For busy families, packing the kids’ school lunches is an important part of the daily routine. But, so is figuring out what kinds of beverages to include with your kids’ sandwich, apple or other food. The same struggle ensues when loading up the cooler for weekend getaways and vacations. And, who hasn’t had to choose among dozens of drinks on the market today that promise the moon for young athletes? Making an informed decision on a healthy drink option for kids is not that easy, given the hundreds of beverage products lining the grocery store shelves today.
Kids’ Sugary Demands Can Overwhelm Families
All too often, boys, girls, ‘tweens and teens opt for soda and other sugary drinks, despite the fact that high sugar drinks and fast foods have been found to contribute to childhood obesity and other health problems down the line. All too often, your kids grab whatever’s handy, like juice boxes, and items that may not be the most healthy option for your children or adolescents. Kids reach for sports drinks like Gatorade or energy drinks like Red Bull, Rock Star or Monster which are simply not formulated for growing boys and girls.
Parents and educators today have to work even harder to fend off the onslaught from national advertisers who want kids across America to buy their sugary products and caffeine-loaded, energy drinks. Parents, coaches and educators need to educate themselves and kids on these beverage products and what to drink as healthy alternatives. The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) can help. In its 21 Healthy New Year’s Resolutions For Kids, AAP recommends that kids 13 and older “eat at least one fruit and vegetable each day, and limit the amount of soda” consumed each day.
Healthy Beverage Options for Kids Today
Rest assured: there are plenty of healthy alternatives to high sugar, energy drinks and soda pop. Where to start? Check out these Top 5 Best Healthiest Drinks for Kids. Sure to please every member of your family, from the pre-school age and beyond.
Water. Water? That’s right: H20 is probably the all-time, best and healthiest drink you can provide to your kids. Why? First, it’s the perfect drink to replenish your child’s fluids after physical activity or on a hot day. Second, water contains no empty calories, fat or sugars which can undo the health benefits of other drinks. Third, it’s easily available, at least here in the United States. How to serve it? In a reusable water bottle. Want to add some flavor? Do it yourself. One squeeze from a fresh lemon or lime adds lots of flavor with none of the sugar. Sure to become a family favorite.
Orange Juice. There’s nothing like fresh-squeezed orange juice for your kids. The best oranges for fresh-squeezed orange juice? Try Navel, Valencia or Murcia oranges for best results. Oranges are packed with vitamin C, nutrients and minerals, great for kids and adults alike. Orange juice is a healthy alternative to soda.
Milk. According to the US Department of Agriculture, milk offers sensational health benefits for you and your family. Milk helps build and maintain bone mass throughout the life cycle. This may reduce the risk of osteoporosis over the lifespan. Milk consumption is particularly important to bone health during childhood and adolescence, when bone mass is being built. Finally, milk is loaded with vitamins and nutrients that contribute to overall health and well-being. For added flavor, add fruit, vanilla, and a small amount of crushed ice and blend.
Yogurt. Beverages made from yogurt are great for your kids and family. These provide the same nutritional benefits of yogurt in a drinkable form but have the consistency of a milk shake which may be more palatable to your children. Yogurt drinks are super rich in protein and calcium, and boost immunity. With yogurt, you can get creative at home by making smoothies and more. Just add your favorite fruit, some crushed ice and blend. Yogurt drinks are healthy alternatives and super delicious for youngsters and adults alike.
Soy. Calcium-fortified and lightly flavored soy beverages offer all the health benefits of milk, including a nice dose of protein. Soy carries with it some important health effects like reducing levels of “bad” cholesterol and lower triglycerides. Dozens of health studies suggest that a diet rich in soy and soy protein can reduce your risk of breast, colon, and prostate cancers across the lifespan. Soy beverages come in a variety of flavors and textures, making them a great alternative to high sugar or energy drinks so popular today with the younger set.
My Food Pyramid
US Department of Agriculture
21 Healthy New Year’s Resolutions for Kids
American Academy of Pediatrics
Ways to Shave Calories
Eat Right, American Dietetic Association
Sugar Drinks and Childhood Obsesity
American Medical Assocation
ADOLESC MED/VOL 163 (NO. 4), APR 2009
$1.6 Billion Spent Promoting Food and Drinks to Kids and Teens
Reviewed by: Mary L. Gavin, August 2008
Source: “Marketing Food to Children and Adolescents: A Review of Industry Expenditures, Activities, and Regulations,” FTC, July 2008. In Kids Health from Nemours