The Not-So-Sweet Truth About Sugar in Drinks. Here’s How to Beat It!

Bad skin, bad mood, bad breath or a bad stomach? Maybe it is not what you or your kids are eating but what you are drinking this is contributing to your sugar swings and connected to cranky moods, bad skin, bad breath, poor digestion, brain fog and poor energy levels.

The World Health Organisation is currently proposing that for optimum wellbeing we should only consume a maximum of six teaspoons of sugar per day. OUR KIDS are having more than that in ONE flavoured milk! Let’s have a look at look at the scary amounts of sugar in flavoured milk, sports drinks, and soft drinks. You need to learn to become a label detective!

1.  Flavoured Milk

Just one small 300 mL carton contains 33.6 gm of sugars (nearly 8 teaspoons of sugar!). Unfortunately most teens opt for the 600 mL container, meaning they may be consuming 16 teaspoons of sugar in just ONE drink (often in only 5 minutes). According to the newly proposed WHO guidelines this is three days worth of sugar in just ONE drink! Milk has natural sugars and some of the natural sugar is in this 33.6 gm. We are not worried about the natural sugars of foods like fruits and veggies and natural lactose ( a milk sugar) , we are worried about the added, blood-sugar-swinging sugars that alter our brain and our bodies!

2.  Healthy Sports’ or ‘Energy’ Drink

Vitamin Waters, Healthy Water, Water In Love- I don’t care what they call it – most of them are very unhealthy! In one bottle of our favourite sports drinks, there is 36 gm of sugar, equating to 9 ( 4×9=36) teaspoons of sugar. Although intended as a sports drink, to be consumed during sport, kids are often drinking these without even the thought of playing sport and are sometimes even considered to be a ‘healthier’ option. Many popular sports drinks, as well as ‘wellness waters’ or ‘healthy probiotic drinks’ are loaded with sugar, often straight overt cane sugar or sometimes in fruit concentrates.

3.  Soft Drinks – Sugar Laden and Diet

Either way, with sugar or with an artificial sweetener, soft drinks are very poor choices for your brain and your body. A can of coca cola has 40 gm of sugar. That’s 10 teaspoons of sugar! Would you get an empty can of Coke, Ginger Beer, Sprite, 7-up, Solo, Fanta, or Lemonade, pour in water and mix in 10 teaspoons of straight sugar, stir it up, and drink it? That is exactly what you are doing when you drink one of these drinks. You are basically feeding your skin with inflammation that you can see externally and internally, in the form of pimples, dryness, redness and sore sensitive skin that lacks shine and glow. Diet soft drinks are just as bad for your brain function and your body as the full sugar versions. There are no nutrients, no vitamins, no minerals (and no life!), in a soft drink, diet or not. There is plenty of current research that explains how the artificial sweet taste of diet drinks are leaving your taste buds craving more, often leading to increased weight gain, blood sugar dysregulation and sheer exhaustion from lack of nutrients. CNN reports on the addictive and nasty diet soft drinks habit “artificial sweeteners may spur drinkers or their brains, to keep chasing a ‘high’ that diet soda keeps just forever out of reach. In recent years diet soda consumption is linked to low bone mineral, type 2 diabetes, and stroke. What’s more, a growing body of research suggests that excessive diet soda intake may actually encourage weight gain.”


Want clear skin, balanced moods, fresh breath and good digestion?

Try swapping these flavoured milks, sports drinks and soft drinks with the healthier, more inventive drinking options listed in the table below. Ideally we should be drinking 1-2 litres of water or ‘clean’ drinks per day.

Cleanest drinks, drink as much as you like of:

Water Based:

  • Water with lemon or lime squeezes
  • Sparkling water with any type of fruit slices
  • Sparkling water


  • Hot or iced
  • English breakfast
  • Sweet seeming teas such as liquorice or cinnamon
  • Antioxidant teas such as green tea, white tea or rooibos tea

Include the following options in your diet, but avoid the sweetened varieties (check the label!) avoid adding sugar and consume in moderation:


  • Hot or iced (but without added sugar, be careful with bought iced coffee!)
  • Organic preferably
  • Maximum of 2 per day before 12 midday


  • Vegetable juice
  • Mix veggies and use carrot or beets in small quantity to sweeten


  • Coconut water
  • Coconut milk (unsweetened)
  • Milk – cow (organic or A2), sheep or goat – never skim
  • Almond milk (unsweetened)
  • Rice milk (unsweetened)
  • Homemade smoothie- milk of choice, fruit of choice, splash of rice malt or syrup
  • Sparkling water with slices of lemon, limes or oranges.


Avatar of Michele Chevalley Hedge

Michele Chevalley Hedge is a qualified nutritionist and a real life mum who understands ‘busy parents”. She created a Low Sugar Lifestyle program for people who want to improve their health without an extreme approach. Michele is also an ambassador for Jamie Oliver & is Mum Central's health and low sugar ambassador, and the powerhouse behind our Low Sugar Kids program.

Write A Comment