Serve Juice In Moderation
Kids' diets can benefit from consuming 100% juice, but parents should moderate their intake to ensure an overall well-balanced diet. Here's how to know whether your kid is drinking a healthy amount of juice.
Kids can get important vitamins and calcium in their diets by drinking 100% juice. As "Meal Makeover Mom" Janice Newell Bissex, M.S., R.D. points out, the phytonutrients (plant-based compounds that have disease-fighting properties) contained in 100% fruit juices can pack a nutritional punch -- especially because most Americans do not meet the daily fruit and vegetable recommendations. But while one cup of juice is recognized on the nutritional pyramid, it does not replace or match the benefits of consuming whole fruits and veggies. That said, juice consumption should be limited by parents to no more than four to six ounces each for kids ages one to six years old. Older kids ages seven to 18 should drink no more than eight to 12 ounces of juice each day, according to the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP). If you have an infant, don't introduce juice until they are at least six months old, and allow them to drink it only from a cup. So with the nutrients that 100% juice can deliver to a child's diet, why the limitations?
Why limit juice?
There are a few explanations. Not only does excess juice consumption introduce unnecessary calories and sugars to a growing child's diet, drinking a disproportionate amount of juice may lead to lowered consumption of other healthy liquids, like water. The AAP estimates that kids ages one to five currently consume at least twice the recommended amount of juice each day, and that many children "do not eat breakfast and get at least one third of calories from snacks. Sweetened beverage intakes (including juice) contribute significantly to total caloric intake, and/or supplant the intake of foods containing essential nutrients."
How to manage your child's daily diet
When it comes to food consumption, parents and kids should both play an active role. Parents should choose which foods and drinks are consumed, when and where. But kids should be allowed to decide whether or not they want to eat, and how much. If they choose not to eat or drink what they are served, allow them to refuse -- but don't allow them to choose an unhealthy alternative in place of what was served. While picky eaters can be frustrating, the AAP points out that pressuring children to eat and/or restricting specific foods isn't an effective tactic, and often leads to unwanted "side effects" like overeating, dislikes and a heightened interest in "forbidden items."
Keeping the daily recommendations for juice in mind, allow your children to have the appropriate serving when they want it, so long as it is not consumed after teeth have been brushed for the night, contributes to interrupted sleep or is used as "entertainment" when kids are bored.
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