As we consume lots of different beverages each day, it is important to consider the pros and cons of the various choices we make. If we can make small changes in our drinking habits, it will have a huge effect on our health over the festive season and in the long term.

Drinking fluids is essential as they keep us healthy and hydrated, but you need to watch out for the following…

More often than not, store bought drinks can be packed with calories! So, consider carefully what and how much you are drinking. For many people, the cause of their initial weight gain is what they drink, not what they eat.

Did you know that the biggest selling brand in the UK is Coca-Cola? “Full-fat” Coca-Cola and other similar carbonated soft drinks are loaded with sugar and calories. Just one can of regular fizzy drink contains as many as 190 calories, which is equivalent to eating 2 slices of bread. Should you have 2 cans each day, over and above the energy your body needs each day, you can put on over a stone during the year from fizzy drinks alone, assuming you’re not exercising more or eating less to compensate! There is no real health value in regular soft drinks and they put pressure on your pancreas and insulin function.

Energy drinks are for participants – not spectators! Drinks like Powerade and Lucozade were developed for athletes to rehydrate and recharge during strenuous sporting activities, and are not suitable for inactive people. These drinks will spike blood glucose levels and leave you feeling flat 90 minutes later. Regular consumption without exercising will harm your pancreas over the long run and, as in the case of soft drinks, help you pile on the pounds.

Fruit juice has some health benefits. It contains some vitamins and isn’t just empty calories, like fizzy drinks. Fruit juice contains a little fibre (less than 1g per 100ml), whereas soft drinks, energy drinks and alcoholic drinks contain no fibre whatsoever. It is very important to control portion sizes though, as every 125ml (half a tumbler or a small wineglass) of fruit juice is equivalent to eating a portion of fruit. Unfortunately fruit juice is also high in calories. The perception that these juices are super healthy is often part of the problem, because many people think they can drink it freely, but two large glasses each day could add almost two and a half stone to your weight by the end of the year, if consumed over and above the calories your body needs each day.

So what can you drink this festive season?

The government has already encouraged us to replace regular soft drinks with low sugar and low calorie versions through its sugar tax, but you could also try flavoured waters.

In an ideal world, you would avoid alcohol completely, but should you choose to drink alcoholic drinks, alternate them with a glass of water or a diet soft drink. Because you’re rehydrating between tipples, you will not only drink less, but help yourself to feel more refreshed the following day.

A good host just wants to see you with something in your hand – so add a wedge of lemon, a slice of cucumber or a mint leaf to your sparkling water or pour your diet soft drink into a fancy glass and enjoy!

How about drinking a Bloody Mary – without “the Mary” – spice up tomato juice with a dash of Tabasco and a twist of punchy pepper?

Keep your portion sizes to under 125 ml when you do choose a fruit juice or dilute it with still or sparkling water and plenty of ice. Because the flavour is so refreshing, it should be very easy to make this small change. To compensate, reduce your fruit intake by one portion.

Whatever the weather, keep some home-made iced tea at hand to conquer your thirst. Here are two recipes to try.

Redbush Iced Tea

Makes: 1 litre
Prep Time: 5 minutes
Cook Time: 0 minutes
Ready in: 5 minutes


  • 125 ml / 4 fl. oz. xylitol
  • 125 ml / 4 fl. oz. water
  • 60 ml / 4 tbsp lemon juice
  • 2 rooibos “redbush” tea bags or similar
  • a few slices of fresh ginger
  • 2 stalks lemongrass
  • sparkling water
  • ice cubes for serving
  • lemon wedges and fresh mint for garnishing


Place the sweetener, water and lemon juice into a saucepan and bring to the boil. Add the tea bags, the ginger and the lemon grass and simmer until reduced by half, this will take a few minutes. Cool completely by adding the ice cubes. Pour into a glass jug and top up with ice-cold sparkling water. Garnish with lemon wedges and mint.

Peach Iced Tea

Makes: 1 litre
Prep Time: 5 minutes
Cook Time: 0 minutes
Ready in: 20 minutes plus chilling


1 cup Green Tea – 1 teabag infused in boiling water for 15 minutes
1 cup Rooibos redbush tea – prepared as above 1 cup flavoured infusion eg. Twinings 1 cup Cold Water 1 cup Peach Juice – use 100% unsweetened juice 1 tsp sweetener 1 Orange or Lemon – cut in half then sliced thinly – A few sprigs of Fresh Garden Mint Lots of ice cubes for serving

Directions Use a teacup to measure each liquid ingredient, then mix all the ingredients together, except the ice cubes, in a large jug and refrigerate until cold.

Serve over lots of ice and make sure some of the delicious orange slices and mint lands in every glass.

Offset the peach juice by consuming two fewer fruit servings.

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