Ladies, now that you are working to eat healthy, one of the things you are likely avoiding is sugar laden drinks. I’m talking about soda, commercial juice (processed and pasteurized or from concentrate), milk-based sweet drinks and anything with added processed sugar or artificial sugar. If you have kids, you know that drinks marketed to and loved by kids also have a ton of sugar. Since it is Day 11 of our real food challenge for April, I want to challenge you to consider how you can remove the sugary drinks from your child’s diet as well as yours as we focus on real food this month.
Sugary drinks add an unnecessarily excessive amount of sugar to a child’s diet. The added sugar and calories that go along with it can impact the child’s health in numerous ways. The child who consumes a lot of sugar is at risk for obesity and tooth decay. The child is probably also being deprived of nutrients because he/she has filled up on the sugar calories, not vitamins, fiber, etc.
Eliminating the high-sugar drinks is going to be difficult, but it does not have to be done instantly. The child’s body is accustomed to the regular sugar intake and should be weaned off of the sugar in a steady manner. This way the child will not suffer from severe energy crashes or headaches associated with the sudden lack of caffeine and sugar.
Plus, the child will probably not be too excited at the thought of never drinking his/her favorite soda or juice. Instead of completely eliminating the sugary drinks, take these seven steps to help your child become healthier while slowly eliminating the sugar.
- Trade one sugary drink a day to a healthier option. Perhaps the new drink can be water, fat-free milk, or calcium-fortified juice. Try to find naturally sweetened options to transition your child to. After a week or two, increase the healthier drinks to twice a day. Try to make the sugary drink only available once a day.
- Refer to soda and high-sugared drinks as a treat for special occasions. Perhaps make the drink available once a week now.
- When drinking soda or sugary juice, reduce the serving size the child drinks. A child does not need to drink a large bottle or super-sized soda. Instead make the serving size 6-12 ounces or less.
- Keep water easily available. Also, make it more alluring to children by adding a squirt of fresh lemon or orange. Let them experiment with flavors and make their water unique and fun.
- Significantly reduce the amount of soda that is bought. If water and low-calorie drinks are readily available and no soda is in the house, then children will have no choice but to drink the healthier options.
- Lead by example. A child learns by what they witness their parents and loved ones doing. If a parent wants his/her child to drink healthier, then he/she should also make healthy beverage choices.
- Praise the child for making healthy choices. Perhaps a small reward is in order, like a small toy or downloading a game they like to play on your iPad. 🙂
Eliminating high-sugared drinks from a child’s diet is not a simple overnight success. It will take time, but it is worth the effort. The child will be healthier, feel healthier, and learn that there are healthier options available.