Weighing In: Can I drink regular soda in moderation?

Patient Expert

Question: I know regular soda is high in calories but everything is okay in moderation. So is it alright to drink regular soda in moderation?

Heather: Yes, it is true that all foods and drinks, in moderation, can fit into a healthy diet plan. However, regular soda is high in sugar so you need to decide if you would rather have that or something else that is high in sugar and calories like candy, a cookie or a small piece of cake. High sugar foods, as a whole, should be eaten in moderation not each individual food item. Saying that you are having soda in moderation and at the same time having candy and baked goods in moderation does not mean you are eating high sugar foods in moderation. You may be eating and drinking each thing in moderation but together they add up to a lot of calories and excess sugar.

The Dietary Guidelines for Americans includes high sugar foods in the plan as discretionary calories. They recommend limiting these to 267 per day. One can of regular soda is more than half those calories. With 140 calories and 10 teaspoons of sugar per 12 ounce can -that's a can-not a 20 ounce bottle, which are accustomed to drinking. If you do chose to use your discretionary calories on soda, you need to be cautious of the other foods that you eat.

I have to admit that I am biased when it comes to the subject of high calorie beverages. I have a lot of trouble drinking anything with calories. That is because people, including myself, often forget to factor these calories into their daily caloric intake. Caloric beverages, with the exception of milk, provide few nutrients. But they still provide calories - when you review your daily food intake, you need to consider these drinks to make sure that you aren't over-consuming calories.

I also find that drinking a high calorie beverage doesn't satisfy my hunger. For many people the physical act of eating, chewing your food, contributes to satiety - or the feeling of fullness. Drinking beverages that are high in calories often leads to an over-consumption of calories because you are still hungry for food after finishing the drink. This is something to be aware of if you indulge in high calorie drinks. So, while regular soda can fit into a healthy diet, but it is very important to consider the calories it provides.