In the age of health food and junk food disguised as health food, figuring out what to pack for your kid’s lunch can be overwhelming. You want to please your kiddos, giving them something they’ll eat and not try to trade off or throw away, while keeping them healthy. Choosing a drink with lunch is no easier. With all the options of energy drinks, sports drinks, juices and carbonated beverages, selecting what goes into that lunch box to drink can make a mom’s head spin! Make it easy on yourself, stick with water.
Kids need approximately six to eight glasses of water a day and depending on their activity level, they may need more. Often times when thirst sets in, and we reach for something to quench it, choosing something other than water can result in taking in extra calories and sugar. The Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommends the intake of added sugars be limited to 5- 15% of total calories consumed in a day.
With sugar being EVERYWHERE, in condiments, crackers, and yogurts… it doesn’t take long before those recommended limits are long exceeded. Soda is ranked 3rd most consumed source of calories among Americans and sports drinks and energy drinks make up a whopping 35% of our estimated added sugar intake! Let’s help kids not drink their sugar and calories.
Below are 5 fun ways to help your kids drink more water.
Let them choose their own water bottle.
From Sponge Bob to Princess Jasmine, there is a wide variety of water bottles just for kids. Letting them select their special jug and/or cup for water may be just the incentive they need.
Jazz it up!
Use frozen fruit in place of ice cubes. As the fruit thaws, it will flavor the water and add some natural zest. Try combos like Mango-berry or blueberry-lemon.
Kiddos love a little humor; try giving them mustache straws or magic wand straws to slurp their water.
Make it accessible for your child.
Giving them the independence to help themselves makes it all the more fun! Teach them to use the faucet to fill their cup or how to use the water dispenser on the fridge.
Give a little praise!
Give your child a reward sticker for drinking their water or do a special dance when they give you an empty bottle. Tell them they’re awesome and a super water drinker! They will drink up the praise…literally!
I know what you’re thinking, “Great, easier said than done… my kids are not going to like giving up their sugary drinks.” But, I promise you that after some time, they will not miss it! Try replacing their beverage with 8 ounces of hint. It will provide them with 12%-16% of their daily water requirements. Or, use one of the above tactics to help make water drinking more fun.
Rebecca Thomas is a Registered Dietitian, Licensed Nutritionist specializing in family nutrition, pediatric nutrition and lactation. She is a member of the American Dietetic Association and Dietetic practice group: Nutritional Entrepreneurs. She lives in Maryland with her family where she operates a private practice, providing nutritional counseling and education to clients.
Mullens, Mary, MS,RD, and Jo Ellen Sheilds, MED,RD,LD. “Kids Eat Right – Water: Go With the Flow.” Kids Eat Right – Water: Go With the Flow. American Dietetic Association, n.d. Web. 14 Dec. 2013.
R. Bethene Ervin, Ph.D., R.D.; Brian K. Kit, M.D., M.P.H.; Margaret D. Carroll, M.S.P.H.; and Cynthia L. Ogden, Ph.D., M.R.P.”Consumption of Added Sugar Among U.S. Children and Adolescents, 2005–2008.” Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 29 Feb. 2012. Web. 15 Dec. 2013.