Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Summertime Beverages

One of these days it will get hot (I hope)!  So now is the perfect time to think about refreshing beverages to serve to your children that don't include a lot of sugar.  The new 2010 Dietary Guidelines indicate that added sugars contribute an average of 16% of the total calories in American diets. A shocking 36% of those calories come from sugary drinks such as soda, energy drinks and sports drinks!  This is a bad deal for kids because evidence has shown that our bodies don't "count" liquid calories in the same way as solid food calories.  So, when we drink a lot of our calories, we don't compensate by eating less later.  There are several studies that have shown that children who drink more sugar-sweetened beverages have higher body weights than those who don't.

So what are some options for liquid refreshment?  Water is of course the best choice.  It has no calories and offers our bodies the best rehydration.  If your kids don't like plain water, don't resort to giving them Kool-aid or other nutrient-poor drinks.  Try crushing up a few blueberries or strawberries and adding the juice to their water.  It will give it a little bit of natural color!  I have also had success with freezing blueberries or grape halves in ice cubes and floating them in water for a colorful beverage.  Placing cucumber slices and orange slices in a large pitcher of icy cold water is also quite refreshing.

Don't forget fruit smoothies when you are looking for a thirst-quenching snack.  Smoothies can be quite nutrient-rich if you stick to yogurt or milk and frozen berries, bananas, and other fruits.

Do you need a little help convincing older kids that might be drinking too much sugar?  Try this Interactive Beverage Guide to Sugars.  It is a fun game that helps kids see how much sugar they are getting from the beverages that they drink every day.

Do you have any favorite nutritious summer drinks?

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