Happy New Year everyone! I know we are well into 2015, but, I am still feeling the aftershocks of the holiday season. Boy can all those holiday gatherings impact your life! I don’t know about you all, but my little guy (who is now just over 4 months old) had a hard time sleeping after all the excitement and my husband and I are still recovering from the sugar overload induced by every type of bread, cheese and candy we consumed over the last month or so. As we try to return to our everyday schedule we are also trying to remind our bodies (and our minds) what healthy eating is. So for this blog post, I want to talk about an important part of a healthy diet that often goes overlooked…your drinks!
The Illinois Chapter for the American Academy of Pediatrics (ICAAP) has recently launched a campaign to “Rethink your Drink.” Here’s what ICAAP is recommending (and what I would have to agree with!):
- “Red light” drinks – drink RARELY: regular soda, energy/sports drinks, sweetened coffee/tea, fruit drinks
- “Yellow light” drinks – drink OCCASIONALLY : diet soda, low-calorie/low-sugar drinks, 100% juice
- “Green light” drinks – drink PLENTY: water, seltzer water, skim or 1% milk
This got me thinking about how much my liquid consumption is part of my diet – and a part of all my patient’s diets! Fluids are one of the best ways to keep your body hydrated and healthy if you are choosing the right ones. In our grocery stores today, the juice and pop aisles take up a huge amount of space which points to how much we consume these items as a society. While juice and pop may seem like a good option to drink (they are fizzy, fruity and sweet of course!), they are some of the most common culprits for a lot of medical problems. Obesity, dental cavities, diabetes and other medical conditions can be brought on or worsened by what we drink.
Here are some tips to make sure your kids and your family are on the right track for choosing healthy drinks throughout the year:
- Water should be the primary drink you and your kids consume. You can offer water to infants starting at six months of age (in a bottle or preferably a sippy cup). Water should be available at all times of the day.
- Pop and juice should be reserved for special occasions. Holidays, birthdays, or other family celebrations (for example) should really be the only time these are offered to your kids.
- When offering juice, water it down. Cut the juice in half with water to make it less sugary.
- When you choose a juice, look for the 100% fruit juice label. This is still a very sugary drink and still should only be offered on occasion, but, if you are going to give it, this option would be best.
- Offer water or milk only with each meal. Remember infants one to two years old should be on whole milk (the extra fat helps their brain development) but milk in general should be limited to no more than 24 ounces in a day.
- Stay away from sports drinks. While those drinks are great for athletes who are exerting lots of energy during practices and games, they are not meant to be used on a regular basis. There are way too many carbs and sugars for frequent consumption.
- If you follow these guidelines you can easily make sure the beverage portion of your family’s healthy diet stays on track. As always, let your pediatrician know if you have any questions about healthy eating and drinking – we are always here to help!