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diet soda a “preferred” drink for your toddler…

Posted by on Apr 4, 2011 in Blog Posts | 52 comments

O.K. I have a beef (more than one really.) I was chatting with a lovely client the other morning. They had seen a dietitian for weight concerns for their two-year-old son. This child eats a phenomenal variety of wholesome foods but has become increasingly food preoccupied (as they have tried to control his intake.) The mom was rightly concerned when they were told that diet soda and Crystal Light were on the “preferred” beverage list at a University pediatric weight management center. Really? Does a two-year-old need diet soda? I just had this vision of the idea that these are “free drinks!” (zero points, “green-light” drinks…) so go ahead and fill up that Big-Gulp Sippy Cup and have at it! The family was also recommended a calorie reduction diet (remember, the failure rate in adults is 85-95%) which was worsening the child’s preoccupation with food and tendency to eat quickly and large amounts at every opportunity. (He would hang around the buffet at parties instead of wanting to play.)

What would I recommend a two-year-old drink? (regardless of weight, BTW.) 2% or whole milk, water, or watered down fruit juice. I like the nectars or cloudy apple-juice. Aim for roughly 4 ounces of juice a day, don’t sweat it if it’s more some days and less others. You can get juice boxes with watered down juice now too. (I told my husband years ago that someone would make a lot of money someday watering down juice and charging more for it because it’s low sugar and fewer calories :) Milk or water or juice with sit-down meals and snacks, only water in between.

This chat reminded me of my one or two (really, that’s all we get folks) nutrition lectures in a top ten medical school. The panacea? “Fat-free cheese! Fat-free mayo! Low-sodium cans of soup! Sugar substitutes!” All artificial, probably not so tasty, all WHAT answers with no thought to HOW we eat. (Don’t get me wrong, these products may have their place with certain medical conditions, but for the general public, not really necessary, not really tasty, but hey, tasty doesn’t matter, right?)

It had me wondering, do any of these experts like food? Know how to cook, or how to eat? Have a big picture mentality? When experts at a therapeutic-feeding training I recently attended went on and on about their Weight Watchers issues, I wondered if they themselves were eating competent and how ironic it would be that the people teaching kids to eat, don’t know how to do it themselves.  Is there ANY evidence that diet drinks help adults lose weight, much less children? (Also, is there any evidence that giving a 2-year-old skim milk will make him leaner? Read this post for a discussion on that topic…)

Another mother wrote in to complain that her small son who was on prednisone (notorious for increasing appetite) was scolded for letting her son have 2% milk and told to “cut out the juice” (the child didn’t drink juice.) No one had addressed his asthma properly (which limited his play) or done any kind of intake analysis, or felt that her concerns about his frequent prednisone bursts had anything to do with his weight. She was basically just told, “cut down on the calories.” Even if he was drinking 6 ounces of juice a day, that would not be why he was gaining weight.

Well, there is so much more to it than calories, and the answer is not Aspartame or Olestra, or Diet Doctor Pepper, or eating by a point-system.

Have you been to a nutrition expert around your child’s feeding? What were you told? Dietitians, what do you think of this post. Fair? Not fair? Regional? Your hands are tied by protocol? (I think I should tag this under “ranting” rather than “musings” :)

(Tip: we had a water bubbler in our home since M could walk and she has loved getting her little cup and filling it with water between meals and snacks.)

UPDATE ADDED LATER: from the mom of the 2 1/2 year old boy put on the diet. We worked together by phone, and 6 weeks after we started, here is what she said, “The last few weeks have been MUCH easier! He is like a different child, occasionally finishing his meals but not always. We went to the bagel store for lunch today and he only ate 1/4 of the bagel.  This a totally different boy than the one who consumed 2 1/2 bagels in a sitting only a month ago.”

