Thursday, February 16, 2012

Juicy Juice Juice

A lot of people have asked me why I don't give my daughter juice. I wanted to post this to explain my thoughts on the topic. After having Sophia, I made the decision to keep my kids away from juice for as long as possible. This does not mean that I will never allow my children to have juice, it simply means that I will try to hold off on introducing it, and once Sophia does discover it, I will limit her intake of it. Whenever I tell people that my daughter doesn't drink juice, they typically look at me in horror
(not an exaggeration) as though I told them my daughter isn't allowed to play with toys. "Oh my gosh, your poor deprived daughter!" "If she doesn't drink juice, then what does she drink?" "But juice is so healthy, she needs vitamins". blah blah blah. For years we have been told that after introduction of solids, we should add diluted juice to our child's sippy cup while weaning them off breast milk. No one has ever questioned this because people just assume that whatever your pediatrician tells you, must be what you are "supposed" to do for your kids.

Let me present you with two statistics about juice: Juice is the NUMBER ONE leading cause of dental caries in young children and the NUMBER THREE leading cause of childhood obesity. The problem with juice is that if you introduce it very early in life then your child becomes accustomed to it and they will not want to drink boring, plain water.   I have chosen to wait until my kids are old enough to take an interest in juice, and at that point we will discuss the importance of drinking mostly water and just a small amount of juice. For right now, my daughter drinks only water and a small amount of almond milk and she doesn't think that she is missing out on anything.

Is juice bad? No juice is not bad. 100% juice is healthy in moderation and provides a small amount of vitamin C. The "bad" thing about juice, is letting your kids drink it all day long and not teaching them the importance of whole fruits. The lack of fiber in the juice provides for a higher sugar spike and higher glycemic load.

Does juice count as a serving of fruit? that depends on who you ask. I personally do not count juice as a fruit, I count it as discretionary calories.   Unlike whole fruit, juice lacks fiber which contributes to feelings of fullness and satisfaction after eating. Although juice has Vitamin C, it is a miniscule amount. You see, vitamin C is a highly liable nutrient, which means it is very sensitive to its environment. When a carton of juice is packaged, it may provide 30% vitamin C for a 8oz glass, but after that juice sits on a shelf for a few weeks, the Vitamin C literally dissappears! That means most juice you drink, can have as little as 1% of your daily needs!!!! Shocking, but true.

To sum everything up, choosing to not give your kids juice is not cruel. Kids do not "need" juice. If you choose to give your kids juice at a young age, there is absolutely nothing wrong with that. Every parent has to make their own decisions based on their child. Make sure you choose 100% juice and preferably organic so that your young ones are not drinking pesticides. I would also encourage you to monitor the amount of juice. If you are not careful, your kids could be consuming hundreds of grams of sugar each day just in their juice! Yikes!
For those of you who have been convinced that juice is an essential part of your child's diet, I hope this post will at least make you think a little bit:)

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