Summer is all about unwinding and letting your hair down but, as we all know, summer can also be the time of year when you’re good intentions to stick to a healthy eating plan go straight out the window. When there’s so much delicious food and drinks to go around it’s almost impossible to say no. Even if your self-control is rock solid we all have no that one thing (food or drink) that we struggle to say no to… where you find yourself thinking; “just a little bit won’t hurt.” For me that thing is high-sugar fizzy drinks. I hate to say it but I am pretty much addicted to fizzy drinks (I’d say they are my nemesis but how can you put such a nasty label on something you love?). So, to save my waistline and live a healthier existance I had to make a conscious decision to cut out these super sugary drinks. Here’s why I decided to ditch high-sugar fizzy drinks in favour of sparkling water and the SodaStream Zero range.

Cutting out high sugar fizzy drinks:

One way I’ve managed to cut back on calories and save money this year is by investing in a Soda Stream machine and the delcious sugar-free SodaStream Zero range of drink mixes. Of course, I couldn’t just go cold turkey so I started my fizzy drink-free existance by ‘forcing’ myself to love sparkling water. This alone helped me shave off a crazy amount of calories in my daily diet … but at a price. Sparkling water does not come cheap and after months of spending a small fortune on sparkling water I finally got a SodaStream machine as a gift and there’s no doubt it has changed my life. Not only do I now have sparkling water on tap (literally) but I also buy far less plastic bottles (yay for being kind to the environment!). I found that sparkling water alone helps to curb most of my cravings for fizzy drinks – and this is coming from someone who used to hate the taste of plain sparkling water. I started off flavouring it with fresh fruit but these days I can drink it straight and with no issue at all. In fact, I love the taste!

Soda Stream zeros

Of course, nobody’s perfect and I do crave a glass of Coke or a lemonade every now and then and this is where I fell in love with the Soda Stream Zeros range. I’d never really bought any mixes to add to my soda water because, as I said, I was trying to cut back on sugary drinks. I had no clue that SodaStream had a naturals or free range which contains no artificial colourants, flavours, preservatives or sweeteners and now that I’ve tried them I’m quite bleak that I didn’t discover them sooner. Of course, we all know that diet drinks aren’t the pinacle of healthy eating and some might argue that since they often have no nutritional benefit, there’s no point in putting it in your body. I say, stuff that! Everyone’s human and if, like me, you’re struggling to live up to the perfect healthy lifestyle the media, health & fitness bloggers, and your annoyingly healthy-slash-perfect friend Susan portray then you’ve got to give these little babies a try! I’ve made a decision to try and look for things that are better for me or the healthier option in most cases and I’ve found that ditching the obbession with sugar-free, gluten-free, wheat-free, taste-free has left me with a much healthier and relaxed mind and outlook on life.

The better-for-you lifestyle:

The range of better-for-you flavours from SodaStream offer everything I’ve been craving over the past few fizzy drink-free months and I’ve almost collected the entire range so I can treat myself whenever the urge strikes. Being a Coke-a-holic I was delighted to discover the Classics Diet Cola which has less sugar than store bought fizzy drinks and does not contain high-fructose corn syrup or aspartame (the controversial ingredient found in most diet drinks, like Coke Zero) but is instead sweetend with Stevia. The Zero range also offers Pink Grapefruit, Cranberry-Raspberry, Lemondade as well as Lime sugar-free drink mix options. You can enjoy a dash of these flavours on their own in sparkling water or mix them with a variety of ingredients to create delicious virgin cocktails. As for the nutritional facts, the Classics Diet Cola contains just 1KJ and 7MG of sodium per serving while the Zeroes range might be slightly higher in kilojules the mixers are also enriched with Vitamins B3, B6, D, E, and C. The Zero Lemonade for example only has 3KJ per serving, 9MG of sodium and is enriched with Vitamins B3, B6, C, D3, and E.

Soda Stream zeros

As for the taste, I love the taste of the SodaStream Zero range – they don’t taste sickly sweet like a lot of sugar-free drink alternatives and the Cola alternative tastes exactly the same as Coke Zero to me. My favourite flavours in the Zero range are defintely the Pink Grapefruit and the Lemonade because they’re so versatile! You can even be a little naughty and add a shot of vodka to your Lemondade or Pink Grapefruit drink if you’re trying to cut calories on alcoholic beverages enjoyed by the pool. Garnish your drink with a slice of lemon or grapefruit and you’ll have a refreshing guilt-free cocktail! I also make white wine spritzers using my favourite low-calorie wines mixed with sparkling water on days when I just can’t say no to a glass of wine or two with friends.

A little goes a long way:

Another great thing about the SodaStream Zeros range is that a little bottle goes a long way. Each 440ml bottle makes 36 servings (or 9 litres) of refreshing soda so you’ll almost never run out of exciting drinks combinations to serve at home. And, I said earlier, you’ll also save loads of money on drinks at home. On on average a litre of SodaStream sparkling water costs R3.33 per litre to make while the SodaStream Zero syrup mixers go for about R45 per bottle, making it about R5 per litre for a delicious sprakling drink.

If you still need convincing here are some simple-to-make, refreshing and healthy summer recipes to tempt you. For a refreshing Strawberry Mint Sparkling Water simply use your SodaStream machine to prepare a glass of fresh, sparkling water and pour it into a tall glass. Then wash a pinch of mint leaves and dice three strawberries to add to the glass. Allow to stand for a few minutes to extract the flavour from the mint and strawberries. For a non-alcohilic Raspberry Cooler prepare enough SodaStream Zero Raspberry Cranberry soda to fill a 1 litre jug. Add some fresh organic raspberries and garnish with mint.

You can find the SodaStream Zero range at selected retailers nationwide include Spar, Checkers, Pick n Pay, and Game as well as online from YuppieChef and Takelot. For more information on the SodaStream Zero range and SodaStream South Africa visit their website here.