As a child, I can remember my mom making my warm breakfast every day before school. (I was totally spoiled, right?) Each meal would include a vitamin that covered up the state capital (we had to guess/announce the name before eating), a plate of something delicious and a small glass of juice. And I mean small. In fact, I don’t even think they make these tiny little glasses anymore, which is too bad because our bodies aren’t really built to handle juice. It sounds crazy, I know. Most of us were raised to give our children juice throughout their lifetime. I’m hoping to add a bit of perspective on this concept.
Would you feed your child, husband or neighbor a bowl full of sugar with a spoon and tell them to just ‘dig in’? Probably not. It isn’t healthy and frankly, I would have to add a little something (like a stick of butter) to even attempt to get it down. When we offer juice or soda, it is basically doing the same thing. Juice, in my opinion, should be reserved for special occasions. One or two glasses per month would be plenty because to your body, juice is just basically sugar.
A great rule of thumb is that if you couldn’t eat the amount of fruit required to make the juice in one setting, you shouldn’t drink it either. For example, it takes about five apples for my juicer to make eight ounces of apple juice. If I can’t sit down and eat five apples, I shouldn’t plan to drink eight ounces of apple juice either. There is a rule for converting the juice principle that helped me to understand just how significant this was to our body: for every four grams of sugar listed on the food label, it is the equivalent to one teaspoon of sugar. So for example, eight ounces of lemonade is listed as 28 grams of sugar on the label, or in reality, seven teaspoons of sugar. A classic cola drink has almost 10 teaspoons of sugar…in one serving! (This rule applies to food as well.)
It is very easy at this point to think about sugar alternatives. Please don’t consider giving your family diet drinks, sodas, juices or otherwise. I highly recommend avoiding those types of products as much as possible (or 100 percent of the time I’m in my home). There are a couple of good options, however. Your health food stores carry Stevia soda and Crystal Light makes a product called Pure ( made from stevia). My absolute favorite though is completely health friendly and described below:
I had the privilege of visiting Hawaii with a group in graduate school. Upon arriving, they had the most refreshing fruit-infused drinks on earth. We enjoyed them in the hotel on the way in, and it made for the best coming and going treat as I was touring in and out of the hotel. It is a wonderful and healthful way of combining your fruit into a drink. You receive all the benefits of electrolytes and some vitamins and nutrients without the added sugar. Typically, I tell our patients to slice up some citrus fruits (lemons and limes with the rind on) and place them in a pitcher of water to soak overnight. The refreshing drink you have in the morning will be a wonderful boost to any meal.
Kari Laudano has some great suggestions as well to boost water consumption at an event. Read her suggestions.