When you realize you have to give up something you love to save your health, it can feel like a devastating loss. And for most of my life, sweet tea was one of those things. But since becoming a diabetic, I knew I needed to change that habit because I was drinking almost a gallon of sweet tea a day. This equaled about ¼ to ¾ cups of sugar every day! I thought it would be more difficult. After all, living in the South, sweet tea is basically a staple at every meal with free refills galore at any restaurant or fast food chain.
The Cutting Back Phase
Don’t get me wrong, it didn’t happen overnight. And it wasn’t pleasant trying to simulate that sweet tea flavor using artificial sweeteners. I basically gave up on those except for the occasional stevia (hint: look for stevia extract that is 100% pure without added ingredients). But over time (a few months, really) I began to realize it’s the flavor of the tea itself that I love, not the sweetness. Actually, it was a bit sudden. After months of drinking delicious unsweetened tea blends, I accidentally took a sip from a sweet tea that wasn’t mine while at a restaurant and I was shocked at how much I didn’t like it.
Side note: I realized the same thing about salt and salad dressing. Too much kills the taste and can even negate the benefits of healthy choices. Removing sugar and reducing salt and salad dressing meant allowing my taste buds to wake up to delicious flavors they had been missing!
But back to sweet tea. Sugar is addictive. It’s in almost everything. If you’re looking to back down or have been told you need to stop for health reasons, don’t despair! There is a wonderful world of flavors waiting for you. Be patient with yourself and see this as an opportunity to let your taste buds experience more than sugar!
Most importantly, don’t let it stop you from drinking tea altogether!
Check Out these Benefits of Tea:
- Tea in moderation has plenty of health benefits, especially natural, unsweetened iced tea. Green tea, in particular, is loaded with antioxidants, which is great for your skin.
- There are certain types of teas (hibiscus, for example) that can lower your blood pressure.
- Unsweetened iced tea has been researched as a potential aid in cancer prevention because of the flavonoids it contains.
- Green or black tea can potentially reduce cavities after meals or snacks because they help keep plaque from building up on your teeth and hinder bacteria.
- What about caffeine? A new study shows that tea can actually reduce the risk of osteoporosis and has a protective effect against it.
Healthier choices may seem tough and even undesirable. I used to love my sweet tea. Now, I love having my unsweet, no-frills tea. Hot or cold. Give it a try! And as always, consult your care team before making any health decisions, even those involving your iced tea intake.