Smart beverages for Montana families
During the recent celebration of Dr. Suess’ birthday, I saw a quote that made me think about nutrition advice: “Sometimes the questions are complicated and the answers are simple.” Sometimes nutrition questions get really complicated, like how much of what beverages should I drink at what time of day for optimal health?
In my mind, there is actually a pretty simple answer: Drink milk with meals and drink water with snacks. Please, do not misunderstand me. I drink one to two cups of black coffee every morning – and a fairly regular glass of wine in the evening. But, otherwise, I steer clear of energy drinks, soft drinks (regular and diet), juice drinks and even fancy coffee drinks (aka liquid desserts)
There are so many myths about beverages and health floating around that it can seem complicated to get a simple answer. Let’s ‘bust’ a few myths before I give you my favorite four tips on smart beverage choices for your family.
• MYTH: Coffee dehydrates you. According to a recent study of men who drank about 6 cups a day, coffee has similar hydration properties as water. Basically, this means that your body absorbs and retains the liquid in coffee as well as does water. Coffee does affect the alertness of folks differently and too much caffeine from any source can cause jitteriness in some people. Moderation is the key!
• Myth: Energy drinks give you energy. The buzz about energy drinks has not been particularly good recently. These beverages flood your system with sugar, caffeine and other stimulants. While you may get an initial energy burst, all too often – especially for teens – they can lead to agitation, difficulty concentrating, hyperactivity, sleeping problems, nausea and negative blood pressure effects.
• Myth: Athletes should steer clear of milk. Nothing could be farther from the truth. Multiple research studies have shown that low-fat chocolate milk contains the right mix of carbs and protein to help refuel muscles. Refreshing chocolate milk also helps restore muscles quickly by replenishing the fluids and key nutrients lost in sweat. This is confirmed science, not dairy industry hyperbole.
Here are four beverage tips that can help everyone in your family stay hydrated and healthy – without drinking more calories than you want.
1. Hydrate Regularly: Another myth is that every body needs 6 to 8 glasses of water every day. The best way to see if you are hydrated is to check your urine. It should be nearly clear and almost odorless. Milk with meals and water with snacks is good for most people. Athletes and active people often need more.
2. Hydrate Carefully: Fluid needs vary with activity levels – and with weather conditions. Your body needs more fluid when it is very hot – and also very cold. In Montana, we also need to watch the altitude; high-mountain hiking and fishing also increase our fluid needs. Drink regularly and check your urine often.
3. Hydrate Tastefully: If you are bored by plain water, jazz it up with your favorite flavors – a slice of lemon, lime or orange is perfect if you like citrus. Adding some 100 percent fruit juice or a flavor packet to plain or sparkling water can also be tasty. The key is to gradually wean yourself off super-sweet soft drinks.
4. Hydrate Mindfully: Like anything else you put into your body, beverages should be ingested mindfully. Start small, sip slowly and enjoy thoroughly – especially when it comes to adult beverages or higher calories choices like milks shakes and desserts masquerading as coffee shop drinks.
During the 12 weeks of Shape Up Montana, I’ll be sharing tips for every time of day and eating occasion – breakfast, lunch, dinner and snacks. I’ll explore smart food choices and new research on all MyPlate (http://www.choosemyplate.gov) food groups. Stay tuned and discover just how easy it can be to fuel yourself well.
Dayle Hayes is an award-winning author and educator. Her creativity and common-sense have made her a sought-after speaker across the USA. As a parent and member of the School Nutrition Association, Hayes is dedicated make school environments healthy for students and staff. She collected school success stories for Making It Happen, a joint CDC-USDA project, wrote a chapter on communicating with students in Managing Child Nutrition Programs: Leadership for Excellence, and co-authored the Position of the American Dietetic Association: Nutrition Guidance for Healthy Children Ages 2 to 11 years.