News | Published December 1, 2020 | Written by Paul L. Klink, MD, Mount Nittany Physician Group, Weight Management

Healthy Holiday Tip: Drink for good health

Paul Klink, MD, Mount Nittany Physician Group Weight Management

The Holidays are here!  This brings particular challenges for many of us in managing our weight.

I share with patients two principles of weight management, which are especially important to keep in mind right now. First, small changes can lead to big rewards for your weight and your health. Secondly, be mindful of what you are doing in the moment.

There is no better example of how these two principles can come together to help us —mindfulness and small changes — than in what we drink and how much. Did you know that drinking just one regular can of 12 oz soda every day for one year has enough calories to increase your weight by almost 16 pounds? Many other drinks are loaded with sugar, fat, and alcohol. These calories can really add up.

It is proven that when we drink calories, they do not do a good job of telling our brain that we are full. So we can consume a lot of calories without even realizing it. I regularly see people who are frustrated that they have not been able to lose weight, despite not eating very much. Many times, it is true, the calories they eat are not the reason they are having trouble. It is the calories in soda, juice, special coffees, sweet tea, and alcohol that are responsible for their struggle.

To put this in perspective, it helps to know how many calories you should have in a day. An average male's daily calorie goal is 1800-2000. An average woman's calorie goal is 1500 per day. With that in mind, consider that a regular 12 oz. soda is 160 calories, a Starbuck's 16 oz. pumpkin spice latte is 380 calories, a chocolate martini is 428 calories, a Pina Colada is 526 calories, and a McDonald's large chocolate shake is 840 calories!

These liquid calories can keep us from losing weight, even if we are not eating that much. Do your homework and know the calories you are drinking. You will make your weight loss job more manageable by avoiding regular soda, fruit punches, sweet tea, coffee with added ingredients, sugar-sweetened drinks, and even 100% fruit juice. Water is best, but an occasional diet soda, diet drink, or flavored water is fine.

Indeed, coffee actually has medical benefits. Coffee lowers the risk of diabetes, dementia, Parkinson's disease, gallstones, liver and colon cancer, and the risk for stroke in women. Plus, coffee gives you the same amount of water that you would get from just straight water. The coffee "dose" associated with the best health benefit is two to five cups a day. Tea also lowers the risk of death, diabetes, heart disease, and Parkinson's disease. So enjoy your coffee break!

It is ok to have some beverages that have calories in them. Just make sure they fit into your daily calorie goal. Be sure to know their calorie count, so you can decide if that drink is really worth it.

For more tips to help you through the holiday season and all year long, to learn more about our program or schedule an appointment, please visit mountnittany.org/weightmanagement.