thirst quenching, and healthy drink option. But there are other drinks people often reach for. Sugary drinks such as soda, juice, energy drinks and sports drinks are all around us and are hard to ignore.

There’s no getting around it. We’re surrounded by sugary drinks. In fact, 47 percent of the added sugar in U.S. diets comes from sugary drinks. Did you know that a 20 fluid ounce sports drink has 36 grams (g) of added sugar? A 20-ounce juice drink has 68 grams of added sugar and a 20 fluid-ounce can of soda has 56 grams of added sugar.

You may ask yourself, “How do I find out how much sugar is in my drink?” Here is a helpful tip: Grams are hard to visualize.

So, you can convert the number of grams written on the nutrition label into teaspoons. To figure out the number of teaspoons of sugar in your drink, take the total grams of sugar and divide by four.

For example, a 20-ounce bottle of soda has 56 grams of sugar. In order to figure out teaspoons, divide 56 grams by four to get 14 teaspoons. It would take 49 minutes of walking to burn off these calories! Water, on the other hand, has zero grams of sugar, zero calories and is perfect for cooling your body to help you stay active and healthy on a hot summer day.

If you find it difficult to completely cut out sugary drinks, start by setting small goals. If you drink sugary drinks every day, try and switch to every other day. If you usually choose a 20-ounce soda, think about choosing a 12-ounce can next time. When you do consume sugary drinks, don’t forget to also drink water!

Don’t like drinking plain water? Here’s a trick: Increase the flavor of water by infusing it with herbs or fruits. Examples of infusions include rosemary-lemon, blackberry-basil, strawberry-blueberry, lemon-lime and cucumber-mint. Feel free to experiment with various mixtures for new flavors.

Stay cool by carrying a water bottle with you all day and share your flavor-infused water with all your friends.

Healthy Active Hood River County (HAHRC) is a community healthy living coalition that promotes wellness through increased physical activity, healthy eating, tobacco use prevention, behavioral health, prevention of addictions and policy and environmental change. The public is welcome to join the next meeting on Oct. 23 from 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. at Providence Hood River Hospital Conference Rooms 1 and 2.

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