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

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.

Why we skip juice

(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.

Juice is cooked-which means it looses its nutrition

(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.

If you’re new to all this and would like a more comprehensive list of “what’s healthy to eat,” I have another printable called What to Eat, What to Avoid, How to Compromise that might come in handy.

You also might enjoy a little help packing a healthy lunch – that post  has tons of ideas, plus time saving tips (my lazy specialty).

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?

See my full disclosure statement here.

Unless otherwise credited, photos are owned by the author or used with a license from Canva or Deposit Photos.

28 thoughts on “Juice makes you pee your pants (and other reasons not to drink it)”

  1. I some how came across this article. And although it’s almost 8yrs old I too “as an adult in my 40s” have found that when I drink juice I have to instantly pee also every 30+minutes for a good while. Work or home! It’s really sad too as orange juice and water mix really settles my stomach when I need that. And it tastes so refreshing when I’m really thirsty. But if I drink it I’m playing Russian roulet with my bladder and accident. Been like that since my early 30s. Just wanted to share.. ??

  2. This explains alot. I can’t believe I’m about to share this but.. I’m a young adult and I loveeee Juicy Juice. I drink at least 3 containers a month (not sure of their size). However, recently I had.. An accident. Crazy to say but I wet the bed. All I remember is dreaming about peeing and waking up to a puddle in my bed shortly after. I was super shocked and deeply embarrassed.I kept trying to figure out why this happened and the juice is the only logical conclusion I can draw. I always drink something before l go to bed and this has never happened (At least not since I stopped wearing pull ups over 15 years ago). Safe to say I’m becoming very cautious of what I’m eating and drinking. Seems like everything is hazardous nowadays.

    1. Katie Kimball @ Kitchen Stewardship

      I don’t know if it does for everyone, but my guess for my daughter is lots of sugar, no fiber to slow it down? 🙂 Katie

  3. I am very confused by your post or else my child has a medical issue (no she doesn’t she has been checked out) She pees a lot, drinks a ton of water. And some milk. Why is juice the culprit for her having to pee a lot? I am confused. My child doesn’t like juice, has never asked for it, she doesn’t like sweet stuff all that much. Never has even as a baby. Now I was told by her doctor and I know it is true because I have experimented. FRESH fruit, oranges mostly, make her PEE like the dickens, a lot and often. She loves oranges and I have her to stop eating then because she will pee herself. Even 1 sets her off (and me) in pee storm of being up every hour or so all night. Maybe it was something natural your child ate. Did you test your theory? Give her the same juice again? Because I have done it with natural healthy oranges, so anybody can have an irritant to anything, even natural foods. It is a known fact that oranges irritate the bladder. Or strawberries? or any “acidic” fruit. Watermelon does it too. Was there anything else she ate at this party? I don’t know…I find it highly unlikely juice was the cause unless you tested and proved this theory a few times. It’s like when my child broke out in hives once from eating stawberries and I assumed she was allergic to strawberries. She was not…it was a mix of a few others things. She never broke out from strawberries again, just that one time.

    1. Katie Kimball @ Kitchen Stewardship

      DeeDee,
      I wasn’t trying to make a medical claim here…just a funny story substantiating why I don’t like juice for lots of other reasons, anyway…

      🙂 Katie

  4. Are you saying that drinking juice can cause kids to pee more than water? My husband insists that our grandson 3 pee’s more when he drinks juice than he does if he drinks water.

  5. Are you saying that drinking juice can cause kids to pee more than water? My husband insists that our grandson 3 pee’s more when he drinks juice than he does if he drinks water. I believe fluid is fluid, he peed the bed last night and the culprit is now juice. So he can drink water and not wet the bed but juice can allow him to pee the bed? This makes no sense to me !

    1. Katie Kimball @ Kitchen Stewardship

      Pamela,
      I’m saying that my hunch, for this particular daughter, is that juice makes liquid run through her much faster! Ever drink coffee? When I do, I have to pee much faster and more urgently than if I have an equivalent glass of water. That might be the caffeine, but maybe sugar mixed with water and no fiber acts the same way in my little one (and maybe yours too?).

      🙂 Katie

      1. Coffee is an irritant to your bladder, like any natural fruit. Not that it is a liquid, mixed with sugar. It is the content of acid in the coffee bean. If you ate coffee beans sans sugar, it would happen too. Liquids don’t have to make you pee, food can do it often

  6. We had the constipation issues with my daughter too, and decided to use Miralax because NOTHING worked for her. After reading What’s Eating Your Child, I had a strong hunch that she had an issue with dairy, so we took that out. I thought it was going to be a huge battle over no juice or milk, but it wasn’t. I have a juicer, so I make my own juice for the kids, or we drink flavored seltzer which she calls it “special water.” Putting in a lemon or lime slice makes it extra special to her. She would hands down choose milk or juice first, but she seems happy enough with our alternatives & hasn’t fought it. The baby on the other hand hasn’t been given juice and can’t have dairy either, but he’s happy as a clam with water. And he loves being able to drink out of a straw. We’re on the GAPS diet right now – with all the broth, fruits & vegetables, there’s plenty of liquid in our diet even without drinking any beverages.

  7. Maybe I’m missing something: what is it about juice that made your daughter have to pee more often and then have an accident?

    I get the whole “juice is 100% sugar” concept. But I missing the connection between that and “juice will make you pee your pants”. What am I missing?

    1. Katie Kimball @ Kitchen Stewardship

      Lora,
      I guess I’m not sure, but I know she’s had that amount of water to drink before without these problems! Maybe it’s the sugar w/o fiber deal…but I know it when I see it. 😉 Katie

  8. I subscribe to the idea that ‘juice is a vehicle for water’ theory — but I find that it is advantageous to use it for that purpose, especially when my child is at school.

