Anyone reading this blog who knows me… knows my vice. I drink pop. There I’ve admitted it! I don’t drink coffee, never have, never liked the taste of it. But I do really enjoy my caffeinated pop in a glass full of ice! Now having just exposed my secret to the “world”, as an adult I want to add… I do know that it has no nutritional value. None, zip, nada!
And since having kids I’ve wanted to role model healthy behaviours. I started early and set a rule for my kids. It was as follows: Sugary drinks had nothing (or very little) to help you grow – so it was only a treat you could have after the age of 5yrs. My kids sometimes balked at us when they noticed friends who were allowed pop – but I stuck to our rules. Now looking back – OMG 5 years old is so young!! Too young really.
There are so many better options than sugary drinks for our kids, so why do they still drink so many of them? Well there are several reasons:
- It’s cheaper! Sugary drinks such as fruit flavored drinks and pop are less expensive than healthy choices (except for water of course!).
- They just don’t know! Our kids don’t know how much sugar is in their drink and what would be a better option.
- Our kids are influenced by celebrities endorsing sugary drinks – including sport and energy drinks – through advertising and commercials. It makes them seem cool.
As a parent should I really be worried about sugary drinks? The answer is “Yes!”
We know that empty calories can lead to weight gain and obesity and all the related problems such as diabetes and heart disease. It also leads to frequent “acid attacks” in your mouth that lead to tooth decay and when kids fill up on sugary drinks they are less likely to eat healthy foods such as fruits and vegetables.
As parents we need to help our kids rethink their drink!
- Help them pick water! It’s free. Provide them with a reusable water bottle for school and play (add slices of lemon, lime, cucumber or watermelon for flavour).
- Pack them milk with an ice-pack to drink (1% chocolate milk has added sugar, but it is still a healthy option for children). Fortified soy beverages are good options as well.
- Choose 100% fruit juice. Small amounts are fine.
- Give them whole fruit and vegetables…eating fruit is better than drinking juice.
Here’s another fun fact: if your child is drinking sugary drinks did you know that certain foods such as cheese and nuts eaten in combination can counteract the acid attacks? Good to know! I recognize there will be times when we will eat or drink sugary food and drinks, the bottom line is we just need to keep in mind these are “sometimes” drinks and should be limited.
So do my kids drink pop? I’m happy to say they don’t. They never liked the taste of it! I guess maybe my rule helped a bit? Or I like to think it did!
As for me, I’ll be working on rethinking my drink! What about you?
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For parenting information or to speak with a Public Health Nurse (every Monday to Friday from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.) Simply dial 311 or 905-825-6000.