Kitchen Stewardship | A Baby Steps Approach to Balanced Nutrition

Juice makes you pee your pants (and other reasons not to drink it)

February 9th, 2012 · 99 Comments · Food for Thought, Kids in the Kitchen, My Story

Juice is fruit, so it’s healthy, right?

Not really.

First, let me make clear that I’m talking about the juice you find in bottles or juice boxes in the beverages aisle at a grocery store, not the stuff people make at home with a juicer or the purchased equivalents that have to be kept cold.

We’re tackling Juicy Juice, Welch’s, Capri Sun, and your average everyday apple juice here.

(photo source)

We haven’t had bottled juice in our house for years (well, except for a few jugs that are in the basement right now that you’ll hear about in a minute).

When my first child was getting ready to eat solid food about six years ago, the pediatrician had “the juice talk” with us. She basically said that we can start giving our little guy a sippy, but that the main point is to help him learn to use a cup, not to give nourishment. The sippy really only need water in it.

Did we want to give him juice? (Probably not, I assured her.)

If we did, she recommended cutting it half-and-half with water, which we always did when he was offered juice at family gatherings or if we had orange juice with breakfast, until we couldn’t get away with it anymore. I don’t know that he had full strength juice until he was three years old!

She also detailed the only juices that have any nutritional value: cranberry, grape, and orange. “Juice is really only a delivery system for water,” she told us, and that’s been my juice mantra ever since…which is why our kids drink water, period. Here’s why:

All juice is full of sugar.

Even 100% fruit juice.

True, the sugar in 100% fruit juice is real fruit sugar, called fructose, but it still has an impact in the body and on blood sugar just like sucrose, or white table sugar.

In nature, fruit is a complete package, which always contains fiber. The role of fiber is to slow down the absorption of the sugars. Without fiber – i.e., in juice – the sugars rush through one’s body much faster, causing that “sugar high” feeling and wreaking havoc on one’s blood sugar whether you feel it or not.

Other “juice” that is not 100% fruit juice – the fruit punches and yes, Capri Suns of the world – are water mixed with sugar (usually in the form of high fructose corn syrup), fake flavorings and artificial colors. Sound like Halloween?

Fake juice is liquid candy. Period.

If my kids want to have juice at a party, it counts as their dessert for the day.

Sometimes there’s poison in there.

And I’m not even talking about the arsenic in apple juice ordeal.

To temper the sugar issue, some juice manufacturers offer “less sugar” versions of their products. They do not, however, cut down the sweetness. They simply add some artificial sweetener and market it as health food. I am firmly convinced that artificial sweeteners are poison for any human being, but they are particularly dangerous for children’s developing brains.

You may not agree. You may even regularly drink diet sodas yourself as a way to avoid calories or cut carbs. Personally, the more I read about artificial sweeteners of all kinds, the more fearful I become. They’re even in our water supply, so others’ choices affect me and my children, no matter what I do. Please take a moment and read about the dangers of artificial sweeteners for kids.

The fruit is cooked.

(photo source)

Cooking tomatoes releases lycopene; cooking most fruits diminishes their nutrient value considerably. Heat destroys Vitamin C in particular, so many juice producers add it back into the bottle in the form of ascorbic acid, industrially produced Vitamin C. (It is still “made from natural products” so juice bottlers can keep their “natural” labeling – which basically means nothing. You should see what glucose goes through to become Vitamin C…)

If you really want your kids to get Vitamin C, you might as well just give them a chewable and skip the juice.

Juice is a dead food.

When you eat a steak, you bet you want it dead on the plate. But when you peel a banana, slice an apple, or wash a grape, you’re guaranteeing your family a living food, filled with enzymes that help digestion and general good health. For example:

  • The enzyme amylase, present in high quantities in bananas, is the same enzyme in your saliva that begins the process of breaking down food into usable parts.
  • Pineapple contains the enzyme bromelain, which helps digest proteins and is anti-inflammatory.
  • Grapefruits are packed with various enzymes that positively impact insulin and triglycerides.

Grapefruit juice? Nada.

Pineapple juice? Nothing.

Canned juice that can sit on a shelf has been pasteurized, or cooked at very high temperatures, so all the enzymes are long dead. Drinking orange juice is NOT the same as eating an orange, unless you squeeze it yourself. Even then, you should keep the pulp in for fiber.

What’s in Juice?

The fiber has been taken out.

The vitamins are largely denatured and ineffective.

The enzymes have been killed.

So what’s left?

Water. Sugar. And sometimes chemicals.

It’s just not worth your money or your kids’ health to bother with juice.

If you’ve already built a juice habit, you are not alone in America.

At our house, we offer water or milk for dinner. My son takes a water bottle to school every day for lunch. But I do understand that it’s not easy to make changes.

We all just do our best with the knowledge we have.

Here’s an easy printable to help you remember the best thing to drink, potential compromises, and the worst offenders.

The Day the Juice Hit the Fan

There’s a reason I’m writing this post.

I’m going to tell you this story like I’ve told a few other moms in my “real” life, but I know that someday I’ll probably have to delete it when Leah (and her friends) can read.

Just imagine lots of arm waving, hands-over-heart clutching, eyebrow raising and furrowing, and a fairly shrill “I can’t believe this” voice. Got that image?

