Guilt-free beverages for students on the go

DrinkComing into college, one of the first warnings given is to beware of the “freshman 15.” The term refers to the amount of weight students are said to gain during the first year of college.

Personally, it was the “freshman-15-plus-some” — but it was not until mid-junior year that it finally dawned on me, the extra weight wasn’t coming from food, per se, but also the beverages I was consuming. A 16-ounce white chocolate mocha in the morning without whip cream from Starbucks ran me about 430 calories. A midday energy drink from the gas station would run an average of 30 grams of sugar per serving, and then I would end the day with soda, which was loaded with sugar and about 150 calories per can.

After adding together one day of beverage calories alone, I quickly realized that a great place to start would be reducing the calories from beverages.

In the morning, skip the mocha, lattes and frappes that are loaded with sugar and opt instead for a skinny cafe mocha. At only 140 calories for a 16-ounce cup, this warm, comforting drink definitely gives the pick-me-up of a traditional mocha. The flavor is admittedly a little bittersweet, but add a packet of Splenda, Truvia or whatever sugar alternative one prefers and this drink will do the trick.

By noon students are often on the run and looking for something cool and refreshing to drink before dashing off to their next classes or study groups. Unsweetened iced green tea lemonade is a good way to quench one’s midday thirst. Sweeten this with a preferred kind of sweetener and one has a delicious drink on the go. The combination of green tea and lemonade creates a flavorful mid-day treat. Not to mention the added health benefits of the green tea.

Once evening hits, it’s easy to reach for a soda. Instead, reach for a flavored sparkling water or even mix a club soda with either a powder or liquid drink flavoring. Either one of these drink options will give one all the flavor of a soda without the additional junk commonly found in today’s soft drinks.

While none of these choices are as healthy as drinking simple water, they are a step in the right direction from their calorie- and sugar-packed alternatives. These simple changes can mean the difference between gaining the “freshman 15” and the “freshman 15-plus-some.” So the next time one is thirsty and looking for something to quench his or her thirst, try one of these calorie-saving options.