Many people forget that drinks are consumed just like food. So, just like food, drinks can add good nutrients to your body or unnecessary calories, sodium, and other unknown substances. It's good to know what to allow you and your kids to drink throughout the day.
I'll start off by saying that water and low fat milk are the best choices for you and your children to drink. Kids need to be used to quenching their thirst with water, it has no calories, no sodium, and no sugar. Low fat milk is wonderful for kids to drink, they need the calcium that milk provides to keep their bones growing and milk contains other good nutrients like potassium, vitamin D, and protein.
But we all know that we as adults and our children will be drinking many different beverages. We should know which ones are the best choices and which ones we should probably stay away from. Also we should limit ourselves and our kids to the different beverage choices because like I said we can be packing alot of un-needed calories to our day.
I think you all will know that I'm going to say to limit our soda pop consumption, but I bet you didn't think I would say that about juices also. Everyone knows that soda has a lot of calories, sugar, and caffeine, and that we should limit ourselves to how much soda we drink. But have you looked at the different choices in juices? There are many that are made with 10% real juice (stay away from those) and many made with 100% juice (those are the good ones). But kids don't need to be drinking a jug of juice a day just because it's made with 100% real juice, this is still adding a lot of sugar in their diet. Limit your juice intake to one glass a day and make it a good one, when was the last time you tried tomato juice? My son loves getting tomato juice for a change from orange or grapefruit juice. Juice can also count toward getting in one of your fruit or vegetable serving per day.
Now on to a beverage that doesn't contain very many calories, but does contain alot of sodium: sports drinks. Yes, sports drinks are good for hot summer days when everyone is running around and playing hard, this is what sports drinks were made for. When a person sweats alot they can loose some of their electrolytes (sodium and potassium) and replacing those electrolytes with a sports drink is good for your body. But drinking too much or if your not sweating all day long, sports drinks are not good for you. If your child has been working hard and they want to have a Gatorade, read the serving size on the back of the container, it will tell you that a serving size is probably around 8 ounces, which is only one cup, this is enough Gatorade to replenish your child's electrolytes.
When I was in the store looking at all of the different drinks, I noticed two different drinks I never looked at before. One was SoBe Lifewater and the other was VitaminWater, other stores in different states may have similar items. I was curious about the nutrient content of these, they have no or low calories, no or low sodium, no or low sugar, and they contain alot of different vitamins. If you have a child like mine who would prefer to have a Gatorade or Powerade over bubbly soda pop, I would let him have these flavored waters before the high sodium sports drinks.
The last drink choice I would like to discuss are energy drinks. I don't think children should have any kind of energy drink...at all. Along with soda, I don't think caffeine is good for children. The Mayo Clinic's website states that just like adults, caffeine can cause insomnia, nervousness, irritability, high blood pressure, and headaches. Energy drinks contain alot of other items besides sugar and caffeine, such as guarana and ginseng which are herbal substances that can raise your blood pressure. You should always know what you are drinking, it might contain items you don't want in your or your child's body.
It is also good to know when to drink some of these beverages. If your child drinks a big glass of soda at the restaurant right before the meal comes, I doubt there is going to be room for the food. Always save your different drink options for after the meal or between meals, so your child doesn't ruin their appetite and miss out on the important nutrients from the food that needs to be eaten. One thing we do is, when we go out to a restaurant for breakfast, my son can order chocolate milk, but he can't drink it till his meal is gone, so the chocolate milk is more like a dessert for breakfast.
I hope this helps you the next time you or your child says they're thirsty, think before you drink. :) I hope you come back next week when I discuss protein, we'll go beyond just meat.