    6 hours with nothing to drink is a long time, and dehydration makes it very hard for a brain to learn… and a bottle of room temperature water just isn’t appealing enough to spike 6 year old child’s radar. So I make ‘school juice’.

    1/3 juice (100% juice, no additives)
    2/3 water
    stevia sweetener
    a little lemon juice
    plus a little unsweetened kool-aid powder in a complimentary flavor.

    Sometimes I just make up the unsweetened kool-aid with stevia and lemon juice. It’s appealing for hot summer outings where I want to keep everyone hydrated — but I don’t mind the frequency of potty breaks that result from my kids getting enough water.

  9. What are your thoughts on sports drink substitutes? I run a lot, more than 40 miles a week and I know that I need to replace the electrolytes lost. I have been searching the internet for homemade, natural versions. But many recipes still suggest you add a concentrated frozen fruit juice. So I still stick to cytomax (because it is easy), even though the ingredient list is frightening to me! It is the only drink that keeps my body from feeling fatigued through out the running and acts as a great recovery drink.

    1. Katie Kimball @ Kitchen Stewardship

      JoAnna,

      So sorry it took me so long to respond…I got absolutely behind on comments when I released the second edition of the snacks book and truly have never caught up.

      Try this recipe: http://thecardamomspod.com/2009/05/homemade-laborade/ I make it for my husband, and it tastes JUST like Gatorade original. Real Salt will replace electrolytes (they even sell capsules to do so), so use the good stuff in the drink. Hope that helps!
      🙂 Katie

  10. Sarah @ Loved Like the Church

    We do one fruit/veggie juice box a week. Every Monday at school I let my girls have juice. My husband is a oj addict, so they get that occasionally as well. But, I find {just like myself}, they crave water more than anything, because that’s what they get more than anything.

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  12. We have a Berkey that the kids can access. (Well, ok, my 6yo can access, the toddler gets a no spill sippy) Always water. Occasionally, I”ll buy orange juice (which, you should research btw, totally not so healthy, and kind of disgusting), and we keep EmergenC on hand for illness times, so if they’ve got a sniffle, it’s an extra special treat. We also get apple cider in the fall, but that’s seasonal. And we offer herbal teas for fun and healing. But 99% of the time, it’s water here. I feel the same way about juices. If you’re going to consume that much sugar, just have dessert! 🙂

  13. First of all, I laughed out at the “JUUUIICCEEE!” I totally pictured it! I didn’t allow my son to have “full strength” juice until he was probably 4 years old, minus the occasional “juice drink” at a birthday party. (I was quite proud of this feat) I had heard on the news that it could damage their teeth, so I always diluted it 50% or more…just enough to have some flavor. I cringe at the people who just continually refill the sippy cups or bottles with juice or even soda (gasp! Soda in a bottle…sad!) Also he wasn’t allowed to drink soda until he was over 5 (this was at expense of a friend who babysat and I didn’t think to mention he wasn’t allowed to have it and they went out for pizza that night) But, he gets it as an occasional treat and (yes its still bad) but is only allowed clear sodas like sprite, with no caffeine. I think as parents we need to be informed and use common sense when it comes to feeding our children. Out kids NEED water. I’m willing to bet most kids out there are a running around dehydrated! Great post and I enjoy reading your blog!!

  14. Heather, you are absolutely right that there are a lot of terrible things in this world. My reason for homeschooling is NOT paranoia. It is protecting my children from the very bad things that are present in the public schools. Children need our protection until they have a solid foundation so that they can process all of the bad things that are in our world. Even adults have a hard time managing to analyze what is good and bad, think about how overwhelming it can be for young children to try to do that without the love and wisdom of their parents. Again, I affirm your parental right to educate your children in whatever way you see fit.

  15. I just don’t understand why you just don’t homeschool and avoid all the terrible things that come with sending your children to school. I cannot think of one good reason to send children to school. I’m not criticizing your parental right to educate your children the way you see fit but I just honestly don’t understand why you heap this unnecessary punishment upon yourself (and your children). There are a million reasons that I love homeschooling my children and zero reasons that I can think of to send my children to school (public or private).

    1. I know that those who homeschool feel very strong about it, and can see why they love it. However, the world is filled with problems. Instead of running from them and becoming paranoid, sometimes (as with juice) we need to learn to deal with what comes our way. I have 5 children (3 in public school, 2 still at home). I love my children dearly and miss them when they are gone. However, they are incredible leaders, role models and shining lights in their schools. It’s good for them to know how other people believe and think, so that they will better know how to stand up for what they believe. As for juice, even outside of school, kids are going to be offered juice – at grandmas house, the cousins house, church, playdates, birthday parties. Juice just happens.

  16. Great article and all the post. I passed the link on to my sister and nieces. I was the strange kid growing up as I stopped drinking coke or pop while in high school. I stopped the kool aid when I was about 9yo. Drove my mom nutts I’m sure.
    I came by in my search for a better source for tomatos in jar instead of cans.
    thanks Katie for the post and all your friends.
    I’m always searching for unique tips from the kitchen.

    1. Demi,
      I have never actually researched it, but I would just go through the points in this post – veggies are good, but it’s still pasteurized/bottled, so they’re all cooked. Better than just fruit juice, I’m sure, but fresh squeezed would be best. I’m guessing it’s kind of like the question of canned veggies vs. frozen ones…
      🙂 Katie

  17. Hadley via Facebook

    great reminder that kids don’t need juice at all and good old fashioned free water is all we ever need.

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