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52 Comments

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  1. Ashley

    So, I realize I have some cognitive dissonance about my objection to soda, and I’d agree that soda does actually cause the same problem (forbidding it makes it more desirable), but I guess it just seems more “worth the risk” to me as I think soda is more problematic, since it prevents kids from identifying if they are hungry or full. That said, I would not be surprised to find out that this is moot point because every single kid I see has already had soda and thinks it’s delicious.

  2. Ashley

    I actually don’t have a huge problem with kids drinking some Crystal Light. Particularly if, like Nicole said in her comment, the parents like it and they drink it, because then telling them they can’t have it actually becomes a bigger problem in itself. I have lots of my patients parents’ tell me that they keep a pitcher of cold water and a pitcher of crystal light in their fridge and sometimes offer both at meals. (Soda, to me, diet or not, is a different issue because of the carbonation. Often when carbonated drinks are offered to kids, especially in situations where their beverage is given to them before their food like at a restaurant, they drink too much too fast and lose their appetite for there food. So, if only for that reason I don’t recommend giving soda to toddlers.) Katja may disagree with me, but I try to follow the literature about artificial sweeteners carefully (full disclosure, I probably drink 2 12 oz. cans of diet coke myself almost every day), and I must say that I haven’t ever actually seen a compelling, large scale study that has convinced me that any moderate amount of artificial sweetener consumption has long term health consequences. So, in the grand scheme of things, I don’t worry too much about an occasional few ounces of Crystal Light, even in toddlers.

    • katja

      I don’t have a huge problem either if parents enjoy it and it’s not the primary beverage. I’m not particularly convinced about dangers of artificial sweeteners, but I just don’t think they are necessary, and I’m not convinced they aren’t 100% safe, and I especially object to the way they are sold as “free” foods. Sounds like you have the right attitude. But, how do you feel about specifically recommending it or Diet Soda to toddlers or children *for weight loss?*
      I do have a question though, (and the soda issue is a tricky one…) If telling kids they can’t have Chrystal Light “causes a bigger problem in itself” doesn’t not allowing soda cause the same issue? I do ask that any beverage other than water come with the meal, and that goes for me too (I like to drink soda at restaurants, but I want it with the food, which seems a Herculean task to expect from most restaurants that are so used to drinks, then food…)

  3. Jess

    Our 4 year old drinks watered down apple or orange juice, water or milk. Sometimes he likes kefir (a type of yogurty-milk drink) or a smoothie at snack. He probably drinks more than six ounces of juice a day, but drinks plenty of plain water, eats plenty and is long and lean, so I don’t worry about doling out juice with a measuring cup.

    Only in America would a dietician (someone who is supposedly focused on health) recommend diet drinks for a kid. “Diet” or “light” does not equal healthy! Diet sodas offer zero nutrition but plenty of chemicals and caffeine. I find it mind boggling that a medical professional would encourage their consumption.

    Interesting that MDs are not required to learn more about nutrition. In Germany (as you probably know Katja) food is seen as medicine–e.g. the food in hospitals and clinics is super healthy, fresh and tasty (think dense, whole grain breads, fresh veg and fruits, served with wholesome meats and cheeses, all carefully seasoned and well prepared, not unadorned ice berg lettuce and scrambled egg whites). Healthy doesn”t have to mean tasteless, and it certainly doesn’t mean fat- or calorie free. I just think American food culture is so puritanical– foods are “good” or “bad”, “sinfully delicious”, etc. A food can’t be truly healthy if it isn’t a pleasure to eat– you have to feed the soul as well as the body, and plain steamed broccoli never fed anyone’s soul… steamed broccoli sauteed in olive oil with garlic and garnished with parmesan cheese, on the other hand…

    • katja

      my mom had an oncology nutritionist visit her in the hospital when she had her lumpectomy in Germany. All the food in the hospital was from scratch, fresh greens, hand-made vinaigrettes, mashed potatoes with butter, lean sauteed meats with savory pan-sauces, berries with cream… Contrast to my post-c-section where I existed on PB&J bc the hospital food was so vile. Literally inedible.

