Sugary drinks on holiday: 5 refreshingly sugar-friendly tips

Forget ice cream, I’ve come to a new conclusion on what the biggest sugary hurdle is when abroad – cold drinks. Ice cold, colourful looking, thirst quenching juice-like liquids. They’re also tricky when it comes to alcohol because cocktails and fruit punch-like drinks tend to be order of the day when you’re on holiday.

Yes yes, I know it’s a holiday, but I’d thought I’d share how to get around this, highlighting some other options or tips along with some things I did last week on my own holiday.

I’ll admit I did consume a little more sugar last week than usual, and I found it was mostly in the form of drinks. Really, this shows the importance of adequate hydration when on holiday in hot countries – I think the likely appeal for me was mostly to quench my thirst more than craving sugar. Saying that, it could also have been just because I got a bit bored of water, or the water I had was warm and thus not very appealing!

As you may know, I’m really not pedantic about my sugar-free living as I’m well past being out of control, I just do the best I can to avoid unnecessary overloads and I genuinely don’t like things being that sweet. Here are some handy options from a pragmatic standpoint for you to consider when it comes to drinks:

1. Unsweetened iced tea

This is actually amazing if you can find it. I found it relatively easy to get in America, they even sold it in Burger King (yes I was found in a Burger King, my Greyhound bus made a stop there!). Watch out for Lipton iced tea – it used to be my favourite holiday drink growing up and guess what, it’s loaded with sugar. My brother did pick up a bottled mojito flavour variety and strangely that wasn’t too bad for sugar – 11g per 250ml. That is is half of coke when you compare it like for like. Better, but still not ideal.

2. Tomato juice based cocktails

Still potential for a little sugar in these (tomato juice often has added sugar), but it’s a heck of a lot less sweet than your average Pina Colada. I had a Virgin Bloody Mary when we visited a glamorous cocktail bar in Skiathos town. It was totally delicious, tasty, cold and most importantly, in a fancy glass that made me feel like I was having a cocktail like everyone else without having to feel sickly at drinking something too sweet for me.

Tabasco infused virgin bloody mary in hand

Tabasco infused Virgin Bloody Mary in hand

3. Vodka, soda and fresh lime

It’s the most virtuous sugar-free drink on the block. Yes, it can taste a bit bland so ask for lots of fresh lime (lime is extremely low fructose) and try to avoid the artificial green cordial.

4. Dilute with soda or fizzy water

There was one day I just wanted a refreshing drink that wasn’t water. I bought some 100% juice and some fizzy water and mixed together to make my own healthier cold fizzy drink. You can make it appropriately sweet for your tastebuds. I also occasionally drank a vodka cranberry & soda and asked the barman for mostly soda with a dash of cranberry to avoid it being too sweet. Find some friendly barmen and they can do anything you want 😉

5. Don’t rely on Diet Coke (& diet drinks)

My stance on artificial sweeteners (the usual culprit for diet drinks) is that you take the gamble with your own health. Aspartame and the like is a chemical and by clean eating terms, it’s just not a good substance to be putting in your body. Depending on diet drinks heavily is not a good road to go down. Saying that I don’t believe that one every now and then in a blue moon is going to do you masses of harm and in my view is potentially the very slightly lesser of evils compared to a full sugar coke.

P.S. A quick note on ice cream…

Last week I mentioned some healthier alternatives for ice cream. I can safely say I had no desire to eat any ice cream all week. Absolutely none, even when others were eating it in front of me. Give me some cold Greek yoghurt with grated lemon zest instead. I had a bite of my sister Amy’s chocolate Cornetto on the last day to confirm I wasn’t missing out and I can honestly say I didn’t want any more. I write this just because I still find it hard to believe even now how my taste preferences have changed so much!

Do you find the lure of cold sugary drinks a challenge? What do you tend to drink when on holiday?  Any tips you use to manage the sugar overload that drinks that be?

Laura xx

On top of the world at Cape Kastro

On top of the world at Cape Kastro

7 replies
  1. Natalie
    Natalie says:

    Thanks for the tips they were really interesting & useful as always.

    A lifesaver for me when abroad is Fresh Coconut water – it does contain sugar but far less than most fizzy/juice drinks & excellent for hydration & far less expensive than is now being sold in the UK

    • Laura
      Laura says:

      Hi Natalie, yes I thought of coconut water as another one after I’d posted this. It’s a a way better low sugar & option like you say – quite some nutritional benefit too. I definitely didn’t see it in Skiathos but it’s great that you can get it abroad and if you’re somewhere like Thailand you can get it fresh on the beach 🙂 YUM! Good shout!

  2. Wendy
    Wendy says:

    Hi Laura
    Can u tell me what u think of Tesco cream soda?? I’ve been drinking a lot of this recently & as far as I can tell its sugar free.
    I’d be interested to hear your comments on it.
    Wendy Barber

  3. Sarah Stone
    Sarah Stone says:

    I’ve found finding non-alcoholic drinks in England the hardest bit, as if I’m not driving I can have a lager. I guess soda water with a bit of blackcurrant would be better than nothing though?


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