What else can I drink all day without gaining weight?
March 1, 2007 11:34 AM   Subscribe

Aspartame-free low-calorie beverage suggestions needed. Does such a thing even exist?

Recently I've cut out all aspartame from my diet, as it aggravates my headaches. Previously, I'd had a 4 or 5 Coke Zero a day habit, which upgraded a similar Diet Coke addiction. I sit at a desk all day, and I need to have something (preferably cold) to drink at my desk at all times. (Otherwise, I'll just end up snacking instead). Trouble is, I'm now completely sick of water. Obviously, regular soft drinks are out, and even that quantity of juice has way too many calories. Is there anything else out there I can drink? I've tried (sweetened) iced tea, but it's almost as bad as the soft drinks. I hate coffee and all it's derivatives, and I'm not a big fan of unsweetened tea. Don't worry - I'm not planning on cutting out water entirely, but I do need to mix things up a bit.

To summarize, I need cold beverages that meet these criteria:
* does not contain aspartame or other manufactured sugar substitutes
* low calorie
* no coffee flavoring
* Available in Canada (bonus points for locally in Vancouver)

I'm sure I'm asking too much, but if anyone can help me figure this out it's the hive mind... thanks in advance!
posted by cgg to Food & Drink (49 answers total) 14 users marked this as a favorite
Diet Rite (the diet version of RC Cola) contains no aspartame, no caffeine and no sodium.
posted by ereshkigal45 at 11:39 AM on March 1, 2007

I've tried (sweetened) iced tea, but it's almost as bad as the soft drinks.

Do you mean in terms of aspartame? Can't you make your own iced tea with sugar?
posted by amro at 11:39 AM on March 1, 2007

(It's still low calorie even with a bit of sugar or honey.)
posted by amro at 11:40 AM on March 1, 2007

Have you tried drinking sparkling mineral water (or even seltzer or club soda)? That's my addiction, which I would like to share with you ;) I drink tons of sparkling mineral water, and when I want a little kick I add a bit of orange juice or lemon to it. So good. Plain water is zero calories, and with a little juice, maybe 30 calories a glass.
posted by iconomy at 11:43 AM on March 1, 2007 [1 favorite]

I find sparkling water (especially fancier versions such as San Pellegrino) with a little twist of fresh lime really refreshing.

On preview, what iconomy said.
posted by sueinnyc at 11:44 AM on March 1, 2007

Water with just a splash of citrus juice is good when you get sick of plain water. Keep some wedges of lemon, lime, or orange in a bag in the office fridge, and squeeze a little bit into each glass.
posted by vytae at 11:45 AM on March 1, 2007

Tonic water with a twist of lime?
Of course, the folks at work are going to think you're pounding-back G&T's all day.
posted by Thorzdad at 11:45 AM on March 1, 2007

Flavored seltzers?
posted by TheOnlyCoolTim at 11:51 AM on March 1, 2007

I was about to suggest diet rite too - but it does have splenda which is a sugar substitute.
posted by selfmedicating at 11:51 AM on March 1, 2007

Is Hansen's Soda available in Canada? My wife is pregnant, and therefore staying away from caffeine and aspartame, and Diet Hansen's is about the only thing we could find for her that wasn't water.
posted by sbrollins at 11:52 AM on March 1, 2007

You may find this gross, but sometimes make concoctions of sparkling water/seltzer + some POM product (blueberry, pomegranite, whatever) + a bit of splenda so it's not too sour.
posted by Amizu at 11:58 AM on March 1, 2007

Crystal Geyser flavored sparkling water is really great. Natural taste. I would keep plugging away at tea, too. You can try good fruity/floral herbal teas (variation being key) with stevia or splenda as needed.
posted by Ambrosia Voyeur at 11:58 AM on March 1, 2007

I mix unsweetened kool-aid packets with SPLENDA® in my 2.2L water jug ($2.50 at the home borg near you).
posted by Mitheral at 12:00 PM on March 1, 2007

Does Splenda count as a "manufactured sugar substitute"? Isn't made out of de-calorized sugar or something?

