Sweet Tooth: Sugar Relativity

Posted in Random thoughts by dave on May 23, 2009 No Comments yet

Sugar cubes

If you’re one of the millions of people out there trying to lose weight, or one of the countless others just shooting for that deliciously-indeterminate goal of living healthier, you might be surprised to learn just how easy it is to cut down on the amount of sugar you consume. Whether it’s corn syrup, cane sugar or one of the myriad zero-cal test-tube sweeteners out there, I’ve found it’s surprisingly easy to train your taste buds to work with less of it.

In the past couple of years, Kelly and I have been steadily becoming more active, between late-night racquetball games at the local college, various flavors of bicycling, running, and getting our money’s worth from our home gym. During this time, we’ve tried out equally as many options for rehydration – from Nalgene bottles filled with Brita water, to bottled spring water, to Gatorade and other flavored options. Our favorite by far was Vitamin Water, and the Wegman’s private-label equivalent – because they were sweetened with natural sugar.

The problem with drinks like these, however, is that an entire bottle has as many calories as a large snack – and if you drink 2 or 3 bottles per day, you might as well eat another meal! My solution? Kill two birds with one stone: mix the flavored water with filtered tap water. In addition to cutting your calories by 50%, you also double your drinks-per-dollar. But what about the taste?

Surprisingly, after just a couple of days spent drinking the “watered-down water”, we both got used to the less-intense taste … to the point that now, the undiluted stuff actually tastes way too sweet! The same approach has worked with other beverages, too – we now dilute store-bought juices 50/50, and mix powdered drinks (like our current favorite, Arnold Palmer tea/lemonade mix from AriZona) at one-third strength. The the even-cooler part? Turning down the sweet-factor in your drinks seems to amplify it in other places. Take coffee, for example – I no longer need to add sweetener or sugar to my coffee, because the natural sweetness of the cream (well, half-and-half) is a lot more noticeable. These are the same sugars that are enhanced by steaming milk for cappuccinos and lattes.

Maybe we could call it the daverea.com challenge: On an average day, total up the calories (or chemicals) you consume in liquid form. Then, try dropping that number by 50%, just by diluting your cold drinks and cutting back on added sweeteners in your coffee and tea. If you give it a week, I think you’ll be amazed by what your taste buds tell you!

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