Just One Change week one - time to ditch the soft drinks
Over the next few weeks we're giving you one small, manageable change you can make to your diet each week, that over time will add up to a big difference to your health. And we're starting with the soft drinks.
Depending on how you look at it, this is a very easy way to get things started. On one hand, you can make a really healthy change to your diet without changing anything about what you actually eat. On the other hand, we’re asking you to grapple with one of the most addictive bad eating habits there is - sugar.
Why you need to eat less sugar
In the long term excessive consumption of added sugar can lead to obesity, type 2 diabetes, liver disease and heart disease. It also messes with how your body regulates the chemical insulin (insulin is one way you convert food into energy). That’s where the diabetes can come from, but in the short term it can also mean you get sudden spikes and slumps in energy whenever you eat, and find your mood can go up and down dramatically throughout the day, as well as your concentration levels.
Sugar is also unsatisfying as food, and can make you feel hungrier than before, leading to you also eating more than you need at mealtimes.
Why you should start by giving up fizzy drinks
Fizzy drinks contain an absolutely stonking amount of sugar. One study found that 80% of canned drinks contain six teaspoons of sugar. Given that the World Health Organisation recommends you don’t have more than 5 teaspoons of added sugar per day that’s, well, not ideal. And according to some other studies, if just 150 of your daily calories come from soft drinks your risk of developing diabetes increases 11 times.
Why sports drinks won’t help you either
There’s a common belief that, because we become dehydrated and burn energy when we exercise, sports drinks are simply replacing the energy we’ve lost and will keep us going. In actual fact, there’s no evidence that sugary sports drinks improve performance any better than simple water.
Sports drink recipes are often based on rehydration fluids - which are a mix of water, sugar and salt. However these fluids are designed for people who are losing huge amounts of fluid over time due to illness and urgently need to replace lost energy as well as water - not someone who’s just spent a hard couple of hours at the gym or even on a long bike ride. Our bodies have probably already evolved to handle that kind of activity, so you're better off replenishing energy levels with actual food.
Can you still drink SOME fizzy drinks though?
Well, you can do what you want!
The real problem with fizzy drinks, we think, is they're too easy. They don't feel substantial like food might and they definitely don't have as much flavour as one of the after-lunch treats whipped up in our kitchen. They're liquid, so we drink them like water. But really, they're dessert, and if you're still going to have the occasional can of drink you should treat it like one. We know what we'd choose between a can of lemonade or a slice of one of pastry chef Marius' brownies, but the choice is yours!
Changes you’ll notice in the long term
People who quit sugar say that they have a ton more energy, have better concentration and find they don’t feel as stressed or anxious as before. For those trying to get down to a healthier weight, they also find their weight drops more quickly.
Changes you’ll notice right away
If you’re used to drinking a can of cola every afternoon, the main thing you’ll notice this week is cravings! Sugar is known to be very addictive so your body will start telling you to seek out sweet flavours wherever you can. Try to avoid the snack shelves at the supermarket and stay away from the office biscuits. The idea isn’t to replace the drinks with something else! You might also get occasional headaches - it’s a lot like caffeine withdrawal. Just remember, this will pass!
What not to replace fizzy drinks with
Stay away from fruit juices and diet sodas! In fact, for bonus points you should probably be quitting fruit juice too. The amount of concentrated sugar in fruit juice far outweighs any nutritional benefit. Meanwhile, diet sodas give you the sweet flavour but don’t provide the “drug” effect of sugar, which means you will just crave sweet food even more.
What you should replace fizzy drinks with
If you want to eat something sweet, we recommend whole fruit, especially ones that are high in fibre like raspberries and mangoes. That will give you a bit of a sugar hit but will also make you feel full, so you won’t keep craving more snacks.
As for drinks - we recommend you stick to plain old water, since most flavoured drinks have some level of added sugar. Don’t pay attention to drinks marked “natural sugar” either, containing things like agave nectar or coconut nectar. These types of sugar are just as unhealthy as the sugar you’ll find in any other canned drinks.
One good alternative drink, if you like it, is milk! And the best way to flavour your water is with the classic method - a good old herbal tea bag, some fresh mint or a slice of lemon. Or, if you have Just Hospitality at your office, stop by one of our fresh fruit water dispensers...