  4. Kaitlin

    I was the kid whose parents didn’t know what to make of her. I was on the top of the curve for both height and weight. Of course, this being the age of the “obesity epidemic”, I was taken to doctor after doctor and had all sorts of tests done.

    But they couldn’t find anything wrong with me, except that I was overweight (this was also about the time when the BMI shifted). So they put me on Weight Watchers. When I was barely six.

    No, I don’t think that the people who perscribe that a kid take up a low calorie, low fat diet likes food all that much. Every time I have some WHOLE FAT peanut butter or WHOLE FAT milk, I think of them.

    And I laugh.

    Seriously, what kind of world do we live in when it takes a girl sixteen years to have her first taste of regular peanut butter?

    • katja

      A sad, sad world that has a deeply troubled relationship with food and body diversity… Good for you! No 6 year old should be on WW…

      • Jenny Islander

        Another sad thing–the first and only response to perceived fatness in children who are really just big for their age is to restrict their eating. Why can’t doctors look at a tall, broad child and say, “Well, it’s obvious that this kid is going to develop into a tall, broad adult, so let’s work on adding muscle?” Why don’t they prescribe jump ropes, basketball hoops, or Wii games? At six, if they were really worried about you becoming “obese,” they should’ve gotten you a pogo stick!

        • Kirsten

          9 going on 10 here…….and I think that is too young as well. I was practically raised on Tab, and later the other Diet drinks and foods that flooded the market. My mother bought into every claim of “it’s better” because it’s fat free/sugar free and calories are the only thing that really matters. IT’s only been the last 10 or so years that I’ve come to realise that the larger part of my diet between the age of 9 and 23 were pre-packaged “diet/heatlhy” stuff.

          In my family food and eating are extremely moralised. Who’s eating, what’s being eaten, when it’s being eaten, where it’s being eaten, how it’s being eaten, and most of all WHY it’s being eaten–or ironically, not any of them!–is of paramount importance. If you’re overweight, then you clearly need to eat less, eat this and/or that but never the other, eat it this way not that way, don’t eat it here eat it there, don’t eat it now eat it later or now and not later, and above all WHY are you eating?? The reverse is true to for those who are on the leaner side naturally.

          I blame my life long weight battle on my family and the food and eating dynamics that played out over the course of my formative years. I don’t believe I ever had a chance to rely on my natural hunger cues because my family are feeders or starvers (depending on the situation, of course!). If I wasn’t being force fed or forced to finish or forced to eat what I didn’t like or want and forced to NOT eat what I did like and want, then I was being put on a diet, publicly scolded for being overweight, gaining or at least not losing.

          Food is a reward AND a punishment in my family. It’s crazy–I have always said that my mother could force you a bucket of lard and then chastise you for eating it afterwards.

          If I’m ever fortunate enough to have children, I will follow the DOR method, and encourage HAES as they get older and become influenced by their peers and media.

          • katja

            Great comments. I am so sorry you had this history with food, and glad you are turning things around for yourself, and maybe someday your children. My family also moralizes about food, weight etc, which is tiresome. I say that as parents and as a culture, we can feed to support inborn cues of hunger and fullness, or we can feed in a way to sabotage and burry those cues. When we raise children who turn into adults who are unable to know how those cues feel, who were raised to use food as reward, or to feel guilt, it takes often YEARS to undue the damage. It is such a preventable misery. Which is why I do what I do…

    • Nicole

      *raises hand* First WW experience at 9. Six is even worse, though.

  5. Lisa

    “It had me wondering, do any of these experts like food?… When experts at a therapeutic-feeding training I recently attended went on and on about their Weight Watchers issues, I wondered if they themselves were eating competent…”

    As an LICSW who treats people with EDs, and as someone who has been around a lot of registered dieticians, I’ll let you in on a little secret, Katja: A LOT of RDs have eating disorders. So many that nutrition programs now regularly screen applicants for EDs. And I’m not talking about people who have recovered from their EDs, I’m talking actively eating disordered. It’s a big problem. I am very careful about whom I refer patients to when they need a nutrition consult – sometimes I will ask straight out what the nutritionist’s own history with food has been.

