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The Perks of Less Caffeine

By Donna Stark

Many of us spend a lot of time making sure our children are eating a healthy diet and getting all the nutrition they need. We wake them up with a solid breakfast, we pack them lunches that would make a four-star chef proud, and we end the day "eating the rainbow," just as we have been advised to by all the health food bloggers out there. We watch over their intake of candy, chips, and desserts like a hawk, so it stands to reason that very few of us would ever intentionally over-caffeinate our children. Why worry about caffeine? Well, for one thing -- and I think we can all agree on this -- they have enough energy on their own. For another, it's just not good for them.

Hidden Caffeine

It's a good thing to be intentional with what you feed your children and limiting your child's caffeine intake is part of that. Unfortunately though, caffeine may actually be lurking in places you never even considered. Take a look.  

  • The obvious - Coffee, soda, tea, energy drinks, and caffeine-fortified food products
  • The not-so-obvious - Protein Bars, decaf coffee, non-cola sodas, ice cream, yogurt, candy bars, hot chocolate, cereal, pudding, pain relievers, and flavored water

Since caffeine is found in so many common food items, parents may unknowingly provide excessive amounts to their children. And if you have a teen? Well, good luck because teens are some of the biggest consumers of caffeinated products. Some teens find that it helps them perk up before school, some use caffeinated products to help them stay up late for homework and studying, and a lot use the local coffee shop as their place to hang out.

What's So Bad About Caffeine?

Most doctors will discourage the use of caffeine by children and adolescents because in large doses, it can cause a host of issues, such as:

  • Insomnia
  • Anxiety
  • Irritability
  • Impaired calcium metabolism
  • Rapid heart rate
  • Elevated blood pressure
  • Digestive issues
  • Muscle tremors
  • Headaches
  • Nervousness/jitters

Helping your Kids Limit Caffeine

If you notice that your children's behaviors are changing and can attribute the changes to their caffeine intake, it might be a good idea to reduce the amount they consume. An easy place to start is to limit their access to the obvious, like coffee, tea, sodas, and energy drinks. These items alone contribute more caffeine to the diet than any other food or beverage. You will also want to steer clear of those foods that are fortified with added caffeine.

It's important to talk to your children about the unhealthy aspects that come from consuming too much caffeine and to teach them alternative strategies that they can use if it's energy they are seeking. For example, they could focus on getting to bed earlier or designing a room that is conducive to better sleep. They could also start taking short naps which have been shown to be more effective than consuming caffeine.

Caffeine certainly has its perks, but so does great health, so start improving your child's today!

To learn more about your health, wellness, and fitness, see your local chiropractor at The Joint Chiropractic in Denver, Colo.

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