Should I be flavoring my water?

MICHELE MEMMO, MS RD :::

Question: My kids can drink water, but they sometimes get sick of it and like the taste of some sort of “flavoring”. My fear is that it is adding extra calories or the sugar free ones are not as healthy as they seem. Is there one out there that I can use to make their water taste better?

The body needs water to function for daily living. If it does not get enough water, it will have a difficult time functioning, starting with the brain, then the gut, and the heart.

Water also helps to keep the skin and lips well hydrated, prevents overheating and constipation, and helps replenish fluids lost from sweat. If kids drink “just enough” to take the thirst away, they could be technically “mildly dehydrated” and not even know it.

Mild dehydration can cause children to be sluggish and less energetic, which may affect their performance when doing schoolwork or participating in athletics and lead to irritability, low energy, and strong-smelling urine.

Through the years of counseling parents with diet behaviors within the household, I have noticed it is impossible to force children to eat and drink everything that is recommended for healthy nutrition and development.

Learning to like plain water is similar to learning to like other healthy food that we are not use to; some kids need more exposure before accepting it and parents need to be good role models.

Active kids should drink at least six cups of water per day (48 fluid ounces) and more with increased activity or sports. Since parents and caregivers are the main providers for their food and drink, they should offer water as the main option when kids are thirsty. If soda or sugary fruit drinks are on hand, then kids will reach for them first and we want to avoid this as much as possible.

Getting back to the question about flavored water, it is a decent choice for kids sometimes, but it really should not be their main source of how to drink water. Compare this situation to plain fruit vs. sweetened fruit; strawberries sprinkled with sugar are all right as a treat sometimes and definitely better than a candy bar every day, but make sure that they eat plain strawberries more often.

Many water enhancements may contain high sodium content, artificial colors, caffeine, vitamins or herbals. In particular, excessive consumption of vitamin B6 can be dangerous. Herbs have not been extensively tested, especially in children, so the side effects are unknown.

Instead of adding the flavor packets with all the added or artificial sugars, plain water can be jazzed up by adding orange, lime, or lemon slices; sprigs of mint; or ice cubes made of 100 percent fruit juice. Water is always better when cold, so keep bottles or pitchers of it in the fridge.

Another great option to get more water in the day is unsweetened teas made from brewing tea in the bag. There are many flavored tea bags on the market that make your teas taste great without adding sugar or flavoring packets.

Overall, parents should be cautious of water enhancers or flavored waters. While flavored waters may seem like more healthful drinks because they are called “water,” parents should keep in mind that soda is mainly water too. How healthful a drink is depends on its all its ingredients, not just the water content. Ω

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Comments

  1. Catherine@ Adunni Natural Grocers says:

    It’s always a plus to be creative when introducing flavors to your children. Organic Teas is one of my favorites, like ginger,mint and raspberries. but my kids soon became bored with teas so we used their favorite veggie, “cucumber” water with jasmine tea.., sweet pineapple chunks with a teaspoon of honey, they loved it! They get the water they need daily with a small serving of nutritious fruits and veggies :). Flavoring water naturally is best for your children and is absent of high fructose corn syrup and other harmful additives …
    Great post Grip! keep it coming!

    remind yourself to read labels more for you are what you eat ❤

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