    • katja

      yup. I wrote about this above to Alexie’s comment. Sad but true. Glad you are aware of it and watching out for your patients. In the standard model of control, calorie and fat counting, in a way, it makes perfect sense…

    • Sam

      Lisa, as an RD – and normal eater – who works with ED patients, I’m glad to know you are screening RDs to whom you refer. Unfortunately this seems to be a growing problem, and not one I am proud to have associated with our profession. I hope you know some quality RDs with a non-diet philosophy.

      • katja

        Yay, Lisa! They are lucky to have you! I’d love to know how the profession will deal with this issue. I don’t know many personally. How would you find this out if you don’t know someone privately? How could you find this out as a client?

  6. MrsSlats

    Our kids generally drink water. At least, that is what they ask for. Sometimes they will ask for “juice” and that means sugar free colored crap, but I don’t often give it to them.
    They like milk with breakfast, but it’s whole and gotten from a local dairy (we go down and look at the cows sometimes. They’re quite happy 😀

    I’ve had people give me a surprised look when they ask for water, and they say “Oooh water nummy!” when they drink it. I don’t deny them the other things, they’ve had soda before, they just don’t prefer it.

    Our kids actually are underweight for their age, but the docs never seem concerned when we talk about eating habits. They have access to all the food and fluids they want.

    • MrsSlats

      Oh, and juice (fruit) we don’t really give them that, we never have it in the house. They’ll have it elsewhere, but not at home. At home they get whole oranges, bananas, strawberries, apples. They’re fruit addicts!

    • katja

      M also asks for mostly water. Given the choice of juice, she usually will prefer that, but after a few sips asks for water too. She seems to need water for her thirst. I know she drinks at least five times as much liquids as I do. The whole notion of 8 , 8 oz glasses is also a bunch of bologna. Again, it’s about trusting out bodies…

  7. Nicole

    Because of our family history of diabetes, I have always limited my kids’ juice intake. It became a little more complicated when both my kids developed milk sensitivities, because of course the older one wants something to drink with his lunch, and milk is out. We started sending him with a small juice box and have cut down a bit on the amount of juice he gets in the morning.

    As for soda, we just plain don’t allow it for the kids. There are so few of them without HFCS, for one thing. We’ve told them it’s an adult beverage (in fact, my son was offered root beer at a school party once, and he came home all scandalized because they were “serving adult beverages”.). I have no idea how long we’ll be able to maintain this notion, but I’m working on it. :) We don’t usually have soda (only diet in any case) in the home, but I do like Crystal Light. When the kids see us drinking it, of course they want some… We try not to drink it in front of them.

    When you say you have a “bubbler”–is that a home fountain? I’d love to get one of those! Where did you get it?

    • katja

      bubbler is like the office water cooler… It has hot and cold sides and bubbles when we get our water :)

    • Camilla

      Soda Stream one of the common brands of carbonation machines; it takes a CO2 cartridge (our local hardware store stocks refills) and makes fizzy water from tap water.

      I haven’t priced it out vs. buying seltzer from the store (I wanted to buy my husband a cool toy for xmas, so it wasn’t really to save) but I am glad not to deal with hauling water around and then getting rid of empty bottles. It does seem to work well, and using fizzy to dilute fruit juice or make lemonade with seems to suit the kid who likes fizzy.

      • katja

        sounds great! So they recycle the cartridges? The yellow fizz sounds wonderful.

        • Camilla

          They’re returnable cartridges with a system that’s much like buying propane canisters – you pay ~$15 to trade an empty for a full, and $30 to buy a full without trading in an empty.

