One Facebook parent asked: What about soda? What do I do if I want to make a very occasional exception? Maybe if at a restaurant with friends or something? I don’t want to say the rule is no soda unless we go out. That is too often. But I foresee a few times in the next year I may want to allow it. How do I approach that so the kids don’t see it as not following through or staying strong?
Best to approach this not only as a behavior mealtime issue, but as a brain issue. The egregiously high amounts of sugar in soda stacks the deck against parents who want to let their kids enjoy a soda from time to time. The brain gets reconditioned when exposed to that level of extreme sweetness. The brain begins to think it’s acceptable and should be a regular thing. It soon craves and seeks out higher amounts of sugar all the time. When you frame it this way, it becomes obvious what soda drinks really are. Sugar delivery systems. With obesity on the rise in the US (we now see it starting in childhood due in part to these types of drinks) we have to act earlier.
We can’t live in a soda free world, but you can put in place a few things that will decrease the chances that your kids will get addicted to the sugar and want more and more. Here are some tips:
1. Space them out, once a week or less. Tie it to being good through the week. You should see soda no differently than a bag of sugar. You wouldn’t let your child have that everyday. Maybe every other time you go out to dinner, your child can have a soda. Maybe they have a soda only once on the weekends as a treat. You don’t want them to think soda is just another liquid to go along with meals.
2. Dilute it. I add soda water – or good old H2O – to sugary drinks. Cutting the sugar content down like that helps decrease the chances that your kids will get hooked on high sugary drinks. You can dilute a bit more as time goes on if you’re weaning your kids off.
3. Dining out can be tricky. You notice the first thing they want to bring to the table are drinks. The profit margin on soda is extraordinary. Kids shouldn’t start with soda. Ask for water only to start – then if you have sugary drinks – bring them with the meals. make that the rule. That way kids won’t be putting large amounts of sugar into their empty stomach, which only excites the brain to want more sugar – and decreases the desire to eat real food. It also teaches them self-control.
4. Start with you. What are you drinking and what are you modeling for your children? Are you buying these sodas for the house? Ask yourself why and if you can really control how much your kids are drinking. If not, better to keep them out of the house.
5. Investigate other things to drink. Although many juices have high sugar, you can buy better juices with natural, unprocessed sugar. They will also have vitamins like vitamin C. Be weary of diet sodas and additives… go more natural if possible. As the wonderful nutritionist at Yale Dr. David Katz says. If you need to be a chemist to read the back of the label, or it’s got too many ingredients, probably best to pass on it.
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