What would happen if you could make every liquid calorie count?

As a professionally trained chef, I’m on a continuous quest to delight in every bite without sacrificing my health in the process. I am unwilling to trade flavor for function, and I bet you are, too.  Eating or drinking something I don’t enjoy feels joyless.  Have you had a similar experience?

What I’ve discovered through the years is how to move healthy dining from joyless to joyful. 

How to view every calorie as a choice – an opportunity – to make myself a priority. And simple swaps that make it easier to consistently choose food and drinks that help me feel my best.   

A Big Gulp of Opportunity

You and I consume an average of 191.8 liquid calories a day, according to new research from The Beverage Calories Initiative (BCI) .  Or as I like to think of it, 191.8 daily opportunities to make conscious choices.  And 191.8 daily opportunities to make every liquid calorie count.

From your first sip in the morning to your last sip in the evening, here are five simple swaps to sip your way to better health.

Flavored Syrups:  Love your latte with a hint of hazelnut?  Swap flavored syrups for flavored extracts.  Sugar laden and sugar free syrups are frequently produced using artificial colors and artificial flavors.  By contrast, extracts are produced by steeping or soaking an ingredient – like vanilla bean pods or nuts – in water or in alcohol.  The resulting product you purchase contains a short list of real ingredients you will recognize.  A simple search online reveals a range of recipes and products to meet your dietary and flavor preferences.  Give yourself permission to get real, and pump up your next flavored beverage with an extract.   

Cream & Creamer:  Collagen powder is the new creamer.  Collagen is the most abundant protein in the human body and a critical contributor to healthy skin, flexible joints and strong bones.  Collagen powder options range from flavored to flavorless and contain an average of 35 to 50 calories per serving.  Plant based options are also available.  Thicken your beverages without thickening your waistline in one easy, nutrient rich stir.  

Hydration Helpers:  Whether you’re working up a sweat in your workout or aspiring to achieve your daily water intake goal, hydration is vital.  Water makes it easier for our bodies to digest the food we eat and then to absorb the resulting nutrients.  Swap your sports drink or plain water for a flavor combination that packs a punch. Power Paks and HydroRX , available in a wide range of flavors, are my go-to sources of calorie light electrolytes that hydrate using real ingredients. 

Fruit Juice: Fancy a taste of the tropics? Fruit juice is a hidden source of added sugar and artificial flavors. Swap this sip one step at a time. Start with drinking 100% pure juice. Then dilute your juice 10% at a time with still or sparkling water. I prefer tart cherry juice for its added anti-inflammatory qualities. Simply mix one part tart cherry juice with seven parts water. I tend to top mine with a splash of sparkling water and a sprig of mint. Cocktail umbrella optional. 

Happy Hour:  Happiness is short lived when happy hour becomes happy days.  Whether you’re in alcohol free, alcohol pause, or alcohol moderation mode, swap for Seedlip.  Their range of distilled non-alcoholic spirits go from citrus to spice and everything nice.  Instead of “just one” or “just one more” alcoholic drink, invite yourself to “swap one.”  Seedlip is a flavor rich calorie compromise, weighing in from just 42 to 108 calories per serving.

In the next installment of our series, I’ll share five simple salad swaps.