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Sugary Drinks: Not So Sweet After All

The World Health Organization recommends reducing sugar intake to 10% of daily energy intake—in other words, 200 of the 2,000 calories that you consume in the day, or 50g of sugar. And lowering that percentage to 5%, or 25g, would be even healthier. That’s barely 6 teaspoons a day!

One thing you quickly learn when living with diabetes is that sugar is everywhere.

Keeping a close watch on what you eat is fine, but applying the same vigilance to what you drink is just as important. Soft drinks are little calorie bombs. Each can has about 150 calories and 40g of carbohydrates, or 10 teaspoons of sugar!

Why not replace them with juice, then? Here’s why not: 100% pure fruit juice may actually contain just as many calories and carbohydrates. What’s more, it has almost no fiber and thus isn’t as filling as fresh fruit.

What can replace sugary drinks, then?

Well… good old water, in fact! Add a few drops of lime or lemon juice, or steep fruits, cucumber, ginger or mint with it.

Various water flavorings are also available. However, as they are made with sugar or sweeteners, these products should be used with caution: you could be adding one or two tablespoons of sugar to a single glass of water.

As for sports drinks, unless you’ve engaged in prolonged physical exertion and sweated profusely (by running for an hour, for example), they’re not a good choice.

Are soft drinks like a soft drug for you?

Break the cycle of addiction:

  • Set a quit date and make a promise to yourself.
  • Identify the triggers that lead to soft drink consumption: defuse the situation by distracting yourself or going for a walk after your meal.
  • Make sure you eat enough fiber and starchy foods—you’ll be better able to resist the call of sugar.

Worried about running out of energy?

Whatever you do, stay away from energy drinks, which are packed with sugar and caffeine.

Look into tea instead: from green tea to Pu’erh and oolong, you’ve got a rainbow of flavours at your disposal.

You can also go for coffee, as long as you don’t top it with a mountain of sugar and whipped cream!



American Diabetes Association (2019). What Can I Eat?. Retrieved from: Accessed July 23 2021.

Diabetes Canada (n.d). Sugar & diabetes. Retrieved from: Accessed July 23 2021.

Institut national de santé publique du Québec (2011). Les boissons énergisantes: entre menace et banalisation. Topo 2 (August 2011). Retrieved from: Accessed July 23 2021.

World Health Organization (2015). WHO calls on countries to reduce sugars intake among adults and children. Retrieved from: Accessed July 23 2021.



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