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NAP Challenge #6: Bye Soda, Hi Tea

green tealeavesThis week I will drink water or tea instead of soda and sugar sweetened beverages and limit 100% fruit juices to no more than a 1/2 cup portion daily.


This week's challenge has two parts: one – to say "good bye" to sugar found in soda, juice flavored drinks, and sweetened beverages such as soda and coffee concoctions and two – to say "hello" to tea.

Sweetened beverages are "energy dense" (not good, say "bye"), that is, high in calories with no nutritional benefit, and contribute to weight gain and therefore cancer risk. The "liquid calories" in soda, sweetened beverages, and excess portions of fruit juice are a great source of "hidden concentrated calories" that contribute significantly to excess calories leading to weight gain. Just by cutting back on our "liquid calories"– a small step – we can easily eliminate calories and that will help weight loss efforts.

Instead, embrace tea, unsweetened, either iced or hot. Tea will give you a boost of cancer fighting and potentially weight reducing phytonutrients! Some research suggests switching to tea may help with weight control in several ways such as calorie substitution and possible positive metabolic effects.

You may greet your morning with a 1/2 cup serving of 100% fruit juice as juice counts as part of your recommended five or more daily portions of fruits and vegetables. Though, remember, even 100% fruit juice is packed with natural sugars, so keep your juice portion to 1/2 cup daily. If you rather, "eat the fruit instead of drinking the fruit" for more fiber – eat an orange instead of drinking OJ.

Why say hi to tea? Tea is calorie free and contains a phytochemical, specifically a polyphenol called epigallocatechin-3-gallate (EGCG), that acts as an antioxidant. In cell and animal studies, EGCG slows cancer growth, inhibits the ability of tumors to spread and leads to cancer cell death without affecting normal cells. But data from population-based studies remains very inconsistent. As far as losing weight, the research is promising yet inconclusive. Drinking two to four cups a day of freshly brewed green teas provides levels of EGCG associated with modest improvements in weight loss when also coupled with reduced calorie consumption and increased activity. Shifting from drinking calorie-containing drinks to non-calorie-containing tea reduces caloric consumption and possibly offers some extra help with weight control. Do drink no more than 2-4 cups of tea daily either with breakfast, lunch, dinner, or as an afternoon "high-tea" (the 3 o'clock slump at home or at your desk) or evening treat. If enjoying a meatless meal with beans, savor your tea at another time so non-heme iron in beans may be more easily absorbed.

A word about "Me Time." The ritual of drinking tea conjures the concept of necessary "Me Time." Eating nutritiously, being physically active and maintaining a healthy weight are all vital components for good health, but so is taking time for relaxation. We need time to rejuvenate, restore our mental and physical energy, release mental and physical stress and contemplate our creativity – another vital component for overall health. For optimal mental and physical health, you need legitimate, sanctioned, authorized "me time" to take care of yourself. "Me time" includes scheduling time to purposely be physically active like taking a daily walk or going to the gym; taking the time to plan for, shop for, prepare and sit down and enjoy the beauty of your meals; and taking a quick moment to brew (or microwave) and truly savor a cup of tea. "Me Time Tea" allows you to pause, even if just for a few minutes, to relax, de-stress, rejuvenate, think your creative thoughts at your desk, at home or on the go. Smell your tea. Savor your tea. Incorporate some "Me Time" with a "Me Time Tea" ritual daily for your overall wellbeing.

hot green tea in a clear glass mugAnother benefit to this week's challenge is consuming more water. Drinking water before and during meals also will fill you up and help you eat less. Let's be green, so enjoy tap water more often and bottled water only when more convenient. With more physical activities and warmer weather, make sure you are staying well hydrated. Let thirst be your guide; drinking enough fluids so as not to feel thirsty is a good guide for most people, other than the elderly. The Institute of Medicine recommends that women consume an average of approximately 9 cups from all beverages – including caffeinated beverages – and men average approximately 12 cups daily. Water and tea are refreshing – no calorie – alternative beverage choices! Below are your practical tips for saying "Bye Soda, Hi Tea."


  • Enjoy 1/2 cup 100% fruit juice for breakfast or trade in juice portion for a high fiber whole fruit portion such as small banana, 1/4 cup dried fruit, 1/2 grapefruit, 1/2 cup grapes
  • Purge the pantry of all soda, pop, colas, and sweetened beverages
  • Stock the pantry with loose or bags of green, white, black, oolong tea
  • Sweeten tea with no more than one teaspoon of sugar or honey, optional
  • Share and savor friendships with tea; relish relationships another vital component for overall good health
  • Buy a stainless steel or BPA (bisphenol-A) -free plastic reusable water bottle or two and take water with you to work and play. "Be green" and limit buying bottled water in plastic bottles.
  • Make "refrigerator tea" either at home or work by putting tea bag(s) in glass mug or jar, cover and "seep" in the refrigerator.
  • Try new teas with fruit snacks for "afternoon pick me ups" aka the "3 o'clock slump"
  • Replace sodas and sweetened coffee shop beverages with skim milk, cold or hot skim milk chai lattes or skim milk coffee lattes; if use sugar, only add 1 teaspoon; milk has natural sugar in it
  • Enjoy coffee too, about 2-cups per day, if sweetened, only about 1-teaspoon of sugar
  • Avoid "functional beverages" such as water with vitamins, these often contain sugar, thus calories

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