Makers of sports drinks and energy drinks brag about the beverages' benefits, but physicians and other scientists tell a different story.
Save your money, drink water
"Sports drinks" are flavored beverages that contain carbohydrates (usually sugar—like 18 teaspoons of it) and eletrolytes such as sodium and potassium. Ads claim to help athletes rehydrate and replace important nutrients lost through sweat better than water does. Popular brands include Gatorade and Powerade.
"Energy drinks" claim to increase energy, aid weight loss, and improve concentration. Popular brands include Monster, Red Bull, and Rockstar.
But the truth is that few of us actually need sports drinks, and energy drinks are outright dangerous for children and teens. To save money and promote good health, drink water instead.
Lots of us express a desire to "be healthier," and to "raise healthy children," but what does that mean, exactly? Health and wellness tips may be widely available, but sometimes they feel contradictory and confusing. How do you know which sources to trust?
Our friends at Let's Go! created a simple slogan to help you remember four ways to be healthy every day: 5-2-1-0. These research-proven recommendations come from experts at the American Academy of Pediatrics, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Language shapes lifelong attitudes, eating behavior
Caregivers play a major role in helping children develop healthy eating habits. "Caregivers" includes parents/guardians, grandparents, child care providers, teachers, and others who interact regularly with children at meal time.
What we say about food and eating significantly impacts kids' eating habits. Positive messages about food and eating will help children develop healthy habits.
Here we present examples of phrases that help develop healthy eating habits, as well as the phrases to avoid. Replace the negative statements in each example with the positive ones.
Eating family style meals and snacks is recognized as a best practice in child care settings of all types—large, small, in-home, preschool, daycare, etc. Family style is all about children and supervising adults sharing a meal together, with children encouraged to serve food themselves.
Caregivers place enough food on the table to allow each child and adult to take the full regulatory portion of food required by the Child and Adult Care Food Program (CACFP) or State Licensing Rules. Children are allowed to choose how much of each food they serve themselves, or if they will take any of the food at all.
Family style meals help children try new foods by allowing them to feel in control of their eating. Supervising adults can encourage healthy eating habits by role modeling them.
Full-time employees may consume half or more of their daily calories while at work. Can you encourage healthy eating while being a good host in the workplace? Of course you can—and these 8 tips for catering healthy meetings can help!
1. Avoid offering meals and snacks when it is unnecessary.
Doughnuts and other snacks are likely additional empty calories for most employees, not a replacement for their usual meal or snack. If a meeting is expected to last roughly an hour or less, don't provide any food at all. Offer water, coffee, and unsweetened tea instead.
You don't need a big budget to make your worksite a healthy place for staff and visitors. Here are some budget-friendly—and effective—employee wellness program ideas.
Start a walking group
Walking has many benefits. It reduces risks for coronary heart disease and stroke; improves blood pressure, blood sugar levels and blood lipid profiles; enhances mental health; and reduces risks of osteoporosis, breast and colon cancers, and type 2 diabetes.
Walking during the work day may have more immediate benefits. Physical activity has been linked to improved concentration, better memory recall, faster learning, enhanced creativity and reduced stress—all of which lead to better job performance. So why not round up a group of co-workers and walk together?
Local spotlight: American Structurepoint helps employees eat healthy with free fruit, nutrition workshops
Pop into the break room at American Structurepoint, Inc., on a Monday afternoon, and you’ll likely find employees snacking on fresh apples, pears, bananas—even kiwi—courtesy of the company.
The architecture and engineering firm on Indianapolis’ northeast side gets produce from local company Green BEAN Delivery each week and makes it available to staff at no charge as one component of its employee wellness program.
“I get notified when the delivery arrives and head to the break rooms to set everything out in baskets and crates,” says Jessica Anderson, co-chair of American Structurepoint’s Employee Wellness Committee. “Then I check on it once a day—condense containers, pull out anything that has over ripened—until it’s all gone. It’s usually gone by Wednesday or Thursday.”
Many young children are picky eaters who prefer to eat simple, familiar foods—perhaps at home and in child care. They may refuse foods based on color or texture, or play at the table and not want to eat.
While picky eating is common in ages 2-5, this is also an important time that shapes lifelong eating habits. Try responding to picky eating behavior in a positive way to help children move through this temporary phase with healthy attitudes and a hunger for variety. These tips can help:
- Introduce only one new food at a time. Serve a well-loved food along with the new food.
- Put a small portion of the new food on children's plates so it doesn't feel overwhelming.
- Transition to new foods or ingredients slowly. Instead of going directly from whole milk to fat-free, serve 2% for a few weeks, then 1% before finally arriving at fat-free milk. Mix plain yogurt with fruit-sweetened varieties, then add fresh fruit, until kids become accustomed to a full serving of plain yogurt and fresh fruit.
Valentine's Day doesn't have to be all about candy and sweets. If you're planning to celebrate Valentine's Day in your home, classroom, or child care, take advantage of the opportunity to promote a healthy lifestyle. Here are some ideas:
Healthy Snacks and Treats to Love
Fruit & Vegetable Bouquet
Use heart and flower-shaped cookie cutters to cut fresh fruits and vegetables such as melon and bell peppers. Place them on green skewers and arrange them into a bouquet. Tie together with red or pink ribbon. Students may enjoy with low-fat yogurt, hummus, salsa, or low-fat ranch dressing.
Create healthy sandwiches using whole grain bread and strawberry fruit spread. Use heart-shaped cookie cutters to cut out mini heart sandwiches.
Valentine's Day Taste Test
Host a taste test at your party using red fruits and vegetables. Pomegranate, cranberries, apples, blood oranges, raspberries, red peppers and cherry tomatoes are great options. Have students vote on their favorite red fruit and vegetable.
We often do not think about how much sugar we get from what we drink. Sugary drinks don't fill us up as quickly as food does, so it's easy to take in more than we need.
5 Alternatives to Sugary Drinks
1. Water—Add lemon or cucumber for flavor, or experiment with these recipes.
2. Sparkling water with natural flavors
3. Unflavored seltzer water with a slice of lemon and a splash of 100% fruit juice
4. Unsweetened iced tea with lemon slices
5. Coffee— black or with a little milk
Tips for Cutting Back
On some days, sugary drinks are hard to avoid entirely. Here are some tips to help you cut back on how much you drink: