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21 Days of Self-Care: Day 18 - Think Before You Drink

Even if we pay attention to how we work out, and what we eat, we often don’t notice what we drink. So we are going to bring some awareness to that part of our nutrition, and see if we can stick to only calorie-free beverages. So, to do this we’ll avoid: soda, juice, coffee drinks with cream & sugar; wine, beer and other liquor; and energy drinks.

It’s not that these drinks are “bad”; they just displace healthier options, and add empty calories, without actual nutrition.

Like many of exercises in our self-care project, this doesn’t have to be all-or-nothing. You get to choose how to move along your continuum to “a little bit better”. Make one small change, or go scorched earth cold turkey on all caloric beverages.

Start by subbing in water for some of your normal calorie-containing beverages. If you normally have a double-cream coffee, try cutting to one cream or using milk instead. If you normally have regular soda, try a diet soda. If you normally drink diet soda, try soda water with some lemon or lime.

If you are keeping some bottled drinks like juice on your menu, make an informed decision, and keep reading the labels. Don’t be fooled by what the front of the package says. Even “healthy” juices are usually highly processed, which strips most of their valuable nutrients away. Look for things like:

  • calories per serving (and what the serving size is — sometimes it’s only part of the bottle or can)

  • caffeine

  • artificial sweeteners; sugar (and sneaky terms for sugar, such as “cane juice”, “syrup”, glucose-fructose, etc.)

  • alcohol

  • flavoring (even if it’s “natural flavor”)

  • coloring; preservatives; "from concentrate"

  • sodium

  • other stuff you’re not sure you should be eating, like titanium dioxide.

Notice any resistance that pops up as you do this experiment. Anything along the lines of “You can have my vodka tonic when you pry it from my cold dead hands”? We get it, life is stressful. We all look for ways to calm down and comfort ourselves. Alcohol can help us cope. Take the edge off. Chill us out. The occasional drink or two in moderation has a place in a healthy diet. Small amounts of red wine may even be good for our heart. If the idea of giving up booze even for a short time is freaking you out, then you may not be drinking in moderation. Alcohol may be helping you cope with things. Notice that. Just pay attention.

Try this experiment for just for a day, or really get outside your comfort zone. The point is to bring your attention to the quality of what you’re drinking, making each drink a conscious choice, rather than a mindless one.

Ask yourself: Does this beverage I’m about to consume add value to my body? Does it hydrate me, and/or replenish nutrients I’ve lost? Does it add value, health, and/or recovery? After I drink this, will I feel physically good and satisfied? Will I feel happy and proud about my choice?

If the answer to all of the above is yes, then go ahead and enjoy.

If the answer is no, take a few moments to think about it. What trade-off are you willing to make? What’s your deal? Why? Is there a better choice available? Why is it better?

Information for this post is sourced from my nutrition coaching program, powered by Precision Nutrition's ProCoach platform.

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