"A good friend of mine has diabetes and is going to be getting an insulin pump soon. She was wondering if there are any drinks that she could have, other than water, that are aspartame free, low carb, and caffeine free?" -- Alan M.
Great question and I'm so glad you asked! First off let me say "yay" to your friend for wanting options that are suitable for her diabetes now and her health long-term. A new diagnosis or change in treatment plans can be scary so she is awesome for her confidence and curiosity in asking questions.
Obviously I would recommend water as #1. But, I understand that transitioning to just water (from soda and juice) can be a challenge for some. So, if water gets boring she could try "infused" water which is where you take a glass or bottle (you could even do the AquaZinger) and let the water sit with fresh fruits and herbs in order for the flavors to infuse. Some great combos are cucumber and lemon, strawberries and mint, orange slices and cinnamon sticks, or even just plain blueberries. Really, the options are endless to get the flavor combo you want. At the end, you can choose to discard of the fruit or eat it (being mindful that the fruit is going to provide a carb source).
I prefer homemade water infusions, but understand that sometimes people are looking for packaged options when out-and-about or if they've forgotten to make it themselves, so Hint Water and Ayala's Herbal Water (available at your local grocer or online) is a packaged option made with some fruit and/or herbs and natural flavors. She could alternatively/also try tea - hot or iced (no sweeteners added) - making sure it's decaf or herbal for a low-no caffeine option.
If that doesn't work well, there are Sweet Drops, which are water flavor-boosters made with stevia -- a sweetener derived from a real plant (not a sweetener chemically synthesized in a different type of "plant"). As with all sweeteners (artificial or otherwise), these calorie-free extracts or powders are inherently sweeter than sugar so too much may impede her ability to taste the natural sweetness of things like fruit or some vegetables (sweet potatoes, tomatoes, etc.). Nonetheless, I am okay with someone using these occasionally as they transition from a heavy sugar-laden drink to water or if they're sipping on these as a treat.
Drinks like coconut water, non-dairy milks, etc. will provide fluids and hydration but also carbs. I want to emphasize that this is not "bad" by any means...just something to just keep in mind if she is using an insulin pump. Remember, avoidance of carbohydrates is not necessary for someone with diabetes; it's important to get consistency in carbs at meals/snacks especially if also on long-acting insulin.
I hope this helps you help your friend, Alan! Thanks so much for asking the question.