This sticker–Balance What You Eat–caught my eye twice this month, at two different locations hundreds of miles apart. So I decided to do a bit of research. Like most baby boomers, the idea of “balancing” what I eat, drink, and do sounds reasonable to me. I mean, good health is all about moderation. But adjacent to a Coca Cola ad, what gives here?
ABA Leads the Way
Started in 2015, the “Balance” initiative is coordinated by the American Beverage Association (ABA), the trade association that represents America’s non-alcoholic beverage industry. Coca Cola, Dr. Pepper, and Pepsi have come together under this program to promote more beverage choices with smaller portions and less sugar. These efforts will be seen at supermarkets, schools, and communities from east Los Angeles to the Mississippi Delta to reduce calories in American diets and help fight obesity. The companies want to “educate children and families on the importance of balancing calories and staying active.” All good.
But What Can Be Positive About Soda?
Soda has been vilified as the poster child of an empty-calorie food—that is, it contributes calories, but no essential nutrients. In fact, some studies show that soft drink consumption is associated with obesity, as well as an increased risk for heart disease and type 2 diabetes. But the U.S. per capita consumption of non-alcoholic beverages has been dropping since 2010. So Americans are getting the message.
Can there be healthy beverage drinks? Most are currently way too high in sugar and calories. The U.S. Dietary Guidelines recommend Americans limit added sugar to no more than 10% of calories each day, or 200 calories in a 2,000 calorie diet. A 20-oz bottle of Coca Cola contains 65 grams of sugar, a whopping 260 calories. Companies are working to decrease sugar in their products, and offering smaller containers (down to 7.5 oz). So at a minimum, if you drink soda, be cautious of your beverage intake, and remember to be as active as possible.
How Can You “Balance” Your Lifestyle?
You always have choices, this is the brilliant aspect of eating and moving (not that it’s easy, of course!). It’s not so much “balancing” as it is being aware of your daily lifestyle choices. For example:
- If you have pizza for dinner, don’t snack on chips (too much sodium and fat).
- If you have to skip your daily walk, postpone your ice cream dessert for another day.
- If you go out to dinner (or enjoy take-out these days), share your serving with somebody else.
- If you crave a cola, drink it with a large salad with lots of fresh veggies.
You get the idea.
For more information about healthy decisions, give me a call.