Leah (age 3 and a half – this part is very important to her right now), Jonathan (4 mos.) and I went to my first grader’s school to observe the Christmas party. All the parents were invited, and he wanted us to come.

When the Capri Sun juice pouches came around, Leah was offered one, and although I hate the idea of sugar water juice, I also hate to be Mom the Meanie all. the. time. After a quick check to make reasonably sure they weren’t the kind with artificial sweeteners included – those usually say “25% less sugar!” or some such nonsense – I allowed my darling 3-year-old to have her own.

The sweet drink was of course a huge treat for her, and she sucked down the entire thing in no time. (That was about the time I put my juicy foot in my mouth…)

Less than an hour later, in line at the post office – in December, take note – she announced that she had to go potty. Badly.

There’s no bathroom in the post office.

With three kids in tow, I had to walk across the parking lot to Walgreen’s to avoid a puddle-on-the-floor incident, the whole time cursing the juice and my lack of foresight in allowing us to leave the school without visiting the bathroom.

We got through the line at the post office, and then I had the bright idea that we could walk the quarter mile or so over to the grocery store so I wouldn’t have to put a sleeping baby from the Moby Wrap into his cold carseat. I only needed a few things on sale and would carry a reusable bag.

A fateful endcap caught my eye. It was advertising buy one, get one on 100% juice. I thought, “If I bring in this kind of juice to the next party, at least the kids get a step up from Capri Sun.”

I grabbed four 64-ounce jugs.

Add to that the 8 pounds of oranges that caught my eye, the 4.5 pounds of cheese I bought, a carton of ice cream and a few assorted other produce items, and you’ll know why I smacked my own forehead when we got in line and I realized that my van was a quarter mile away across grass!

I am not always a smart lady.

Murphy’s Law kicked in with the person in front of my having trouble with the register, two phone calls coming in (both people I needed to address that second, literally, or mess them up), trying to maneuver one of those “car carts,” that’s extra long with the car on the front, into the next line over, and then:

“Mommy, I have to go potty.”

Again?

It couldn’t be. We just went in Walgreen’s a mere 30 minutes before, and she had peed Lake Michigan. There couldn’t possibly be more. This kid is fibbing.

“Are you sure? Can you hold it?”

“No…I have to go badly!”

I told her she’d have to wait until we at least got through the line, as the bathrooms were at the very back of the store.

Just as I finished ringing everything up and was trying to fit it into my one lousy reusable bag, cursing myself (in my head) the whole time, I heard:

“Mommy? It came out.”

Oh no.

A puddle on the floor incident!

What could I do? I gazed at all my voluminous groceries, which I already couldn’t carry, paid for but not bagged, my baby snuggled on my front, sleeping, and my 3-year-old, soaked through her pants.

I wanted to shake my fist at the heavens and scream, “Juuuuuuuuuuuuice!” like Marlon Brando in A Streetcar Named Desire: “Stellaaaaaaaaaaa!”

There’s more to the story, mostly involving me dragging a very heavy bag a quarter mile and other totally-my-fault antics.

I tried to keep my temper from going through the roof along with my blood pressure by reminding myself that this was not Leah’s fault. It absolutely, positively, had nothing to do with Leah’s attitude, self-control, or choices.

“This is not your fault,” I told her. “Mommy feels angry right now, but not at you.

This…is juice’s fault. This is all juice’s fault. We’ll just never, ever drink juice again. The Kimball family does not like juice. No. More. Juice.”

The bottom line with juice is why drink our sugars anyway? If we’re serving dessert to our kids, it may as well be something delicious like ice cream. Winking smile

Do you offer drinks other than water or milk? Why or why not?

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99 Comments so far ↓

  • JessieLeigh

    I buy 100% juice for birthday parties. The kids can choose between that and water. I let them have OJ at their grandparents’. It’s definitely not a staple around here. Oh, and my kids? Are 7, 6, and 2– I still water all of it down. :)

  • sarah

    Sure! My kids get kefir soda as a treat, or a little bit of kombucha. :) But nope, no juice here.

  • Jeanette via Facebook

    Now could someone please convince Grandma of this??? Every time my kids visit her house, they come home with major bathroom issues.

  • Kindel

    I’m so glad you wrote these words down! I love this whole post! (Well, except for the part where you were far away from your car with a wet child, sleeping child, and heavy groceries…)

    I taught in the 1-2 yr old class at a daycare for three years. We had to give the children apple juice (1/2 water, 1/2 juice) in sippy cups. I would cringe every time I filled up cup. I say we “had” to give it because Mom or Dad would say “Well, he/she just won’t drink anything else!” Not true! Children have to be given the opportunity to enjoy water. Most parents think if the child turns it away once, they won’t drink it at all or they don’t give it to their children in the first place.

    Also, if a child was not eliminating often enough, we were told by the parents that it’s because they weren’t given enough juice. Also, not true! They weren’t getting enough WATER!!

    Anyhow, I agree with you 100% and wish that more parents were like you!

  • Beth @ Turn 2 the Simple

    My dad is a juice nut — has to have his grape juice, every day! He wonders why we don’t drink juice because it is good for you : “it’s fruit”. I just say, we eat fruit…lots of it…daily…we drink water or milk. (and actually we don’t drink much milk…just eat it as yogurt or on oatmeal and bake with it).

