drinks w/o sugar
May 25, 2005 12:34 PM   Subscribe

I'm trying to cut down on my sugar intake. The hardest part has been cutting out sugary (or corn-syrupy) drinks. I'm wondering if anyone can suggest some additional drinks to try.

Even some juices have added sugar and most are high in calories. Since I really don't like the aftertaste of artificial sweeteners, I seem to be stuck with variations of water, iced tea, and milk. I like sparkling water with lemon and I recently found a peach flavored cold brew iced tea that I like because it adds flavor and is easy to make. Any other suggestions?
posted by xulu to Food & Drink (46 answers total) 8 users marked this as a favorite
When I gave up sodas, I switched over to brewing my own iced tea. But for off-the-shelf products in bottles I prefer Vitamin Water (or vitaminwater, or however the manufacturer wants you to spell it).
posted by Prospero at 12:38 PM on May 25, 2005

Seltzer water, once you come to love it you can't go back. It comes in several flavors, but plain is for the real afficionados. It's cheap, too.
posted by OmieWise at 12:41 PM on May 25, 2005

Stuff with Splenda in it. Pepsi One or the new Diet Coke with Splenda for cola. It has basically no aftertaste. Also diet cherry 7-Up tastes remarkably good for a diet soda.

I also like the store-brand fruit-flavored waters. A lot of stores carry these; I believe they're all actually made by one company and rebranded, like the majority of house-brand sodas. I am particularly partial to the cranberry one Albertson's carries, which actually has coloring (most of them are clear). These are artifically sweetened with Nutrasweet; perhaps I'm just used to the taste, but it doesn't seem objectionable to me. The key lime one is like Sprite or 7-Up only limier.
posted by kindall at 12:43 PM on May 25, 2005

Have you tried splenda sweetened beverages (there's a diet coke that uses splenda, and the reformulated version of pepsi one does as well). Personally, I like them a lot better than other diet beverages.

Other than that, I found that once I was used to good unsweetened iced tea, adding sugar really made it taste quite lousy. Unfortunately this is pretty much impossible to find in convenience stores, so my fallback position is bottled water.
posted by mosch at 12:45 PM on May 25, 2005

Just Plain Water works for me. (Tap water is good around here.) Oh, and coffee. And beer.
posted by LordSludge at 12:45 PM on May 25, 2005

Experiment. Go to a fancy-shmancy tea place and sample their varieties of tea - herbals, black, green, white, whatever. There are tons, many of which are naturally sweet.

Dilute. One of the biggest problems is that, not only is there too much sugar in drinks, there's too much flavor period. Try getting different kinds of juices or teas, and diluting them (I dilute all store-bought juices and teas by at least 50%). This will train you out of expecting every liquid to smack you over the head with flavor, and will also render bitter flavors less acrid.

Enhance. I'm also fond of adding flavors that are somewhat "sweet" to juice, tea and even water, especially mint and ginger. Lemon or lime work well too. Regular old lipton tea with some fresh mint (and a smidgen of honey if you're willing to relax the no-sugar rule a bit) is fantastic, hot or cold.
posted by googly at 12:46 PM on May 25, 2005

I'm with all the people recommending good tea. Get a tea infuser and some loose tea and enjoy. If you are worried about caffeine, try some flavored rooibos or herbals. If you miss some of the sweetness, try a little bit of honey (or other sweeteners? I think if you can moderate your usage it is OK to stick with real sugar or honey since it will be much less than is in most presweetened beverages.)

If the loose tea is too much hassle, there are some nice teabags available. You might also want to try an asian grocery store to find some less common things (I love the Japanese roasted green teas, like hoji cha or gen mai cha).
posted by babar at 12:54 PM on May 25, 2005

Get real fruit juices (not cocktails) and mix them with seltzer or club soda.

Plus, you could always make your own seltzer for added fun.
posted by o2b at 12:54 PM on May 25, 2005

Personally I replaced most all of my juice/soda intake with lemon water. I buy a 5 pound bag of lemons at Costco (since the grocery often has an insane $0.50 per lemon price), cut them into 1/8ths and fill a gallon ziploc bag with them and throw the lot into the freezer.

