Mindful eating (awareness of what and when we eat) is an important technique to teach our children to safeguard their future health and well-being. One way to combat unnecessary eating and promote mindful eating is to encourage proper hydration. Thirst, sometimes confused with hunger, can lead to patterns of needless eating. Taking in adequate water, not to be mistaken for simply drinking liquids, keeps the body hydrated and therefore eliminates the misperception of hunger for thirst. Adding more water consumption into the everyday life of your child is one of the easiest and most essential shifts toward better health.
Problem: Children are hooked on sugary drinks, juices, and other forms of sugar-based liquid hydration from a very early age. While soda of any kind has absolutely no nutritional benefits, no-sugar-added juices are not harmful to children. Still, no-sugar-added juices cannot be a child’s go-to drink. Despite their lack of added artificial sugar, the natural sugars in these juices still spike a child’s blood sugar and cause some degree of dehydration. Plus, once a child develops a taste for sugary beverages as a normal thirst quencher, water is a “tasteless” option that falls flat on their sugary palate.
Solution: Add natural flavor to your child’s water by adding large pieces of cut-up fruit to your water pitcher. Try adding oranges, lemons, limes, strawberries, or raspberries. Allow the fruit to soak overnight for the addition of a nice subtle flavor. The new flavor and the new look are sure to spike the appeal of water! And, to keep your child always reaching for the water, keep an easily accessible pitcher in your fridge at all times.
Buying Tip: You do not have to spend an astronomical amount of money on bottled water or buy an expensive water filtration system unless there is an obvious concern with your source of tap water. A great economic way to ensure the best possible drinking water for your family is to purchase a small filtration device. Water filters, like those made by Brita, are a fairly inexpensive way to offer a long-term health benefit to everyone in your home.
- Foster the habit. Buy your child a child-friendly reusable water bottle. Encourage your child to bring the bottle to school and after-school activities and have it by their side when working on homework.
- Involve your child. Go to a farmers’ market or supermarket with your child and ask them to select the flavor they would like to add to their water.
- Be a role model. Making drinking water your own habit. Remember, you are your child’s role model. The more water you drink and the more you sing its praises, the more likely your child is to drink water.