Free Resource Sheets to Teach Healthy Eating Habits


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Entries in Juice (17)


Does Your Preschool Have a Beverage Policy?

The simplest change preschools can make to improve kids' eating habits is this: Stop serving juice.

I don't mean stop serving juice drinks, like Hawaiian Punch. That's a no-brainer. And everyone knows to eliminate soda. I mean stop serving 100% fruit juice.

  • Hydrating with juice increases total calorie consumption
  • Regularly drinking juice, which is sweet, reinforces the sweet-taste habit. In this way, beverages are related to overall habits.

1) Kids don't compensate for juice calories at snack by eating less food.

In one study: 

  • Serving juice instead of water increased snack calorie consumption by 67%.
  • The bigger the juice box, the more kids drank. When the kids got a bigger water, they drank more water too, but they didn't drink as much MORE as when they drank juice. 
  • The children in this study reported liking the water and the juice equally.

Here are some other reasons to eliminate juice from the preschool snack:

2) In general, kids drink too much 100% fruit juice. And they're not just drinking juice at school.

The AAP recommends that children drink no more than 4-6 ounces of 100% juice each day. However, research shows that children who drink juice consume an average of 10 ounces each day. 

Eliminating juice at school would help bring our kids' juice consumption down to the recommended level.

3) Kids consume too many of their daily calories from snack. Eliminating juice is an easy fix.

Research shows that kids 2-6 years old snack more frequently than they used to, that they consume more calories from snacks than they used to and that more of those snack calories come from beverages, especially juice.

The typical preschool snack, such as a small pouch of Goldfish crackers, delivers a little over 200 calories. Add in a small, 4 ounce juice box, and you add 60 calories. Combined, this snack delivers close to 20% of the average preschoolers' daily caloric needs.

Eliminating juice is the easiest way to reduce calories from snack. And unlike the challenges preschools face when it comes to changing the kind of food served at snack (cost, storage, refrigeration, taste preferences, etc), eliminating juice has no downside.

4) Drinking juice isn't the same as eating fruit. 

Research shows:

  • Eating whole fruit may reduce the risk of type 2 diabetes, while drinking fruit juice may raise the risk.
  • Whole fruit curbs appetite better than juice.

Read The Juice Generation.

5) Juice consumption can actually reduce vegetable consumption.

In one study, when children were given a sweet juice drink with a vegetable snack they consumed fewer vegetables than when they drank water with their snack.

Read Water vs Punch and Soda.

6) Ounce for ounce, juice often has more sugar than soda.

This graph is hard to read, but click on the image and you can see the original from the Harvard School of Public Health.

  • Cola: 12 ounces = 10 teaspoons of sugar, 150 calories
  • OJ: 12 ounces = 10 teaspoons of sugar, 170 calories
  • Welch’s Grape Juice (not shown): 12 ounces = 13.5 teaspoons of sugar, 210 calories 



~Changing the conversation from nutrition to habits.~

Sources: Norton, E. M., S. A. Poole, and H. A. Raynor. 2015. “Impact of Fruit Juice and Beverage Portion Size on Snack Intake in Preschoolers.” Appetite 95: 334-40

Piernas, C. and B. M. Popkin. 2010. “Trends in Snacking Among U.S. Children.” Health Affairs 29(3): 398-404.

Reedy, J. and S. Krebs-Smith. 2010. “Dietary Sources of Energy, Solid Fats, and Added Sugars Among Children and Adolescents in the United States.” Journal of the American Dietetic Association 110(10): 1477-84.

Center for Science in the Public Interest. 2013. “Fruit 2, Juice 0” Nutrition Action Healthletter,40(9): 8; Wojcicki and Heyman, 2012, American Journal of Public Health, 102 (9): 1630-1633. 

Cornwell, T. B. and A. R. McAlister. 2012. “Contingent Choice: Exploring the Relationship Between Sweetened Beverages and Vegetable Consumption.” Appetite  doi:


Healthy Pop-Tarts? Isn't that an Oxymoron?

I've been seeing a lot of posts lately for Healthy Pop-Tarts.

Yes, it sounds like an oxymoron, but there are a bunch of recipes circulating on the internet for healthy Pop-Tarts. And people are getting excited. Very excited.