Every other day or so I put 2-4 into a 2 litre bottle I have left over from when I used to drink grape juice. I keep it filled with water from the filter and in the fridge. I see no reason you couldn't add a little Spenda to have a simplified lemonaide.

I lifted the idea from a coworker who has one of those Nagle (or whatever they are called) water bottles she always has a 1/4 of a lemon in. Here at work I'm happy to drink water from the cooler but at home it's nice to have something more. This suits my cheapskate nature as well as having a taste I like.
posted by phearlez at 12:54 PM on May 25, 2005 [1 favorite]

Xulu, I'm trying the same thing. Flavored waters have worked for me, particularly the flavored waters from Talking Rain.
posted by jdroth at 12:57 PM on May 25, 2005

I second googly's dilute suggestion; I like to dilute various 100% juices with sparkling water, it gives the illusion of drinking a soda but feels healthier (let's not get into sodium content).

I also make a really refreshing "spa water" type drink:
1/2 gal of water
1 cucumber, peeled and sliced
juice of 1/2 lime
several sprigs of mint, crushed
Steep everything in the fridge for about 2-4 hours, then strain.

I can't tell you how long it will keep, it never lasts even a day in my house. But I imagine it would keep for at least a couple of days.
posted by vignettist at 12:59 PM on May 25, 2005 [2 favorites]

Plain old water. Preferably run through a filter. Chilled.
posted by five fresh fish at 1:00 PM on May 25, 2005

Crystal Light....any of the flavors are very good.....Diet Snapple Lime Green Tea is very refershing....all low in calories..
posted by stevyb at 1:10 PM on May 25, 2005

Beer. Or wine.
posted by mr_roboto at 1:10 PM on May 25, 2005

Water, and/or beer.
posted by andrewraff at 1:16 PM on May 25, 2005

I've found that having anything sweet (even artificially sweet) makes me crave sugar, so I go in the opposite direction. Mint and other teas, citrusy water, iced coffee, grapefruit juice, virgin marys, water. Vignettist's drink sounds delicious.
posted by cali at 1:16 PM on May 25, 2005

Sobe has a really great Diet Cranberry Grapefruit drink as well as a few others here. I've even found the Cran/Grapfruit on "tap" at a Quizno's in town.

TalkingRain has Diet ICE Botanicals sweetened with Splenda that I enjoy.

And I'll recommend Diet Cherry Vanilla Dr. Pepper, which if you dig Dr. Pepper and the appropriate other flavors included, you'll likely enjoy.
posted by FlamingBore at 1:33 PM on May 25, 2005

vignettist's recipe sounds better than the one I've heard, which is lemon, orange and cucumber prepared the same way. I've got to try that one, thanks!
posted by Space Kitty at 1:39 PM on May 25, 2005

When I wanted to get off the HFCS train (high-fructose corn syrup), I had a similar problem finding suitable substitutes. Ice tea only works if you brew it yourself (go ahead and take a look for yourself: 99% of the ice teas on the market have HFCS in 'em). There's water. Boo, water.

My SO loves soda water, but it can get expensive. Luckily there's a company that produces table-top soda-water makers: Soda Club. Super-easy to use.

Mix 1/3rd orange juice with 2/3rds soda water and you've got Healthy Fanta (tm).
posted by Civil_Disobedient at 1:46 PM on May 25, 2005

Haymaker's switchel. Sounds kinda weird, but it sure quenches your thirst. I can't get enough of it in the summer. In a half-gallon jar, put a couple of glugs of real apple cider, a couple of tablespoons of honey, and about a teaspoon of salt. Add some ginger, too, if you like that sort of thing. Fill it the rest of the way with good water. Mix and chill. Adjust amounts to taste.
posted by bricoleur at 2:20 PM on May 25, 2005 [2 favorites]

Stevia is a great herb that's just a little bit sweet. You can find in natural food stores, or grow it yourself pretty easily. It gives you just a hint of sweetness without the sense of being sugary. It also complements mint nicely.
posted by judith at 2:21 PM on May 25, 2005 [1 favorite]