  • Diana

    My hubby likes to have juice in his lunch, so I usually have some around (I can’t control the hubby’s diet like I can the kid’s). But it never gets fed to the kid (age 8). I remember back in the day when I was ignorant & on WIC, we received SO MUCH juice, it was crazy!

    My son usually gets water all day (which he is perfectly happy with) and he’ll get a glass of milk at one meal.

    He does get an occasional cup of coffee too. :D

  • Nicole

    We have kicked the juice habit here! Not saying that they NEVER drink it. If they are grandmas (soooo hard to get them to buy in on this!) or a special event, they only drink water, milk or tea.

  • Amanda via Facebook

    No Joke ^^^ (my mom knows better) but my MIL (whom I love) but she is all about the juice and fruit snacks!

    I used to give my kids juice, but watered down and I had really wanted to stop but for fear of revolt I hadnt. I finally one day just let the juice run out and didnt buy anymore! The kids kind of freaked at first like “what do you mean theres no more juice” !!! The funny thing is that I was putting more than half of water to the ratio of juice they were actually getting. But once I cut out juice I noticed that they were drinking way less and were not peeing as much. I totally attribute that to the sugar like in the post.

    I was buying orange juice just to have in the house until I found out about the flavor packs. And I when we have them, I have been letting them have one Apple and Eve juice box with their breakfast. I thought it was suppose to be better, but now Im not completely sure of that. It is fruit and veggie juice. I dunno, but we are out now so it doesnt really matter ;)

  • Jessica Rasmussen

    I read a lot before the kids came and all of it said juice made kids fat, so I steeered clear. We have gone way more natural now and it is even more of a no-no now. We do have smoothies but it has ll that lovely pulp in it. My older son (6) loves kombucha now so drinks that some and we do have an occassional lemonade in the summer that we make w honey. But those birthday parties and such are killers. Thankfully we go to a kind of natural type school which means less problems at school at least. Down w juice I agree!

  • Susan Alexander

    We do OJ at breakfast – in limited amounts. Otherwise, I’ve bought the tiny half-water juices for road trips (only for lunchtime) and I buy apple juice when baby first starts solids to encourage drinking at meal time (if you do baby led weaning, the solids are not pureed and therefore baby needs extra fluid intake with the food – I’ve found if I do the juice, slowly watering back down to 100% water eventually, baby doesn’t suffer the horrible constipation bouts that my first suffered). Otherwise, we get juice as a very occasional treat – like 2-3 times a year when I make wassail and we have some leftover cranberry juice. Since we homeschool, there aren’t many juice opportunities otherwise. As you did, I wouldn’t deny my kid juice as long as it’s just juice, but thankfully we don’t get offered it much.

  • Brooke via Facebook

    Wow- very eye opening and scary about the apple juice. I keep learning more and more. It’s a little overwhelming :(

  • April

    We’ve kicked the juice habit here as well, though like others they get it at grandma’s. My husband would prefer to have orange juice with his breakfast occassionally-does the above apply to frozen oj bought from concentrate?

    Katie @ Kitchen Stewardship Reply:

    April,
    Any OJ is still “dead food” but we love it as an occasional treat, too. At least it made my ped’s “better” list! :) Katie

  • Christina

    Ok. So, I’m at the point where I want to get rid of juice in our house. The problem is that while both of my kids are amazing eaters, one child (7) has never been much of a drinker. She will avoid drinking until she is so dehydrated that she becomes ill – daily. Juice is one way that we combat this. I’m sure that once we switch over it won’t be as big of a deal as I forsee, but still, what can I do to help her want to drink more water and milk? I mean, I have people on another side saying that milk is worthless unless it is raw. Some days I’m tired of hearing about all of the things I MUST do for the health of my family. And trust me, we eat healthy already – almost no processed foods, vegetarian lifestyle, little to no sugar, organic. Sometimes it all seems overwhelming. Any ideas on a way to make water a little more exciting?

    Jennifer Harrell Reply:

    Hi Christina – I hope that I’m not overstepping here, but your comment caught my eye and I though I should share this with you. I am about halfway through reading a great book about kids nutrition. I just read a chapter about essential fatty acid deficiency, and one of the symptoms in children is lack of thirst. I’m not in any way saying that this is what is happening to your daughter, just that it may be worth looking into. The book is called “What’s Eating Your Child” by Kelly Dorfman. It has been incredibly informative for me, and I hope that it might help you too!

    Jennifer O Reply:

    I have read that there is sometimes a connection between NOT eating animal products and not feeling thirsty – a deficiency in some of the goodies than can only come from animal sources. I’m a little fuzzy on the details, but I think I saved the article, and if I find it, I’ll post the link for you. Maybe some B-vitamins that can only come from animal sources?

    Christina Reply:

    Oh, please do your research before making statements like that about being vegetarian. I’ve done mine and we get plenty of vitamin B from dairy and eggs – if not that then there are fortified foods. She was actually worse at drinking before I became vegetarian. My kids still have meat if they want it, so they aren’t vegetarian, but their diet is based more around a vegetarian style than meat based.
    Also, I tried to do some quick research on the essential fatty acids. I’m going to get the book from the library and see what sources she sites. The only info I could find on my own said the opposite: that a deficiency causes excessive thirst. I’ll keep reading though.