According to Wikipedia they take regular sugar and add chlorine. Well, I certainly can't see any potential health risks with that.
posted by DU at 12:00 PM on March 1, 2007

I find Orangina is a good substitute.
posted by arimathea at 12:01 PM on March 1, 2007 [1 favorite]

Mendota Springs sparkling mineral water. Mmmm.
posted by adipocere at 12:05 PM on March 1, 2007

Make your own flavoring syrups (simple sugor or honey + lots of tasty something) and add just a little. I love ginger syrup in my seltzah; mint is also nice. I make a liter and it lasts forever. Flavored seltzers taste so chemically to me. Not many calories and completely natural.
posted by DenOfSizer at 12:07 PM on March 1, 2007

How about shaved ice? I got an ice shaver from Target (20$ or 30$) and I use a block of ice from the mold that came with it plus slightly watered juice concentrate (no sugar) over it. It's less juice then just a glass of juice, almost the same amount of flavour, and you can get a variety of flavours.
posted by anaelith at 12:12 PM on March 1, 2007

i am a HUGE fan of mintwater. you can email them for international shipping rates. i think it's really refreshing. (i drink the peppermint water)
posted by boygirlparty at 12:15 PM on March 1, 2007

Just wanted to point out that Thorzdad's suggestion of tonic water might not be the best suggestion as it's far from calorie free and the diet versions usually contain aspartame.
posted by soplerfo at 12:16 PM on March 1, 2007

Nothing in particular springs to mind, but maybe you could try a health food store in the area? Would a natural sweetener like Stevia be okay?
posted by backwards guitar at 12:19 PM on March 1, 2007

Another seltzer / soda / sparkling water junkie here. Love it. Plain, with a twist of lime, or a splash of OJ. Besides it comes in larger containers so you don't have to have a bunch of wasty cans / bottles (and hey, it's much cheaper this way). If you're in the southern US, Publix has soda water for 59¢ per liter.
posted by zpousman at 12:29 PM on March 1, 2007

But if you DO like to have the waste-y cans (I like drinking carbonated things out of cans, I don't know why), La Croix sparkling flavored water is yummy, and no sweeteners. I hate the Berry flavor and like the Orange the best. YMMV, though.
posted by fiercecupcake at 12:35 PM on March 1, 2007

Seconding stevia for sweetening the fruity things. Also, water with fresh cucumber slices.
posted by clavicle at 12:37 PM on March 1, 2007

Hi, cgg. Another Vancouverite with a Coke Zero jones here (there is a nearly empty two-liter bottle on my desk as I write this).

When I go on my no-caffeine/no-aspartame kicks, I usually drink no-name lemon-lime flavoured sparkling water, available for less than a buck per two liters at Superstore.
posted by solid-one-love at 12:39 PM on March 1, 2007

I make iced tea. Brew tea using one bag for 1 Litre of finished drink, let cool, add half a lemon and half a teaspoon of sugar - ya, it is a little astringent.
For the advanced student, I actually make the tea twice as concentrate, allow it to cool on the counter, and add 50% cold water. That allows it to well below room temperature for consumption. You can't make the tea much stronger than that though, particles of precipitate form and it starts to taste bad..
posted by Chuckles at 12:43 PM on March 1, 2007

they take regular sugar and add chlorine. Well, I certainly can't see any potential health risks with that.

Better stay away from table salt, too. I mean, Sodium and Chlorine are both toxic alone, but together, who knows what they could do!
-end sarcasm-

I've been enjoying Lipton Unsweetened Iced Tea lately.
posted by frogan at 12:44 PM on March 1, 2007

If you're willing to put a teabag in a water bottle the night before, herbal teas and infusions might work for you. There are plenty of tealeaf-free options.

