Enough with the Chocolate Milk Already!

Today’s post is a bit of a rant, so feel free to stop now if you’re following me for some positivity and don’t want to start your day fired up.

I’m trying to figure out why in 2019, when every other day there is a headline about our failing health, are we still giving our kids chocolate milk. WHY? The dairy groups say it provides vital nutrients our children need and without it they would only drink – gasp – water.

I need to let the cat out of the bag. This is going to come to a shock to many, but no one actually needs to drink milk. I know, I know. How is it possible that you’ve been lied to your entire life? But it’s true. Sure, standard WHITE cow’s milk has some great nutrients in it – calcium, vitamin D, phosphorus and protein, to name a few. But these things can come from other places too. Milk isn’t a requirement.

So why chocolate? I’m actually not attacking white milk here. What I’m fired up about is the fact that we are giving kids chocolate milk on a regular basis. Of course almost every child is going to choose chocolate (or some other flavored milk) if given the choice between white and chocolate. The downfalls?

  1. Kids taste preferences are going to be changed to think white milk tastes horrible. Don’t believe me? Think of changing from 2% to skim milk (I’m sure many of you have done that before). The initial change is horrible and takes weeks to get used to.
  2. Giving kids (or anyone) sweets in the morning or early part of the day predisposes them to want more sweets throughout the day. This is two-fold. First to them the sweets gets their taste buds interested and wanting more, making an effort at avoiding sweets much harder. Second, this leads to insulin spikes and valleys…
  3. Insulin spikes happen when we eat carbohydrates that are easy to digest (read more in a recent post here – http://bit.ly/322YJwu). Once this happens a number of physical symptoms can occur, including fatigue, cravings, foggy mind and weakness. All things we DON’T want our kids to experience when they are supposed to be learning at school.
  4. Some kids are predisposed to obesity and diabetes. These are the kids whose bodies don’t follow the set-point for weight and hunger/satiety because of many reasons we don’t understand. Technically, if a child drank chocolate milk that had extra calories in it, they would be fuller and eat less elsewhere. This works in a vacuum but not in real life for most people. I think that epigenetics plays a big role in this (read more in my recent post here – http://bit.ly/327SebL). Various environmental inputs, including food that stimulates dopamine release because it’s pleasurable to eat, change the way genes are expressed.

I’m sure I sound like a purist who is trying to ruin everyone’s fun by eliminating chocolate milk. But I see literally no reason why it needs to be a staple in our children’s diets. If you want to make your child a glass of cold chocolate milk after an afternoon of playing outside, you go for it. There is no harm in having it once and awhile. The harm comes when we give it to kids on a daily basis and teach them that it is a healthy drink to make them strong. If there wasn’t chocolate milk at school kids would either drink white milk or water, it’s that simple. If the chocolate milk was providing vital nutrients, we should offer other foods that are high in those nutrients.

So what triggered this rant? Two events this week really got me thinking.

First, my son just started kindergarten. I checked the school lunch menu on Sunday and it seemed reasonable. I have read all about the healthy lunch options and decided I’d let him experience hot lunch on Monday. He was excited to get to pick his lunch and I was excited to hear how it went (hoping he would figure out the system or ask for help so he didn’t end up skipping lunch all together). He was so excited to tell me he had chocolate milk for lunch. What? I thought. Again, once and awhile is fine – he will make it through this ok – but seriously. If I let him have hot lunch daily he would drink chocolate milk every single day. Good luck getting him to drink cows milk at home.

Second, we were at the local farm and I saw what appeared to be a healthy, well-educated woman pouring organic chocolate milk into a sippy cup for her 2 yr old. Why does a 2yr old ever need chocolate milk? She doesn’t. Ever. I really try not to judge others parenting styles because we are all learning and no one is perfect. I’m sure she was under the impression that it was a great snack for her child and she was doing the best she could in the situation. There is really no reason why that child couldn’t have had white milk or water. And if it’s a treat 1 time a month, fine it’s really not a big deal. But there are hundreds (probably thousands) of kids who drink chocolate milk on a regular basis.

OK, rant over. What are your thoughts about chocolate milk? Lover or hater? Have you ever stopped to think why we even have flavored milks? Leave your comments below!

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