This year, my daughter often came home from school feeling the world was quite unfair because she did not get a juice box in her lunch. I am not a juice drinker.
Not so much because I am a dietitian, but because I grew up with a mom who only bought frozen orange juice concentrate served so diluted that it tasted like dirty water.
Later, when I started working in diabetes, I came to understand juice as a medical treatment for hypoglycaemia. Because juice is fruit without any fiber, the naturally-occuring sugar can raise your blood sugar levels very quickly. However, this does not mean juice is a bad choice for everybody.
Juice provides vitamins, hydration and nourishment. For some people, juice is the only source of fruit or vegetable. Juice boxes are a convenient way to ensure children stay hydrated. So while we encourage water to be the main beverage of choice, there is room for some juice in a healthy diet.
Here are some guidelines to consider around drinking juice:
• Drinking juice has been associated with dental decay in young children, especially if they are allowed to carry it in a bottle or ‘sippy’ cup throughout the day. Ensure children brush their teeth after drinking juice.
• Juice can displace intake of breastmilk and other solid foods in young children. Limit serving to 4-6 oz. or 125-175 ml daily.
• Buy 100 per cent fruit juice without added sugar.
• Continue to make water your “most often” choice.
• Choose whole fruits and vegetables more often than juice.
• If the water at your house tastes bad, consider buying a purifier. If it tastes too chlorinated, leaving water in a jug overnight can help decrease the taste of chlorine. Refrigerating water with slices of lemon can also improve flavour.
Keep half-frozen water bottles in freezer to take on car trips.
With hot weather hydration is very important, especially in the elderly and children. While juice does contain naturally-occurring sugar, it also contains vitamins and would still be a better choice than pop, slushies or beer.
-Serena Caner is a registered dietician who works at Shuswap Lake General Hospital.