I breastfed both of my kids for almost a year each and after all of the vitamins, nutrients and immunity I gave them, I wasn’t about to spoil it by letting them drink soda! No way! Especially not after having sacrificed the perkiness of my breasts for their good health.
Once, at the birthday party of a 4-year-old, I had to get water from the tap for my daughter, who was the same age as the birthday kid, since the only available beverage at the party was soda. Not that I think there is anything wrong with drinking tap water! There was just no jug of water at the table.
When hosting kiddie parties I would serve water, milk or lemonade, and when moms requested soda for their little ones, I admit that I may have I reacted as if they had asked me to serve the kid a martini!
I’ve let up a bit since then, but I believe that we moms have a better grip on our kids than we think. My children are not soda drinkers, and if we go out they sometimes order a lemonade or iced tea or even… water.I guess they’ve been watching me drink lots and lots of water over the years.
One of my best friends, who is from Perú, was telling me just the other day how her former boyfriend drank only soda. His children do the same and, of course, they are obese, as so many Latino children are.
Sugary beverage drinking among Latino kids may be aggravated by beverage companies pushing sodas, sports and energy drinks and other sugary drinks through massive marketing campaigns aimed at young black and Latino children, despite industry pledges to the contrary, according to a recent study from Yale University.
The authors called for beverage companies to disclose soda ingredients. Here are some of the findings:
- The American Academy of Pediatrics says that highly caffeinated energy drinks “have no place in the diet of children and adolescents.” Despite this medical advice, the companies clearly target teens.
- In 2010, teens saw 18 percent more TV ads and heard 46 percent more radio ads for energy drinks than adults did. Teens also saw 20 percent more TV ads for energy drinks in 2010 than they saw in 2008.
- Parents have no way to monitor caffeine in drinks because caffeine content is not required—and is often not listed—on product packages.
MODERATION IS KEY
I asked a few Latina moms what their take was on kids and sugary sodas, and found that for those who succeeded in having their kids drink mostly water, moderation is key.
Denise Icaza, author of the blog Ahorros para mamá, and the mami of two children, 5 and 3, believes in moderation. Denise, who lives in West Palm Beach, Florida, says that her children first tasted sodas when they visited Ecuador, her home country.
“They weren’t used to the bubbles,” Denise says. “But they loved the sweet taste. Now I let them drink soda only when we go to a party, but I don’t buy soda, and we don’t stock it at home.”
Denise says she believes that banning it completely will only make them crave it more.
“My mom offered my 5-year old a soda last weekend and my daughter said she preferred water,” she says proudly. “Moms should educate their kids about the harmful effects of excessive sugar consumption, colorants and additives, so that they will be able to make healthier choices on their own.”
Sonia Campos, a Spanish Life Coach based in London and a mami of two—a 25-year-old female and a 10-year-old boy—says that the issue runs deeper: “It’s about eating a healthy diet in general. My eldest is a healthy woman,” Sonia says, “because I taught her how to eat healthily and not to drink chemicals. Because, that’s what soda is: a bunch of chemicals. My youngest drinks [sodas] only on occasion. He knows they’re not good for you.”
Alexandra Llamas, a Mexican-born writer in Miami, FL, also defends moderation. Her children, 8 and 9, have learned to drink water with a slice of lemon most of the time, or soda when they go out to dinner. “[Sugary drinks] are just not an issue in our family. Being middle of the road has always worked for me as a mom,” Alexandra concludes.
TIPS TO WEAN KIDS FROM SODA
There is an interesting article by Pooja Mottl on the Huffington Post that gives readers a three-day program to reacquaint themselves with water. Sodas simply do not quench thirst, Mottl says in the article, and we do not need any of the ingredients in other beverages.
- Explain to your children that soda contains sugar and harmful chemicals. Excessive sugar intake may cause tooth decay and diabetes, among other conditions.
- Don’t stock up on sodas at home. You can’t control what they drink when they’re not with you, but you can give them healthy choices, and be a good role model by drinking water.
- Serve carbonated water with a little bit of orange or cranberry juice and gradually decrease the amount of juice until the kids are drinking only water.
- Serve regular water with a twist of orange, lime or lemon.