No matter your child’s weight, you probably care about what’s going into their growing bodies. One of the habits that can set your child up for major issues down the road is developing a taste for sugary drinks like soda and fruit punch. These beverages are essentially “liquid candy” because they contain empty sugar calories and little else in the way of nutrients.

An eye-opening study in the journal Pediatrics found that today’s youths take in 10 to 15 percent of their total daily calories from sugar-sweetened beverages (like soda, sports drinks, and fruit drinks) and fruit juice. And according to some reports, kids’ average daily caloric intake from these beverages continues to rise. Most of these drinks contain empty calories in the form of simple sugars, but little else in the way of nutrients. Even worse, although these drinks are calorie-dense, they don’t trigger the same satiety mechanisms as solid foods. This means that your kids are unlikely to feel full from drinking lots of soda or juice and therefore will not innately compensate for the extra liquid calories they slurp up, which can result in weight gain in the long-term.

What’s a parent to do? Don’t start introducing young kids to sugary, calorie-dense flavored waters, juice drinks, lemonade, or soda at a early age. Limit the beverage choices offered in your home to water (including seltzer and sparkling water), nonfat or one-percent milk (after age two), and diluted 100% fruit juice on occasion. You can also keep a pitcher of fruity unsweetened iced tea – like my refreshing Peach-Raspberry brew – on hand in the fridge. If your kids get bored with plain H2O, try jazzing it up with a few fun ice cubes made with frozen fruit or 100% fruit juice. As the cubes melt, they’ll get a shot of fruit flavor. And, of course, set a good example by not drinking sugary drinks yourself!


Looking for more ways to give your kids the best start possible? Check out these tips.