    Jennifer Harrell Reply:

    I totally agree with you, Christina. Essential Fatty Acids do not have to come from animal sources. I think that can be a common misconception. In fact, one of the very best sources comes from flaxseed! Nuts and olive oil are other great sources. I hope that you are able to find the book and that it will help your little girl’s situation!

    Katie Reply:

    Christina,
    Scary! Well, personally I would say better whole milk than no milk at all (or no liquids) if you can’t get raw, but I’m a great middle-of-the-road person for that kind of thing.

    For sprucing up water, I like adding a squeeze of lemon – let them serve it w/tongs like at a restaurant. Choose ice or no ice, fun ice cube shapes, even warm water with lemon in the winter, tea…we use water kefir to have another option beyond “milk or water” at our house. (http://www.kitchenstewardship.com/2012/01/19/how-to-make-water-kefir-update-video/)

    On the flip side, there are actually people who say we don’t need to (shouldn’t?) drink water, period. I think that sounds nuts, but there’s a hidden solution for you in their thinking: serve more juicy fruits and bone broths (veg broths?) – we can get liquids from soups and other things we eat, too.

    Good luck with this – it’s a big challenge to be sure!
    (And I am certain Jennifer – both of them – were just trying to help and citing from what they foggily remembered…)
    :) Katie

    Rebecca C. Reply:

    My kid started off with water and milk she isn’t old enough to demand otherwise yet. But just doing some creative thinking here… Could you only serve oj, and keep the pulp in? Or fresh squeeze the juice? I’m thinking add some oj to milk (creamsicle!) and over time reduce the juice. Maybe you can wean her like that.

    DavetteB Reply:

    we discovered this at a solstice fair – my son loved their ‘Sassy Tea’ – which was a huge (at least 3 gallons) water container (filtered water) that they added sliced lemons, sliced limes, sliced ginger, and a few handfulls of mint leaves. No sweetener of any kind. We both drank tons (everyone in attendance really enjoyed it) and he asked me to get some lemons and limes, etc. to make it.

    They refilled their container several times so I’m sure the produce was reused for at least 20 gallons worth.

    HTH

    PS: You can also do decaf tea or herbal tea; kids usually like chamomile and fruit flavors. You can even make popsicles with it.

  • Sarah

    Our kids get a LOT of juice – BUT there’s a reason. I didn’t want to get on the juice kick, but our daughter started having SEVERE constipation issues – withholding out of fear due to ONE hard bowel movement. She’s now starting to get over it, but it all started in an effort to get her to drink more liquid. I didn’t care how she was getting more into her, she needed the moisture and while she would drink water (milk makes it worse), she wasn’t drinking enough. We were told to give her miralax and suppositories, but who likes to medicate their child for years and wants to hold them down screaming for a suppository? So we discovered white grape juice (this was after over a year of struggling). The white grape juice really helped (and yes, we DID do all the dietary stuff that we could). So now with her being potty trained and more mature – and a really good children’s book on the subject – she’s more regular, so we’re trying to get back to juice being more of a treat, but it’s not easy. We also have our 1-yo son who has the opposite problem she did with extreme sensitivity to juice and who will throw his water or milk to the side and scramble for her sippy cup with the juice in it (arg – Heaven help me if I’m not paying full attention to who’s got what, when, and where). I find water with a STRAW to be the best for keeping hydrated….and I found your story hilarious and heart-wrenching at the same time…our daughter just wet the bed for the first time last night because of a late night treat of popcorn and juice (w/ a movie). Ugh….I wanted to jump in and help you through it!

    Karen Reply:

    I don’t know that this is a whole lot better, but our son used to have potty problems too. I didn’t want to give him laxatives, so we had him sit on the potty and drink what we called honey tea. It’s just a mug of hot water with a dribble of honey. He felt grown up with the mug and then relaxed for a while on the potty, things just took care of themselves. The one rule was that he had to be on the potty while we made and while he drank the honey tea. Then, if he needed extra time he could have a book to look through until the hot water kicked in.

    Heather Reply:

    If you do need laxative, aside from prunes, honey does actually have mild laxative effect. As does chamomile–which is safe, even for babies.

    Rebecca C. Reply:

    will she go for prune juice? my sister had that problem growing up and that’s what they used. she liked it after a little while, and it was her “special medicine”.

  • karen

    Water, milk, kefir and the (very occasional) bottle of Naked Juice are the only beverages around here. My 6 year old loves herbal tea as well. So far, my kids still think that juice boxes only exist at birthday parties–I’m totally cool with that.

  • Jen

    We occassionally add a splash of pomegrante juice (nothing added, just pon juice) to my husband’s water glass or glass of green iced tea to “spice” it up a little….. he drinks water much better this way ;-) …. and like I have told him, any juice has it’s issues but this is at least pure juice and you are drinking it with mostly water ;-) And it’s WAAAAAAAY better then Coke!

  • Missy

    Thank you for this post. I use a 6.75 ounce box of juice to start filling my kid’s cups, then fill the rest of the way with water. They get OJ occasionally at breakfast. It’s water or milk the rest of the time for them. My 2 year old actually preferrs water over anything else, and for that I am thankful.

