Healthy School Lunches – Juice?

It’s that time again!  They’re going back!!!

Whether your child is returning for another year or starting out for the first time (I have one of each), one of the most important things I personally believe that will make or break their day is the food you send for snacks and lunches.

Over the years I have kept a very open dialogue with my son’s teachers about food.  What they like to see kids bring, what they absolutely can’t stand.  We know that what we eat really can affect how we focus, work and behave so what we send to school is extremely important in not only their health but their education as well.

For the rest of this week, I’m going to be posting some back to school lunch tips.  Today is a NEVER send item.  🙂

JUICE.

Yep, you heard it.  Juice boxes, juice in a container, blend to 100%… doesn’t matter.  This one is tough but number one on my list.  Juice has earned a “good for you” image over the years that is completely and utterly false.  Look at any of the research and you will find that it’s only slightly better for them than pop!  Juice is basically water & sugar, and yes, I’ve heard people say “but it’s good natural sugar”… still not good for more than an occasional treat.  It’s packed full of calories with hardly any nutritional benefit, is very much linked to tooth decay and childhood obesity and is actually habit forming which can lead to a nasty cycle.

But what about all the vitamins and good for you stuff?  Simply put – give them fruit.  Instead of apple juice, give them an apple.  Instead of grape juice, give them grapes.  See where I’m going?  lol   They will get WAY more out of the apple than the juice.  The skin & pulp is where all the good stuff lies.  Here is a fantastic site that explains the benefits of whole fruit over juice: http://www.whfoods.com/genpage.php?tname=george&dbid=24

The thing I love is that it does explain what kind of juice is good for you – which is only juice that retains it’s pulp and skin (this goes for fruit & vegetable juice).  So at home, one of the items we will drink at breakfast time is a fruit smoothie.  I take fruit & berries and blend with the skin, pulp and all.  I’ve found there’s no need to add any liquid.  Simply blend the fruit, it becomes a thick shake like drink.  The kids love it and think it’s a fun treat, not knowing it’s simply a bunch of fruit with nothing added.

Back to school… Send your child with fresh water – refillable water bottles are fantastic since they can go to the water fountain to get more when they are thirsty.

Okay but my child won’t drink water!  This one makes me laugh because although I know there are VERY picky children out there, one thing they all have in common is that they are not going to let themselves starve or dehydrate.  That’s beyond their control – their body is going to kick in and make them drink eventually.  So if they have no other option (and no mommy nearby to give the puppy-dog look to try and scam some juice) then they will eventually just drink what’s in front of them.  My son’s JK teacher and I had a good laugh about this actually when we were discussing this topic during a parent-teacher conference.  She said the number of parents who try to request that they can leave “extra juice boxes” with the teacher for when their child is thirsty.  They say “but they just don’t like water” and sure enough though, once mommy and daddy are not there, the child drinks water like a fish.

Saying that though, of course there are cases of kids who have been drinking it for so long that they may try and rebel against the change which can affect their health.  So in that case, maybe weaning them off is a better option.  Add a little water to the juice, then a little more the next day.  After a couple weeks, voila, no more juice.  Oh and the most important thing.  Don’t give in to the puppy dog eyes.  You aren’t a bad parent by taking away juice.  They get enough sweets in life, they aren’t going to be talking to their shrink in 20 years saying their mother ruined their life by taking away juice.

Well that’s my rant about juice.  Until tomorrow!  🙂

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