As parents, we all focus on making sure that our kids receive adequate nutrition, trying to sneak in healthy meals or get kids used to eating fruits and veggies early. However, one huge part of nutrition that often gets overlooked is beverages. Many kids chug sugary and chemical filled beverages, even as parents struggle to get kids to try broccoli instead of just eating all the French fries. Paying attention to beverages can help to make all aspects of nutrition a little easier, preventing childhood obesity, diabetes, and a host of other issues.
Increase the Water
If kids are constantly given access to purified or spring water from an early age, it will become second nature for them to drink water when they are thirsty. Limiting other beverages can help to encourage kids to drink mostly water, which can greatly reduce the consumption of unhealthy beverages. Making sure that kids always have water on hand can also protect against dehydration, especially in very active children.
Focus on Calcium
In addition to water, kids should have regular access to milk or calcium-filled milk substitutes. Kids need a lot of calcium, so it is important to make sure that kids have plenty of it. Supplementing their diet with calcium-filled beverages is a great way to go. If kids do not like the flavor of milk or milk substitutes, there are several milk flavoring that contain valuable added nutrients. Chocolate milk flavorings and other empty-calorie flavoring should be limited or substituted in favor of those with greater nutritional value.
Opt for 100% Juice
Juices often have unhealthy added sugars and chemicals. Watch labels to make sure that juices are 100% fruit. Juices may be high in calories and natural sugars, but they will add nutritional value. Juice consumption should be limited to a few times a day, however, and diluted with water for younger children.
Limit Soda and Sports Drinks
If possible, soda and sports drinks should be taken out of the picture completely. Otherwise, soda and sports drinks should be limited to certain occasions. Kids often experience a “sugar high” followed by a “sugar crash” when drinking soda and other very sugary beverages, which can reek havoc on the body and mood.