Chocolate milk is my weakness! It’s the perfect combination of sweet and creamy – so what’s not to love? Plus, it’s better than fizzy drinks when a sweet craving hits. Right? Well, not exactly.
REASONS BEHIND CHOCOLATE MILK CRAVINGS
Some old wives’ tales say that if you’re craving sweet things, and dairy in particular, you’ll have a girl, so maybe there’s some truth to it since I was pregnant with Bella. But on the other hand, chocolate cravings have been linked to a lack of B vitamins and dairy cravings to increased calcium needs – both of which are essentials in pregnancy and during breastfeeding. Add to this the fact that chocolate milk offers the perfect combination of sugars and fats to make it appealing to your taste buds and override food aversions and you’ll be reaching for it in no time.
THE PROBLEM IS…
Sugar, sugar, sugar! Chocolate milk contains almost the same amount as sodas and while you probably wouldn’t dream of downing a coke while breastfeeding, chocolate milk somehow doesn’t seem as bad. Excessive sugar intake during pregnancy causes unnecessary weight-gain – especially in the third trimester – and has been linked to everything from low birth weights, gestational diabetes, preeclampsia (a dangerous pregnancy condition characterized by high blood pressure) and even ADHD and health problems for the child later in life.
CHOCOLATE MILK FOR KIDS
One of the main sugars found in milk is lactose. One cup of milk contains 12 grams of naturally occurring sugar that is broken down by the body into galactose and glucose, which is the main source of energy for the body and the brain. Naturally occurring sugars are found in a variety of healthy foods that are important parts of a balanced diet. However, one glass of chocolate milk contains well over double this (Steri Stumpie comes in at a whopping 31 grams per serving and Nesquick comes in at 37 grams when added to milk) thanks to added sugar. The World Health Organization recommends a daily limit for children of about 20 grams. This means that just one glass of chocolate milk already pushes your little one’s RDA way over the limit, putting your child at risk of weakened immunity, allergies and acid reflux as well as obesity and type 2 diabetes later in life.
YOU DON’T HAVE TO GO WITHOUT
I’m the first person to recommend balance when it comes to diet – we all need a treat once in a while, but we’re talking once or twice a week. Chocolate milk shouldn’t form a part of your child’s daily diet. By simply offering your child whole, plain milk rather than chocolate milk from the beginning, you can eliminate this craving in your child. Plain, whole milk can form part of your child’s healthy diet, offering her calcium, potassium and magnesium, as well as vitamin D and A. If your cravings are really getting too hard to resist, there are healthier alternatives.
The best way to control the sugar in any aspect of your diet is to make things yourself – so you know exactly what you’re putting in your body. Try whole milk mixed with unsweetened cocoa powder and a sweetener such as stevia or honey. I also recently discovered the Almond Creamery’s macadamia and almond chocolate milk, which is a quick, easy and healthier alternative since it is also dairy-free – ideal, since my aim is to cut back on dairy this year. The bottom line is that chocolate milk is the same as whole milk except for one main point – it contains way more sugar. And that’s just not something we need more of when growing and raising happy, healthy future generations.