Thursday, March 19, 2015

Does Your Kid or Teen Have the Caffeine Bug?

Caffeine is not good for your child. Side effects include trouble sleeping, stomach aches, too much energy, and loss focus. While caffeine does not stunt growth, a prime reason I wasn't allowed to have caffeine as a child, it can bring with it some very empty calories and an empty pocket as well.

Your child on caffeine is bad for you! I see kids running around like a little Tasmanian devils, touching everything in reach and knocking it down , firing a million questions a minute in a voice that definitely doesn't belong inside all while pushing strangers and pulling hair. THIS is the kid you want to give coffee to?!

Saying “No” to any coffee shop drink for a child would be best. There are so many healthier still delicious things they could be doing with those calories and sugars. The CDC reported in 2011 that what we drink can effect our diets to an alarming degree. Your kid might not need to watch their weight now but please think beyond the present. You could be building bad food habits which will bite them in the future. Limiting empty sugar calories now can teach a child better habits for life.

If you do want to treat the kid: the variety of caffeine free drinks is nearly endless. Almost anything hot or cold can be made without any coffee. When you choose flavors remember decaf coffee and chocolate still have lower levels of caffeine in them. For a complete table of foods and drinks that may have caffeine please look here. For a list of shocking places you'd find caffeine check out this Sara Collins article. I had no idea oatmeal and beef jerky could have caffeine!

Your kid can have a steamed milk with thousands of different flavor combinations in it and a dollop of whipped cream on top. Lots of stores have apple juice that can be steamed to create a fun cinnamon or caramel themed apple drink.

Be wary, caffeine free drinks don't mean good for them. A coke the same size has less sugar andcalories than steamed milk with syrup. There is good news though! The milk in this drink still has all its nutrients including an excellent dose of calcium.

Older children present a whole different conundrum in the coffee shop. Teens want to be cool and drinking coffee is in vogue. I get that teens roam the stores without an adult often. You can discourage them from ordering coffee.

When you're out with your teen, don't offer to buy them a coffee. Or offer a coffee but limit how much sugar can go in. No one needs a latte with extra syrup and extra drizzle. Don't let a beginning coffee drinker make this a standard order! Encourage them to drink coffee with fewer additives. Suggest things that complement coffee's natural flavors like chocolate, cinnamon, or one of the nut flavors. Avoid making the coffee a candy bar with berry flavors, caramel, peppermint, coconut, or more than one syrup flavor.

Finally, you might point out the calories in the “treat”. Health Assist allows you to enter a weight and how many calories you want to work off and will literally tell you how long it will be to “run them off.” A lot of young ladies who think drinking a coffee will help them lose weight may be rudely awakened.

A coffee might seem like a weird place to take a stand, but it's not. Consider that your kid could be buying this regularly for the rest of his or her life. How often do you buy a coffee or drink while out? Once a month, once a week, more? Do you know how much money that is over the course of a natural human life span? Once a week at $2 each for 52 weeks is $104 in just one year. Lattes and frozen beverages, kids preferred coffee drinks run $4-$7 each, this more than doubles projected costs!

Does your teen realize how much money they are spending on coffee? A potentially eye opening exercise is to have your teen keep each coffee order receipt for a month. At the end of the month, add up all the money spent in the coffee shop. Ask your teen what else they could have bought with the money. Was being the cool kid who drinks coffee the best option?

If you must introduce kids to coffee, why not do it at home where you can control what goes in the coffee along with how much they have? Most kids aren't going to like straight coffee with a little milk and sugar. It might squelch any interest in getting a coffee from the shop when they know they don't like the home brew.

Thats' My Two Cents, I Want To Hear From You:

-Am I making too big a deal out of children drinking a coffee?
-What other suggestions would you offer to keep a kid from wanting coffee?
-Would you ever allow your child to drink a latte of some kind? Why or Why not?
-Is there a way for a barista to offer a coffee free alternative to a parent ordering a mocha for a kid without seeming rude or obnoxious?
-If you were in the coffee line and heard a parent buying a kid a coffee, would you speak up? Why or why not?
-Do you interpret the same order differently based on whether it's for a child, tween, teen, or adult?

-When are we old enough for caffeine?