Do you have a hard time finding drinks your kids love without sugar? For sugar-free drinks, some people recommend using artificial sugar-free substitutes, but that is really not a healthy option. Did you know that sugar substitutes have many adverse health effects? Those who consume them also tend to NOT lose weight, but actually gain weight! So, if you want your children to be healthy, you need to make them drinks that are free not only of added sugar, but also free of chemicals like those found in artificial sweeteners.
Fructose is another sweetener to avoid. It appears to more easily convert to fat in the body, and added fructose has been linked to not only the obesity epidemic in America, but also heart disease, diabetes and immune system disorders. But it is added to many store-bought drinks that are not sugar-free.
However, if your children eat a healthy diet and get a good amount of exercise, they do not need to avoid all natural sugar in their diet. The sugar found in fruits, if eaten in moderation, can give them energy, and the fruits will also give them a variety of vitamins and other phytochemicals to boost their health. Also, all-natural, 100% pure maple syrup is another good sweetener to use in moderation. It contains many vitamins and minerals, as well as the sweet taste many like. If your child is overweight, or pre-diabetic, especially if he or she tends to put weight on around the midsection, you will want to encourage a lower intake of all sugars and carbohydrates. The more exercise your child does, the more carbohydrates he or she can take in without harm.
Water is also important. If your child is used to drinking a lot of sweet beverages, whether soda pop or juice, he or she may balk at first, but drinking enough water is a very important practice to teach them. You can also buy mineral water with some carbonation, and mix that in 1/2 and 1/2, more or less, with juice, to get them used to having less sugar. Many parents start out with 3/4 juice and 1/4 mineral water, and work their way up to the opposite: 3/4 mineral water and 1/4 juice. In addition to plain or mineral water, we have 2 recipes for you to try at home:
Cherry Cream Soda
- Carbonated Mineral Water
- 1-2 Tablespoons 100% Pure Cherry Concentrate
- 1-2 Tablespoons Pure Cream
- 1/4 teaspoon pure vanilla (optional)
Pour the cherry concentrate and cream, to taste, along with the vanilla into each 8 oz glass of the mineral water and stir. Add ice if you wish.
Strawberry Banana Chocolate Smoothie
- 3-4 strawberries
- 1/2 banana
- 1-2 Tablespoons chocolate whey protein powder
- 3/4 cup plain yogurt
- 2 teaspoons coconut oil
- 1/2 teaspoon vanilla (optional)
- 1-2 teaspoons pure maple syrup (optional)
- 1-2 cubes of ice (optional)
Mix in a blender or in a glass with a hand-held blender (if not using the ice). If your child likes the taste of coconuts, use virgin coconut oil, otherwise, use a high quality expeller-pressed coconut oil. This drink may be plenty sweet for some, but for those used to a lot of sugar, you may need to add the maple syrup. Also, vanilla can make it taste sweeter without adding any sugar. This drink is a good one at breakfast time, or when coming home from school. The protein in the whey will help to fill your child up and the coconut oil gives energy and staying power.
If your child doesn't notice, you can also add some powdered sea vegetables, like kelp, in small quantities. Sea vegetables add many trace minerals that are missing from many children's diets today.
* Make sure and get a whey protein powder that is made from milk from cow's out on pasture, and that has not been acid processed or denatured in any way. You also need one without any added sugar or artificial colors, flavorings or preservatives. For recommendations, see the resource page.
NOTE: A lot of people these days are worried about having too many fats in their diets, especially saturated fats. But natural fats are needed by our bodies. In fact, around the turn of the last century, heart disease was practically unheard of; yet people ate high amounts of saturated fats with cream, full fat milk, yogurt, butter and meats. Getting enough of the right kinds of fats can help you and your children crave less sugar!
So stop giving your children drinks with sugar added, and try these sugar-free drinks today!