The healthiest drink is water, so you can see that there may be some work to do to help your children move away from juice boxes, sodas, and other drinks that do more harm than good. This may seem rigid, but these are our precious children. Right now they are engaged in building the bodies of their adult life.
We do have some suggestions on how to remake old habits into new, healthier ones, so check out our page on Habits and How to Restructure Them.
General Rule of Thumb: Teach your child that water is what you drink when you get thirsty. Other sweet drinks are what you drink only at parties and on special occasions.
Sodas and Sparkling Water
Sodas do not belong in a child’s lunch box. Many of them contain 7 or more teaspoons of sugar that is sure to speed little Johnnie up, followed by a crash during which he cannot stay awake much less think clearly and learn. Help your child do his or her job—to learn. Avoid obesity, sugar overdoses, and tooth decay by avoiding sodas entirely.
Artificial sugars are just another chemical additive when it comes to their effect on sensitive, growing bodies. You are not doing your child any favors by providing sugary drinks, even if the sugar is fake, because that will become the habit/expectation.
Some sodas can do even more harm than just filling your child with sugar. Please don’t give your children drinks that dissolve their growing bones. See Dark Colas below.
The same has been said of carbonation in drinks (Sparkling Waters) but we do not yet have the science clarified on this. Anyone?
Juices, too, are empty calories! Your child will be guaranteed to get fat drinking completely natural fruit juices, no matter how “natural” the label says they are. Leave the concentrated fructose at the supermarket.
Eat the whole fruit instead and drink a glass of water!
Some whole fruits have fructose in them, but Mother Nature has included plenty of fiber in those same fruits. By eating the whole fruit, you have the fructose and its antidote (fiber, which slows the absorption of the fructose, avoiding a blood sugar surge), as well as complete bioflavinoids (vitamins), and minerals. All the fiber has already been removed from the juice box. Kids don’t need them.
Gatorade started as a sports drink, filled only with the necessary nutrients to both hydrate and replenish athletes during sports activities. Over the years, the artificial colors, sugar content, and additives increased. Now it is just like a soda—not worth purchasing.
There is a saying in the field of computing that goes something like this: “If you start with something you don’t fully understand, results may be unpredictable.” Too many chemicals with too little understanding of their effect on children’s developing bodies spells “unpredictable results.” Why gamble with your precious children?
If you want to provide more than water, use about 3 teaspoons of juice in a water container and fill the rest up with water. Voila! Flavor.
Commercial flavored waters might work but they get expensive and still have ingredients like “natural fruit essence.” What is that?! If the drink comes from a berry, shouldn’t the drink be red or purple, etc.? If you think that you can trust multi-national corporations (who own most of the drink companies) to include only nutritious ingredients, think again. For them, it’s all about consumption (you consuming their product) and profit (only for them).
Teas have anti-oxidants (cancer avoiding substances) in them which is a good thing, so iced tea is considered a nutritious drink. Try it with fresh lemon or straight but avoid the heavily sugared versions that cause blood sugar spikes.
Tea is easy to make, refrigerate, and pour into a drink container for school, but don’t be tempted by commercial iced teas that are full of sugar or “essences.” If you start with sugar in tea, that will be the expectation into the future. Try, at least, starting with just plain tea or tea with a squeeze of lemon or lime and see if you can make that the “habit.”
There are a lot of great tea sources online, where you can buy wonderful tasting teas that are actually good for you! Here’s some:
Carries a full range of black, white, green, decaf, flavored teas, etc. with commentary to help you find selections that you will like. Allows you to buy small quantities and sampler sets.
Supplies a wide range of teas with great decaf varieties. Sells in varied quantities so you can just buy a little to try a new tea.
Jennifer’s Tea Garden
Carries a nice range of black, white, green, oolong, and flavored teas. A little more expensive but offers many flavored teas that children would like.
An absolute no-no, most dark colas contain phosphoric acid, which dissolves bones. Excuse me, but I thought we were trying to grow bones, so leave the dark colas on the supermarket shelf. Girls especially run a serious risk of osteoporosis in later years and should never be fed any dark cola.
You are asking for trouble! Children and adults need strong bones to take them through their lives.
That means that Coke, Pepsi, some Root Beers, and generic Colas do not belong in a child’s or adult’s lunch!