  • Heather

    We have OJ about once every 1-2 months. I hate that we have it, but my husband really wants it, and it’s not always so easy to bring the husband along in the healthy eating adventures. The only other juice is small boxes that we have to keep on hand for emergencies, when my diabetic (type 1) is experiencing severe low blood sugars and he needs something that will spike him up fast. So water and milk, and I’m trying to do kefir water but am frustrated with the fact that the kids only like it if it is mixed with apple juice. So I have been keeping it to myself, drinking it plain, until I kind find a way they will like it, that doesn’t include juice.

    Lily W Reply:

    Do you do a second fermentation with your apple juice to make kefir soda? I also find it harder to drink water kefir after the first fermentation, but I can drink a whole cup and more if I do a second fermentation with 2/3 kefir and 1/3 juice.
    I also puree my own whole fruit blends sometimes instead of buying juice to do a 2nd fermentation. Strawberry n lemon, and strawberry n banana make a great “smoothie soda” (whole fruit blended is thicker, and makes ur kefir soda kinda frothy)

    There are lots of kefir soda recipes online. I usually let my soda ferment for at least 18 hours, but I will taste it every so often to see if it is carbonated and less sweet.

    I love that kefir soda allows me to enjoy the taste of fruit juice without ingesting all the sugar along with it. It’s easy to tell when it becomes over fermented too, but it all depends on your taste!

    :)

    Heather Reply:

    I know the first fermentation eats up most of the sugar. I guess I didn’t think about the second fermentation doing the same. Also usually by the end of the first fermentation I’m impatient and don’t want to have to wait any longer. I really like the idea of trying pureed fruits. Thanks for the suggestion.

    Heather Reply:

    I usually just stick whole fruit into my water kefir bottles–frozen berries, whatever floats my boat fresh, chopped ginger… Be aware, people call the stuff healthy “soda” for a reason. It can spray fizz across the room, make no mistake. Open with care after that second ferment. But even hubs, who is the soda drinker at our house, considers it an acceptable substitute.

  • Kate @ Modern Alternative Mama

    Our kids get juice at Grandma’s house. It’s a treat. At home, they get tea sometimes (and in restaurants, if we go), kombucha…and water. Usually that’s it. They typically only ask for water. Oh, and the occasional fresh-squeezed juice too, but again as a treat.

  • Heather

    I rarely give my children juice and I am assuming this article is regarding processed juice from a store. This is a great article and I wish that more people knew this info. What is your take on natural home juicing with something like a green star? There can be many benefits from juicing if done right or am I wrong?

    Katie Reply:

    Heather,
    Yes, although I’ve never “juiced,” everything I read is pretty doggone positive. Home juicing yields juice that is not cooked and (I think?) even has some fiber in there, right? I wouldn’t worry about that kind of juice, or smoothies, or anything like that.
    :) Katie

  • Lauren

    My husband – like all Germans – drinks an inordinate amount of apple juice. The only saving grace is that – like all Germans – he cuts it heavily with mineral water. On my watch, our child gets NO juice that isn’t freshly squeezed (and that’s rare), but when Germans are in charge of her it’s sacriledge to suggest that apple juice might be anything less than health food. I’m with you – don’t drink your sugar! And commercial orange juice creeps me out, with the “flavour pak” stuff. Ew!

  • Kelly via Facebook

    I never buy juice, hubby almost always comes home from the store with it! :/

  • Kari via Facebook

    I used to be of the same opinion, until I had a little girl who had constipation issues, even though she was getting plenty of fiber through fruits and veggies, often in the form of homemade juice. The pediatrician asked me about juices. He went on to tell me that she needs the juice, uncut, daily. He said that the fiber fills one roll in preventing the constipation. The sugar in the fruit juice fills another roll. Once I started giving her juice (unsweetened), the constipation stopped. She was no longer brought to tears when she tried to use the toilet. A visiting friend had told me the same thing about her daughter, and I’d thought their pediatrician was crazy. Then our own pediatrician, two states away, told me the same thing when we were faced with the same problem. In both cases, letting them have a glass of juice each day solved the problem.

  • Dawn via Facebook

    Thanks for the “This is not your fault… mommy is angry right now but not at you.” line! That expresses perfectly what I want to say sometimes and helps little ones understand that being angry sometimes is normal. I’m stealing it!

  • Sheila

    I gave juice to my toddler for a short time while I was weaning him. It was a gentle way to give him something else he really wanted instead of nursing … so when he asked to nurse, I’d say “would you rather have juice?” He almost always would, and I’d cut it with water. Obviously the juice is not nearly as good for him, but I really had to wean for various reasons and it made it easier on him. Once he was weaned, we tapered off the juice and he no longer gets any.

    I had to laugh, though, the one time I sent my husband out to get the juice. I always get 100% juice, usually cranberry. He got … kool-aid packets. They’re gathering dust now. Ick.

    Even the natural juice, though, is seriously not good for you. When I was a kid, it always gave me a stomachache — probably all the sugar, which I wasn’t used to! I still prefer water over any other drink.

  • Peggy via Facebook

    Back in the 1980s, our La Leche League group banned apple juice because of this very problem. Had NO idea we were so far ahead of the research! :D

  • Heather | Mom 4 Life

    Katie, I couldn’t agree with you more. We no longer offer juice in our home to our kids unless it is freshly made from our juicer or VitaMix. Raw milk and water are the only options and we haven’t missed it one bit. Thank you for helping raise more awareness on this topic!

