For a long time, I had an unofficial dietary rule: The only liquids I would drink with calories would be alcohol or skim milk.
That was healthy.
But to me, juice, soda and energy drinks seemed like empty calories, waiting to slide down my throat and find their way to my hips. Never mind the fact that alcohol is the definition of empty calories (I’ll never forget my freshman year nutritional sciences professor introducing the concept of calories per gram and telling us that, at 7 cal/gram, drinking beer or booze was like quaffing liquid fat.)
I was reminded of this "Only No-Cal Drinks" rule two weeks ago on a double date with my pregnant friend Debbie and her husband. We were at my place beforehand, and I had just opened a bottle of wine (the boys were drinking vodka tonic and beer; Debbie was having water.) Feeling slightly guilty for imbibing such forbidden fruit in front of my preggers friend, who also used to avoid any drink with calories except beer, I asked her if she missed alcohol. Her response was smart, knowing and eye-opening*.
“Actually, I feel bad for my friends who don’t drink chocolate milk and OJ.”
“Well, I never used to drink juice or chocolate milk before this (motioning to The Bump). But now, those two drinks are so good for me and the baby that I drink them every day. Do you remember how delicious chocolate milk is? It’s amazing! I don’t miss alcohol – talk about empty calories!”
She’s right – I don’t remember how delicious chocolate milk is. I’m still not a juice person and I do love my wine and martinis. I’ve stopped drinking diet soda pretty much altogether to get rid of the sweeteners and am trying HARD to have tea at least every other day. Am I pouring myself tall glasses of lemonade or swigging milkshakes from Burger King? No. But Debbie's perspective DID make me reconsider the importance of not looking at drinks in terms of calorie content, but rather what they can offer my body. And yes, that splashing sound you just heard was me making my oatmeal with skim milk instead of H20.
PS Charlotte offers an interesting, and similar, perspective on this over at The Great Fitness Experiment under “Drinks On Me!”
*Note: This convo is paraphrased - my memory is certainly not that sparkling after two glasses of pinot.