Sip Smarter: Skip the ‘liquid candy’ in favor of healthier options
September is National Childhood Obesity Awareness Month, reminding us that one in three American kids are overweight or obese.
When kids experience obesity it puts them at risk for health problems that, in the past, only adults had to worry about. We’d like to help change that reality with healthy strategies to keep our kids well.
Sip Smarter is an American Heart Association campaign to replace sugary drinks with low-calorie and no-calorie beverages. At MultiCare we say cheers to that!
Americans consume more than 200 calories each day from “liquid candy.” Consuming soda and other sugary beverages may be one of the main factors fueling the epidemic of obesity, says Dr. Walter Willett, Chair Department of Nutrition of Harvard School of Public Health.
Part of the problem with consuming sugary drinks is that our bodies don’t necessarily compensate for the added wallop of calories by taking in less food the rest of the day. It may be because people who drink sugary beverages do not feel as full as if they had eaten the same calories from solid food.
Additionally, health risks of sugary drinks may include a higher risk of type 2 diabetes, heart disease and other chronic health problems.
Soda happens — so what’s a parent to do?
- Swap out the 20-ounce bottles for single-serving (7.5 fluid ounce) drinks at home.
- If kids are active, have a healthy weight and are eating a healthy diet, a sweetened beverage here and there is realistic.
- Keep flavored sparkling waters as an option. Let the kids combine flavors to create their favorite — raspberry clementine orange + pineapple tastes like a popsicle.
- Dilute grape or cranberry juice with sparkling water.
- Offer options like low-fat chocolate milk or 10-calorie juices.
- Keep a pitcher of infused water on the counter. Let kids create the combinations of fruit or veggie and herbs or spices such as pineapple/mint or cucumber/basil.
- Encourage kids to try other flavor elements besides sweet: sour, umami (savory) and bitter. Bitter could mean keeping a pitcher of decaffeinated iced tea like strawberry daiquiri or blueberry lemonade in the refrigerator. Or steep apple cider and hot decaffeinated black tea (1 part cider, 1 part water, tea).
- During the fall and winter months, warm broth (such as Millie’s Savory Sipping Broth) gives the satisfying umami flavor.
- Reward your kids for drinking less sugary drinks. Remind your kids that water is best!
- Teach the green/yellow/red choice concept to your kids (see graphic).
About The Author
Bev Utt, MS, MPH, RD, is a wellness nutritionist and health educator with MultiCare's Center for Healthy Living. More stories by this author