  • Susan

    When my son was a baby, we decided not to do juice at all. I had gestational diabetes when I was pregnant, and my dietician forbid me to drink it, telling about all the evils of juice and how it wreaks total havoc on blood sugar. Then my little man was born with severe hypoglycemia and spent his first few days in the NICU. His sugars leveled out, and so did mine, but my feeling was, why mess with them? With childhood obesity and diabetes more and more rampant, I figure whatever I can do to proactively fight those things is a step in the right direction. My pediatrician gave me the same “lecture” about juice too, and when I told her that we were going NO juice, she said, “I applaud you for that decision.” We do water and milk around here, and sometimes iced herbal teas (my son loves blueberry tea!) My child would rather have water than just about anything though. We bought a reverse-osmosis system shortly after he was born, so our water tastes good, and the yuck is filtered out. When we have his birthday parties, we serve milk, which goes fabulously with cake and isn’t any more expensive than juice–if you don’t serve the raw stuff at parties ;) If we’re going to a place (including the homes of family and friends) where I know they will only be serving juice, Kool-Aid, or even city water, I pack him a water bottle with filtered water to take and drink. Maybe I’m a little over-the-top, but I believe it is in his best interest, and I as his Mom am responsible to protect him from stuff that could harm him. I feel totally justified in that.

    Thanks for writing this post, Katie!! You are making a difference for the better in others’ lives, changing the minds and attitudes of people, one person at a time! Keep up the great work!

  • Sarah B

    I’m working on maneuvering us to a more healthy, real diet … but I don’t think I’m ready to give up the store-bought juice just yet. My daughter, 3, only gets it once a day and that is half-and-half with water. I also make sure and only buy 100% juice, no added sugar (outside of what it has naturally). Almost always organic.

    Katie Reply:

    Sarah,
    You do what you can, you know? I added a “juice decoder” printable, and what you’re choosing is pretty high on the list. Way to go! :) Katie

  • Mattm

    Your poor kids. Everything in moderation. Let them know that it is a treat and nothing else but deprivation is setting them up to be picked on a bullied which destroys self esteem so while they may be avoiding a bit of sugar, they may also grow to resent you for constantly being uber strict.

    Why not have juice as a treat? Get organic juice with no preservatives, etc, so that you know it’s not terrible at least and let them have a bit once in a while, always a small amount and with a FRIENDLY note that it’s a treat like candy.

    You say in your post that you picked up ice cream. Look it up. Most is made with wood pulp derivatives as the filler.

    We have a slew of juice in the fridge from Kiju. The kids get it as a treat but drink (and want) water when they are thirsty because they know that, like chocolate, it is a treat.

    Look up whole grains, in North America they might as well be poison. They are filled with phytic acid which grabs hold of many minerals such as iron thus preventing them from being absorbed into the blood stream. The only way to avoid it is to buy whole grains, soak, sprout and ferment them and then turn them into bread, otherwise even if they eat some fruits, the bread is going to suck away some of the vitamins anyway.

    You mention milk but pasteurized milk is actually not very good at all and can even cause internal bleeding (not bad enough to cause problems). The good fats in it have been destroyed, just as in juice. Again, have to be careful and all in moderation.

    Jennifer Harrell Reply:

    Wow! You must not read this blog at all. Is this just a random comment on a single blog entry? That’s not fair.

    Katie Reply:

    Matt,
    Hurtful to have someone say “my poor kids.” They do get juice – at Grandma’s, and those blasted parties. (Just not the 3yo anymore)

    We drink raw milk.

    We soak, sprout, or sourdough our grains- when we have them at all. In fact, I’ve interviewed Sally Fallon about grains and teach a class on sourdough bread.

    If I was going to give my kids juice at home (where they have the option of water kefir), I wouldn’t waste boku bucks on organic juice that still has nothing good in it. I’d probably waste boku bucks on Naked Juice or just grab some OJ.

    Everything in moderation might as well be the mantra here at KS.

    But thanks for coming into my living room to give me a lesson on my kitchen. I hope you find my children to be very friendly, rather happy, and not sad or “poor kids” at all.

    Katie

    PS – Jennifer, thanks for standing up for me!

    Rebecca C. Reply:

    I wouldn’t worry about defending against that comment because it just wasn’t very thoughtful at all. Any there are somethings we really shouldn’t do, even in moderation. Everyone can make up their own mind about beverages, but really. If you decide against something for the benefit of your family, how about a little support! And what kid will be bullied because they decline juice? I guess it’s possible, but sheesh.

    Annie Reply:

    It really seems as if this commenter doesn’t read Katie’s blog… and that’s a very unkind, unfair, and surely inaccurate opening line.

  • Sarah Mul.

    My husband and I have oj on occasion with peach schnapps :). None for the kiddos though.

  • Carol C

    Katie, Thank you for this and all of your wonderful posts. I have learned so much from you, about all kinds of things – the first being raw milk, making homemade yogurt and using the whey in soaked homemade bread, grinding wheat, and on and on… Don’t let people that obviously don’t follow you put a damper on all the good you do for the rest of us.

  • Michelle B.

