Last week, I shared a brief post on alternatives to soda. My original idea had been to offer some alternatives to sweetened drinks in the form of things I actually use.
Because the waters are so muddied when it comes to the subject of sweeteners and whether they do or don’t impact the release of insulin in the body, I will take the safest position which is to avoid all drinks with sweeteners.
One of the easiest ways to trigger the deprivation response in people is to tell them they can’t have something anymore. The very mention of the “something” raises their dopamine in hopes of satisfaction only to crush their desire on the rocks of denial. As I just described this to a friend, “it feels like you are just going to sit around and wait to die.” While I tend to go cold turkey when it comes to change, a gradual progression which you control on your terms is just as good if that works better for you. The human body can’t accurate assess how many calories it consumes by drinking those calories, and any path you take to move you away from soda, juice, and sweetened drinks is a good one.
Here is a list of some of my favorite unsweetened drinks:
Crystal Geyser makes delicious waters in a variety of unsweetened flavors. Widely available throughout California from where the water is sourced, they can sometimes be found on sale at amazingly low prices (Last week, Nob Hill had them at 65 cents for the 32 ounce bottle.) Tasty and refreshing with or without ice, I’ve fobbed these drinks off on my kids instead of soda and to few complaints. My personal favorite flavor is watermelon.
Hint has a slogan “drink water, not sugar,” and is the brainchild of Kara Goldin, a former soda drinker who developed her product line as an alternative to drinking soda and in the process, noticed a significant weight loss and improved overall health. Available in eighteen flavors, with and without carbonation, the bottles are the perfect size for lunches and purses and the flavors suggest sweetness even though they are actually unsweetened. Hint’s website offers suggestions on how to give up soda and also, coffee, as part of an integrated plan to limit sugar and improve health. All Hint flavors seem delicious to me.
The biggest complaint I have about bottled waters is the bottle, and for those who prefer a more environmently friendly approach, unsweentened flavor drops such as those made by Dasani alter the taste of water making it more palatable. Unfortunately, Dasani seems to offer limited unsweetened flavors (Lime and Strawberry Basil) and for those who object to the Coca-Cola conglomerate (of which Dasani is a subsidiary) the drops may not be a good option for you, though they are readily available in most supermarkets.
Lately, I’ve been buying flavorings from Nature’s Flavors in Orange County which may have the largest selection of flavors of all kinds and for all applications. Offering choices including natural and organic flavors and in bottles from 1 ounce to 1 gallon, this is the place to come if you want to experiment with flavors short of making your own extracts. Though the category of flavors available for waters lists nineteen different items, this still allows a wide variety of combinations and some of the flavors designated for other purposes could be used in water as well.
Many flavors trick the tongue into believing it has received something sweet which can be helpful in accepting water instead of sugared drinks. Yesterday, I had a craving for licorice which I was able to settle today using a few drops of Anise flavoring from McCormick Spices mixed into a glass of water. Though flavor essences in the spice section of your local market are limited, they have the advantage of instant gratification, a boon to those with difficulty deferring rewards.
Next week for this topic: Flavored Waters-Part III-Infusions and Teas