It’s springtime (hard to believe some days!) and we are all feeling the spring and summer feels. Ready to wear shorts and flip flops, eat ice cream and drink cold drinks instead of hot ones….oh, but wait! If you have had any reservations about wearing shorts (or God forbid, the dreaded bathing suit), I need you to, for a moment, consider those summery, sugary, drinks. It seems to me that these super unhealthy (and fattening) drinks get overlooked because, well, they’re drinks. When we’re trying to watch what we eat and “be good”, we know to just say no to that donut or office birthday cake. But when it’s 85 degrees out and your kid says “please can we get slushies!” You’re like “OK, it’s hot out, good idea”. The problem is, some of those drinks contain a whole day’s worth (sometimes two or three day’s worth- no joke) of sugar! (*A day's worth of added sugar being 26 grams) I’m talking about flavored coffee drinks, slushies, sports drinks, all kinds.
Last weekend I had a table set up at a craft and vendor show to talk about my new coaching program for families. I had popular drinks along with the jars corresponding to their sugar content, and asked people, both kids and adults, to guess which jar went with which drink. Not surprisingly, it was pretty tricky for most people. These three jars represent the sugar from a Grande S’mores Frappuccino, a medium Watermelon Coolatta and a 12 oz fruit punch Gatorade. Can you guess which is which? Or which one had the most sugar?
I was stunned frankly, when I put this little quiz together, by how much sugar was in the Coolatta. That is just shy a half cup! What the… I can assure you my kids will not be getting one of those again, if I can help it- just keeping it real, they are 12 and 14 after all. (I can also assure I was never the one to buy them one if they ever had one in the past!). They seemed genuinely grossed out when I showed them this. I will say that medium drink is 24oz, which is a ton, but I'm willing to bet they sell plenty of them in that size.
So while most people seemed pretty shocked about the Coolatta, I noticed that it almost justified the drinking of Gatorade. It looks like a small amount compared to that other sugar bomb, but don't let that fool you. Handing your kid a 12 oz Gatorade during his soccer game, is not really different than handing him a coke. They have the same amount of sugar (more than 5 teaspoons!) and they both have fake coloring added. "Electrolytes!" you say. Not so much. There is no need to replenish electrolytes unless you (or your kid) is involved in Intense training, and is doing a massive amount of sweating. Water is best, and all of that added sugar is totally unnecessary (chances are they are already getting more than enough in their diet, after all, it's in practically everything!).
At the event I was asked, "Well, what's your solution then?". My solution is this:
1. Be aware! Know how much sugar is in the drinks you're choosing, awareness is the first step to making healthier choices.
2. Avoid drinks with fake ingredients, chemicals, added coloring as much as possible. Treat those bodies like you love them!
3. Make these beverages a rare treat. Once in a great while is not going to kill anyone. But daily, or even weekly is not so good.
I hope you'll Get Real with yourself and your kids when it comes to these sugary drinks. America has an obesity problem and all of this sugar is at the heart of it. Get your kids used to drinking straight up water now, and better their chances for avoiding obesity, type 2 diabetes and other avoidable diseases as they grow older. If you have come to terms with healthier habits being good for your entire family (at every age!) then check out the Get Real Family Project and see how much you can improve those not so healthy behaviors together, as a family!