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“Do you want to grow up big and strong? Finish your milk!” I can say with honesty that I didn’t have the best nutrition growing up. Too much of the not-so-great stuff and definitely not enough of what was nutritious. I knew right away when I became a mom that I wanted things to be different for my kids. I wanted them to crave the good stuff. To choose the good stuff even when the not-so-great stuff was an option too. I didn’t want them to have the same bad eating habits I had – choosing poorly, picky eating and refusing to try new foods. My kids are choosing well, and drinking milk daily is one of the best choices they make.
As a family of six, we purchase a lot of food. Over the past few years my husband and I been focused on purchasing more of what’s nutritious. More of what’s wholesome and satisfying. More good sources of protein. Naturally milk plays a big part in our family’s diet. With four kids (ages 17 months to 13 years old) we go through a gallon of milk every two days. Drinking milk and using it in my daily cooking is a great way to fill our bodies with natural, high-quality protein plus other nutrients we need.
Why Do Kids Need Milk?
I’m fortunate in that all my kids are huge milk drinkers. We purchase whole milk for the baby, who needs it for proper brain development. The rest of the family drinks low-fat milk.
One 8-ounce glass of milk provides eight grams of natural, high-quality protein. Protein helps to build lean muscle and keep bones strong. So when we’re telling our kids to finish their glass of milk because it will make them stronger, it’s speaking truth!
Unfortunately many kids overall are drinking less milk. That means some kids aren’t getting enough of milk’s 9 essential nutrients, like high-quality protein calcium, potassium and vitamin D. Kids desperately need these to grow. Dairy milk is the top food source for these three nutrients, calcium, potassium and vitamin D.
Ways to Encourage Kids to Drink More Milk
My kids start off each day with a well-rounded breakfast. I’m always shocked to hear how many of their peers don’t eat breakfast at all before school. Even if breakfast is grab-and-go, a glass of milk is a simple and wholesome way to help kids get natural protein and balanced nutrition. I serve my kids an 8 ounce glass of milk at breakfast and again at dinner. Each cup of milk has 8 grams natural, high-quality protein.
Low Pressure and Balance
As a formerly picky eater I can attest to pressure from my parents as a big reason why I would not try new foods. I was stubborn and it was definitely a control thing for me, being able to say “No, I’m NOT going to eat that!”. I’ve found that encouraging the “just one bite” or “just one sip” method brings fewer struggles with my kids.
We actually just went through it this morning, when my son didn’t want to try his blueberry smoothie. I told him he didn’t have to like it, he just needed to try it.
Offer a good balance and don’t flat-out banning treats (especially if your child has become accustomed to eating them). Yes, we still eat dessert. Just not after every meal and not even every day.
What If Your Child Says They Don’t Like Milk?
What if kids aren’t crazy about the taste of white milk? No worries because flavored milk also counts as a serving of dairy and provides the same nine essential nutrients. Or choose to create recipes that incorporate the recommended daily serving of milk in another way.
Do Adults Need Milk?
Many adults simply do not get the necessary amount of protein each day. I used to be one of them. And naturally, without the natural, high-quality protein in my system, I’d be hungry again within an hour after eating. I personally find myself craving milk so I know my body needs the extra protein and calcium.
Did you know dairy milk protein is a complete protein? Most plant proteins are incomplete. This means they’re missing some of the amino acids your body needs. Milk is also a top source of calcium in the diet — with one cup offering about a third of the recommended amount for one day. An 8-ounce glass of milk gives you about 30 percent of your daily recommended amount of vitamin D. The vitamin D and calcium work together to build and maintain strong bones, helping to protect older adults from osteoporosis.
And as someone trying to shed the last 15 lbs of “baby weight” I’m incorporating milk consumption in my diet as a way to increase muscle mass. A study in women found that including fat free milk in a recovery routine during a 12 week training program resulted in greater muscle mass, strength gains, and fat loss (compared to a carb-only sports drink with the same calories).
Other Ways to Get the Benefits of Milk
There are some easy ways to incorporate milk naturally into the day. Of course, drinking a glass of milk is the easiest way to take advantage of the nutritious benefits! Here are some ways that I add milk into our recipes:
- Serve milk with cereal or grains at breakfast.
- Use milk when making scrambled eggs, oatmeal, pancakes, waffles or French toast.
- Make a low-fat or skim milk smoothie. I freeze fruit and greens (like kale or spinach) just before they’re overripe. Then toss them into the blender with 8-oz of milk and a few ice cubes.
- Make milk-rich recipes for dinner like quiche, macaroni and cheese, creamy broccoli soup, Alfredo sauce or frittata.
- For dessert, make pudding, frozen smoothie pops or custard.
- Add chocolate to milk to make cocoa.
I’ll be totally honest. I don’t like the taste of plain white milk! I never have, even as a child. But I do still drink my milk by including it daily inside a smoothie at breakfast. Toss in lots of frozen berries and even a handful of greens and I’m good for the day.
There are lots of other ways to include milk into your daily diet – Looking for more ideas on how to incorporate more milk into your everyday? Visit MilkLife.com for more information and recipes.
What if you could give your kids a nutrient-rich, delicious, farm fresh beverage with natural protein and no sugar added – all for about a quarter per serving? Surprise – it’s something that’s likely already in your fridge – white milk!