Offer your child plenty of beverages to make sure they stay hydrated. It’s important to remember that not all beverages are equally healthy.
The sunny weather comes with many opportunities for kids to get outside and play. Whether they are splashing in the pool or playing frisbee on the beach, they’ll no doubt be working up a sweat. On any given day, your child may need up to eight cups of fluid, but they may need more during hot weather or intense physical activity. In order to avoid becoming dehydrated, it’s important for them to replace lost fluid. Some signs of dehydration include headache, a dry mouth and feeling dizzy or thirsty.
How can I make sure my child stays hydrated?
Plain water is a great choice for sugar-free, healthy hydration. If you or your kids don’t enjoy plain water, get creative! Try adding cucumber slices or berries for flavour. Get kids involved by asking them to choose the flavour. If your child is adventurous, experiment with herbs. Throw in some mint, toss in some basil leaves or add a sprig of thyme or rosemary.
Be wary of sugar-sweetened beverages.
The truth about sugar is it’s just not that good for you – or your kids. Too much sugar in our kids’ diets puts them at greater risk for heart disease, type 2 diabetes and cavities. The World Health Organization recommends limiting the added sugar to less than ten percent of daily caloric intake. The most common sources of added sugar in a child’s diet are sugar-sweetened beverages.
Let’s review some of the most popular sugary beverages among kids.
Juice: The average 177 mL box of apple juice contains about 19 grams of sugar, or five whole sugar cubes. Juice products labeled “fruit drink” contain natural and added sugars. While the sugar in juice labelled “100% fruit juice” is naturally occurring, it is still quickly absorbed by your child’s body, which can cause their blood sugar level to spike. Instead of juice, offer your child a piece of whole fruit. Whole fruits are more nutritious and take longer to digest, which will help keep your child satisfied longer.
Pop: This bubbly beverage contains a lot of added sugar. A 355 mL can of Pepsi contains 41 grams of sugar, or 10 whole sugar cubes. Diet pop contains sugar substitutes instead of added sugar, but it is still not recommended as a healthy choice. The guidelines for food and beverage sales in B.C. schools do not allow the sale of products containing sugar substitutes in elementary and middle schools, and they recommend limiting sales in secondary schools. If your child craves carbonation, try sparkling or soda water flavoured with cut up fruit, cucumber or fresh herbs.
Liquid candy: Slurpees, slushies, commercial fruit smoothies, frozen lemonade and milkshakes are very high in added sugar. A small (12 oz.) blue raspberry Slurpee, for example, contains 25 grams of sugar, or six whole sugar cubes. A medium strawberry milk shake from a fast food outlet has an estimated 65 grams of sugar or 16 sugar cubes! Read what Dietitians of Canada has to say on the sweet truth about sugary drinks.
Energy and sports drinks: Don’t let your kids be drawn in by attention-grabbing claims of increased energy or athletic performance. Energy drinks are a source of added sugar (a 946 mL bottle of Orange PowerAde contains 56 grams of sugar, or 14 sugar cubes), and caffeine, which is not advisable for children and may pose health risks. Learn more about the pitfalls of powerades and energy drinks for children and youth in research from the Canadian Paediatric Society.
If you’re curious about how much extra sugar you and your kids are consuming through juice and other sugary drinks, take the count your cubes challenge with them.
Make sure your child’s glass is full of health this summer. Make plain or home-flavoured water your go-to choice for keeping your child happy, healthy and hydrated.