I'm partial to Harney & Sons, but Celestial Seasons' Zinger teas would make a decent preview.
posted by gnomeloaf at 12:46 PM on March 1, 2007 [1 favorite]

not liking water is in your head. Drink water, it's the least complicated and best for you. Also the easiest to get the minimum recommended amount of fluid a day - 2 liters, drinking water.
posted by cahlers at 12:59 PM on March 1, 2007

Honest Ade is 50 calories a go & quite good. I found it by accident in my local blah chain supermarket (in Ottawa).

Soda water and juice is pretty tasty.

If you're a big soda pop fan, grenadine and soda water works out to cream soda, but you'd use a lot less syrup than a bottler, so -- fewer calories. Rose's Lime Cordial makes a good mixer with soda, too. Ditto Ribena.
posted by kmennie at 1:01 PM on March 1, 2007

Sparkling water (or, in a pinch, Club Soda) with or without lime /lemon has completely replaced the need for flavoured drinks for me. My problem was pop of the barley variety, but still effective and no cal.
posted by bonehead at 1:03 PM on March 1, 2007

Sparkling (fizzy) water. I've seen it in flavors and plain.

Add a tablespoon or two of juice (pick a flavor, any flavor) to a glass/bottle of plain water. My teenager likes pineapple, I go for lime, the 9yo prefers strawberry/kiwi or apple/grape.
posted by jlkr at 1:08 PM on March 1, 2007

Iced herbal tea! I'm on a Tangerine Zinger kick at the moment. If you want a little caffeine kick to it, you can do one herbal-tea teabag and one green-tea teabag to a batch.
posted by paleography at 1:17 PM on March 1, 2007

not liking water is in your head.

As are all matters of taste preference. We're all adults here; we don't have to suck it up and consume things we don't like when there are other options available.

If you're a big soda pop fan, grenadine and soda water works out to cream soda

Also need to add vanilla extract.
posted by solid-one-love at 1:18 PM on March 1, 2007

I used to always bring a large bottle of 1 part apple juice to 4 parts water. It's sweet & refreshing, but not too high in calories. You can do this with any juice.

I also vote for flavored seltzers. Do you have Polar brand available in Canada? I love their raspberry lime flavor.
posted by tastybrains at 1:27 PM on March 1, 2007

There's always Hint. I have to admit I have not tried it, since I can't seem to find it in my town. But here's a summation from someone who has.
posted by Juliet Banana at 1:44 PM on March 1, 2007

Oh, also - can you get Emergen-C in Canada? (Ugh, no direct link, website is stupid, but Alacer makes it.)
posted by clavicle at 2:36 PM on March 1, 2007

I'm also addicted to seltzer (sparkling water or whatever you want to call it). If it's too flavorless for you, though, try making a spritzer with just a couple of ounces of grapefruit juice (lower calorie than OJ) to about 8-10 oz. of sparkling water.

Also, seconding iced herbal tea. Hmm, an iced herbal tea spritzer might be good, too. Have to try that sometime...

And have you tried drinks with Splenda instead of aspartame? I know a couple of people who had chronic migraines and gave up aspartame, but are totally fine with Splenda.
posted by staggernation at 2:42 PM on March 1, 2007

Don't give up on hot tea. You should try a honeybush tea. It's an herbal tea with a light, natural sweetness to it. I haven't had it iced yet but I'm pretty sure it would be great. Trader Joe's has some in bag form that's pretty good.

You might also want to try mugicha, a Japanese summer tea. It's not sweet but to me and everyone I've shared it with it tastes great straight up.
posted by chairface at 2:44 PM on March 1, 2007

These are all good suggestions.

Call me a chronic skeptic but... are you totally sure it wasn't caffeine that was aggravating your headaches? Or, to be more precise, the caffeine wearing off after you'd drank it? Consuming 5+ colas per day is a pretty significant caffeine load.

On that note, how about trying some non-caffeine diet soda? If they're available where you live, Polar makes some excellent ones (their diet cream and diet cranberry sodas are great).

