Grandparents Teach, Too — Water and milk are healthier for kids

Sixty percent of children and teens ages 2 to 19 are drinking one soda or other sugary drink on any given day– sugar, water, a little flavor, chemicals, and a little fizz, according to federal statistics.

Pediatrician, Dr. Natalie Muth states,” “For children, the biggest source of added sugars often is not what they eat, it’s what they drink.” Kids get about 17 percent of their calories from added sugars. About half of those calories come from drinks.


How can we have more water and less sugar? Nutritionists note that toddlers and preschoolers need about 16 ounces of milk a day. After that, plain water can be the beverage of choice. Two to five cups of water a day are good, depending on children’s size and what they are eating. Children ages 5 to 8 should have five glasses; seven glasses for ages 9 to 12; eight to 10 glasses for ages 13 and older. How do we do that?

Offer water every time children eat. “Why not give them water or milk and a piece of fruit? That is better for nutrition and their teeth,” Dr. Vincent Iannelli said.

A medium strawberry has only 1/2 gram of sugar. Families can provide water during meal times and snacks rather than sugary juice or soda. Drinking water rather than soda is cheaper, caffeine-free, sweetener-free, and will become a habit.

Some suggestions to encourage drinking water include: providing everyone with really cool and safe reusable water bottles. Put cucumbers slices in the water to add flavor. Lemon may be too acidic on teeth.

Send children to school with a water bottle. Choose water when eating out. It is much cheaper.

Nutritionists suggest families set a good example. Eat a small snack and drink water or skim milk with our children. Have the snack at the kitchen table rather in front of the TV, phone or computer. A very tasty milk snack is a smoothie of milk and a few strawberries.


Young children can be taught how to read numbers on nutrition labels, looking for all the words for sugar– real or artificial– salt, and chemicals. Usually, chemical additives have very long names.

Children can look for the number of sugar grams and become very aware of what they eat. These little food detectives can compare labels to find the lowest amounts of sweeteners and salt in all kinds of food.

One gram of sugar equals 1/4 teaspoon. One Coke has about 10 teaspoons of sugar. One eight-ounce glass of orange juice also has 10 teaspoons of sugar. Milk has a little over 3 teaspoons of sugar and many nutrients. Google images has pictures of sugars in drinks. Search for “one gram of sugar visual.”


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