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"But so-and-so brings a can of soda to school in his lunch every day," my 10-year-old tells me as we once again argue over whether it will be water he's having or something a bit more tasty. "And that other kid is only in third grade and he buys soda every day at the rec center. I'm in fourth...that's not even fair."
For the most part my kids know I'm a stubborn old mule who means "no" when she says "no," but, even still, they can't let go of the hope their begging just might work.
My boys are good kids. Really good kids, and so I take a deep breath and try and remind myself that they're not just begging to drive me crazy, they don't have the perspective on what's actually in the cans of soda and bottles of sports drink they covet. And then inspiration strikes.
What if they could see what I see when they're chugging a drink?
A look at a little project my sons and I have been working on this summer, which gives a peek at the sugar they're really taking in when they opt for beverages that aren't water:
One bottle of soda has 73 grams of sugar, the equivalent of 3 cups of mini-marshmallows (more than would fit in the bottle).
One organic chocolate milk has the same amount of sugar as nearly an entire chocolate Crunch bar.
A mug of hot chocolate has the same amount of sugar as a serving of cotton candy.
A small box of 100 percent juice is equivalent to having 7 Pixy Stix.
A strawberries & cream blended drink has 54 grams of sugar, which is equal to 3 servings of Whoppers malted milk balls.
Having a 3.1 ounce yogurt drink is equal to eating a fun-sized candy bar.
A medium sports drink has 42 grams of sugar, the equivalent of 42 Chewy Lemonheads.
As I'm sure you can tell, it was absolute torture for them to have to eat and drink all the supplies for this project. Ha. Gotta love that in trying to show them how much sugar is in each drink we went on a candy-buying binge, but I hope that in the long run this little experiment proves worthwhile.
I hope that the next time either of them asks for a soda I can say, "So you want me to let you eat three cups of mini-marshmallows with your lunch?" Even they know that's an over-the-top request. I hope that other kids see the pictures and a little light bulb of understanding goes off for them as well.
And on a slightly bigger scale, I hope we all take a moment to consider what's really in our food, even when it's hard to visualize. After all, kids aren't the only ones who get sick of water and opt for high-sugar, calorie-heavy drinks. I know we'll never be perfect, but if I can get my kids (and myself) to recognize what we're really choosing when we reach for a beverage, I think the odds are we'll make a step in the right direction.
Images by Sara McGinnis and sons
Opinions expressed by parent contributors are their own.