Kids need healthy beverages that keep them hydrated and provide them with nutrients for growth and development. Unfortunately, many kids quench their thirst with sugar-sweetened beverages like regular sodas, lemonade, and sports drinks. These types of drinks have little nutritional value, and because they taste good, it’s easy to drink too much. When kids get too much sugar from beverages, it can lead to unhealthy weight gain, dental cavities, and an increased risk of developing a chronic disease.
Give your child a better start to the new school year with these healthy beverage options:
- Water. Water is the most abundant substance in the body and plays a critical role in temperature regulation and the transport of nutrients and oxygen. Proper hydration promotes good digestion, improves the ability to concentrate and focus, and maximizes athletic performance. The American Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics recommends that kids have 4-11 cups per day, depending on their age and gender.
- Milk. Milk is a hydrating beverage with an impressive nutrition profile, providing 8 grams of protein and 300mg of calcium per one-cup serving. Kids and teenagers need calcium for strong bones and teeth. Whether in the classroom or on the field, the nutrients in milk provide energy, build lean muscle, and support a healthy immune system to help them bring their best during the school year. The Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommend 2-3 servings of low-fat or fat-free dairy for kids 2 and up, depending on the child’s age. Milk can be a great way to meet these recommendations. And for kids who participate in sports, chocolate milk is considered one of the best recovery drinks after a hard practice or game.
- 100% Juice. Fruit juice—the 100% kind—can be a healthy addition to a child’s diet as long as it is limited to a small serving. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends no more than 4-8 ounces per day, depending on the child’s age.
When things feel hectic this school year, remember drinks can be simple. Offer water, low-fat milk, and small amounts of juice to limit added sugars and provide essential nutrients for your child’s health.
Pam Speich, RD is the Owner and Founder of Pam’s Nutrition Consulting, LLC. She uses her experience as a pediatric dietitian, grocery store nutritionist, food labeling specialist, and fitness dietitian to help clients achieve their wellness goals. Pam has experience in corporate wellness program development, public speaking, writing, and sales and marketing. She offers counseling sessions for a variety of needs including weight loss, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, food allergies and intolerances, hypothyroid disease, women’s health, and fitness nutrition. What Pam loves most about being a dietitian is the opportunity to witness lives improved through the power of food.