I usually go for the lime or lemon flavoured perrier. They usually have it in most convenience stores. That or just straight club soda.
posted by helvetica at 2:26 PM on May 25, 2005

This (Arizona tea powders) may or may not be the "peach flavored cold brew iced tea" you mentioned. I recently tried it, liked it, and went back to Target, where it is priced nearly two dollars less than on the site, to get the green tea flavor. No sugar.
posted by PY at 2:43 PM on May 25, 2005

I'm going to try that "spa water"- it looks really delicious.

I'd try 100% juices, sun tea, water with lemon, and seltzer.

And another recipe:
Pot full of boiling water
Tea ball filled with jasmine tea
Some ginger or ginger tea
Dollop of honey

Brew it, then throw it in the fridge (leave the tea ball in there, though) and enjoy over some ice.
posted by elisabeth r at 2:45 PM on May 25, 2005

I second the Diet Cherry Vanilla Dr. Pepper suggestion. I gave up soda a few years ago, and that stuff has got me hooked again! It really doesn't taste like diet.

My mom drinks Arizona Diet Green Tea, which also tastes great and not diety.
posted by geeky at 3:02 PM on May 25, 2005

I thought switchel was made with apple cider vinegar, rather than apple cider itself.
posted by redfoxtail at 3:04 PM on May 25, 2005 [1 favorite]

Try some hibiscus / berry flavored teas. Usually the combo of fruit and floral flavors that they blend in these type of drinks is surprisingly sweet!
posted by idontlikewords at 3:06 PM on May 25, 2005

I find this stuff ridiculously tasty, and as far I can tell, it is only sweetened by apple juice.
posted by dong_resin at 3:09 PM on May 25, 2005

I'd steer clear of Splenda if you can help it... that stuff is scary. From the site:

*Shrunken thymus glands (up to 40 percent shrinkage)
*Enlarged liver and kidneys
*Atrophy of lymph follicles in the spleen and thymus
*Reduced growth rate
*Decreased red blood cell count

I like La Croix Sparkling Water because it's sugar free but carbonated with fruit flavor (orange and lime are great), so it's satisfying and sweet. Or I drink cups of decaf tea--Celestial Seasonings makes some really great inexpensive varieties that I drink all day at work. Bengal Spice is a current favorite.
posted by hamster at 3:09 PM on May 25, 2005

I'm going to second the La Croix...sweet but not sickly sweet...no calories, no carbs. Love that stuff.
posted by jeanmari at 3:38 PM on May 25, 2005

It's getting sunnier/warmer out in the N. hemisphere - you could try sun tea (ie., tea in large glass jar, set out in sun to steep).

I'd go for coffee, black as midnight on a moonless night.

I go through a couple of litres of water a day. I buy 1 L bottles of aquafina - refill with Brita-filtered tap water. Or you could get a nice Nalgene water jug.
posted by PurplePorpoise at 3:53 PM on May 25, 2005

I make iced tea the following way, 4 tea bags (or 2 regular and 3 decaf for halfcaf) in a teapot brought to a boil, 1 1/4 cup of sugar and 1/4 cup lemon and dilute to 1 gallon. A lot of people who claim to hate iced tea love it. Better with a real lemon (or lime). I know, I know, it still has a lot of sugar, but it's less half of what's in a soda. You can also slowly decrease the amount of sugar over time.
posted by 445supermag at 4:22 PM on May 25, 2005

I'd steer clear of Splenda if you can help it... that stuff is scary.

Tellingly, that page on the evils of Splenda doesn't link to any studies that demonstrate the claimed side effects. When this happens, it's normally because there aren't any. Of course the Web site recommends the herb stevia instead. That's because it's a Web site for participants in what is apparently a multi-level herbal marketing business called Nature's Sunshine. Do you expect any of these people might sell stevia? Why yes, yes they do.

