And before I get going... do know that we make hot chocolate, apple cider, milk shakes, and we occasionally drink juice. ON OCCASION! Treats are fine... life should be fun and full of yummy things. BUT, to enjoy them to the fullest, we need to feel great and be healthy. SO, finding your moderation and helping your little ones to find theirs is so important! AND, it starts with making WATER an important part of your life!
Follow these steps and transition over several months time. You'll find you buy less and less juice, soda, koolaid, etc., and eventually you'll be buying NONE. And your wallet and your kids' health will thank you!
1. Decide you won't quit. I didn't say it'll be a walk in the park, but if you want it to work, you HAVE to stick with it! Kids are manipulative little creatures. If they keep getting their way, they're going to keep putting up the fight... BECAUSE IT WORKS! Don't let it work!
2. First start by replacing the flavored drinks at a meal time with just water. Ice water is fine of course, or just chilled water. I started with dinner. YEP, they fussed, and YEP they only sipped a little at meal time, but it was a start! And, when you eat, you NEED something to wash it down, so they will eventually start drinking some of it!! Do that for a few days/weeks, then when you see they are drinking it at that meal time pretty well, slide it on into the next meal! :) That's when I started offering it for lunch too! Meal times make it easier than when they are just randomly thirsty... because they NEED the liquid to wash everything down!
3. All the while you're adding in water to their meal time, start diluting their other drinks. Just a little at first so they won't notice, but over time you want mostly water, and a little flavor! :) The more they are drinking water and getting used to it, the stronger the other drinks taste, so diluting it often goes unnoticed. And when you dilute little by little overtime, they just really aren't even aware! Our kids were already getting diluted juice when we started so by the end it was like water with a splash of juice.
4. Follow the previous steps (remember... step 1 is most important no matter how long the process takes) until you've phased in water at all meals and snacks except one "treat." Ours was a night time snack at that point. That's the only time my kids got any juice or chocolate milk back in the day still. THEN, get ready for some fussing. Once that last bit of flavored drink runs out, DO NOT RESTOCK! We literally had about 2 weeks of whining at bedtime because they REALLY wanted something besides water. They really had not noticed too much over time that little by little we took away their juice. But, that night time was ever so obvious. But, it's pretty easy to stick through it past the whining when there is NONE to give into! They got used to our "sorry... we do not have any... see" and offered them water if they were thirsty. And a magical thing happened. They quit asking!!! My kids now get Shakeology once a day (they think that's their treat... they have no idea it's just fruits and veggies), and the rest is WATER!! BECAUSE their bodies NEED it!! They get plenty of calcium during the day and plenty of healthy fats, and they still get milk in their Shakes. BUT, there is NO more harmful dyes and loads of processed sugar and artificial flavors going into their systems day after day! AND, as a result... we see the doctor a fraction of the time!! AND we save TONS on groceries each month!
Now, I completely realize some will choose to cut back on the flavored stuff and just try and get in more water, and you do have to find what works for your family, but I firmly believe the drinks our kiddos primarily want offer little to no real value for them, and most are harmful, AND also sets them up for a variety of health problems as they will be addicted to flavor and continue the loads of sugar for years to come. Sound like someone you know? That sure sounded like myself when I decided NO MORE! Your children are learning primarily from YOUR leading. In 20 years will you look back and wish you would have stood strong on the important battles?