          That’s for the cartridge that goes in our penguin that’s supposed to make 60L of soda. So it costs something like $0.50 for a 2L that I’d get for $1.19 at the store – a saving, but not enough to recoup the equipment costs. We’ve found that our actual mileage per cartridge varies quite a bit.

          The system does work easily and well, though.

  8. Alexie

    I think you hit the nail on the head with your comment about whether these people actually LIKE food themselves. It sounds like they view food as nothing more than fuel and how that fuel is delivered doesn’t matter as long as there aren’t too many calories!

    All these artificial additives and sweeteners are an enormous social experiment. We still really don’t know what the long-term consequences of ingesting them are. As an occasional treat for a developing body, maybe, but to actually recommend them?

    • katja

      There are a lot of articles about how many nutrition professionals have a history of an eating disorder (I’ve seen the number one in three off the top of my head.) I would assume many are still actively disordered. (I am in no way saying that someone with a history of an eating disorder cannot fully recover or make a wonderful RD, but it is an issue. Most of the women I treated in college health who were actively struggling with ED were nutrition majors…) I think we do need to have frank discussions about whether the “experts” teaching about feeding and eating are competent eaters, or at least if what they are recommending is best practice.

  9. Cathy S.

    My 6-year old drinks mostly water, with some juice at breakfast and the occasional but rare juice box. My 9 year old prefers 2% milk, and also drinks a little juice at breakfast and the occasional juice box. My older one has a interest in iced tea and coffee, and a fascination with soda. He will occasionally drink some of my iced tea (decaf) and iced coffee (half-caf), and we sometimes buy Pepsi Throwback, made with cane sugar, as a treat. I have never seen him drink more than 4 or 6 oz of soda and I can’t remember the last time he had it. We try to keep them away from artificial sweeteners and high fructose corn syrup. They never had soda as toddlers, diet or otherwise. I don’t think my 6 year old has even tried it.

    My pediatrician noted recently that my older son is in a very high weight percentile, but also noted that he was rather muscular and didn’t seem at all concerned. I am very pleased that he took the time to really look at how my son it built and not just what the chart said. I would never put my kids on a diet; been there, had the weight rebound.

    • katja

      I’m thrilled that your ped actually looked at the whole picture. Not always the case, I’m afraid. Thanks for sharing!

      • Jenny Islander

        Our toddler is in the 80s for height and weight. He got horrible puke-itis and had his regular checkup a week after he got well. The doc said that we had to offer fatty foods, plenty and often, because he had dropped to the 40th percentile for weight. She said this to big fat me! Go, doc!

        He likes: whole eggs fried in bacon grease, chopped bacon, wild salmon, avocado, dark meat of chicken, and fatty cuts of pork and beef.

        • katja

          that’s good news. I can imagine many docs would say something like, Well, he was “overweight” and now he’s in the “normal” range, lets keep it that way. Yay.

  10. Shaunta

    I have a six year old who is 54 inches tall and 70 pounds–that makes her bigger than every other kindergarten student, all the first graders, all the second graders and some of the third graders at her (very small) school. I’m super protective of her body image, because I know the day is coming when being the tallest kid in class by a whole head won’t feel so awesome. She has small amount of diet soda sometimes, because I drink it and share. Mostly she drinks water or juice. Also sometimes tea and milk. Recently Ruby had severe pneumonia that caused her to lose weight down from 75 pounds to about 60. She was hospitalized for two weeks, had a surgery to remove dead lung tissue (!) and drain fluid from around her left lung and had a chest tube in for nearly the whole time she was in the hospital. It was interesting to me to see her weight pop right back up to around where it was before once she could eat again. We’re the ones who mess kids up, I think.

    • katja

      Oh my! I am so sorry you all went through that. How scary! I am glad she is on the mend. It IS fascinating, all this weight stuff. As I have been saying, our bodies are a lot more complicated than most professionals give credit for… I do think that as a culture and as parents, we often, with no intention to do so, undermine self-regulation.

