Did you know that the average adult human body is composed of 50-60% water? The average infant is about 75-85%! With the activity level of most children and their rapid growth rate they lose a lot of water and it needs to be replaced. That being said, what do you think you should be drinking? That’s right, water! Water all day long. Water with every meal, every snack, every work out. Your body needs water and if you aren’t giving it what it needs, your health will suffer.
As a personal trainer I have heard EVERY excuse in the book as to why my clients didn’t want to drink water. The most ridiculous one being: I don’t like the taste of water. I’m sorry what? Water has NO TASTE, so that excuse always baffles me. Water has no flavor, unless you are drinking water that is tainted with chlorine, or other chemicals. If that is the case, buy a filter.
Ok, my rant is over. I want to talk about why it is so important to keep your family hydrated with water. I am going to share 5 tips to get your family, and mainly your kids, to drink more water.
This seems pretty simple right? That is because it is simple. We have tried a few different cups and water bottles with Oliver, and we have discovered that he drinks a lot more if he has a certain cup. The three pictured above are his current favorites. He picked the Mickey Mouse and TMNT cups himself. The other cup is one I bought for him when he was 8 months old and started drinking out of a cup. He picks a new cup every day, and I usually refill them at least 3 times.
Tip #2: No juice.
This might seem a little overboard to you, but I assure you it is perfectly reasonable for a child. Before Oliver was born I swore that he would never taste juice. I knew as soon as he tasted the sugary, “fruity”, fake flavors that he would never want to drink water. Of course I made the mistake of saying yes to juice when we were visiting home and spent the better part of a month trying to get him to forget it.
He was instantly addicted. All he wanted was juice. He refused to drink water unless it had juice in it, and if he didn’t have that he wouldn’t drink anything that day. So, as soon as we came home I told him that we were not going to have juice anymore. Yes, we had melt downs. Yes, there were days that I wanted to go to the store and by juice just to get him to stop screaming. He would yell for juice when we walked by the aisle in the supermarket. Nothing seemed to help.
After about three weeks, he finally gave up. I started drinking more water. I let him pick out his own cup every day, and he was able to have a smoothie instead of juice. We finally cut it out and he doesn’t ask for juice anymore. I may incorporate it into his diet again when he is older, but for now we have a strict no juice policy.
My reasons for disliking juice are scientifically based. Juice has TONS of sugar, a high calorie content, most of it has added colors and “natural flavors”, and offers very little nutritional value. When juice is made, all of the nutrients and fiber contained in the pulp of the fruit is left out, so you are left with fruit sugar and little else. Most juices have as much or more sugar than a coke! Think about your child’s sensitive teeth soaking up all of that sugar as well, not great for their dental health. If your kid wants something sweet, give them a smoothie, at least then they will be getting the fiber and nutrients from the fruit.
Please understand that I am not condemning anyone who gives their child juice. It is your right to give your child whatever you want to give them. However, if you want to encourage them to drink more water, this is a must.
If you don’t like the taste of water (I laugh every time I hear that) then figure out a way to like it. Your child will only say that if that is what they hear first. So, you have to be the example for them. If you hate drinking water because you find it boring or bland, then make it fun and exciting!
Add some fresh fruit and herbs to naturally flavor your water. You can even add honey or stevia for sweetness. I have added some orange and lemon to the water on the left for a nice citrus water. The water on the right has a blend of frozen berries: strawberries, pomegranate seeds, blueberries, raspberries, and cherries. Both waters have a natural sweetness and the fruit also makes a beautiful drink. Some other combinations you can use include: blueberries and mint, lemon and lime, blood orange and honey, watermelon and mint, and pineapple and coconut water. Water doesn’t have to be bland!
Tip #4: Be consistent
If you don’t allow juice or coke products in the house, then don’t allow your child to consume them elsewhere. Consistency is key when training a toddler. If they know water is all they can drink at home, they will accept that to be the case everywhere else. Get your family involved as well. I had to explain to my parents and in-laws that Oliver could no longer have juice and they accepted it without question.
We have been consistent with the rules and he understands them. I bring a water bottle with us wherever we go, and he asks for water now. He loves it! It is quite a contrast to the child who threw a tantrum when I handed him a cup full of water two months ago. Now he looks for his water cups around the house and wants to drink water all day.Tip #5: Be the example
This is the most important rule. If you want your children to have a healthy, active life, you have to lead the way. You can’t expect them to want to eat this way if you are not. If you want to drink cokes, sweet tea, and sports drinks you can expect your child to want the same things. Water is what your body craves, it doesn’t crave coke. YOU told it to “crave” coke by replacing water.
The more you drink coke, gatorade, sweet tea, and juice drinks, the more your body craves hydration. Hydration comes from water and water alone. You feel thirsty all the time so you consume more of those products, and are literally de-hydrating your body and putting in empty calories. Your body cannot use diet coke (I am using it as an example). It has no nutritional value. It does not quench your thirst, replace your electrolytes, or boost your energy. It slows down your metabolism, makes your body acidic, has dangerous chemicals that can cause harm to your organs. I am using “coke” as a general term for all Cola products.
I am not saying that you can’t drink these things. It is fine to have a treat once in a while, or even daily. The main thing you should be consuming is water. This is especially the case when living a healthy lifestyle and teaching your children to do the same.
I hope you found the tips helpful and didn’t take my comments about “coke” products personally. I was simply giving an example of a product I see a lot of people consuming that is not the healthiest choice. Fuel your body with things it can use and it will perform the way it is supposed to.
Eat mostly raw, whole, unprocessed foods, drink water and you will be healthy!