With winter coming to a close and school back in full swing, it can be hard to break bad habits and shed lingering holiday weight. With easy access to junk food between classes, it often seems like a choice between healthiness and enjoying yourself. Whether you’re on a full-fledged diet or are just wanting to lose a pound or two, making better choices as to what we drink each day can massively improve one’s overall health.
It’s common knowledge that drinking water consistently throughout the day is one of the easiest, cheapest health choices we can make, and we’re already aware that sugary, flavored lattes and energy drinks are best in moderation, but what about everything else we drink? Here are a few simple tips to consider incorporating into your daily diet.
Treat soda like dessert
While regular sodas are generally high in sodium and sugar, Diet and “zero” sodas contain artificial sweeteners that, due to their lack of calories or real sugar, our bodies are unable to make use of. No matter which soda you choose, they all have similar health risks: belly fat, dehydration, kidney disease, heart disease/increased blood pressure, migraines, tooth decay and type 2 diabetes. Studies in recent years released by the Food and Drug Administration have proposed a correlation between the caramel food coloring present in most sodas and certain types of cancer. On top of these theorized health correlations, these same studies have shown that sodas which use caramel food coloring also has higher addictive qualities than sodas that do not.
A little soda every now and again is perfectly fine – some people require boosts in blood sugar or caffeine for specific medical conditions– but moderation is key.
Start drinking tea
Tea is highly affordable depending on the brand you choose, making it an easy addition to your grocery list. Hot or iced, tea, and green tea boosts your metabolism, aiding in healthy digestion and fat burning. Oolong tea burns fat and prevents tooth decay. Black tea lowers cholesterol and has been known to lower one’s risk of heart disease and cancer. White tea promotes healthier skin and prevents tooth decay. Chai tea boosts your immune system and aids in lowering blood sugar. Whether you drink it plain or with a bit of milk or sweetener (sugar, honey, agave, etc.), introducing tea to one’s diet is a great step in the right direction.
Pick better milk
Know what you’re trying to accomplish with your body and overall health. If you’re wanting to gain muscle and burn fat, your best bet is to up your protein. To lower your blood sugar, cholesterol and overall body weight, pay attention to the fat and sugar contents. Fat and sugar are not automatically bad for you, what matters is that you balance them within your dietary needs.
Dairy milks such as whole and two percent are high in protein and sugar with moderate fat contents. Skim milk is high in protein and sugar, but contains zero fat. Heavy whipping cream is high in fat and protein, but is low in sugar. Half-and- half is moderate in fat, protein and sugar.
Non-dary milks such as soy, almond, cococonut and cashew milk are all low in fat and contain moderate amounts of sugar. Soy milk is high in protein, where as almond, coconut and cashew are each generally low in protein.
Drink more water
One of the easiest fitness hacks to incorporate into your diet is carrying a water bottle throughout the day.
According to the Mayo Clinic’s online nutrition guide, the average adult should drink around eight eight-ounce glasses of water per day to stay adequately hydrated.
Health benefits to drinking enough water include flushing toxins from your system, aiding in digestion, alleviating headaches, improving circulation, keeping your kidneys healthy, strengthening hair and nails, regulating your immune system and keeping your skin clear and healthy.
Plus, clean drinking water is always free and easily accessible on campus, so it’s easy to refill once you’ve finished a bottle. It’s cheap, readily available and good for you. What’s not to love? For an added health bonus, try added a few drops of lemon juice to your water.