Healthier drink options and drinks to avoid.

What is a healthy drink?

Healthy drinks are ones that contain no added sugar. Sugar is found in many different forms. Healthy drinks have nutritional value and deliver nutrients and vitamins such as calcium, Vitamin D and protein, among others.

What can I offer my child to drink?

  • Water is the best thirst quencher and keeps children well hydrated.
  • While the best choice are drinks that have no added sugar, soda pop and iced tea can be modified to reduce their sugar content. Try adding plain carbonated water to the drink to cut the sugar.
  • It’s important to note that not all plant-based beverages are created equal. If you choose to offer your school-aged child a plant-based alternative to cow’s milk, such as soy milk, almond milk or rice milk, check the label to make sure it has enough protein and is fortified with calcium and Vitamin D. Consult a registered dietitian for more help.
  • Usually tap water is safe. But some plumbing in older buildings may contain lead that can leach into the water. Lead in water can be harmful to health. Learn more on how to protect yourself and your child from lead in drinking water.

What about smoothies, energy drinks, energy shots and sports drinks?

  • Homemade smoothies are a healthy option if they are made from mostly fruit and vegetables, and include milk, plain yogurt or unsweetened soy beverages. They can also be a good protein source if nut butter, silken tofu or plain Greek yogurt are added.
  • Store-bought smoothies may contain a lot of added sugar in the form of syrup, sweetened yogurt, agave syrup and sweetened fruit juice. Choose the smallest size possible when purchasing a store-bought sugar-sweetened smoothie in order to limit the amount of sugar.
  • Energy drinks and energy shots are advertised to adults to boost energy and alertness. Health Canada recommends children and youth do not consume energy drinks because of their high levels of caffeine.
  • Sports drinks are not the same as energy drinks. Sports drinks contain a lot of sugar – sometimes up to 10 sugar cubes’ worth in one drink. They also contain minerals such as sodium and potassium. Sports drinks may be beneficial if your child is involved in a high intensity sport (such as hockey) or an endurance activity (such as running) for over one hour. However, water is the best choice to stay hydrated for most children. Consult a registered dietitian for advice on offering your child sports drinks.

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