A short walk down the supermarket aisle shows you just how popular sugary drinks are – and there's no point denying that many children like them.
However, these drinks are usually high in kilojoules (energy) and sugar and provide very few nutrients. They can also contribute to poor nutrition, tooth decay and weight gain.
It is really important to limit the number of sugary drinks that your children have and to encourage them to have healthier options.
Encouraging Healthy Drinks: Water and Milk
Drinking water is the best way to quench a thirst – and it doesn’t come with the sugar and the kilojoules.
Children should be encouraged to drink plenty of water each day. To make it as easy as possible, keep chilled water in the fridge and provide a jug of water with slices of lemon, lime or orange at dinner.
Low fat milk (except for children aged under two years) is a good source of protein and nutrients, such as calcium and vitamin B12. These help build strong teeth and bones. Low fat milk contains the same level of nutrients as whole milk, but with less saturated fat.Plain low fat milk is best, although flavoured low fat milks are ok too. Look at the food labels to find the healthier options or create your own flavoured milk drinks at home by adding fruit and whipping up a fruit smoothie. See: Recipes.
Reducing Intake of Sugary Drinks
Cordial, fruit juices, flavoured mineral waters, sports drinks and soft drinks are usually high in some form of sugar. They also provide little in the way of nutrients. Even fruit juice, which has some nutritional value, still contains a significant amount of sugar and should be limited to small amounts.
Tips for Parents
- Only buy soft drinks and other sugary drinks occasionally.
- Dilute cordial drinks with more water than you usually would or use less of the cordial base.
- Try mixing cordial with carbonated water for a healthier alternative to soft drinks.
- Use small glasses when you give your kids a sugary drink.
- Carry a bottle of water with you at all times so you can offer it to your children when they’re thirsty.
- Offer fruit, not fruit juice.