Rethink Your Drink This Summer!
Did you know that sugary drinks are the leading source of added sugars in the American diet?
It can be easy to consume too much sugar when so many drinks are cheap, available, and heavily marketed to children. Sugary drinks refer to any beverage with added sugar or other sweeteners (high fructose corn syrup, sucrose, and fruit juice concentrate to name a few), and include soda, pop, cola, tonic, fruit punch, lemonade (and other “ades”), sports drinks, and energy drinks. According to the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry, overconsumption of unhealthy beverages such as soda, sports drinks, and even 100% fruit juice can contribute to risk of diet-related chronic childhood diseases, such as obesity, Type 2 diabetes, and tooth decay.
Although whole fruit is healthy for a balanced diet, 100% fruit juice contains a lot of natural sugars, which can contribute to oral health problems. The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommends infants do not ingest fruit juice at all, stating that fruit juice “offers no nutritional benefit” to children under 1 year of age. For children ages 1 to 6 years, the AAP recommends limiting juice to 4 to 6 ounces (around ½ - ¾ cup) a day, given as part of a meal or snack. Avoid allowing your child to sip juice throughout the day. For children ages 7 to 18, consider limiting juice to 8 ounces (1 cup) a day. If you give your child fruit juice, choose 100% fruit juice instead of sweetened juice or juice cocktails. Adding water to 100% fruit juice can make a little go a long way.
For comparison, here is the amount of sugar in 12 ounces of leading drinks children often choose, especially during hot summer months:
- Water = 0 grams of sugar
- Cola (like Coke or Pepsi) = 31 grams of sugars
- Lemon Lime Soda = 31 grams of sugars
- Root Beer = 36 grams of sugars
- Gatorade = 21 grams of sugars
- Kool Aid = 38 grams of sugars
- 100% Orange Juice = 21 grams of sugars
- 100% Apple Juice = 27 grams of sugars
For reference, approximately 4 grams of sugar equal one teaspoon.
So this summer, encourage your kids to stop and rethink their drink. Give the green light on water. Suggest a yellow light, or drinking occasionally, for 100% fruit juice and low-calorie sugar drinks. And encourage a red light, or drinking rarely or at all, for sodas, fruit drinks, and energy or sports drinks.
If you and/or your children choose to indulge in a beverage containing sugars, it is best to rinse your mouth with water after consuming, to help wash the sugar off of your teeth. Or, if possible, you can brush your teeth gently after drinking sugary-drinks to remove any sugar lurking on your teeth. However, brushing too often or too hard can damage enamel and gums. We don't recommend brushing more than 3 times per day, generally after your meals.
Be In the Know and Go H-2-O!
What do you, the trees, and a hamster have in common? You all need water!
When it comes to our health, it’s clear that water is best! Around 60-70 percent of the human body is made up of water. Without water, your body would stop working properly. Water aids digestion, is vital for proper blood circulation, helps transport nutrients and oxygen to cells, cushions joints and protects organs and tissues, helps regulate body temperature, and maintains electrolyte (sodium) balance. You can help your body by drinking when you're thirsty, and drinking extra water when you exercise and when it's warm out. Your body will be able to do all of its wonderful, waterful jobs and you'll feel great!
How can you convince your children to drink more water? We have some suggestions:
- Limit purchases of sugar-sweetened beverages. The easiest way to encourage water consumption, is to ensure it’s the only beverage in the house besides milk.
- Allow your children to shop for and choose their own reusable, eco-friendly water bottle. Children are often motivated by something they are excited to use.
- Get creative by infusing water with fruit and herbs. We have a few suggestions below. A little piece of fruit can add a lot of flair.
- Host a drinking challenge that aims at consuming 4 cups (32 ounces) of water per day (an appropriate minimum for children ages 4 and up). We have made a tracking chart available here. If your child drinks a minimum of 4 cups per day for 30 days, please email us a picture of their completed chart to firstname.lastname@example.org, and we will enter them in a drawing that will take place on Monday, September 20, 2021 for a $50 Target gift card.
Water With a Little Flair
Infusing water is so easy! Have your children help you to motivate them to try something new.
Start by washing and slicing fruit and/or vegetables. Many over-the-counter pitchers are 2 quarts or 8 cups, so if you have one of those, use 1 cup of fruit per 7-8 cups of water. It is useful to use a pitcher with a built-in strainer at the spout. Add the fruit to the pitcher and fill the pitcher with water. Place the pitcher in the refrigerator for 2-24 hours for the water to become infused with flavor.
Get creative with the fruit and veggies you select, and remember that really anything goes: strawberries, raspberries, blueberries, blackberries, cherries, lemons, limes, oranges, grapefruits, apples, kiwis, peaches, pears, watermelon, cantaloupe, cucumber, carrots, celery, etc. We like to add a few mint or basil leaves for an added punch of flavor. Mix and match with your kids and try to develop a signature infused-water recipe for your family!
Adding 1 cup of fruit and vegetables to 2 quarts of water will add a nominal amount of naturally occurring sugars to the water. The good news is that the plant-based additions will also transfer nutrients and antioxidants to the water. Infused water can help your children transition from sugar-laden drinks to water-based drinks. Infused water also helps break up water boredom, and is a great addition to celebratory occasions. The goal is to move toward multiple cups of plain water each and every day!