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Friday’s Flavor: Counting calories? Look at your drinks

Originally published December 3, 2010

You might want to sit down for this.

What do a Starbucks White Chocolate Mocha, a Big Gulp soda, and a Dunkin Donut Vanilla Bean Coolatta all have in common?

They are all over 400 calories – the calorie equivalent of one healthy meal.

In today’s society, vast amounts of people are focused on healthy eating and their overall diet.

They tend to watch calories consumed from foods as well as the amount of exercise in any given day.

It is great to see how much people care about their health and eating a healthy diet.

Yet, many of these same individuals tend to be unaware of the fact that liquids are just as important in their diet as solid foods.

This also means that the calories in liquids are just as important to keep track of.

If someone eats an extremely healthy diet, but decides to load up on soda, high-calorie coffee drinks, fruit juice cocktails or milkshakes, they are canceling out the many good effects of their diet.

Diets are normally not easy to folow, so you do not want to ruin your good days with extra calories in drinks.

Now, I know it is near impossible to cut out all of those beverages in your life.

Starbucks is on every corner, after all. It is just a matter of choosing your drinks wisely. For example, instead of ordering a Grande Chocolate Mocha (260 calories) you can choose to order a Grande Cappuccino (120 calories).

It is still possible to consume tasty beverages while avoiding an extra hundred or so calories.

With all of this liquid calorie talk, it is safe to say that if an extra couple of pounds need to be shed, it might not be too hard.

Instead of those three cans of Coca-Cola a day, replace them with water. You might miss the flavor of soda, but there are alternatives to that as well.

Flavored drink packets are sold almost everywhere and are normally no more than five calories each.These are easy ways to fix your diet without missing out on too much.

Another thing that might surprise people is that drinks that are associated with good health can also contain many calories.

A perfect example of this is orange juice. Orange juice contains Vitamin C which is essential is preventing and fighting illnesses such as the common cold.

For a typical 8-ounce glass, you would consume about 120 calories. Although this may or may not seem like a large number, it can add up quickly.

On the other hand, an 8-ounce glass of vitamin-enriched 100 percent orange juice will offer far more benefits than a 12-ounce can of regular soda.

They might have the same amount of calories, but the benefits are much greater in the fruit juice.

It is only a matter of choosing your liquid calories wisely and balancing liquid and food based choices.

Awareness is the first step to good health habits. Let it be known that it is not necessary to cut out all tasty beverages, but it is always a good thing to be aware of the possible consequences of consuming them.

Smart decisions can lead to a healthy and happy life.

Revised for accuracy by Amanda Newell, RD, Bradley Dietetic Internship Director and Assistant Professor in Family and Consumer Sciences.