On preview: I see numerous people in the headache thread commented on caffeine as a source of headaches. Why are you pinning the blame on aspartame?
posted by rxrfrx at 2:56 PM on March 1, 2007

Thanks for all the great suggestions. Once again, the hive mind does not dissapoint! I'll definitely look into Splenda as a sweetner; up until now I've been avoiding all sugar substitutes as a precaution because of the adverse effects of aspartame. Now I'll be on the lookout for drinks that contain only sucralose and give them a try. And I suppose I'm going to have to better educate myself about the teas of the world; up till now i've lived in a relatively tea-free world, unless you count the bottled iced-tea Nestea crap.

And yes, i'm sure it's the aspartame; caffeine alone doesn't bother me. I cut out the Coke Zero and withing 2 weeks the headaches were considerably better. I can drink 5-6 regular Cokes a day (ie testing the caffeine theory) without a problem. But just because there was one in the fridge (coworkers are torturing me!) I had a Coke Zero an hour ago and within 30 mins I had a headache. Diet juices and diet energy drinks with aspartame also have the same instant-headache effect.
posted by cgg at 4:19 PM on March 1, 2007

cgg, I'm wildly messed up by aspartame; it gave me symptoms so bad that for awhile they thought it was MS. Just horrible stuff. Quitting Diet Pepsi started improving the symptoms after just a few days, although quitting gave me the worst headaches I've ever had; they were incredibly intense and lasted two weeks. Really, really un-fun.

Congrats on figuring out that aspartame is your problem; it's often not easy. With me, it took about a day before I'd start to get sick, so it took ages for me to figure out it was the Diet Pepsi.

Splenda is just fine for me. I suggest being quite moderate with it, because of the chlorine thing, but it doesn't seem to bother me.

Another thing to be aware of: aspartame and MSG cross-sensitivity are very, very common. If you notice you're draggy a lot or not thinking well or just don't feel good, and it goes on for long periods of time, it's worth looking into MSG as a culprit. (It's in nearly all packaged foods, hidden under many different names, and you have to go to great effort to avoid it.) This may not happen to you; if you caught the aspartame problem early enough, MSG may never bother you. But it's something to tuck away in the back of your head for later years, as you age.
posted by Malor at 4:36 PM on March 1, 2007

There is no over-the-counter food available that will release more glutamate in your digestive tract than, say, a bowl of chicken soup, or an egg, or a chicken breast.
posted by rxrfrx at 5:31 PM on March 1, 2007

(No MSG-supplemented food, that is).
posted by rxrfrx at 5:32 PM on March 1, 2007

If you still want a cola, try Pepsi One. They reformulated it a while back to replace the aspartame with sucralose. Like C0, P1 tastes pretty close to the regular kind, or at least a lot closer than the usual diet colas.
posted by kindall at 5:45 PM on March 1, 2007

I luuuurve Coke Zero, but when it's a bit too much, I have filtered water, Diet Dr Pepper Berries and Cream or unsweetened Nestea/Lipton or lightly-flavored fizzy water (Talking Rain brand). Luckily, most of these are available for free in the vending machines at my workplace. (The exception being the Dr Pepper -- only regular Diet Dr Pepper is in the machines.)

At home, I've been making Kool Aid with Splenda from the big yellow bag for a sweet, cold, pretty much calorie-free drink. My favorite flavor is the fake Tamarindo, kind of hard to find except at grocery stores that have a good sized Latino clientel.
posted by xiojason at 8:45 PM on March 1, 2007

xiojason: the fake Tamarindo, kind of hard to find except at grocery stores that have a good sized Latino clientel

Which is, of course, why I can find it in a small supermarket in a mid-sized town in central Michigan. In January. My kids prefer the Mandarina, though.
posted by jlkr at 8:07 AM on March 2, 2007

I'm now completely sick of water

Are you drinking filtered/purified water? In many places I find that straight tap water has a rather noticable flavor (what flavor that is varies with the location).
posted by yohko at 9:39 AM on March 2, 2007

Definitely Stevia. Especially good for those wary of blood/sugar levels and hypo kids. Get a big pot grows like a weed with a very healthy root system.
posted by mu~ha~ha~ha~har at 10:14 PM on March 3, 2007

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