What are the best drinks for kids to keep them healthy?
Did you realize that the jumbo carton of soft drink at the movies holds close to 1.25 L of soft drink – that's an entire family size bottle in a single serve! That is seriously too much for any body, especially a growing child's body, so don’t let your guard down at the cinema or footy – be consistent and stick with water or other low joule, low cal or zero drinks.
If your child is overweight or obese, then the following tips are really important. Use them today.
- Encourage water as 1st choice. Find out from your child whether they like it better cold, with ice cubes or straight from the tap, and served in a cup, glass or a bottle.
- Make water appealing. Freeze cut up fruit pieces with water into ice cubes and add them to a glass or jug of water on the table. Get a drink bottle that appeals to your child so that they feel okay about taking it in their bag. Buy water instead of soft drink from the drinks’ fridge when out.
- Try fizzy water for a change – plain soda water and unflavoured mineral water are good choices as well.
- Do not keep other soft drinks and cordial in the house. These liquid kilojoules do not fill your child, but they have the potential to prevent weight loss. If weaning off real soft drinks and cordials is difficult or you do serve soft drinks regularly, make sure they are always labeled ‘diet’ or ‘low joule’ or ‘zero’. Taller, slim-line glasses make your child think they are getting a bigger drink – use this size when you serve ‘zero’ soft drinks and low joule cordial.
- Limit fruit juice – if you plan to have juice at home, then it must be hand-squeezed (no electricity involved!) by either you or your child if they are old enough. If you can, add back the fruit pulp into the juice. Do not be tempted to buy bottles or cartons of juice. By hand squeezing, the family begins to recognize just how much fruit it takes to fill a glass with juice.
- Limit milk drinks – sure milk is a great source of calcium, but your child can have too much of a good thing! Switch to reduced fat or lite or low fat milk for the entire family, and make sure you set some limits on how much milk your little one uses in the entire day.
- Avoid sports drinks. During and after sport, your child is better off having water and some cold juicy orange quarters than downing a sports drink.
- Teach and remind everyone who looks after your child about being smart with drinks. It is a disaster if grandparents or others undermine your good efforts – if they want to ‘treat’ your young one, then encourage them ‘treat’ without any extra drinks or food involved. Give them some ideas about what would make a better treat for your child – maybe a small inexpensive toy, a walk down the park, the chance to brush or play with their pet, or to explore the garden and pick something for mum or dad.
It is not a matter of others ‘missing out’ or ‘needing’ juice, soft drinks and cordial – no one really needs these drinks.
Water is the best everyday choice for everyone, young and old.