Hey, what’s this? Upon glimpsing this title, did the hope flash that a daily ration of margaritas might provide a route to the new, slim you, for 2005? Or perhaps a Venti Latte diet? No such luck. In fact, it’s just the contrary. Eight ounces of margaritas provides 500 calories. A single beer provides between 110 and170 calories, (about 1000 in a 6-pack) and a martini 190 calories. It is amazing how many calories can sneak into your diet in the form of fluids. Twelve ounces of lemonade, fruit punch or soda pop adds 150 calories. A medium milkshake chalks up 370 calories, with over 500 calories for a large shake or 12 ounces of eggnog (without the alcohol). Alcoholic beverages send calories soaring. Distilled spirits contain about 110 calories per 1.5 ounces, liqueurs about 150 calories per 1.5 ounces, and wine 80 to 110 calories per 4 ounce glass.

While black coffee or tea is calorie-free, what we add is another story. Perhaps you have decided to lighten on a 1400-calorie weight loss plan. At 340 calories, one Venti Latte will use a quarter of your daily allotment of calories. Not only that, you’ll get 18 grams of fat (12 of them saturated) and 26 grams of sugar. A 12 ounce Cafe Mocha with whole milk and whipped cream, at about 350 calories, also might be viewed as a piece of chocolate cake in a cup. Apart from the calories, these beverages provide relatively few nutrients to keep your cells in good health. Drinking four or five calorie- rich beverages over the course of a day can easily contribute between 500 and 1300 calories. Keep in mind that an extra 500 calories a day, for seven days, will add a pound of body fat for every week that you continue this practice. (One pound of fat is the equivalent of 3500 calories.) People can pack on the pounds through steady sipping of pop, orange juice, or tea or coffee with your whitener of choice, and perhaps sugar.

Which single change in consumption will drastically cut calories for most people? Stick to calorie-free beverages. Pure water is our very best bet for hydration. Carry a water bottle wherever you go. One of the most effective practices you can adopt if you want to lose weight loss is to drink at least 2 to 3 litres of water each and every day. Sometimes what we perceive as hunger is satisfied when we fill up with water. Tonic or soda water with a wedge of citrus is an excellent choice for parties. Herbal teas are a tasty alternative. For a refreshing drink, try Lemon Zinger tea with a teaspoon of fresh lemon juice. Enjoy Bengal Spice or Licorice Spice teas hot or chilled; the licorice and spices present in the blend add sweetness without calories. Keep a carafe of your favorite herbal tea handy, or a pitcher of chilled herbal tea in the refrigerator. Teas made from leafy green herbs, such as mint, are sources of trace minerals. Vegetable juices such as tomato juice or tomato vegetable blends offer excellent nutrition for minimal calories; if you like, add a dash of Tabasco or hot sauce. These juices can also be warmed to give a filling but low calorie soup.

The recipe given here is sweetened with stevia, derived from a shrub native to Paraguay, and used for over 1500 years by the native Guarani Indians. Leaves from the plant are available in powdered form or as a liquid extract. Stevia leaves contain numerous phytonutrients and trace minerals. It is much sweeter than sugar and thus can be used in miniscule amounts that provide no calories, no carbohydrates, and result in no tooth decay. Stevia does not raise blood glucose levels, making it safe for diabetics and a valuable weight loss aid.

Stevia Lemonade

This warming beverage is calorie free. Fresh squeezed lemon juice is ideal as it imparts the most flavour and aroma; however “Santa Cruz Organic” is a good choice if you want the convenience of bottled brand lemon juice. Adjust the amounts of lemon juice and stevia slightly, according to your preference. If you prefer, you may use a stevia in the powder form, instead of drops (you’ll need very little).

1 cup               hot water
1-1/2 tbsp    lemon juice
8 drops          stevia liquid

Bring water to a boil and pour over tea bags. Let steep for 20 minutes then remove tea bags. Add apple juice and citrus juice. Refrigerate until chilled.

Vesanto Melina is a registered dietitian, internationally known speaker and consultant, based near Fort Langley. She is co-author of The Raw Revolution Diet, (a great help with weight management), the “Food Allergy Survival Guide”. “The New Becoming Vegetarian” (US title), “Becoming Vegetarian” (Canadian title), by Melina and Davis and “Becoming Vegan” (co-authored with Brenda Davis) offer chapters on weight management. For consultations, call her home office at 604-882-6782. Vesanto’s website is www.nutrispeak.com.

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