By Kathy Cunningham

We all face choices each and every day, and some of these choices require a great deal of planning before making a final choice, such as a big decision at school, at work or at home. While other choices seem simpler, such as the choices we make many times a day in choosing what to drink or what to eat. However, it is these small choices that add up over time to have a great effect on our health.

Today, Mayor Menino’s executive order requiring city departments to phase out the sale, advertising, and promotion of sugary beverages on city-owned property goes into effect. The Mayor is working to make your small choices easier by providing an environment that encourages each and every small action to reflect  a choice for better health. So make your small choices count!

When he announced the order, the mayor said that he “wanted to create a civic environment that makes the healthier choice the easier choice in people’s lives, whether it’s schools, worksites, or other places in the community.”

The small daily food and beverage choices we make each day add up over time and play a large role in influencing our overall health. In Boston, about 63 percent of black adults, 51 percent of Latino adults, and 49 percent of while adult residents are considered overweight or obese. Nearly 30 percent of preventable diseases, such as type 2 diabetes and certain cancers, arthritis, heart attacks and strokes, are linked to obesity in adults. Soda and other sugar-sweetened beverages are also linked to obesity, and account for up to 10 percent of total calories in the diet of many Americans.

Each small decision we make is a direct choice in the health of our body. For example, instead of soda, choose beverages that are categorized as Green. These choices are a Go for your health and will help your body get the nutrients it needs to stay hydrated and happy. The next time you reach for a beverage try one of these thirst-quenching options:

1% or Skim Milk
Seltzer Water or Waters flavored with fruit

  • You can add lemon, lime, melon, cucumber, pineapple…get creative!

A Simple Refreshing Recipe:

Makes 4 tall glasses

  • 3 Cups unflavored Seltzer
  • ½ cup Orange Juice
  • ½ cup Cranberry Juice (the kind that’s all juice, not labeled “cocktail”)
  • 1 Lime, cut into 4 wedges

Recipe from Fall 2011  Chop Chop Magazine

Choose beverages that are Yellow less often, such as diet soda, low-calorie or low-sugar drinks, and 100% fruit juice. These beverages contain less calories and sugar, but are also not high in health-promoting nutrients.

Drink beverages that are labeled as Red rarely, if at all. There include regular sodas, energy or sport drinks, and fruit drinks. These beverages are loaded with sugar and calories, and contain no beneficial nutrients.

So start today! Every small choice you make to choose smart and healthier options is a big step in the right direction for your health.

Kathy Cunningham is a registered dietitian at the Boston Public Health Commission. This blog was co-written by Abigail Hueber, Simmons dietetic intern.