The lunchroom is a special place for kids. It’s where they get away from class for a bit, enjoy their food and occasionally trade snacks. A hierarchy of dishes exists among kids, meaning those with the tastiest, coolest lunches are envied by their peers. Unfortunately, unhealthy options generally reign supreme. Of course, you want your kids to enjoy healthy lunches that keep them full and provide energy as they learn. The beverages you include in their meals are part of that, too. So what exactly constitutes as a healthy drink, and how you can you provide an appealing option your kids won’t trade for something sweet? We’ve got a few ideas:
Drinks to avoid
For the most part, we all understand that sugar and caffeine aren’t good for kids. The Obesity Action Coalition links an increase in sugary-drink consumption with rising statistics on childhood obesity. As such, the obvious culprits, like soda, are probably on your radar. However, did you know that sports drinks and bottled juice can also provide your kids with more sugar than they need?
“Juice and sports drinks aren’t as healthy as they may seem.”
In fact, sports drinks are designed to support athletes who run long distances or play intense games. While a soccer match is a lot of exercise for your kids, it’s nowhere near the intensity level sports drinks are meant to serve. When you give your kids these beverages, your offering sugar and salt their bodies won’t burn, contributing to weight gain.
Juice, even the kind made only with fruit, also includes high sugar content. An 8-ounce glass of 100 percent Tropicana orange juice contains 20.7 grams of sugar. Kids should have less sugar than that per day, depending on their age. Those eating an adult-sized diet should have no more than 25 grams per day. What’s more, juice strips fruit of some of it’s benefits, like fiber. Juice doesn’t have to be totally out of your kids’ diets. Just provide it as a treat and consider mixing it with water to dilute the sugar content – sparkling water makes a fizzy and tasty addition!
As you can see, soda, juice and sports drinks aren’t as healthy as they may seem.
Best drinks for school lunches
Instead of packing a juice box or can of soda, offer your kids a drink that won’t contribute to weight gain, but rather support their health. Regular milk and water are the best options. Milk contains vitamins and calcium that help your kids grow up strong. Of course, avoid flavored options, like strawberry milk, which contain added sugar.
Pediatricians agree that everyone, especially kids, should drink tons of water throughout the day. In fact, kids dehydrate faster than adults, so make sure your little ones wet their whistles at school. Packing water bottles in their lunch is a great way to do this!
Making water fun, the healthy way
If your kids are looking for something fun to drink in the cafeteria, you can still provide them water – just look for flavored options! Of course, not all flavored waters are built the same. Artificial colors and flavors can be unhealthy, and should be avoided. A study published in The Journal of Pediatrics revealed that children who consumed a common yellow coloring agent reported restless sleep and irritability.
With this in mind, choose flavored water that doesn’t have artificial colors and flavors, like AquaBall. This beverage only uses natural ingredients, is calorie-free and comes in a fun bottle. Your kids will love the great flavors and familiar characters that adorn the ball-shaped container. With AquaBall in their lunches, your kids won’t trade away their water at lunch and will stay hydrated.