With the start of the new schooling year, there has been a lot of talk within the Grin community of mums, on school uniforms, the cost of stationery, what we are all packing into our kids’ lunch bags, and what do we send with our kids to school to drink. The conversation very swiftly turned to juice boxes and how many of the mums include these for their little ones. There has been quite an active discussion around how healthy juice really is, and how much should our kids be drinking per day. I mean after all juice is made from fruits, and we have always been told that fruit are healthy for us, so that must be something to grin together about, right?
Well unfortunately mums, I am here to debunk this myth.
It is time to get the low down on fruit juices and what we are unknowingly exposing our little ones to. Personally, I am not a fan of fruit juice. Either for myself or for my family. Please do not get me wrong; I am not a fruit juice hater by any means. I, myself partake in fruit juice occasionally on a hot summer’s day, preferably with lots of ice, but this topic is quite close to my heart especially because my husband Grant is a Type 1 diabetic, therefore our lifestyle and eating habits have become one of watching our sugar intake, carbohydrates, and artificial flavorings. In my baby bag checklist blog, I referred to how I breastfed Milo for two years. A big part of this was because I wanted to keep him away from juices, baby teas and other substitute liquids, if possible, more so because juices are so high in sugar content and calories. And because Milo started teething and sprouting his baby teeth quite early on, I really did not want risk exposing him to early baby bottle tooth decay. That strategy has paid off ten-fold for me because till today Milo’s go to drink is water. It is comforting to know that he has not tasted sodas or even tea for that matter and does not seem to have a palette for them.
However more recently the temptation around fruit juice has raised its ugly head. Enter the world of kids’ parties, family gatherings, and festive holidays. Suddenly there is fruit juice on table, in the party packs and kids offering it to each other. This is when I realized that as a mum, I had to be educated and occasionally flexible when it comes to giving Milo fruit juice. So, the burning questions remain: why not, how much, and how often?
Let us look at the why not’s! Juices are loaded with sugar and calories as I mentioned earlier. I feel the need to stress this. From one mum to another, please read the nutritional label on the back of the juice box. Slide down the label to the total carbohydrates where it reads sugars “9g,” or “9 grams” for example. This important bit of information is your key to converting grams into teaspoons. Simple math: four grams of sugar is equal to one teaspoon. To be precise, 4.2 grams equals a teaspoon, but the nutrition facts round this number down to four grams. If a 250ml fruit juice (1 cup) has 9.7 grams of sugar serving per 100ml that is 22.5 grams of sugar you are giving your child. That is just over six teaspoons of sugar in just one single serving (1 cup of juice) for a little child. In fact, 1 cup of coke contains that same amount of sugar! Now imagine your child is having at least 3 cups of that juice per day. That is 18 teaspoons of sugar per day, which is even more than the dietary requirement that most adults be allowed! The World Health Organization states that adults should consume no more than 6 tsp. of added sugar. This is a lot of sugar for your child to consume, which contributes to weight gain and tooth decay. Scary statistics, right?
Allowing your child to drink fruit juices randomly through the day is setting him or her up for tooth decay or cavity issues down the line. There are more opportunities for cavity-causing bacteria to eat and produce the acid that eats away at teeth. And do not be fooled, this can also happen even if you water down the juice. You may think fruit juices are healthy, but the reality is that they do not have the same nutritional value or fiber benefits of real fruit. This is why encouraging our children to practice proper oral hygiene from an early age is so important and more so choosing the best kids toothpaste such as Grin natural.
Now that you know the why not, it is time to talk about the how much and how often. Let us be honest mums; your child is likely to drink fruit juices; they probably already are. What we want to do is serve the recommended and age-appropriate limits at mealtimes only. A few key things to remember:
- It is tempting to placate your child at mealtime with juice, however, try offering water or milk first.
- For mums with babies; according to the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), it is recommended that parents remove fruit juice from their child’s diet completely especially if they are younger than one years old as it offers absolutely no nutritional value.
- According to pediatric guidelines:
- Children aged 1-3 limit this to a ½ cup a day,
- For those aged 4-6 limit their intake to maximum ½ or ¾ cup a day,
- For older children aged 7-18, 1 cup a day.
These are just some tips which I find works well for our family, but the reality is that our children will be exposed to fruit juices. Because Milo falls within the 1-6 age limit of the pediatric guidelines, I also always make sure he does not carry a juice box throughout the day.
There is no getting around the juice dilemma, however I would more especially caution you to think carefully when you give your child that cup of juice before bedtime as a treat. What you may not know is that the liquid and sugars remain in your child’s mouth and this invariably leads to tooth decay. Which is why a healthy oral care routine at an early age is so important. Using the best kids’ toothpaste such as grin natural, brushing and using dental floss before they sleep is such a key lesson to be taught. I always recommend Grin123! as a great starter kit to getting your little one into a good routine because that is what we use for Milo and believe you me it will reap its rewards into the future, and this for me is something most definitely that a family can grin together about!
About the Author
This blog was written by Grin’s passionate brand advocate and career mom Jess Mason. Jess is hugely interested in health, fitness, and living an organic and preservative free lifestyle. She loves sharing stories of her family and her son Milo. She can be found on her Instagram page @jessmason911 where she posts updates on her family life, Grin experiences, travels and settling into New Zealand as her new home. We are super excited that Jess will be also sharing her own mom experiences, learnings, and knowledge with our Grin community. It is going to be fun!