My daughter and the unhealthy lifestyle

At first glance, my daughter has a very healthy lifestyle. She has five dance classes a week and is a regular Parkrunner. She loves school PE lessons and is currently training for an inter-school athletics competition.

But, scratch the surface, and she actually doesn’t have the healthiest of lifestyles after all.

Her dance lessons means she tends to eat around 6.30pm, which isn’t ideal for a slow eater. Inevitably it means she goes to bed late. She then faffs around getting to bed and then struggles to fall asleep. On a good night, she will be asleep at 10. On an ordinary night it will be 10. 15. On a bad night it could be 11.30. A 10 year old needs 9 hours and 45 minutes sleep a night. She is averaging at least an hour less than this every single night.

She is a very fussy eater with a small appetite. Even at the age of 10, she believes the only reason for clearing a plate (or eating what you can get away with from a plate) is so that you can have pudding. She LOVES sweet food. She really doesn’t like fruit or vegetables. She can sit for an hour, pushing peas and sweetcorn around a plate. Pizza, potato waffles and baked beans will disappear a whole lot faster.

Her main source of five-a-day (well, three-a-day) is juice. Not homemade juice in a Nutribullet, but orange juice and apple juice from Tesco or Sainsburys. You know, the juice that you’re only supposed to drink once a day because it’s so full of sugar (albeit natural sugar). Juice is also her main source of hydration.

On a school day, she will drink orange juice for breakfast, then drink nothing until she gets home and drinks an overpriced Innocent Kids smoothie carton. She will have a glass of apple juice with her tea, which she will often forget and be nagged to finish at 7.45pm, then she will have a glass of squash before bed. That’s it. Nothing else.

Unsurprisingly, she often comes out of school with headaches. School will only let her take a bottle of water. I used to agree with this policy, but lately I’ve started to disagree. Because she doesn’t like water. I love water, but even I would struggle to drink it out of a plastic bottle that has sat on a trolley in a hot classroom all day. Bleurgh!

Less than two weeks after she was off school ill, she had another day off ill. It was an almost identical situation. She came out of school on Monday with a bad headache. It was worse than her usual dehydration headache. She was clearly ill. Again. So I didn’t make the mistake of sending her to school the next day. She had a day off.

It was a bit annoying and a bit inconvenient, but it was also a bit worrying. Hopefully it was just a blip, a coincidence. Hopefully there’s nothing underlying that’s causing her to get ill so often.

Personally, I think it’s down to her unhealthy lifestyle. She needs to drink more. She needs to eat a more balanced diet – more fruit and vegetables, less chocolate – and she needs to get to bed earlier. Should she give up a couple of dance lessons so I have time to cook a more balanced meal, she has more time to eat and is able to get to bed earlier?

I don’t know the answer, but I do know that I’ve started sneaking squash into her pink water bottle. It *hardly* looks different. OK, it does. But if the school have issues with it, they can talk to me.

My daughter has taken a water bottle to school and brought it home full every day for six years. She now regularly comes out of school with a headache and has been off ill twice in two weeks. Water may be ‘healthier’, but it’s not if she isn’t drinking it. If drinking squash can stop her getting headaches (and maybe even stop her getting ill), that’s far healthier.

Drink, Water, Daughter, Health

Can you tell it’s blackcurrant and not water?

Author: Sarah Mummy

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  1. I find the squash at school thing a bit difficult because I don’t think there is an answer that works for everyone. I can see the wish to see everyone drink water is a good thing in principle, but it doesn’t work for your daughter. On the other hand if one child has squash, won’t they all want squash (even those that drink water)? I agree though warm water isn’t very nice to drink.

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    • I’ve spent over 10 years agreeing with the water rule – even when my kids came home without drinking anything! But now my daughter is getting headaches I’m seeing it in a different light. The amount of sugar in squash is negligible and it’s certainly better than dehydration.

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  2. If you find a solution to the picky eating, let me know! But have you thought about getting her a S’well or similar insulated water bottle, which would keep her water cold for 24 hours?

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    • Ooh, I haven’t heard of those bottles! I will have to look into them (although of course the water will still taste ‘boring’!). Sadly I don’t think there’s a solution to the picky eating.

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  3. I am so torn about the water policy – for my eldest and youngest it was great as it got both of them drinking water. For my middle one it doesnt work as he will not drink water under any circumstance, so for him it just leads to headaches, like your daughter. I took to giving him those fruit waters, you know the ones that look like clear water, when he was at his old school – and now he takes a massive bottle of squash and tops himself up at break time and lunchtime instead (they don’t do the water bottles in the classroom thing as they move rooms for lessons now).

    I can see why they do it, but think there should be a ‘make no comment’ policy of parents have sent squash instead!

