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Summer Beverage Choices: Dietitian Mary Bamford Helps Canadians Balance Health and Enjoyment

Toronto, July 23, 2008

With summer now in full swing, along come barbecues, popsicles, cool drinks and all the other favourites of the season. As Canadians battle the hot summer weather, for many, the question of how to select summer refreshments is challenged by their diets or confusion about food choices. According to a recent survey, almost two-thirds of Canadians (64 per cent) say they always or often feel guilty when eating certain foods and drinking certain beverages; another three-quarters (74 per cent) believe the information about food and weight management seems to change all the time.

“Along with summer’s heat, come summer treats,” said Mary Bamford, Registered Dietitian in Toronto, Ontario. “A big part of the benefit of the food and beverages we consume is the enjoyment and refreshment we get from the experience. There are a variety of choices available to us that fit well within a balanced lifestyle to satisfy our thirst.”

To help Canadians balance health and refreshment this summer, Registered Dietitian Mary Bamford offers the following tips:

  1. Stay hydrated all day long. Drink before you’re thirsty. As the summer days heat up, be sure you have a beverage on hand throughout the day and drink at regular intervals. Aim for a minimum of 8-10 cups of fluid each day along with your normal diet to replace what you’ve lost. If you’re outdoors on a hot and humid day, you are likely to sweat more – with or without exercise. Watch for signs of dehydration, including fatigue and dry mouth. And in extreme heat conditions, be sure to plan for additional fluid intake. Coca-Cola has a range of low-calorie and no calorie soft drinks, along with100-calorie portion-controlled serving options. Find the right choice for you based on your level of physical activity.

  2. Know your sweet tooth: The human body naturally craves sweetness because sugars are converted inside the body into fuel for energy – and this applies to beverages, too. According to a recent survey, the majority of Canadians (80 per cent) crave particular foods and drinks. At the same time, their guilt when consuming certain foods and beverages gets in the way of enjoying them. If you’re going to have something sweet, whether it’s a popsicle, a soft drink or a milkshake, pick your favourite that you know you’ll enjoy, and make sure to manage your serving size.

  3. Account for activity: Many people increase their level of activity as the summer months approach, and you may need to increase your fluids and energy intake to replenish what you’ve lost through physical activity. However, if you’re finding you aren’t as active as you’d like, adjust your consumption based on your level of activity. Consider your portion size, try lower-calorie beverage choices like waters and low or no-calorie alternatives. “Physical activity is often overlooked as part of the health equation, yet the majority of Canadians believe it’s the most important contributor to their overall health,” added Bamford. “Nutrition and exercise go hand-in-hand. And by doing more physical activity, you can take some of the pressure off your food intake management.”

  4. Manage your caffeine intake: It’s a little-known fact, but even caffeinated beverages can provide hydration. “While it’s true that caffeine does have a mild diuretic effect, the hydration gained by drinking certain caffeinated beverages outweighs this effect,” said Bamford. A carbonated soft drink such as Coca-Cola, Diet Coke or Coca-Cola Zero contains about one-third the level of caffeine found in the same serving of coffee. Moderate daily caffeine intake for adults is equivalent to two to three cups of coffee, or five to six cans of caffeinated soft drinks. Make room for variety by introducing a selection of caffeinated and non-caffeinated teas, coffees and soft drinks to your diet

  5. Read labels and compare: More than half of Canadians (57 per cent) report they are confused by food and nutrition choices. Take a minute to read the Nutrition Facts Panel on all your beverage choices. A 355 ml serving of orange juice actually has more sugar than a can of regular cola. “Make informed choices by understanding how much you’re consuming before you finish your drink,” added Bamford. Visit cocacola.ca for detailed information about their products and learn how to make balanced and educated choices.