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Goodbye Purple Tongue

September 8, 2011 by Andrea Godfreyson, Registered Dietitian

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As a kid I would come home from school and crash through the front door, ready to yell "oh yeah!" in anticipation of the giant tumbler of red "juice" waiting for me.

I liked how my tongue would stay bright red or purple for hours after drinking it. My brothers and I would make our own jugs of the sugary delight, adding the brightly coloured powder and pouring in a mountain of white sugar. Sometimes it seemed the liquid was so saturated that the sugar threatened not to dissolve.

In the 80's I don't remember there being much push for choosing healthier beverages. It seemed like water should be brightly coloured and taste sweet. No exceptions. Nowadays I would probably argue that the drink products available haven't strayed far from that bright and flavoured ideal, and we are bombarded with a lot more options. Balancing health, taste preferences and cost considerations can be tough.

Once you throw in the decoding of labels touting caffeine, herbs, vitamins and natural health products, choosing a drink for your child's or teen's lunchbox seems like a tall order.

The Brand Name Food List is an online resource you can use to see how drinks stack up nutritionally (Dean's blog posting-choosing healthy packaged foods gives a rundown on how to use it). Here are some quick options to keep your kids hydrated and their lunches cool:

  • Freeze a reusable bottle with water. It keeps cold lunches cold and melts by lunchtime.
  • Fill a reusable beverage container with milk. Try mixing half plain milk and half flavoured milk if plain milk isn't a favourite for your child.
  • Freeze a 100% unsweetened juice box. It's a cool option that also keeps the portion size of the juice in check: give your children a maximum of ½ a cup of 100% pure juice a day.

With all the sugary drinks at my disposal growing up, I never drank milk. Now as an adult, I worry about my bone health so I make sure I get the servings of Milk and Alternatives I need each day. Thinking back, I wish I had ditched the purple tongue for a milk moustache, but live and learn I guess!

What drinks make your kids scream "oh yeah!"?

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