It’s getting kids to eat what parents serve that causes so many problems.

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Entries in Juice (16)


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. 


Crackers & Juice, Chips & Soda

Want your kids to eat vegetables? Serve fewer salty snacks.
Here's the logic. Research shows that:
  • Kids eat fewer vegetables when they drink sweetened beverages.
  • Kids drink more sweetened beverages when they eat salty snacks.

Therefore, if you serve fewer salty snacks, your kids will drink fewer sugary beverages and, presto, they'll start eating more vegetables.


OK. It might not work that smoothly, but it's something to consider the next time you hand your toddler a bag of Goldfish crackers and an apple juice. 


I've written about the relationship between vegetable-eating and drinking sweetened beverages before.

Here's a refresher: Even after consuming only a small amount of the sweetened drink, the children were relatively disinterested in eating vegetables. 
Read about this study in Water vs. Punch and Soda.
Now, an Australian team has found that kids are more likely to seek out sugary drinks when they eat salty foods. 

Two findings, one obvious and one not so obvious:
  • The more dietary salt a child has, the higher their fluid intake. (That's the no-brainer.)
  • The more salt a child consumes, the greater their consumption of Sugar-Sweetened Beverages.

Click here to read the article that recently appeared in Pediatrics.

Explanation 1

  • Eating salty food makes people thirsty. 
  • Thirsty people drink more. 
  • Thirsty people who are used to sugary beverages drink more sugary beverages.

Explanation 2 

  • People who drink sugar sweetened beverages often eat other unhealthy foods. Think hamburger, fries and a soda. It's a clustering effect. 

Explanation 3

  • Kids who eat foods high in sugar, salt and fat—the basic “Child-friendly”  diet—end up seeking out these kinds foods in order to achieve a “flavor-hit.”  They’re going for the high!

I wrote about this in the post Toddler Used to Eat Vegetables.

Other things you should know about salt and sugary beverages from this study: 

  • Salt intake increases with age.
  • Intake of sugar-sweetened beverages increases with age.
  • 62% of Australian children consume sugar-sweetened beverages; 80% of American children do.
  • Children who consume more than one sugar-sweetened beverage per day are 26% more likely to be overweight or obese (but only if the kids also aren't exercising).

One more thing...the effects reported here are small, but... 

  • Tthe researchers were only looking at the relationship between salty foods and sugary drinks. If they had looked at the whole diet, I believe they would have found the full effect of salty foods on eating habits.
  • Kids graduate from crackers to chips, and from juice to soda.

~Changing the conversation from nutrition to habits.~