Whenever I'm around other parents and their kids, I can't help but notice all the juice boxes. It's like their going out of style. Have you ever taken the time to read the nutrition facts on one of those little boxes? Yes, I'm even talking about the all-nature, responsibly-sourced, organic, free-range, grass-fed juice!
I don't feed my child juice—except as a rare treat. We just drink water and a very occasional glass of milk. Best of all, she likes it! Whenever I tell another parent, "We don't do juice," I either get looks of skepticism or disbelief.
A CBS News article entitled, "Juice As Bad As Soda, Docs Say," opens like this.
Soda in a sippy cup?
Most parents wouldn't dream of it. But researchers say that when a baby's bottle or cup is filled with juice — even the 100 percent, all-natural, no-sugar-added stuff — parents might as well be pouring Pepsi.
A growing body of science is linking sweet drinks, natural or otherwise, to a host of child health concerns, everything from bulging bellies to tooth decay.
"All of these beverages are largely the same. They are 100 percent sugar," Dr. David Ludwig, an expert on pediatric obesity at Children's Hospital Boston, said recently. "Juice is only minimally better than soda."
Now you don't have to go whole-hog like we have. We've just found it's easier to eliminate it altogether. It's less confusing, and our daughter has lost her taste for it. Just limit juice intake and possibly water it down.
Here are four quick reasons why we've avoided juice.
Like Dr. Ludwig says, "They are 100 percent sugar."
I've often heard parents say, "But isn't fruit good for kids?" Yes, fruit is good for kids, but juice is not fruit. The article continues, "Though healthy in moderation, juice essentially is water and sugar. In fact, a 12-ounce bottle of grape soda has 159 calories. The same amount of unsweetened grape juice packs 228 calories."
We've had a regular problem with obesity for many decades now. And that problem starts with our youth. While we need to be careful not to shame or belittle our children, we can help guide their eating and drinking habits.
One writer gives a particularly scary example of calorie intake through juice: "A lot of parents are really shocked to find out how many calories are in the juice they give their kids. For example, 8oz of a popular brand of “100% Orange Tangerine Juice” has 130 calories and 31 grams of sugar! This is more calories and sugar than in an 8oz can of Coca Cola!!!"
We found early on that if we regularly introduced new foods to our daughter, she started to expect and anticipate new flavors and tastes. We try to alternate between textures (e.g., soft, crunchy, stringy, etc.) and basic flavors (e.g., bitter, sweet, sour, etc.).
If your child regularly drinks juice, he or she will start to prefer sweeter foods as well.
You'll often hear that one cup of 100% juice is equal to one cup of fruit. "Juice lacks the fiber of whole fruit, however, and can be consumed more quickly."1