Note how the author of the scare piece uses terms like "potentially toxic" to avoid being sued into oblivion (everything's "potentially" toxic, even water and air). "Nearly every month" they receive a letter from someone who has had an adverse reaction to Splenda; wow, that's like, what, 10 people a year? Oooh, scary. A lot of people in clinical trials claim to have side effects like headache and dry mouth from placebos. And what are these adverse Splenda reactions they get letters about specifically? (Diarrhea is one of the side effects listed. If you get that, well then, you stop using products with Splenda, right? Big public health hazard there!)

I can put up a posting on a Web forum claiming that Splenda caused me to grow an extra head, but that doesn't make it true.
posted by kindall at 4:24 PM on May 25, 2005

Good thread.
Splenda (sucralose) definitely has some opposition which is probably worth looking into.
posted by foraneagle2 at 4:48 PM on May 25, 2005


Well, maybe worth looking into, if just for kicks. truthaboutsplenda.com is a front for the Sugar Association (see the "Legal" page).
posted by rxrfrx at 5:17 PM on May 25, 2005

I don't like the taste/feel of Splenda or any artificial sweetners.

There's a ton of high-end neato bottled drinks that just use cane sugar to sweeten, and don't sweeten heavily. That White Tea stuff, Tazo teas...just go to the swanky side of the bottled-drink case.

What this means to me is that I stick with cold water w/lemon or lime in the Nalgene bottle and good teas in the mug unless I'm being indulgent.

Also, Mexican sodas use real sugar for an occasional treat.
posted by desuetude at 5:27 PM on May 25, 2005

truthaboutsplenda.com is a front for the Sugar Association

true, but not nearly as biased as splenda.com. also, the fact that a significant percentage of the population can't stand the taste of it is not especially comforting, either.
posted by foraneagle2 at 5:31 PM on May 25, 2005

I personally enjoy Propel (by Gatorade) whether it's got the evil splenda in it or not. I find it a great alternative to soda, which I am battling to stay away from as well.

My fav is Kiwi-Strawberry or Black Cherry
posted by Yukon at 6:25 PM on May 25, 2005

I find that splenda still has a funny aftertaste. Not as bad as saccharine but after a few sips the drink starts to taste disgusting. But if you can stand it, Clearly Canadian is not made with splenda instead of sugar. I used to love that stuff when it was made with sugar.
posted by mai at 7:23 PM on May 25, 2005

I thought switchel was made with apple cider vinegar, rather than apple cider itself.

Thanks for catching that, redfoxtail. YES. Apple cider vinegar.
posted by bricoleur at 5:21 AM on May 26, 2005 [1 favorite]

stevyb mentioned crystal light, what exactly is in that? The local 7-11 had a Crystal Light slurpee that said "no sugar added" and "finally a guilt free slurpee" so I gave it a shot thinking my wife would enjoy it.

well, took one sip and the crystal light slurpee was far far sweeter than a coke slurpee. How is that possible with no sugar added?
posted by gfroese at 6:10 AM on May 26, 2005

Izze Rocks! Sparkling fruit juice drink. Love them
posted by terrapin at 6:22 AM on May 26, 2005

I second the Crystal Light suggestion. However, when I make it, I use twice as much water as recommended for each packet. It's too strong otherwise.

You don't mention _why_ you're cutting down on sugar. If it's the calories, than some of the fruit drink suggestions might be good, but if it's for diabetes, for example, it doesn't matter what form the sugar comes in -- glucose, sucrose, fructose -- it's still going to spike your blood sugar.

If you like Root Beer, Diet A&W Root Beer is great. I only drink diet pop, but I've been told that the Diet A&W is very similar to the regular kind.
posted by INTPLibrarian at 8:42 AM on May 26, 2005

I used to love Pepsi One. Can't stand it now.

Do any other diet sodas have the sugar substitute that Pepsi One had?
posted by zymurgy at 1:19 PM on May 26, 2005

What research? You can't believe everything you read.
posted by thimk at 8:35 AM on May 29, 2005

thank kindall, just saw your far better post in response to hamster.
posted by thimk at 8:36 AM on May 29, 2005

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