The holidays give us all a chance to socialise, take a break from work and indulge in all the delicious food and drinks. As much as the festive season is about indulgence, it’s important to remember to make healthy choices, too. One easy way to do this is by choosing healthy drinks for the holidays.
Types Of Drinks South Africans Buy During The Holidays
South Africans love to celebrate with fizzy drinks, energy drinks, and fruit juice blends.
While these may be tasty, they are often loaded with sugar and empty calories. Let’s take a closer look:
Coke, or Coca-Cola, is a popular choice for many South Africans during the holidays and even for daily use. Did you know that the top-selling item at Pick ‘n Pay is Coke? Coke and similar beverages are packed with sugar and calories. A single can of these cold drinks typically contains 600-800 kJ/140-190 kCal, which is equivalent to consuming 2 slices of bread. If you consume 2 cans daily, in addition to your body’s daily energy needs, you could gain 7kg over a year if you don’t exercise or eat less to compensate! Regular soft drinks offer little to no nutritional value and can strain your pancreas and insulin function.
Energy drinks are designed for active individuals, not mere spectators! Beverages like Powerade, Energade, and Lucozade were specifically formulated to provide a boost during strenuous physical activities and may not be suitable for those leading a sedentary lifestyle. These drinks can cause a sudden spike in blood glucose levels and may leave you feeling lethargic after 90 minutes. Consistently consuming them without engaging in exercise can have negative effects on your pancreas in the long term and, similar to soft drinks, contribute to weight gain.
Fruit juice does offer some health benefits. Unlike soft drinks, it contains essential vitamins and isn’t just empty calories. While it does provide a small amount of fibre (usually <1g per 100 ml), other beverages like soft drinks, energy drinks, and alcoholic drinks lack any fibre at all. However, it’s crucial to control your portion size. Every 125ml (1/2 glass or 1 small wineglass) of fruit juice is equivalent to consuming a serving of fruit. Unfortunately, fruit juice is also high in kilojoules/calories. The misconception that it’s extremely healthy can be problematic because many people believe they can drink it without limits. But keep in mind that consuming two glasses (300ml each) of fruit juice daily could result in a weight gain of 15kg by the end of the year if it exceeds your daily caloric needs.
Alternative Healthy Drinks Recipes for the Holidays
With all this talk about unhealthy drinks, we don’t want to leave you feeling discouraged and deprived during the holidays. So here are some delicious, healthy alternatives that will keep you hydrated and satisfied:
South African Ice Tea
- Yield: 1 litre
- Prep Time: 5m
- Cook Time : 0m
- Ready In : 0m
- 1/2 C (125 ml) xylitol
- 1/2 C (125 ml) water
- 1/4 C (60 ml) lemon juice
- 2 rooibos or other tea bags
- a few slices of fresh ginger
- 2 stalks of lemon grass
- ice cubes for serving
- sparkling water
- lemon wedges and fresh mint for garnishing
In a saucepan, combine xylitol, water, and lemon juice and bring it to a boil. Add the tea bags, ginger, and lemongrass, then simmer for a few minutes until the mixture is reduced by half. Once cooled completely with the addition of ice cubes, transfer it to a glass jug and fill it up with ice-cold sparkling water. For an extra touch, garnish with lemon wedges and fresh mint.
Moolicious Peachy Iced Tea recipe
- 1 cup Green Tea – 1 teabag infused in boiling water for 15 minutes
- 1 cup Rooibos Tea or other flavour- same as above
- 1 cup Flavoured Tea – (any flavour will do) same as above, e.g. The Twinings Infusions
- 1 cup Cold Water
- 1 cup Peach Juice – use 100% unsweetened juice
- 1 tsp Advantage Sugar alternative – or other alternative sweetener
- 1 Orange or Lemon – cut in half then sliced thinly –
- A few sprigs of Fresh Garden Mint
- Lots of ice cubes for serving
Combine all the ingredients (excluding the ice cubes) in a large jug, then refrigerate until chilled. Serve generously over ice, ensuring that each glass gets a delightful mix of refreshing orange slices and mint. To balance out the peach juice, skip consuming two fruit servings. Enjoy!
What Will Be The Benefits Of Choosing Healthy Drinks For The Holidays
During the festive season, it’s tempting to indulge in decadent foods and drinks. However, opting for healthier alternatives when it comes to your holiday beverages can bring numerous advantages for your overall physical and mental well-being. Here are some compelling reasons why you should choose healthy drinks for the holidays.
Weight Loss & Management
The holiday season can easily lead to overindulgence, making it challenging to maintain a healthy weight. It would be best to choose healthy drinks that are low in calories and sugar, such as infused water or unsweetened tea. These options can help you manage your weight and avoid the unwanted extra pounds.
Improved Energy Levels
Unhealthy drinks, like soda and alcohol, may give you a temporary energy boost but will ultimately leave you feeling drained and fatigued. On the other hand, healthy drinks packed with nutrients and antioxidants can provide sustained energy without the sugar crash.
The holiday season is notorious for overeating and consuming rich, fatty foods that can wreak havoc on your digestion. Choosing healthier drink options can aid in digestion and keep your gut happy during the holiday festivities. For example, ginger tea can help soothe an upset stomach, while lemon water can aid in digestion and detoxification.
As you can see, choosing healthy drinks for the holidays can have significant benefits for your health and well-being. It may not be easy to resist all the tempting holiday beverages, but making mindful choices can make a difference in how you feel during and after the festive season.
So, next time you’re faced with a spread of unhealthy drinks at a holiday party, opt for healthier options!