I loathe seeing little kids suck down juice like it is their life line. There is no good benefit or reason for a child to have apple juice, orange juice, fruit punch etc with any regularity! There is little to no vitamin benefit by the time those juices make it to their lips and instead it is just a flood of sugar sending your child on an emotional and health impacting roller coaster! I am even cautious when I get fresh pressed "green juices" made for my daughter with how much fruit is used. There can be 50-90g of SUGAR in those "health" drinks! The biggest parental faux-pa I hear is "but it is natural" or "well it is healthy because it comes from fruit". ERRR... wrong! Flooding your blood with ANY kind of sugar still requires insulin to be produced to take charge and get that damaging sugar out of your blood! Insulin's job is to take the sugar and store it in the fat cells if it isn't used for energy. The spike in sugar then the drop in blood sugar can leave your child feeling like an emotional wreck! It may be hard for them to focus, sit still or even stay awake! We can't set our children up for success in school, relationships, performance and life in general if we don't start them with the basics of healthy habits.
It is important not to condition our kids to believe all drinks should be sweet. So I encourage parents to lead by example and drink plenty of plain water with their kids daily. Buy fun water bottles, cups or straws to make it seem exciting! We use silicon ice cube trays to make adding ice to water fun, and more appealing. 90% of the time Mak drinks plain water, the other 10% is a low sugar green juice, sparkling mineral water or a sparkling electrolyte drink with very minimal sugar.
Here are some yum-o ways to have fun with hydration without taking the sugar over the top!
Sparkling mineral Water + Nuun Electrolytes
In our house we want even our beverages to serve a beneficial purpose. We also live in Florida so running around sweating and losing electrolytes is a concern most months of the year. Mak loves the fizz of this drink and watching the tablets dissolve. We choose Nuun because it doesn't have artificial dye (chemical dyes are bad for kids brains!) or chemically altered sugars, tastes great and is effervescent but provides electrolytes that are vital to our heart and muscle health. Simply guzzling water to "fix dehydration" actually makes us more dehydrated by flushing out the very electrolytes we need to survive. Pink lemonade is Maks favorite! Nuun provides Each tablet makes 16 oz of Nuun, and delivers 360 mg Sodium / 100 mg Potassium / 25 mg Magnesium / 13 mg Calcium, electrolytes that help maintain fluid balance, prevent cramping, and aid in efficient muscle performance. Nuun (pronounced "noon" in the company's own words "is good for your body (less than 1g of carbs, low calories, no high-fructose corn syrup, no artificial flavors or colors), and good for the earth - one tube prevents the need for twelve 16oz plastic bottles from sugar-ADE sport drinks."
Club Soda (or mineral water) + fresh lemon/lime
Super simple and Mak loves to squeeze in the citrus herself.
Just 2 oz of fresh orange juice + 4 oz club soda provide a sparkling treat with a fraction of the sugar.
For the Water Infusion recipes below, try using pitchers like this to have refreshing low sugar concoctions on hand in the fridge. Or single serving bottles are great to take to the park, beach, sports events and long car rides.
Apple Cinnamon Sipper:
Thin sliced apple of choice
1 cinnamon stick (don’t use powder)
Soak apple and cinnamon stick in pure water (optional SMALL drizzle of local honey) .
What can you grab on the go for once in a while too?
Coconut water (with no added sugar) try to water it down a little unless you suspect dehydration then give full concentration to your child since coconut water closely mimics the balance of human electrolyte needs so it can quickly hydrate, as long as it is real coconut water and not some overly processed sugar laden junk. Click here for a great article by the Food Babe on how to buy healthy coconut water and avoid pitfalls.
Honest Kids Juice - Much lower sugar and no high fructose corn syrup or artificial dyes!