We all know that soda isn’t an ideal drink for a healthy body. But it’s important to be practical and recognize that soda is a still a big part of American culture – this year’s gymnastic halftime show by an inspired Lady Gaga was sponsored by none other than Pepsi Zero Sugar.
Though soda use is falling across the country, this advertising may still be worth its buck. A full third of Americans drink sugar-sweetened sodas daily, and millions of others consume diet sodas instead of their sugared counterparts, especially children. A study published in January 2017 found artificial sweetener intake among children tripled from 1999 to 2012. Evidence continues to emerge that artificial sweeteners can affect our gut bacteria and how our body processes food – known in science lingo as metabolic derangements… Yikes!
Beyond the sweeteners, most sodas are packed with artificial dyes, phosphates, and other chemicals that have no business being in your body in excessive quantities. And while traditional sodas like Diet Coke and Diet Pepsi seem to be on their way out, “energy” and “sports” drinks have found a foothold in the fall of the old stalwarts.
Avoiding these drinks can be easy when they’re replaced with delicious, natural alternatives. Putting together a few simple ingredients makes for a taste that’s much more refreshing than store bought soda.
Water’s Number One
The first thing to say when discussing what to drink instead of soda is that water should always be your main method of hydration. Drinking at least two quarts of water will quench your thirst throughout the day, though you should probably drink more if you maintain a more active than average lifestyle.
Water is the medium in which all your cells exist. The fluids within your brain, intestine, kidneys, etc. are water-based, and dehydration can cause negative effects throughout the body. That’s why it’s always important to pay attention to your water consumption and make sure you’re getting enough water – fatigue, sickness, and general malaise can be effects of too little water consumption.
Another benefit of making water a habit is steady hydration can reduce cravings for sweet or carbonated drinks. Calorie and additive free water is always a better choice than relying on soft drinks for hydration. Furthermore, drinking a glass or two of water before a meal can aid in weight loss. We recommend you invest in a reusable quart bottle to easily keep track of how much you’re drinking during the day. Fill and finish it at least twice throughout the day for best results!
Take the Sweet Out of Soda
Part of getting out of the soda habit is getting used to new flavors and tastes that have the same refreshing qualities of a soft drink. These drinks start with pure seltzer water, which you can make at home with an inexpensive soda maker.
Think of the carbonated water – if carbonation is what you especially like about drinking soda – as a natural base for further flavors and elements. A canvas for experimentation and creation. We’ll put some of our ideas down here, but take the opportunity to innovate to create your own delicious refreshments!
The drinks you create probably won’t be as sweet as the sodas you’re used to. But the reality is those drinks are absolutely loaded with either sugar or artificial sweetener. Better to train your brain and palette to appreciate more understated experiences so you can rely on natural ingredients at home for your drinks.
Citrus Wins It
Our absolute favorite addition to seltzer water is citrus fruit. You can make delicious bubbly drinks in a snap by starting with seltzer and adding your favorite citrus flavor (or two!). And there are two ways to arrive at a yummy citrus drink. The first is to hand squeeze some lemon, orange, tangelo, grapefruit, or lime into a fresh, ice cold glass of seltzer water.
A drink that will provide refreshment with every sip, a fresh-squeezed splash of citrus in seltzer usually has all the sweetness or tanginess one needs. Make sure you leave in the drink whatever fruit you squeeze so it can continue to provide flavor!
If, however, you find these drinks don’t quite pack enough punch, you can always mix one part seltzer water with one part of your favorite juice – preferably fresh or farmer’s market squeezed – to make a natural version of the soda drinks that are so popular in the US.
Use the Infusion Move
The zest of citrus fruits allows you to make a drink with a lot of taste but not much citrus to it, maybe a quarter or half a fruit per 8 ounces. For flavors you can’t just squeeze straight into a glass of seltzer – say, cucumber, blueberry, rose, or pineapple – you’ll want to chop a larger amount then add to a large batch of seltzer. Refrigerate overnight and wake up to a refreshing morning drink!
Experimentation will be key to getting the right amount of ingredient per cup of seltzer. Our recommendation for veggies and other subtly flavored ingredients is to add a half cup per two cups of seltzer. Fuller flavored ingredients will require less to produce the same flavor! With some fruits, like blackberries or pineapple, you could always mash the ingredients before infusing.
As with any health or diet tip, too much of a good thing is bad. So let the seltzer flow, but do so responsibly, as always. No downing a 12-pack a day.
Let us know what kind of great drinks you come up with, and always stay happy, stay healthy!