In today’s post, we’re continuing our conversation about good health habits kids can build now. In Parts I and II, we covered the importance of eating fruits and veggies and staying active. I have one more healthy habit that I truly believe sets the foundation for a healthier lifestyle that will help them their entire lives, limiting or eliminating sugary drinks.
Keep Beverages Healthy
Did you know that one out of three children in the U.S. is overweight or obese? Or that teens in this country’s number one source of calories are sugary drinks? One 20 oz soda has about 18 teaspoons of sugar. Did you know that pediatricians and the food guidelines recommended daily amount is 6 teaspoons? One soda has 3X the added sugar that is recommended for our kid’s diets. One study found that just one soda a day increased the chance of obesity by 60%. That is mind-blowing. I was totally shocked by reading this sugary drink fact sheet.
Drink More Water
My first tip is to drink more water. Sometimes the most effective method is to crowd out less desirable habits with other things.
Do you think you drink enough, what about your kids? Chances are you’re not. We’ve all heard about needing eight glasses or 64 oz of water a day. Guidelines for kids vary by age but most children between the age of 9 – 12 need 6 or 7 glasses.
But like adults, your kids may need more or less. Livestrong.com has a formula for helping figure out what your child needs by their weight. Check out the Livestrong.com formula.
To get the recommended amount, start by drinking water these four – six times every day.
- When you wake up – have a glass of water to replace water loss while sleep.
- Offer water with meals – offer water to drink with breakfast, lunch, snacks, and dinner. Just like at restaurants. Your kids might not finish their water at meals but having it there as a replacement for sugary drinks like soda, energy drinks, and juices will encourage drinking throughout the day.
- Before bed – drinking water too close to bedtime can disrupt sleep, but a small glass before starting a bedtime routine like the one I encouraged in Are Kids Getting Enough Sleep can help kids avoid dehydration that may actually disrupt sleep.
So if you make a habit of drinking a glass when you wake up, with meals, and a little before bed, you’re likely to be halfway to your goal. To get the other half, the best thing is to make sure you always have access to water.
Have a Water Bottle
Having a water bottle for each family member is ideal. You can have kids fill it up before school and take it to go. It’s a great way to make sure your kids always have access to drink.
The best water bottles will be sweat proof and leak proof so that your kids can keep the water bottle on their desk at school without worrying about making a mess.
If you have to convince your kids teachers that this is an excellent idea, let them know that dehydration can cause fatigue, affect mood and concentration. There was even a study showing that dehydrated drivers can make as many mistakes as drunk drivers! Allowing water bottles at schools helps kids perform their best in school. Win, win.
Refilling your water bottle throughout the day ensures you always have it to grab and go wherever you may be. Using a water bottle has advantages over buying water bottles. It is much more environmentally friendly and easier on your wallet.
What if Your Kids Don’t Like Water?
The most common reasons for not liking water have to do with taste and variety.
If your kids say they don’t like water, let them experiment to find out if they like it better
- room temperature
- with ice
- without ice
and encourage them to drink it how they like it best.
Try Bottled Water
You can also try bottled water, sometimes the taste of different brands varies. I know I encouraged the use of water bottles over bottled water, but if your kids prefer the taste of bottled water or it it’s more convenient for you, go for it. The end result is all that matters. Progress, not perfection. To help with the environmental and budget impacts
- focus on buying in bulk
- focus on minimizing the amount of packaging
Add Some Flavor
You can also flavor your water.
- Fruit infusions, here are 14 recipes ideas for making fruit-flavored water from the DailyBurn website. A few are perfect for kids if they are not a fan of an ingredient you can easily leave it out.
You can find a perfect pitcher for these recipes here. Check out the Prodyne pitcher in the link below
- Flavor enhancers, there are a ton of flavors available. Next time you visit the grocery store and find yourself in the beverage aisle, instead of picking up soda, pick a flavor to experiment with. For an added bonus, let your kids pick one to try. My favorite brand is Stur. You can check out my favorite Stur products in the link below.
Make it Fun
You can try carbonation. You can try novelty items like ice cube molds and fun straws. Here are some fun ideas to get started with.
Other Healthy Drinks
Water should be your family’s main healthy beverage but milk and tea have a role to play. Pediatricians and food guidelines recommend 2-3 servings of milk or dairy products per day and recommend low-fat varieties. Keep in mind, some people are lactose intolerant. If your children tolerate milk, drink up. Most schools offer milk at school. Just tell your children it’s important to choose regular milk and leave the chocolate variety as a special treat.
If milk causes tummy troubles or your diet eliminates milk, some healthy substitutes are soy or nut milk. Just keep an eye on the sugar if you select a flavored version.
Another alternative to water is tea. My children like hot tea. They have their own mugs and frequently have tea at night before bed. We use herbal varieties at night. They sometimes drink green tea earlier in the day. Watch out for caffeine intake later in the day because caffeine can be dehydrating and cause sleep problems if consumed too late in the day. Again, watch the added sugar. A teaspoon of sugar or two should be ok.
What Will You Try?
We’ve talked about some ideas to help kids keep their beverages healthy. Tell me in the comments:
Does your family drink enough? Do you think these tips are helpful? Do you have any to add?
See you next week with more health habits kids can build now. But before I go, I’ll leave you with a link to this video with some cool ways to check hydration levels.