Switch Those Sodas for Smoothies and Slushies
By Pamela White
Have your children joined the legions of soda junkies? They
crave the sweet, caffeinated drinks morning, noon and night.
Maybe they've become couch potatoes, even gaining a surprising
amount of weight lately.
You are not alone in noticing changes in your children. But
you may not realize the fault likely lies in the very sodas your
children and, maybe, you drink daily.
Sixty percent of all middle and high schools in the United States
have soft drink machines according to the National Soft Drink
Association. The new trend is for schools to accept large financial
grants in order to allow a particular soda brand exclusive rights
to a school system.
So how much damage can a little soft drink treat do? Medical
professionals warn that children drinking two to three sodas
per day are prone to extensive tooth decay. The sugar in the
sodas is clearly a threat to dental health. The sugar is also
a culprit in increasing children's propensity to develop obesity
How much sugar could there be in an average 12 oz. soda? Ten
teaspoons. Think of a child who drinks two to three sodas a day,
which medical studies suggest is not unusual. Even children with
good oral hygiene have plaque or bacteria in the mouth. The colonies
of established plaque convert the sugar in all those sodas to
acid. The acid eats through the tooth's natural protection, its
You can see how those two or three sodas can add up to a rapid
deterioration in dental health.
A study by Dr. Grace Wyshak, published in Archives of Pediatric
and Adolescent Medicine, indicated that teenage girls who drank
colas are three to five times more likely to suffer bone fractures.
The link between weakened bones and soda consumption is the phosphorous
used in cola drinks. Tie that in with the logical conclusion
that teen girls drinking two or three colas a day are not drinking
calcium-packed milk and you can see that regular soda drinking
during the bone-developing years poses a serious danger to our
Dentists are also concerned that the phosphorous connection
can weaken the jaw bone, creating possible tooth loss. Think
of the sugar eating away at the enamel on the teeth, then imagine
the weakened bones in the jaw -- all damaging your children's
Anyone worried about caffeine dependence? One 12 oz. can of
cola has 35 to 38 milligrams of caffeine. An 8 oz. cup of coffee
has only 28 percent of that much caffeine. Diet sodas usually
have more caffeine; most non-cola drinks have caffeine added.
Know anybody that really needs that cup of coffee in the morning
to keep the withdrawal headache at bay and improve her personality?
If we, as parents, feel the physical addition to caffeine, imagine
what all the caffeine is doing to those little bodies.
Don't panic. Here are some practical ways to guide your children
into making good choices and some recipes that will satisfy sweet
cravings as well as provide good nutrition.
Talk to your children. Tell them "no" to sodas, then
stop or cut back on your own soda drinking. Set an example by
drinking lots of water and providing it to your children. Offer
fruit juices, but remember they also pack a big sugar punch to
teeth, so limit the juice drinks, or cut them with water. Find
recipes for drinks that will provide a treat to your children
without the dental damage or adding empty calories, and pounds,
to your children. But the first step is to push plain, simple,
healthy and inexpensive water.
My daughter, Sarah, a student at a high school whose front hallway
is lined with soda machines, started purchasing a drink after
school when she stayed late for sports practices. She knew my
feelings about sodas, so she thought she was making a smart purchase
by choosing bottles marketed as "sport drinks." It
wasn't until she hopped into the car one afternoon drinking one,
that I told her to read the label. She did and shocked herself.
Three hundred calories in a bottle that contained water, flavoring
and sugar -- several teaspoons of sugar in each bottle. I offered
to buy bottled water (and refill the bottles with tap water)
so she could take it from home. She also liked not having to
spend her allowance on sugar water.
Creating flavorful alternatives to soda is easy. Fresh fruits
can be cut up and frozen, then crushed in a blender with ice
or milk. Juices can be mixed with an equal amount of seltzer
water. Juice concentrates are superb sweeteners. Experiment with
honey or sugar substitutes like Splenda to help wean your children
from their dependence on super-sweet drinks.
In the following recipes, change the frozen fruit to your favorite
frozen fruit and add or decrease any sweetener to taste.
8 oz. low fat plain yogurt
1/3 cup milk
1/3 cup frozen blueberries
1 tablespoon lemon juice
2 ice cubes
1 teaspoon honey or to taste
Combine all ingredients in a blender. Blend. This smoothie has
a strong, tart flavor and a beautiful purple color.
3 cups steeped tea, still warm (I use Constant Comment for the
added spice flavors.)
2 tablespoons orange juice concentrate
Pour three cups of nearly boiling water over one tea bag. Let
it steep until still warm, then add orange juice concentrate.
Stir, then pour into three glasses, adding ice.
2 cups ice
1/2 cup water
2 medium limes, squeezed
1 large or 2 medium lemons, squeezed
4 tablespoons apple juice concentrate
Place ice and water into blender to break the ice into very
small bits. Add lemon and lime juices, and the apple juice concentrate.
By blending the ice with the water, you can use any blender to
create a slush drink. Substitute the apple juice concentrate
with an apple-cherry or apple-raspberry blend concentrate for
a beautiful pink color. Pour into three cups or glasses; eat
with a spoon if you're in a rush.
2 bananas, peeled and wrapped in plastic, then frozen
2 - 8 oz. vanilla yogurts (or two cups vanilla yogurt)
1/3 cup milk
2 packets Splenda (or sugar or sugar substitute)
Combine all ingredients in blender and whirl into a smooth,
sweet, filling calcium-packed snack for your children and you.
Makes three drinks.
2 - 8 oz. containers of coconut yogurt
1 banana, peeled and frozen
1/3 cup milk
1/2 cup crushed pineapple
Combine all ingredients and blend until smooth.