Sunday, October 19, 2008

How to get your Kids to give up Soda!

I think we all know it by now - sodas are by far the worst part of our children’s diet. They have been implicated in everything from childhood obesity to bone loss. They are a nasty mix of hydrogenated corn syrup, caffeine, carbonated water, phosphoric acid, artificial flavors, artificial sugar and sodium benzoate (yum!), and they are completely void of anything remotely beneficial, nutritionally speaking. So, the task would be to remove this item from our children’s diet permanently - or at least ban it from our house and make soda an “on the road treat” only.

Now, the obvious solution would seem to be replacing soda with other forms of soft drinks, such as vitamin waters, sports drinks or iced tea. Ha! Actually that’s just side-stepping the real issue at hand. In reality, you haven’t advanced at all. All these drinks are still manufactured by the same soda industry - you are still feeding the beast! All these so called sports drinks are still loaded with sugar and many unhealthy ingredients. Your dentist will be forever grateful - you will send his kids to college, and the negative impact on the planet remains the same - all these drinks still come in plastic bottles.
But “no” you say, “Iced tea comes in glass bottles!” - well, apart from the fact that it is very unlikely that you will find an iced tea that does not have high fructose corn syrup in it - the very notion that it would be okay for a little kid or a growing teenager to habitually drink a very caffeinated beverage is simply wrong. Black and Green Tea have been implicated as a growth retardant (great, tell that to your football playing son or your daughter with model aspirations - or vice versa), and caffeine affects their little bodies particularly strong: irritability, mood swings, restlessness, dehydration, adrenal exhaustion, mild addiction are just some of the benefits!
So, what is the solution? Well, let’s look for something that is healthy, cheap and makes a positive difference for the planet. May I introduce: Water and Herbal Tea!
Water: plain filtered tap is just fine - stick it in the fridge. Done! You will have an ice cold, delicious, zero-calorie power beverage. Fill up your kid’s stainless steel to-go canteen and they are all set.
Herbal Tea: comes in a dizzying number of flavors; Raspberry Zinger, Lemon Zinger, Bengal Spice, Mandarin Orange, Peach Passion, Honey Vanilla Chamomile, to name a few. Stick two tea-bags into a glass jar, fill with filtered water, and in about 5 hours (or better yet, overnight) you will have an extremely flavorful, inexpensive, delicious, cold drink - try out all the different flavors and you may be surprised how willingly your kids will embrace this change. Cut out the often funny pictures on the tea box and stick them onto the glass jar - or better yet have your kids decorate the jar themselves for extra P.R. impact. Make sure your tea does not have artificial colors, flavors or sweeteners in it. Celestial Seasonings is a great brand to try - they offer flavor variety packs, which is a good way to get you started.

Try to resist the urge to sweeten the tea - it takes about a week for taste-buds to readjust and that way you can keep the tea calorie free. If however you absolutely must sweeten I would suggest agave nectar or stevia for a low-glycemic natural sweetener and then gradually try to phase them out. Both are available at your health food store.
Also, for the grownups, iced Earl Grey tea or Irish Breakfast tea is delicious and may replace that cup of coffee for a fraction of the cost. Enjoy!

High fructose corn syrup and obesity link
Bone loss: check here

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