    The sleep thing is hard, I think some of us just have a natural later cycle – I know Syd does – he would sleep 10.30 until 8.30 given the chance, and it is a battle for us to get him to sleep by 9 so he can cope with school etc – it takes a almost 2 hour long routine to get him to sleep earlier, but we have to do it or he gets beyond exhausted with the early (for him) wake ups. Has she tried guided meditations? We have been listening to kids ones on YouTube the last couple of weeks and is definitely resulting in him sleeping about 15 minutes earlier – it’s not much, but every little helps! Xx

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    • I’ve always agreed with the water rule until now, but I don’t think it’s right to let kids get dehydrated for the sake of a drop of low sugar squash. We haven’t tried the flavoured waters. Maybe if we get picked up on the squash, I’ll give those a go!
      Syd’s sleeping sounds hard work – more like a teenager’s! I’ve not heard of guided meditations. I should give them a go! Thanks very much. x

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  4. N likes water but even he struggles to get round to drinking it at school so if kids don’t like it, that makes it harder. I try to tell him that if you don’t drink enough water you get headaches but he doesn’t believe that, even though he knows I get them when I’ve not had enough.

    Does she eat a hot decent meal at school? Or is that a struggle too – I guess a decent meal at lunch, means a more picky, on the go meal is more acceptable in the evening when it can be fitted in.

    Hard one – would the threatening to stop a lesson or 2 a week for proper eating/drinking work?

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    • She does have a school dinner, but the portions are very small for a child of her age – even one with a small appetite like she has! She also rarely eats her pudding at school, which means her calorie intake is even lower. It would be easy if she could just have a quick beans on toast at home!

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  5. You’re daughter sounds a lot like me when I was younger. I was the worst for not drinking and I was regularly ill when younger for the same reasons, unfortunately I’m just as bad now, I can go all day without drinking anything because I just don’t get thirsty but I too get the headaches and end up feeling dizzy because of it.

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  6. we request all parents send in a water bottle to school with their child which we can refill from the dispensers during the day, they take it outside with them for play time and if they are thirsty during lessons they can get their water, however, we do allow and encourage, milk shakes and juice to have with their snack/lunch everyday, but have banned chocolate bars and crisps. Most of the children in my class come in with hummus, olives, flat breads etc

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  7. My son hated water. I sent squash and one teacher used to open bottles and pour some out to check it was water. He drank nothing all day as just wouldn’t drink water and they woman threw it all away every day. He was ill because of this but still it continued.

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  8. I have the same issue with the boys. One likes water, one doesn’t and I do the same thing as you, I sneak in some diluting juice. As long as he doesn’t say anything it’s fine. xx

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    • It’s a very good idea! I’d never had an issue with the ban on squash or juice before now, but now it seems crazy that kids can get dehydrated because of it. My daughter hadn’t even admitted to her best friend the secret of the ‘water’! x

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  9. I completely agree with you. Why allow children to get dehydrated for the sake of a tiny drop of blackcurrant squash? Not drinking enough definitely brings on headaches and it can also dehydrate your muscles -for all the dance she does, she needs those to be working right 🙂

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    • I’d never even considered the effect on the muscles, but I went to an event the other day where they talked about dehydration and its effect on concentration and various essential functions of the body. It made me even more determined she would drink enough!

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  10. Sneaking in juice sounds like a good idea. Z actually drinks water and likes it so I haven’t added anything to his but I did put diarolyte in it when he went through that very bad patch of getting sick all the time as its good at rehydrating him. He didn’t like it very much but it worked really well for a while.

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    • I’m impressed that Z likes water! Personally I think there’s nothing nicer than fresh, cold water, but unfortunately my daughter doesn’t agree! Impressed that the diarolyte worked! I couldn’t bear to drink that stuff even as a teenager!

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  11. I have a similar problem with my son. He loves juice and we can usually water the juice down but he hates water and point blank refuses to drink it at school. He also gets headaches and on warm days it worries me sick because he really needs to drink something. I put juice in his lunch but most days it is all he has. I agree with the water rule but I think dehydration is a bigger concern and it can affect their concentration and general well-being so squash is better than nothing.

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  12. I sneak squash into my youngest ‘s drink bottle (a purple one like you have shown here) because like your daughter if i filled it with water, it would come home full. Once it has been drank – which only happens very occasionally – if he is still thirsty then he leaves a little blackcurrant in it and tops up with water so it has a very weak blackcurrant flavour!
    I agree with you, at the end of the day kids need to drink and if that drink is squash then so be it, because it is more important for our children to be hydrated than worry about the nutritional value of squash! x

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  13. I totally agree, drinking is too important to let silly policies get in the way of making sure children are hydrated. Pink Oddy recently posted about putting a Ricola sweet in a drink to dissolve and give it some flavour. I didn’t know you could do this, but I wonder if it might be a bit more subtle if the school start causing a fuss about her having squash? I hope you manage to sort it out soon.

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