    I could tell almost the exact same story on my 4 year old with the drinking juice and then peeing every 20 minutes. We had a horrible scene in the middle of Wal-mart one day because I didn’t think he could possibly NEED to go as bad as he said he did. We have since decided that it isn’t worth the constant bathroom trips and the wet bed in the middle of the night that almost always follows juice drinking. We now drink just milk and water, but if he sees juice in the fridge he will ask for it. I think I need to use the juice is dessert rule around here.

    Priscilla Reply:

    We have a 9 yr old (using Potty Pager, was doing better and then wasn’t using it, had more issue with staying dry at night) someone told me about, Dry All Night: The Picture Book Technique That Stops Bedwetting by Alison Mack. Borrowed it through the public library…and 1st night/last night, he stayed dry!

  • Kim

    Good for you for starting early training your kids to water! I was so ignorant 17 years ago! When my oldest was a baby we were on WIC and got lots of Juicy Juice, so I naturally assumed that was a good thing if they were providing it as part of a nutrition program, and it does say 100% juice. Now my kids refuse to drink water unless absolutely necessary. So, I keep Simply Juice orange juice and Zevia in the fridge and that’s all they drink. :-(

  • Kristen

    I love juice. And I have no kids.

    That said, after hearing so much negative stuff about orange juice lately, I decided not to buy it for a while. I do fruit smoothies daily, but I blend up the whole fruit (okay, I don’t have a super juicer – I cut out the cores and peels depending on what it is!) and sometimes add spinach or other greens, raw milk, herbal infusion ice cubes… so they don’t end up resembling juice lol.

    I thought this was pretty interesting because I’ve always had a tiny bladder and I am always going to the bathroom. Looking back, I do think my little bladder problem is being helped by not buying juice!

    My problem is that I just do not like plain water unless I’m super thirsty or it’s super hot. And I like sweet things. I’m more prone to doing selzer water with a tad of lemon juice or herbal tea, or regular sweet tea, or milk. I really need to work on the plain water thing.

    Priscilla Reply:

    What is your source of water? If it is tap water & you don’t have a water softener (or alternative faucet to by pass the softener) I encourage you to read about the Berkey. I bought our’s through a great online store…plus always have the free shipping option available, see more here, http://www.morethanalive.com/?a_aid=837c265b (that is my referral link)

    We have purchased a Berkey, we can taste the difference, it does more than our PUR faucet mount system did! The water is so much better, I see my children getting themselves water, which they rarely did with tap water. My husband even likes to drink water now. You can even get an element to take out fluoride!

  • Wendy (The Local Cook)

    My husband and I have never been juice people (we prefer to eat our calories rather than drink them), but when I get sick I crave orange juice. I love getting the fresh squeezed at Gaia’s (along with some cuban eggs). I’ve often been tempted to get a juicer as an easy way to add more fruits & vegetables to our diet but I can’t justify the cost.

  • jfred

    We don’t let the kiddos drink much juice. My oldest was extremely sensitive to citric acid (my bro was as a baby, too), and her little tush would be a bloody mess if she had any watered down juice, w/ the lone exception of white grape juice. She could have one 6oz serving (half water, half juice) a day and be fine. Looking back, she didn’t even need that….she ate fruit like crazy! I can’t remember if #2 even got the juice…. He may have for a wee bit, but I stopped buying juice a long time ago….they maybe were 3.5 and 1.5yrs…. While babies, I started them on sippy cups in the bathtub (lukewarm water) at 3-4 months, with them getting 1-2 sips. Then around 5 months, I’d put the cup of water on their exercauser. It was more a toy, but I wanted them used to drinking from the cup. As they became mobile, the cup was always on the coffee table. They grew up on breastmilk and water! It was after weaning that the juice was added.

    Now they have refillable water bottles that i fill at breakfast, and they fill as needed throughout the day. Some days they get a small punch cup of raw milk….if they want it. We used to do it for bfast every morning, but we went through a few months of on and off congestion and colds and sore throats, and we kind of kicked the milk everyday routine, though they get a cup most days. If we have company, I usually make a pitcher of lemonade (countrytime, lol, stop rolling your eyes!) and they are allowed some then.

    The hard part at first was convincing family that the babies did not need juice, blue gatorade, or diet pepsi all day….(at 13 months old….). Now, it is sometimes hard with neighborhood friends offering caprisuns all the time. The kids get a bit disatisfied when I say they can have water, but they DO love to drink water.

    Things I sometimes do to make waater special–I add ice, lol. We don’t have ice at home…we got used to not having it overseas….so when we add ice sometimes, the kids think it’s awesome, lol. They like to add lemon slices, too. Orange slices, cukes, lime, maybe strawberries? would be fun to add! Or fruit frozen in ice, frozen blueberries….

    We forget how “weird” we are, only drinking coffee (adults), water, and milk….until we have company come over. We do try to make the lemonade, but regular overnight guests end up bringing a couple 24 packs of pop….that they consume in a weekend….wow. or things of bottled green tea, or gatorade…. Sigh.

  • Heather

    Wow, this was really eye-opening! I thought juice was ok as long as it was less than daily and 100% fruit juice. This could be why my 4 year old has such problems keeping his underwear dry. We thought it was laziness or trying to be naughty on purpose. We kind of got out of the juice habit the last couple of months because we don’t have money left over for juice with grocery prices on the rise, and he has been much better about making it to the bathroom. I think we’ll keep it that way!

  • Kathleen K

    Yes, we offer our 3 boys (7-13) drinks other than water and milk.

