Health drinks are a simple and reliable option to enhance a child’s diet. They provide a single, concentrated source of multiple nutrients. So, if you are dealing with fussy eating or any restrictions due to food preferences or allergies, then a health drink is a great way to ensure that your child does not suffer from any nutritional deficiencies.
Every parent wants to give their child the best health drink in India. However, there are some common mistakes that they make when choosing a product. Given the number of misleading advertisements that make most products seem like a healthy choice, it is a challenge to understand which one is best suited for your little one.
Mistakes to Avoid When Picking a Children’s Health Drink
When you walk into a store or a supermarket, the number of choices that you have are overwhelming. So, it is very easy to make these mistakes:
Choosing a Drink Based on the Packaging
A study conducted by the Uconn Rudd Centre for Food Policy and Health showed that parents rely on the messaging on the packages of health drinks. This leads to misinformation about the nutritional value of the product. The most important information that you need in order to choose the right drink for your little one is at the back of the package.
The nutrition label serves as a great reference to understand what you are putting into your child’s diet. The thumb rule with nutrition label is that whatever ingredient is towards the top of the list is in the highest quantity. You should see nutrients like protein at the top of the list. However, if you see that sugar is placed higher on the list than the important nutrients, you should look for another option.
Ignoring the Age Group That The Product Is Made For
This is one of the most common mistakes that parents make with health drinks. Every product that is advertised as a children’s health drink is designed for a specific age group. If you give a 10-year-old a drink made for a 6-year-old, then you are not achieving the goal of the health drink which is to improve the daily nutritional intake.
It is important to note that nutritional requirements change drastically within a few years in children. As they grow, the nutrients that they need and the quantity that they need changes. There are two issues with ignoring the child’s age group when picking a health drink.
First, the product does not contain enough nutrients to help your little one achieve the daily recommended intake value. Second, there is an overdose of certain nutrients because the product is designed for a higher age group. This is extremely harmful as overconsumption leads to several health issues. With micronutrients like vitamins and minerals, especially, it can lead to serious complications like toxicity.
Neglecting the Sugar Content
There have been several reports and studies in the recent past about the need for health drinks in a child’s diet. Most of them point towards the high sugar content in these drinks which does more harm than good. While children are allowed to consume sugar, it should be within the recommended quantity to avoid hyperactivity or conditions like obesity and in the long run.
How can you tell if the sugar content is high in a health drink? Here are some tips:
- Note the position of sugar on the nutritional label. The higher the position, the higher the quantity of sugar.
- To hide the sugar content in the drink, brands may use alternative names like liquid glucose or corn syrup. It is necessary to know a few hidden names of sugar if you are buying a health drink for your child.
- The sugar source is unclear.
Now, the reality is that the health drink must taste nice for the child to consume it. This is possible without refined sugar. Look for brands that use natural sugar sources like cane sugar in their formulation.
Not Checking the Protein Source
In many cases, the objective of getting a health drink is to increase the protein consumption. Children who are fussy eaters, have a predominantly vegetarian diet or have food restrictions may not be getting enough protein each day. As we all know, protein is extremely important in the growing years for better muscle development.
That said, it is not enough to know that a health drink provides ample protein. You should be aware of the protein source. The most common protein source is whey which is derived from milk. Now, if your child is lactose intolerant, drinks that contain whey proteins can cause digestive issues, allergic reactions and more. In this case, choosing a product with plant-based protein is more beneficial.
Going By What is Popular
It is good to get recommendations from other parents or relatives for a starting point. However, this is not enough. Make sure that you take time to research each product and understand the formulation before you purchase it.
You may also see several advertisements that make a certain product seem healthy, and even necessary for your child. It may not be the case because of several marketing tactics that are employed to sell these products. There are several reviews of the products by experts that are available online for you to learn more about these products. Of course, you can always check with your doctor to find a drink that is perfect for your little one.
Now that you know what the mistakes when choosing a health drink are, you have the knowledge to make the right decision for your child. Whenever in doubt, seek the assistance of an expert before including any new product in your child’s diet. That way, you not only have the assurance of a safe product, but are also able to meet the nutritional goals that led you to a health drink in the first place.