To be honest, I was worried about restricting my sons’ consumption of sugary drinks. When they are thirsty, juice is the first request! Like most parents, I dreaded the meltdowns that often occur with changes in our children’s lives. I decided to take a proactive approach by educating my young boys about why we were cutting down on sugary drinks.
I began by educating myself first. From Kaiser Permanente, I learned that the average person consumes nearly 175 pounds of sugar a year. The biggest source of our sugar intake comes from sugary drinks like soda, juice and sports drinks. Drinking 20 ounces of soda a day for one year can cause a 25-pound weight gain! Even though I don’t allow my kids to drink soda, I drink them almost every day. For the past year, I’ve noticed my boys asking me more and more often for sips of my sodas. It’s made me realize how much they want to mimic me: Because I consume sugary drinks, my children think it’s okay to drink them. I have not been providing a good example.
I introduced the idea of cutting down on sugary drinks to my children by talking about it for a few days. In simple words (so as not to overwhelm them), I explained how too much sugar can hurt our bodies by causing unhealthy weight gain, diarrhea and tooth decay. I also shared that it could cause a sickness called diabetes that requires medication every day. I told them that soda is one of the worst drinks because it has no healthy ingredients, and I promised them that I would drink less cola so I could be a better mom for them. The boys then agreed to drink less juice so their bodies could grow better and stronger.
Since then, I have limited my sons’ intake of juice to 4-6 ounces a day, which I dilute with water. I have stopped offering juice as an option at meal times; I only give them milk or water. I didn’t eliminate juice all together because I wanted to teach the boys a lesson in moderation: We can have treats as long as we don’t over-do it! I also leave cups of filtered water at eye-level so that they stay hydrated throughout the day. When I treat them to chocolate milk, I add white milk to cut the sweetness. Instead of juice boxes for picnics and school lunch bags, I’ve been buying single servings of milk or small water bottles.
Both boys have readily accepted Potter the Otter’s challenge with only a few meltdowns along the way. Surprisingly, Adrian, 4, has become very interested in which foods and drinks are the best for him. My father-in-law recently told me that Adrian chose water over a chocolate shake because the shake had “too much sugar and that’s not good for me.” Little brains are so amazing!