I don't want to be a killjoy—so please don't blast me— but I've got to say that when I hear about "healthified" junk food, I get nervous. Very nervous.

My primary concern is that healthified foods seem like they can be eaten more frequently than junk.

But no matter how "healthy" you make your treats, they should still be eaten only occasionally. After all, proportion is one of the primary principles of healthy eating. And pastries will never be peas. (Nor, I would add, should they be.) 

If you want your kids' junk to be healthier, I say, "go for it." But if your kids like junky junk, I say go for that instead. Remember: It doesn't matter WHAT your kids eat! What matters is how often they eat it.

And, before you start yelling at me about how bad Pop Tarts are, did you know that one Frosted Blueberry PT has less sugar than you'd find in your typical juice box? Read Training Tiny Taste Buds.

Are healthy Pop Tarts really healthy? Or do they just pass the standard of healthy that we set for junk?

This is the argument I made when I discussed The Potato Chip Challenge: A snack—such as Goldfish Crackers or pretzels— is deemed healthy if it's better than a potato chip. That's a pretty low standard!

Should we label a snack "healthy" because it doesn't contain anything bad? Even if it doesn't provide nutrients that are actually good? Read "Do No Harm" Snacking

And, the practice of allowing frequent sweets and treats because they have desirable nutrients is Dealin' with the Devil.

And finally, it seems like our desire to "healthify" junk comes out of guilt.

Guilt, both on a national level, and on a personal level.

What do we feel guilty about?

  1. We feel guilty that our kids don't eat enough healthy food to get the nutrients they need.
  2. We feel guilty that our kids eat too many cookies —and other sweets and treats.

Otherwise, there'd be room in their diets for authentic junk. Read Cookies and The Cycle of Guilty Eating.

You don't need to "fear" junk.

You just have to "use" it right.

That was my message over Halloween. And it's my message here. Read Preschool and Pop Tarts.

~Changing the conversation from nutrition to habits.~

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The Juice Generation

It's been a long time since I've written about juice. But if you've been following It's Not About Nutrition for even a second you can probably guess my take on it.

Juice boxes are training wheels for soda.

The nutrition news about juice is bad enough. Ounce-for-ounce it has as much sugar as soda. Read Juice: Apple, Grape, Punch.

But the habits news is worse. The more you train your kids' taste buds to sweet flavors the less they'll enjoy other broccoli. Read Training Tiny Tastebuds.

Do you remember that interesting study I wrote about a year ago that showed that children were relatively disinterested in eating their veggie snack after consuming only a small amount of Hawaiian Punch? When they drank water the results were the opposite? (If not, read Water vs Punch and Soda) Makes you think!

Now, two studies confirm that, contrary to what manufacturers want you to believe, drinking juice is not the same as eating fruit. 

  • The first study shows: Eating whole fruit may reduce the risk of type 2 diabetes, while drinking fruit juice may raise the risk.
  • The second study shows: Whole fruit curbs appetite better than juice.

Nothing earth-shattering here. Both studies make sense.

  • Study one: If you drink juice you release a lot of sugar into your blood stream but when you eat fruit the fiber regulates the sugar.
  • Study two: How full would your belly be if you ate an apple, 4/5 cup of red grapes, 1/4 cup of raisins, and 1/2 cup of dried apple compared to if you drank 1 3/4 cup of apple and 1 1/3 cup of grape juice? Both "menus" deliver 400 calories.

Given all this evidence, why would you willingly foster a juice-drinking habit?

The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends children 1-6 consume no more than 4-6 ounces of juice per day. However, research shows that most 2-5 year olds who drink 100% juice consume an average of 10 ounces per day.

Why? Because juice benefits from the Health Halo. And, because kids like juice. (What's not to like?) But liking something isn't a good enough reason to consume it regularly. For a thought-provoking take on this read Coke Beats Juice.

~Changing the conversation from nutrition to habits.~

Source: Center for Science in the Public Interest. 2013. “Fruit 2, Juice 0” Nutrition Action Healthletter, 40(9): 8; Wojcicki and Heyman, 2012, American Journal of Public Health, 102 (9): 1630-1633.