  11. mbmm

    Do most toddlers even *like* diet soda? My little one accidentally got a gulp and tried to wipe the stuff off her tongue!

    I remember hating soda until I was a teenager, at which point my parents decided I was too old to be asking for milk or juice at family gatherings. (No one would have thought to drink water, in those days.)

    • katja

      you’d be surprised. I think also it’s how it’s sold (the whole psychology thing…) “This is a grown up drink, it’s for Mommies, OK, now you can have it!”

    • Camilla

      I remember disliking carbonation, as a kid, but one of my kids loves it (the other spits and makes faces). I don’t do soda at all, but my husband has a SodaStream carbonation thingie, and makes lemonaid using carbonated water, lemon juice concentrate, and maple syrup (and maybe a small amount of salt).

      I let “fizzy yellow” be a special thing that daddy makes, and pretend that I can’t make it.

      • mbmm

        I think I would have liked homemade lemon soda as a kid! I just didn’t like the chemical taste of cola.

  12. Camilla

    To be on topic, I didn’t confess the coffee to the pediatrician, because the older boy is so healthy-looking that nobody’s asking what he’s eating or drinking.

    I did confess the milk tea to the pediatrician, just recently, since there’s concern about the younger boy gaining weight poorly (he’s 20lbs at 18 months) and concern (mine) that he’s puking far too often. We got a lecture at 15 months by the nurse practitioner, blaming nursing in the night on his poor weight gain, which I ignored due to it being self-contradictory.

    The pediatrician was much more sensible than the nurse, and didn’t bully me to wean the child, but did say that her experience is that fixing weight gain issues in the second year is often managed by night weaning… but, that the puking thing probably isn’t about breast milk, and she’s interested in focusing on that, and not the milk issue.

    • katja

      glad you aren’t being blown off. Hope it’s all OK. Have you read Child of Mine? Has some great pointers about feeding when a child is small. (It’s so easy to pressure, and that backfires.) Always key to rule out any medical issue though!

      • Camilla

        I haven’t, but I’ll take a look next time I visit the public library.

        All signs point towards the puking problem being actually a coughing problem, not a feeding problem. Best guess is that winter cold season hit him hard, and that when he lies back to nurse (or lies down to sleep) the post-nasal drip makes him cough and cough. We’re working on ruling out asthma (the albuterol inhaler didn’t make a dramatic difference the first time we tried, but there’s a family history and we may not have gotten a good test in), allergies (have an upcoming appointment) and various other things.

        There’s a family history of really flagrant growth delays; both my sons are larger for their age than I was. I ignored a lot of advice with the older child, and watched most of the problems just vanish as he got older.

        I also had a sensitive gag reflex as a kid, which I outgrew.

        • Kate

          I also puked a lot as a child, and as an adult, when I was sleeping (I’d wake up, but only to throw up) and it always accompanied nightmares and it didn’t go away until I got a CPAP for sleep apnea.

          It’s probably not the same problem, but I like to tell people about it, just in case. I imagine there are substantial parts of my life that would have been better if I had gotten better sleep as a child.

        • Jenny Islander

          My middle child was a terrible snorer from toddlerhood onward and frequently woke up with dark eye rings. As a preschooler, she started in with retractions and rales whenever she got a head cold, and she also coughed so much that she vomited. We ended up with an inhaler that we had to use two or three times every time she got a cold.

          A partial solution came when we were adjusting her diet in an effort to figure out what was giving her super-stinky, acidic, runny poops all the time. Dropping the offending items seems to have eased inflammation all through her system, because the respiratory symptoms decreased at the same time as the bowel issues.

          We finally ended her need for an inhaler (we hope!) by putting a metal mixing bowl in her room on cold nights (when the forced-air heating would be running more than usual and the humidity would be low) and filling it with boiling water after she went to sleep. The steam thinned out her mucus and by the time she was awake enough to notice the bowl, the water was already cool. Plus there was no noise as there would have been from an electric humidifier. We didn’t need to use the inhaler at all during the second half of last winter.

