If you are like me and most other parents, you have a bottle or carton of juice in the fridge pretty much all the time. Perhaps you also save a few precious minutes in the morning and at dishwashing time by buying those handy little juice boxes to go in the lunch. What’s wrong with that?
Well, once in a while, juice is OK but it’s a treat, and like all other treats we give our kids it should be reserved for special treat times. Unsweetened fruit juice is a much healthier choice than cola or root beer, but from a sugar point of view they are surprisingly almost equal! The problem with fruit juice on its own is that it lacks the fibre present in the whole fruit to slow down how fast fruit sugar is digested. Here’s an article I came across that explains this in more detail:
Plain water is something indispensable for proper brain function. Brains are not only for learning, but also for directing our behaviour and moods. According to one author, “Studies have shown that if you are only 1 percent dehydrated, you will likely have a 5 percent decrease in cognitive function. If your brain drops 2 percent in body water, you may suffer from fuzzy short-term memory, experience problems with focusing, and have trouble with math computations.”(1) Dr. Caroline Edmonds did research showing that kids performed 30% better on tests after having a drink of water! (2) “Anecdotal reports from schools indicate that attention spans, concentration and behaviour are noticeably improved by frequent intakes of small amounts of water…”. (3)
You need to drink even if you don’t feel thirsty, because the feeling of thirst only comes on well after dehydration has started to shrink your brain away from your skull. Encourage your child to develop the habit of drinking water through the day by offering it very often. A fun cup, straw or special bottle can make this a bit easier. You can’t always hover nearby to offer a well-timed sip, so make sure your child’s teacher is aware of how important for their students to drink water regularly during the school day. Suggest installing a refill station inside the classroom where possible. Water fountains are notoriously unpleasant to drink from and can harbour germs because young children often touch the spout with their lips. Some “green” schools teach respect for the environment by counting how many plastic water bottles they save in a year by refilling everyone’s re-usable personal water bottles at a water station. Great idea!