4 Ways to Kick the Soda Habit
Posted 5/15/2017 by UHBlog
For kids growing up today, sweets are no longer limited to dessert.
According to a recent study from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, about two-thirds of children have at least one soda, fruit juice or sports drink on any given day. Though these beverages may taste better than water, they are doing nothing for your child, says pediatrician Jason Tatka, DO.
“Soda has no nutritional value,” Dr. Tatka says.
In fact, he says, the sugar content in soda – as well as other sweetened beverages – can lead to increased weight gain, diabetes and cavities. And too much caffeine found in many of these drinks has been shown to worsen anxiety and raise blood pressure in kids.
"For optimal health, the best thing to drink is water or low-fat milk,” he says.
But Dr. Tatka acknowledges it's not always easy to wean your kids off of all sugary, caffeinated drinks.
“We have started to view soda as part of a normal diet,” he says.
To help curb the habit, Dr. Tatka offers four ways to get your kids to start drinking more water-based beverages:
Invest in home-made juices. The best way to control a beverage’s sugar content is to make your own.
“I always have lemonade at the ready at home,” Dr. Tatka says. “I make it myself instead of having juice or (premade) lemonade.”
Dr. Tatka adds several drops of lemon concentrate and a teaspoon of sugar to his 12-ounce water glass for a satisfying, light drink with just a hint of sweetness. But you can also squeeze oranges or strawberries into a water pitcher to give the drink a fruiter taste.
Make sure your child is getting seven to eight hours of sleep at night. Sometimes kids grab a soda or sugary energy drink to help compensate for their exhaustion. But these beverages can be dangerous crutches.
“Some bottles of energy drinks contain in excess of 500 milligrams of caffeine – which is equivalent to 14 cans of regular pop,” he says.
Children are more likely to drink water if they are sleeping well, Dr. Tatka says.
“There’s no substitution for a good night’s sleep,” he says.
Make water accessible. When kids open the refrigerator for a drink, they often reach blindly for what is most easily available, Dr. Tatka says. Lots of times that happens to be a can of soda or a carton of juice. Instead, try filling pitchers with water and leaving them on the top shelf.
And when planning for a day outing, Dr. Tatka advises parents to bring water bottles with you. That way, you’ll be less likely to make an impulse stop for soda later on.
“Having water readily available throughout the day is one of the best ways to help kick the soda habit,” he says.
Lead by example. It's hard to tell your kid not to drink soda when they see you guzzling down 20-ounce bottles of Coke every day.
“Parents’ dietary habits are always a factor in a child’s health choices,” Dr. Tatka says.
Try drinking more water-based beverages yourself. If you can’t cut soda out of your diet totally, Dr. Tatka recommends sticking to a single-serving size.
“When you go to McDonald’s, you don’t need to order the jumbo or super-sized option," he says. "Go for the small or medium size instead.”
Jason Tatka, DO, is a pediatrician at University Hospitals, Portage Pediatrics. You can request an appointment with Dr. Tatka or any other doctor online.