Nutritional Nugget: Twenty-One Percent!

I have received many questions about nutrition, and so far I haven’t tackled them in my newsletter. This is partially because nutrition is such a huge issue, and also because people are starting from such radically different baselines and assumptions that it is difficult to know where to start. Just because something is difficult, however, doesn’t mean that it shouldn’t be attempted. What I’m going to try doing is to fire off the occasional ‘nutritional nugget’, see where it lands and what kind of reaction it gets.

I read recently that 21% of all calories consumed by Americans are consumed in the form of drinks, mostly soft drinks and sports drinks. This is an incredible number, and if 21% is the average then some people are consuming much more that that. It puts the obesity epidemic into perspective!

So here comes the nugget, and it won’t be an easy one for many people to swallow: DON’T DO SOFT DRINKS. At the very least, restrict how how often you drink them and go for a small size rather than the Big Gulp. Learn to love drinking water. Making the switch can be difficult, because these drinks are designed to be addictive: for some people it takes time, effort and discipline to rewire their brains to accept the taste of water.

The suggestion created by advertising is that a ‘sports drink’ is a healthy alternative to soft drinks. Don’t get caught in this trap – Gatorade, Powerade and all the rest are still packed with glucose-fructose solution (read “sugar”). Sports drinks in moderation are fine so long as they are consumed immediately before, during or immediately after (intense) exercise.

Another, more subtle, trap is to replace soft drinks with fruit juices. While juice is certainly healthier than carbonated sugar water it is very easy to over-drink it. 1000 calories of apple juice are relatively easy to drink, but it would take a lot of time and effort to consume 1000 calories of apples, plus you’d get the benefits of the fiber and eating an unprocessed food.

The nugget endeth.

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