Water with Meals May Help Diners Make Better Choices

Reviewed: May 09, 2013
By eHealthIQ

A pair of studies suggest that choosing water to go with your meals may help you make healthy decisions about what goes on your plate. Researchers from the University of Oregon studied the dietary preferences of young adults through a survey; a parallel University of Michigan study focused on the preschool palate. Published together in the medical journal Appetite, both studies came to the same conclusion: Reaching for a glass of water encouraged healthier eating habits than sugary soda.The early childhood study from the University of Michigan presented 75 preschoolers with sweet soft drinks and a range of foods. The same children received water on a subsequent day, then got the same selection of foods. The children chose carrot sticks and raw red peppers more often when they drank water than when soda accompanied their snack.Young adults seem to feel the same way as their younger counterparts about how well water goes with fresh vegetables. Sixty adults between the ages of 19 and 23 took a survey asking about their food and drink pairing preferences. Most of the participants surveyed felt that soda was the more natural accompaniment to high-sodium, calorie-dense foods than to a green salad. Water was a preferred drink with fresh fruits and vegetables.Cross-cultural comparisons suggest that choosing a drink to go with dinner is a learned preference, but these parallel dietary studies imply that those preferences are set early in life. Even toddlers opt for high-calorie meals and salty snacks with syrupy soft drinks. Conversely, water may feel like a natural complement to high-fiber, low-calorie menu items such as raw vegetables and pieces of fruit because these foods have no traditional drink pairing. Offering water to children early in life may encourage them to make wiser choices in their snacks and meals as adults. For adults whose preferences are already set, acquiring a new water-drinking habit could help quell cravings for the salty, fatty foods that often accompany a sugary drink.via Science Daily

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