September – Eat 2 Fruit a Day!

In September the focus is on fruit; the whole fruit and nothing but the fruit.  If you are a busy parent and have a hard time getting your child to eat fresh fruit everyday, you probably let them drink several juice boxes to make up for it.  In fact, you may even give them the new variety of juice that provides vegetables and fruit in a juice box.  Great, you think; you can kill two birds with one stone and have them drink the fruit/vegetable juice and avoid the battle you have with them when you try to get them to eat whole fruits and vegetables.

Is there something wrong with this approach?  Sadly there is.  I am all about giving you short cuts and easier ways to feed your child a healthy diet but when children drink too much juice, it is not healthy for them.  When your child drinks juice instead of eating the whole fruit it prevents their taste buds from developing a taste and a preference for the texture of whole produce. They set their taste buds up to want more and more sweet tasting food and drink instead.  If your child is the type that downs 3 or 4 juice boxes a day, chances are they also want cookies, candy and cake as well.

If your child drinks too much juice at one sitting they can get diarrhea and a tummy ache. If they continue to drink a lot of juice every day this can lead to cavities, becoming overweight as well as being malnourished if they substitute juice for other food that they should be eating.  It can also prevent your child from reaching their height potential. Did you hear that?  Your child can develop a short stature from consuming too much juice and avoiding a balanced diet.

The American Academy of Pediatrics has set a limit on the amount of juice that your child should be drinking every day because they know the risks associated with drinking too much juice.  The recommendation is 4-6 oz of 100% juice for children 1 to 6 years, and 8-12oz of 100% juice for children 7 to 18 years of age. The AAP does not recommend juice for babies under 6 months of age and drinking juice from a bottle is not advised.

In summary, because it is so easy to over-consume calories by drinking too much juice and avoid eating a balanced diet, it is best to limit the amount of juice that your child drinks to the amount set by the AAP.  Make sure the juice that you do offer your child is 100% juice and not a juice cocktail, a juice-ade or juice drink. Your child should eat their fruit instead of drink it. Make sure they get at least two servings a day.