Ask Dr. Marla: Is there danger in drinking too much juice?
By Dr. Marla Shapiro
on August 17, 2011
I try to get my 10-year-old daughter to eat five to 10 servings of fruits and vegetables each day, but it’s hard to do. My husband wants her to drink more fruit juice, but she prefers milk. I heard that too much juice leads to too much sugar. Is there a danger of drinking too much juice, even if it’s 100 percent fruit, no sugar added?
According to Canada’s Food Guide, your 10-year-old daughter needs six servings of fruits and vegetable each day and not the 10 that you refer to. I think it is terrific she is a milk drinker as milk is an excellent source of calcium and vitamin D that is critical for healthy bone development.
I turned to my colleague, Dr. Glenn Berall, Chief of Paediatrics and Medical Director, Child and Teen Program at North York General in Toronto with a medical specialty in nutrition, to get his opinion. He suggests that your child eat at least one dark green and one orange vegetable each day. As for juice, we both have the same opinion – which is that zero juice is the best goal. Juice has the majority of the fibre removed leaving the body to manage the sugar load without the fibre, which is less than ideal. I would rather see your child eat the fruit and drink water.
It is important for you to be a good role model for healthy eating. If you eat meals together as a family that are high in fruits and vegetables, your children will likely do the same. Children will often reject a new fruit or vegetable the first time it is offered but don’t give up! There is a very good chance that if you offer it at a later time or keep exposing them to the food that they will accept it.
Other tips to try and get your kids eating more fruits and vegetables include involving them in planting a garden. Have your children shop with you and pick the fruits and vegetables they like. Involve them in preparing the food. Keep vegetables cut up for easy access so that when they are looking for a snack, they are ready. Smoothies are a great way to get fruits and vegetables into your kids. When I bake, I often use carrots or zucchini in my recipes. There are many fun and inventive ways you can get your kids to eat those fruits and vegetables!