Are you a fan of Pimms? Yeah me too. Happy memories with friends at BBQs, Tennis themed celebrations and general British summer fun.
As you can imagine, Pimms poses a slight dilemma when living a low sugar lifestyle, so here’s an article to share some practical tips in addition to some mindset shifting so you can enjoy Pimms (if you want) in a healthy way.
The sugar in Pimms
First up, is there is sugar in the actual Pimms drink? Well, as I found, the recipe is top secret – apparently only six people actually know it.
Therefore there is a lack of ingredients and nutritional information on the label. A little bit of research and I determined that ingredients generally include dry gin, liqueur, fruit juices and spices.
So the actual Pimms has sugar (the fruit juice bit), but this is small really. Where the sugar really comes into play is what you mix and dilute it with (assuming you don’t drink it straight!).
Traditionally you mix Pimms with lemonade in a 1:3 ratio. So of course the lemonade is the killer on the sugar front – for example a 330ml can of Sprite has 22g of sugar (5 ½ teaspoons).
Note: It’s come to my attention that in the UK we refer to lemonade differently to America & Canada. When I talk about lemonade I mean fizzy lemon flavoured water like Sprite rather than the cloudy flat variety.
Low sugar lemonade options
Now of course, lemonade is sweet. There is no getting around that. Therefore it’s going to have some sugar or artificial sweeteners in some form. There are a few strategies you can use to lessen the sugar in your Pimms mixer – something I have to do these days when I just don’t like things too sweet.
Tip 1: Find the lower sugar brands
I recommend this with any products you use. Often there is a sugar difference between brands so by just spending a little time upfront you can find the lower sugar and healthier ones.
I checked out the amount of sugar in some lemonade brands and was at first quite surprised at the differences between brands. With the highest sugar culprits at the top of the following list, here are the sugar contents of varying lemonade brands (based on 100ml, which is roughly what you might add to make a single glass of Pimms).
- 7up and Sprite (both 10.6g)
- Schwepps (4.2g)
- Asda Chosen by You (3.5g)
- R Whites (2.4g)
So as a result of this research, you can do yourself a favour by moving away from 7up and Sprite which appear to be the most sugary fizzy lemon water or lemonade. It’s got nearly 4 times as much sugar as the R Whites brand.
Tip 2: Opt for artificially sweetened lemonade (your call)
This is an option to consider. Diet lemonades will usually have less than 1g sugar per 100ml. You can read my take on sweeteners here and there’s an interesting article in the New York Times here that’s discusses the evidence to support artificial sweeteners.
The diet lemonades I researched generally contained both Aspartame and Saccharin, two of the most debated sweeteners on the block. I’d say this is your call.
At the end of the day, these are chemicals – they are far from ‘clean’ but I do believe it’s the frequency and habitual nature of their use which makes the difference.
If you drink Pimms a few times a year and choose a diet Lemonade for the occasion, I don’t see there’s going to be potential long term damage. In terms of your sweet cravings, full sugar and diet both put the sweetness in your mouth, so they’re likely to have the same impact.
I would strongly recommend avoid using artificial sweeteners to help you plaster over an insatiable sweet tooth and would always encourage to reduce your sweet preference as a priority.
Tip 3: Dilute the sweetness
One way to reduce the sweetness of the drink and keep your palate less sweet is to dilute the sweetness of the lemonade mixer.
Because my taste buds are accustomed to a lot less sugar these days, I find Pimms with Lemonade, even diet Lemonade, pretty sweet, so I’ve experimented and found the following can work…
- Try mixing your Pimms with the smallest amount of lemonade (diet or no diet) you can manage and then top up the rest with soda/sparkling water. You can play around with the proportions to your own personal taste, but by doing this you’re diluting the sugar content and bringing it down to a lower level without too much compromise.
- Adding extra fruit and mint also enhances the flavour without the need for the sugary lemonade overload.
You can also do this soda water trick with gin and tonic to a certain extent. Just little ways of bringing the sugar content down without giving up everything that you like all at once.
Keep it in perspective
From a final mindset perspective, remember lower sugar is a lifestyle rather that a regimented diet regime. There’s no reason to banish all things that you enjoy, it’s just a case of assessing the frequency and finding little strategies that work for you over time. Obviously if you’re buying Pimms out, you have limited control over what they mix with, so just sit back on the rare occasion and enjoy whilst congratulating yourself on your other lower sugar efforts.
What do you think of Pimms and lemonade? Too sugary or something that you’ll allow yourself on special occasions?