Thursday, June 7, 2012

Give Your Kids a Sugar Break

As you know from reading my blog my boys play sports.  If your kids play sports you know all about the dreaded "snacks" passed out at every game.  I would like to put the person who started the idea of parents providing team snacks via a weekly snack schedule in the same room as the person who decided it was a good idea to provide birthday party gift bags and beat talk some sense into them.

My definition of a snack and other people's definition are vastly different.  Cookies and potato chips aren't what I would consider a good way to fuel my kids' bodies after a baseball game.  Protein?  Yes!  Trans fats and sugar....no thank you.

But more than the food it's the drinks that get me all riled up.  Powerade, Gatorade, juice...whatever else is available in cute little packages perfect for cute little hands.  It doesn't matter that these drinks are full of crap, they sure do look cool! 

Kids don't need Gatorade.  Are you with me?  All the parents out there buying into the media-hype over sports drinks need to sit down and read the labels of the drinks their kids are consuming in mass amounts. I know the marketing/advertising is genius but, seriously folks, I don't know many kids who sweat hard enough to need a reason to replace electrolytes.

I wonder if people even know Gatorade's history?  You can read the info on the website, but basically Gatorade was created to replace fluids and electrolytes University of Florida players lost through sweat from vigorous exercise.  The researchers created the drink for grown men in Florida who lost fluids from hours of intense, heated, exercise.  Grown men.  In Florida.  Engaged in vigorous exercise.

Not elementary school kids in Michigan.

Obviously, it's important to replace fluids lost during exercise.  Guess what replaces fluids and is free of sugar, high fructose corn syrup, artificial sweeteners and synthetic dyes? 

Water!  Who knew?!

My kids are at the right age to buy right into the media-hype over sports drinks.   I mean, they play sports so it kinda makes sense they would feel these drinks are made specifically for them.  Nicholas sees advertisements for Gatorade's new G3 Recovery series of drinks and says,  "look mom, it says it contains protein!" or "it has fewer calories than regular Gatorade!"

We sit down together and go through the list of ingredients including the artificial sweeteners (added to reduce calories), the artificial flavors (added to, well, add flavor) or the synthetic dyes (added to make a pretty color!) and talk about what the artificial ingredients do to our bodies.  We have lengthy discussions about what good we are doing if we drink something with synthetic dyes in an effort to hydrate?  We may hydrate but we are harming ourselves in the process. It makes no sense.

I have these conversations so my kids can make educated decisions about their health.  Are they listening to me and engaged with every word I say?  Heck, no.  Do they still want to drink Gatorade after we discuss the icky ingredients?  Of course. 

But, I'm  providing them with the tools to learn how to read a label and make good nutritional decisions.  It may not be second nature now but it will come in time.  Habits are created by repetitive processes.  We will keep talking about ingredients and labels.

You might want to know if I allow them to drink Gatorade when someone else brings it as part the after-game snack?  The answer is yes.  Sometimes.  We don't buy Gatorade.  It's not in the house for a quick grab after school.   They don't drink it after every practice or game.  And, let's be real, we all eat and drink things that aren't always the best for us.

So, we all agree to live by the very simple motto, "everything in moderation."

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