    They can have coffee. But I’ve told them it will stunt their growth. Since they are boys who want to grow big and tall, they don’t drink the coffee.

    They can have orange or grapefruit juice. I have a citrus juicer. They have to ream the fruit themselves. Its too much work, so they don’t do it often.

    We watched a Food Network program that showed how concentrated/reconstituted juices are made. Everyone was so repulsed, we don’t drink it anymore.

    We have a veggie juicer, based on my dr’s recommendations. They can have a shot glass full of whatever mix I’m making.

    Constipation (for those parents who are dealing with this) can be helped with a very special “tea”: warm water with a squeeze of fresh lemon and a little honey. Works like a charm!

  • Jennifer via Facebook

    I do allow my now 4 year old 1/2 of a juice glass of orange juice with breakfast, so he’s getting maybe 2 oz. He didn’t start getting it until he was 3. Other than raw milk with dinner, he only drinks water. I know the juice isn’t ideal, but it’s a small amount only at breakfast. The nearly 2 yo only has water (and breastmilk).

  • Sarah W

    Gosh! We don’t drink very much juice here, but since I gave up soda a couple of years ago, sometimes I still crave something fizzy and I will mix about half juice and half seltzer water. I know it’s basically sugar, but it hits the spot sometimes! Also, sometimes I use OJ as a “vehicle” for a concoction of kefir and CLO so that the kids will get their vitamins and probiotics. I also mix my milk kefir with “smoothie” beverages (like Odwalla, etc) b/c I cannot take straight milk kefir. Does the ends justify the means??? :) :)

    Katie Reply:

    I think so! Everything in moderation – and if you’re not counting the juice as a serving of fruit, just a vehicle for something better, then hey – sounds good to me. ;) Katie

  • Holly

    We do juice occasionally. When my son was younger and just starting to eat more table foods, he would get constipated and I would offer pear juice which worked every time. I give it as an occasional treat or if he is eating poorly. I will also offer it if he has a cold–sometimes juice cuts through the mucous better than water, and its a good way to get extra fluids and vitamins too. I’m definitely not opposed to juice, but exercise caution with it. Always 100%, always organic and (almost) always cut at least in half with water. My son prefers water most of the time anyway. I rarely drink juice myself but it is nice with breakfast sometimes.

  • Heather

    My 4 1/2 year-old has the occasional really hard to get out poo. A few prunes generally fix her right up. I’ve never had to go as far as prune juice–prunes are effective but gentler. And yummy.

  • Heather

    We buy OJ occasionally. I live in Silicon Valley, and oranges are 20 cents a pound (yes, 20 CENTS) this time of year, if you know where to shop. So we’ve been playing with the citrus juicer and are now probably spoiled for life as far as store OJ goes. The kids like kombucha and water kefir, and get both if they want them. I like iced tea (my own green tea chai-ish blend, sweetened with a little stevia), and the kids get sips of that. We all like raw milk with dinner. But we all drink plenty of water, too. More than usual at the moment, because we just bought a Berkey, and the wonderful-tasting water we can’t get enough of. Before we had kids, we owned a place with a good spring-fed well, and boy, we’ve missed that good water!
    I will occasionally buy some organic juice to make jigglers (finger jello, knox blox) out of, as a treat. But that requires me to remember about it, which doesn’t happen that often.

  • Amanda via Facebook

    I’ve got a better one- sweet tea! My son is obsessed with it and it can cause him to pee 20 times in one hour. Big mistake allowing him to try it once and during potty training, no less. Newbie parent mistake! lol He’d rather have sweet tea than juice or ice cream or anything else.

  • liz r

    Okay… one suggestion. From one who is known to buy more then I was intending when I have no business doing it. Pay for it then LEAVE THE CART. Walk across the street – buckle in the kids (try to make the wet one as comfortable as possible…) DRIVE back across the street. So much easier. I figured it out one day and it was like the day I read about double sheeting! (NEVER would have thought of that on my own!) :-)

    Katie Reply:

    Liz,
    LOVE double sheeting. ;) I pondered that seriously, but I was afraid someone would move the cart and then my problems would be compounded (one of the phone calls in line was a friend who was kindly dropping off a meal at my house and was waiting for me, so time was short!).
    :) Katie

  • Alice via Facebook

    The only “juice” I let my kids have to drink is coconut water. I do use orange juice to flavor popsicles, but those are mostly milk and cream (both raw). Other than that, they just drink milk and water. And that one commenter needs to read more of your blog posts and see what’s what before they go off on you like that!

  • Jessi

    Hi, thanks for the post! My daughter has never had juice. She’s 2. She will have juice on special occasions when she’s older and notices it. For now she drinks water during the day and milk with her meals and is happy with that!

  • Sherri via Facebook

    I totally pictured you doing the “JUUUUUUUUICE!!!” shaking a fist at the ceiling- even though I don’t really know what you look like. ;)

  • Karen via Facebook

    This was laugh out loud funny! ;)

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Welcome!  Meet Katie.

I embrace butter. I make homemade yogurt. I eat traditional real food – plants and animals that God created, not products of plants where food scientists work. Here at Kitchen Stewardship, I share how I strive to be a good steward of my family's nutrition, the environment, and our budget, all without spending every second in the kitchen. Learn more about the mission of KS here.

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