Have you ever looked closely at a kid’s daily diet? It seems like sugar has found its way into everything — but it’s not just the usual suspects like desserts and soda. For example, if you thought fruit juice was healthy alternative, the truth is that it still has more sugar than experts and doctors recommend.
According to the American Heart Association, children should consume no more than three to four teaspoons a day. (For reference, a 12-ounce can of soda contains 10 teaspoons and a 12-ounce serving of apple juice contains almost as much with 9.8 teaspoons.) Meanwhile, the average American now consumes around 22 teaspoons of sugar a day, which is a whopping 70 pounds of sugar each year!
Excessive sugar wreaks havoc on our health, potentially increasing our rates of diabetes, obesity, Alzheimer’s, and some cancers. For children, sugar can increase digestion problems, tooth decay, and create energy spikes and crashes. Sugar is also addictive: the more they have it, the more they’ll crave it.
As a parent, you need to curb this problem… and tea might just be the answer.
Making The Healthy Change
Tea can be a wonderful drink for children. Almost all herbal blends are fantastic options that are free of calories, sugar, and added dyes and chemicals. Also, because teas are available in many different kinds of flavors, strengths, and decaffeinated options, your child is bound to find one that he or she enjoys.
To make teas kid-friendly, serve the tea considerably cooler than you would for an adult — room temperature or slightly warmer is a safe bet (as well as iced).
Instead of drinking it plain, you could also add a tiny bit of honey, agave syrup, or milk for a smoother flavor. Over time, add less and less ingredients as their taste buds acclimate.
Finally, be mindful of the caffeine content. If your children are very young (or if they like to drink it before bedtime), the caffeine may be too much for them. Instead, offer them zingy, yummy, and fruity caffeine-free options like:
Extra Benefits of Tea for Kids
By swapping soda or juice for tea, you’ll also give your kids an array of extra health benefits. For example, if your child has an upset stomach, ginger or peppermint tea might help soothe their tummies. And for a cough or cold, a hot cup of tea has been used for centuries to help people feel better.
Experiment with teas at home and crank up the fun for your kids by throwing a tea party — use real teacups, set the table, and make an event out of it. Also, involve your kids by encouraging them to test different teas and see how they like the various temperatures, strengths, and flavors.
Soon, you’ll say goodbye to the excess sugar and know you’re teaching your children healthy hydration habits that will last a lifetime.