Why Milk – Even Chocolate – Is Irreplaceable in the Lunchroom

Why Milk – Even Chocolate – Is Irreplaceable in the Lunchroom


Girls Drinking Chocolate Milk

I look forward to the easy-going schedule of summer just as much as my kids do. During the next few weeks, my check-list will switch from “Are their bathing suits clean for camp?” to “Do we have quick breakfast and after-school snack foods in the house?" or "What dinner can I make before we rush out to soccer practice?" It’s always quite a transition for all of us as the school year gets underway.

One thing that doesn’t go on my check-list is worrying about what my kids are drinking at school, but a recent conversation with another mom made me realize that many parents are weighing this decision and unsure of the answer. My kids tend to choose chocolate milk at school. I've had the benefit of working with registered dietitians for many years, and I've learned from them that I can feel good about giving my kids flavored milk both at school and at home. Let me explain why.

First, milk is an amazing source of many of the nutrients that kids need – from calcium and vitamin D to protein. No other single food or drink contains the same package of nutrients essential to a healthy diet, and chocolate milk offers all of that same goodness as plain milk. As parents we need to watch excessive sugar in our kids’ diets, but reformulation of flavored milk in recent years makes it just about 30 more calories than white milk, plus they are getting a lot of nutrients for that little amount of sugar. I don’t see it differently from spreading jam on a wheat bagel or sprinkling brown sugar on oatmeal. Even as adults we like to make these foods more fun and tasty. And, research shows that children who drink milk, flavored or plain, have healthier diets than those who don’t.

So, yes, the research supports my decision as does The American Academy of Pediatrics and the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, but really it comes down to what is best for your child. I know that my kids spend more time during their short lunch period talking than chewing, and even if their food goes uneaten, their chocolate milk is emptied. I know consuming milk and dairy foods is essential to a healthy diet and this one irreplaceable beverage keeps them sustained throughout their busy afternoons. Thank goodness this is an easy choice, because I don’t need one more thing to worry about!

Debbie Asada is a credentialed health teacher with a degree in dietetics and is completing her master’s degree in education. She loves to spend time with her five children, ages 3-18 and teaching them the joys of cooking. Foods that she can’t live without are pomegranates, feta cheese and pizza.

 

References:

1. Murphy MM, Douglas JS, Johnson RK, Spence LA. Drinking flavored or plain milk is positively associated with nutrient intake and is not associated with adverse effects on weight status in US children and adolescents. J Am Diet Assoc. 2008 Apr;108(4):631-9.  

2. American Academy of Pediatrics. Healthy Children Web site. Elk Grove Village, IL. Ages and Stages, Feeding And Nutrition: Your 4 to 5 year old. http://www.healthychildren.org/English/ages-stages/preschool/nutrition-fitness/Pages/Feeding-and-Nutrition-Your-4-to-5-Year-Old.aspx Accessed April 7, 2015.  

3. Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. Eat Right Web site. Chicago, IL. Your Gradeschooler Won't Drink Milk; Now What? http://www.eatright.org/resource/food/nutrition/nutrition-facts-and-food-labels/your-grade-schooler-wont-drink-milk-now-what Accessed April 7, 2015. 

 

Slideshow

Balanced Nurition for Your Child