  13. Dawn

    Ugh. One of my friend’s kids is only allowed Crystal Light and I’ve trained Madison to only drink water there because I don’t want her eating artificial sweeteners. This child is the same size as Madison so her mom used to think I would be THRILLED that she would give MY daughter diet foods, too, and I’ve been very clear that this is not ok with us.

  14. Camilla

    My toddlers get some amount of tea and coffee – lots of whole milk in the tea, half and half in the coffee, no added sugar.

    The elder boy at age two (he’s four now) could consume a mug of regular coffee after the church service, then head home for a three hour nap exactly as usual (I suspect he takes after his father, and has a touch of hyperfocus-ADD). The 18 month old gets less coffee (but still likes it) because it disrupts his nap.

    The little one finds a sippy of cold whole milk a poor substitute for being allowed to nurse (though he’s happy with the plain milk if I’m not around) so I often pull out the milk-tea when I’m out of breast milk but home with him on a weekend.

    I take it your objection to the soda is that it’s fake food, not specifically the possible caffeine content? I’d probably feel worse about the tea and coffee if anyone had a more reasoned reaction than “kids don’t drink coffee!”

    • katja

      It is more of a reaction to the “fake” food. I’m not sure little ones need artificial sweeteners. I’m not so worried about caffeine. As you mentioned, the stimulant might help your son. I also worked with an adoptive family who’s son was drinking coffee from preschool. He’s in grade-school now and still drinks it. Not concerning unless there is a reaction, or it interferes with sleep/attention or eating and appetite. (I don’t think we have to introduce it, but not something I would feel anxious about. Though I bet you get some odd looks at church?!) I also know that just the sweet taste will release insulin. Insulin stores blood sugar and the blood sugar levels will drop, possibly increasing carb cravings and hunger. I do recommend that if people drink diet soda (as does my husband-he prefers the taste) that they do it with meals and snacks. I did see a trend of my patients who struggled with weight consuming large amounts of Diet Soda, but I don’t know any studies. I also onject, and think it’s part of the problem, with the notion that calories alone define a “preferred food.”

      • Camilla

        Well, he was barely over a year old, when he was begging for his father’s iced coffee, and got a sip “so he knows he doesn’t like it.” It of course backfired.

        I’ve never got more comment on it than “what about his nap?” but it is a UU church with a lot of support for non-conformity (in general).

    • katja

      It is more of a reaction to the “fake” food. I’m not sure little ones need artificial sweeteners. I’m not so worried about caffeine. As you mentioned, the stimulant might help your son. I also worked with an adoptive family who’s son was drinking coffee from preschool. He’s in grade-school now and still drinks it. Not concerning unless there is a reaction, or it interferes with sleep/attention or eating and appetite. (I don’t think we have to introduce it, but not something I would feel anxious about. Though I bet you get some odd looks at church?!) I also know that just the sweet taste will release insulin. Insulin stores blood sugar and the blood sugar levels will drop, possibly increasing carb cravings and hunger. I do recommend that if people drink diet soda (as does my husband-he prefers the taste) that they do it with meals and snacks. I did see a trend of my patients who struggled with weight consuming large amounts of Diet Soda, but I don’t know any studies. I also object, and think it’s part of the problem, with the notion that calories alone define a “preferred food.”

  15. Samantha C

    Oof, the Diet Soda. I basically grew up drinking nothing else. I can’t remember being young enough that it would have had a more averse impact – I don’t know what I drank when I was 2 or 3 or 5. But I remember that one day, I went for the apple juice and was told it’d be better for me to drink the diet pepsi, since that didn’t have any calories. Now, I actually can’t believe that my parents INTENDED to teach me this, but from then on I extrapolated that rule to all juice, and any milk other than skim milk. My brothers also primarily drink diet soda as a default. We’ll go out to dinner as a family and get a pitcher because we’re all drinking the same thing.

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