4 steps to drinking fewer calories

Pop, juice and fancy coffees are far less satisfying to your tummy than a banana, hummus, veggies and a chicken breast – but equally full of calories. Here are four ways to cut hundreds of liquid calories from your daily diet.

By Dr. Ali Zentner

4 steps to drinking fewer calories
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The big question facing anyone who drinks a large number of calories each day is, "How do I give it up?" The answer is slowly.

I'm not suggesting you immediately put down the pop and the juice and the fancy coffees and drink water for the rest of your life. I do, however, think there is a way to slowly transition to a way of drinking that does not waste so many calories on nutrient-poor, high-calorie, high-sugar beverages.

Here's one way to redecorate your calorie drinking.

1. Make a list of all the beverages you drink in a day.

It can be eye-opening, so take a moment and calculate what you drink in a day. Multiply your calories by seven days and you have the amount of calories you drink in a week. You also have a place to start making changes.
 
2. Establish a daily caloric budget for drinking your calories.
As a starting point, cut what you are drinking daily in half. Here are a few examples on how we make a liquid budget:

• Instead of drinking 600 mL of orange juice a day (300 calories), drink 300 mL per day (150 calories). You’ll save 1,050 calories a week.

• Instead of drinking 2 cans of regular pop per day (360 calories), drink diet pop (0 to 7 calories). You’ll save 2,520 calories a week.

• Instead of drinking a daily “fancy coffee,” iced cappuccino (460 calories), have a tall ice cappuccino with milk (200 calories). You’ll save 1,820 calories a week.

You can cut out thousands of calories in a week by switching to diet pop and downsizing your drinks. Remember that you don’t have to make these changes all at once. These changes can be slower and more systematic. I often tell patients to do one change a month.

The key with these changes is to continue. Once you’ve cut your budget in half, wait a couple of months to let the changes stick. Then you can re-evaluate your budget again and see where you can cut things further.

3. Establish some “deal breakers” and make a plan for how to enjoy them responsibly.
Once you’ve modified your calorie-drinking budget you’ll need to be clear about your deal breakers. These are the drinks that you just do not want to live without, and I don’t think you should. But I want you to enjoy them healthfully. Perhaps it is your large morning latte with vanilla syrup – switch to a smaller size and go for a sugar-free option.

My deal breaker is my soy latte. With deal breakers, you need to establish if you can modify them at all or if they stand as they are. I used to drink two to three soy lattes daily. I don’t want to live without my coffee, but I have changed my soy latte to a small and it happens with brunch on Sundays. I still drink three coffees daily, but now they are plain coffees with just a splash of soy milk; a small way to redecorate.

4. Continue to modify your drinking habits on a regular basis.
Pick a time frame that you can work with and modify, modify, modify. After about six months maybe you can gave up fancy coffees and switch to plain coffee with milk. A few months later, completely cut out juice.

Calorie drinking on the surface seems like an obvious behavioural change that can be made easily. But like any habit, it can be hard to break. Be patient with your habits and always stop for a minute and see where you are on your path to change. Getting derailed can happen – you may find yourself a few months into new habits, and out of nowhere you are drinking your calories again. Be aware of your patterns of behaviour and where there is room for change. Sure, it won’t be easy, but I suspect you are up for the task.

Click here for 5 quick ways to cut calories from your diet.

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From The Weight-Loss Prescription: A Doctor's Plan for Permanent Weight Reduction and Better Health for Life by Ali Zentner, MD. Copyright © Ali Zentner, 2013. Reprinted by permission of Penguin Group (Canada), a Division of Pearson Canada Inc.



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