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It's easy to get answers about health and nutrition! Just send your question by email to askdrgourmet@drgourmet.com and Dr. Harlan will respond to selected questions of general interest. Answers will be posted in the Ask Dr. Gourmet newsletter (sign up now!) and archived in the Ask Dr. Gourmet section of the website.

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Ask Dr. Gourmet



My mother and I are about to embark on the first week of our two week Dr. Gourmet Diet Plan this Saturday, but I can't find anywhere on the Web site any information about what to drink.

My mother loves her coffee in the morning, whereas I'm more of a tea gal, and we're both fans of a glass of red wine with dinner. Aside from that I usually drink nothing but water all day, and she's about the same with an occasional soda. I'm sure the soda will have to go (I've told her that a million times) but what about the coffee, tea or wine?

And if we can drink our morning beverages, what kind of, if any, sweetener is acceptable? I like to use agave nectar where she's a fan of good old fashioned sugar. We can both do artificial sweeteners but aren't they horrible for you?

Dr. Gourmet Says...

So great to hear from you and I am wishing you all the best with the changes you are making.

Coffee and tea are fantastic for you and make a great part of eating healthy. They are one of the greatest sources of antioxidants we have. Likewise, red wine with dinner is a fine choice, and in moderation has clearly been shown to be good for you. Water is always a great choice of beverage, and while I am not a fan of soda, your mother's habit of having one occasionally is fine. It's clear that soda is a major contributor to the obesity issue and limiting them is a good idea.

As far as sweeteners are concerned, I do use Splenda in some recipes on the Dr. Gourmet web site but your mom's right. A teaspoon of sugar in her coffee only adds 16 calories. I feel that if you like to use artificial sweeteners, that's OK, as I don't think that they are all that horrible for you. Still, sweeteners like sugar, honey and the agave nectar don't add too much in the way of calories so they are also just fine.

Thanks for writing,

Timothy S. Harlan, MD, FACP
Dr. Gourmet