Have you ever thought about it? The effect of ten years of packaged juice on your child, of consuming packaged juice and other processed foods everyday. Ten years of consuming Ribena, Caprisun, Chivita every single day at least once a day for a cumulative period can cause havoc on children’s body. It can easily happen, from when you baby is born till the age of ten he is consuming sugar (or sugar equivalents) in larger than required quantities everyday. We are not even talking about soda here!
I never quite thought about it that way till I was speaking to a teacher who said she is usually shocked by how much juice the children in her class consume. They come to school E-V-E-R-Y-D-A-Y with their juices in their lunch bag and all she can think about is that this amount of calories and sugar cannot be good for them. The lunch bags usually lack fruit and vegetables, she hears children saying they don’t like eating fruit or they don’t like eating vegetables but hello? How did they get there? How at barely 6 years old are children saying that they don’t like fruits and vegetables? Do they see their parents eating it, have we as parents explained the importance and benefits and is it made a compulsory part of their diet.
No matter how cute and harmless those little juice packs look, they contain high contents of sugar and frankly empty calories and should be reduced. We might say it is just one a day but it has a cumulative effect. It does not mean they cannot drink packaged juice but it should be reduced to every now and then and most importantly children should not come to see it as a daily part of their diet. This is the time to teach them the correct eating habits because it is harder later in life to pick up good eating habits. Natural is still the best way to go when it comes to consuming food.
I have employed some practical tips below to increase vegetables and juices into their diets.
1) Juices – Instead of packaged juice you can blend your own juices at home. All you need is a blender or fruit extractor and you can make your own freshly squeezed pineapple juice, orange juice or get creative and mix different fruit together, try orange, pineapple and banana blended juice! Experiment and try it thick as a smoothie, or more watery till you get the right consistency your children prefer. Before you know it they will start asking for packaged juices less often. Make the freshly blended juices readily available so they can open the fridge and get it instead of Caprisun or Ribena. You can also blend fruit and vegetable together.
2) Vegetables and Fruits – Children have to eat vegetables and fruits there is just no way around this. The recommendations vary on the quantity required but I think a good average is five servings of vegetables and fruits per day. They will eat it if you make it fun. You can mix it up to get to 5 servings (different colored vegetables and fruits) per day by being a bit creative. See below a sample days offering–
- Breakfast – slice some bananas, apples or pear with their cereal or oats.
- School Lunch – Pack some steamed broccoli or carrots as snacks along with their lunch (this can replace cookies)
- Lunch/Pre-Dinner snack at Home – Some freshly squeezed fruit juice could be served along with a cup of cut up fruit.
- Dinner – Serve spinach or potatoes along with the staples. You can also offer a small side of salad.
- Post Dinner Snack – A small piece of fruit like a piece of mango, a cut up orange, watermelon or anything in season.
This is just a sample of how you can get your children to consume different fruits and vegetables in a day. Be sure not to forget the other important food groups like protein, grains, carbohydrates, dairy. Quick Tip: You can blend your vegetables together and add it into your chicken stew and they won’t even notice Ala “Vegetable Chicken Stew”.
For Portion Control
One serve of fruit is equal to one medium piece of fruit, two smaller pieces or one cup of chopped fruit.
One serve of vegetables is equal to one medium potato, half a cup of cooked vegetables or one cup of salad vegetables
Click Here for more ideas on eating more fruits and vegetables.