Sugar is slowly taking over American society, and it has been for years. It doesn’t really matter what kind of sugar, whether it’s organic cane sugar or high fructose corn syrup, sugar is sugar — and it’s not what you want in your kids.
Sugar comes from a variety of sources. Everything from the bread you eat to the soda you’re sipping right now. This has probably been a part of your life since you were a small child, but high fructose corn syrup has been added to many ingredients lists in recent years.
Fortunately, this trend is slowly starting to change. Studies show that millennials already prefer healthy food options, with 67% saying they love ordering healthy foods in restaurants.
One of the best things you can do for yourself and your family is to kick the sugary drink habit. Of course, that’s not easy to do. Americans are so used to enjoying those extremely sweet syrupy sodas and juices that the natural flavors of foods are often lost. Fruit juice is a common go-to drink for parents because fruit is supposed to be good for you; however, fruit juice is incredibly low in essential nutrients like fiber that are common in the whole fruit. On top of that, a lot of extra sugar is added to boost the flavor of most fruit juice.
Scientists recommend reducing and moderating juice intake in kids for this reason. Generally, kids under the age of one should never drink juice. You should limit kids between the ages of one and three to about four ounces per day and six to eight ounces for everyone older than four. This limit doesn’t stop with kids; reducing sugar intake is just as important for adults.
Another great option is finding alternatives for kids to drink. If you’re looking to limit your family’s juice consumption, here are some better drink options and even a couple of recipes.
Give them water
Yes, this is a juice alternative! Kids don’t need to drink juice at all. They aren’t going to get nutritional value from the juice, not when they can get better benefits from eating actual fruit. Plus, sugar from juice and soda actually dehydrates you so there’s no benefit from the liquid form juice takes. Really, you should be giving your kids water or milk.
As you transition from juice to water, you may want to get your child (and yourself) a special water-only water bottle. The more fun your kid has with the water bottle, the more they will want to drink from it. The more water they (and you) drink, the healthier everyone will be. You can also try fun and interesting ways to boost the water’s flavor by adding fruit slices or cucumber.
Try Making Herbal Ice Tea
There are a lot of great mock Kool-Aid style recipes that utilize hibiscus and other fruit teas to create a healthy drink for the whole family. These recipes are often made to taste and require some trial and error to get correct. Your best bet is to browse the herbal tea section of the grocery store and pick the flavors that work best for you. Hibiscus tea is a great base; it offers really great flavor and turns your tea a bright striking red. This visual queue tells kids they’re drinking juice even though they’re drinking a healthy alternative. Adding some chamomile can have calming benefits and help your child transition to a more relaxed part of the day – like bedtime – where sugar will only excite them further. If necessary, you should consider adding small amounts of honey to the tea. Yes, honey is sugar, but it’s sugar with benefits — and you get to control how much there is in your not-juice concoction.
With these alternatives, you should see a marked difference in your child’s behavior and overall health.
America’s beverage companies agree that it’s important for people to be mindful of their sugar intake. That’s why we offer more choices than ever for families including beverage choices with zero sugar or less sugar, and smaller portion sizes. Additionally, through our School Beverage Guidelines, we voluntarily removed full-calorie sodas from schools, replacing them with a range of lower-calorie and smaller-portion options. Learn more here about how America’s beverage companies are providing families with the information, encouragement, and choices to support balanced lifestyles: BalanceUS.org.
These are great ideas. I have cut out soda and a lot of other things that are full of sugar.