When doctors tell you that your kids should be getting their full servings of fruit every day, that does not mean it should be served in a glass with a straw. If you truly want your kids to maintain a healthy lifestyle, it is important to cut back on juice consumption.
Many juice blends contain as many– if not more– calories and sugar than a can of soda. Parents should especially avoid buying any kind of juice products labeled “ade,” “drink,” “cocktail” or “punch”. These drinks usually contain only five percent juice or less – essentially being a soda with no carbonation and (sometimes) added Vitamin C.
The high levels of sugar found in juice can lead to numerous health issues for your kids including obesity, tooth decay, gastrointestinal problems and a poor diet. Further, children who drink too much juice from an early age are more likely to develop poor eating habits. Often used as an alternative to whole fruit for picky eaters, juice lacks many of the dietary benefits of whole fruit such as fiber. This also creates bad eating habits by lowering a child’s appetite for whole and nutritious foods and creates habitual cravings for sweets. If this is a problem in your house, fresh blended smoothies mixed with veggies and other natural ingredients are a great option! Here’s a link to one of the many sites offering smoothie recipes: http://www.eatingwell.com/recipes/22897/healthy-kids/smoothies/
However, just like many things in life, juice is ok to drink in moderation. If your kids are going to have their daily glass of OJ, make sure it is 100% juice. Many brands will label their juice as “no added sugar”, which does not mean “zero sugar”. Many “100% juice” products will still have well over 100 calories per serving and over 30 grams of sugar, which is nearly as much as a 12 oz. can of Coca-Cola!
Each day make sure to follow these age guidelines for serving sizes:
No juice for children younger than 12 months
4-6 ounces for children 1-6-years-old
8-12 ounces for children 7-18-years-old
Even though there are healthy amounts of juice kids can drink each day, it still should not be consumed as often as healthier alternatives. Both milk and water are much healthier for your kids. Specifically, water is the best and healthiest way to stay hydrated and keep your kid moving.
Kids have a ton of energy, which means they tend to be active and sweat throughout the day. When kids sweat, they are sweating out water, and because our bodies are made up 70-80 percent of water, it must be replenished to avoid the dangers of dehydration. Sugar can be very dehydrating and unlike juice, water contains zero of it. Keeping water cold and handy, such as storing water bottles or a pitcher in the fridge will help promote consumption.
We get that juice is packed with way more flavor than water, which is why so many kids prefer it. However, there are plenty of ways to drink water and still add some flavor. Below are a couple of fun ways to liven up and make your water fruity:
Add fresh lemon, lime or orange wedges to water for natural flavor.
Mix seltzer with a splash of juice.
As mentioned before, juice is often packed with sugar and a ton of calories. So, while throwing a Capri-Sun in your child's lunch box is quick and easy, taking time to fill up a water bottle is a much healthier option to quench their thirst.