Many restaurant chains are introducing kid-friendly juice drinks these days to offset their slipping soda sales. They’re hoping that playful colors, memorable names and unusual flavors they can hike check totals while making parents feel good about their choices.
But are juice drinks really a better choice for kids?
We believe healthier eating is all about compromise. A snack-sized candy bar is a better choice than a full-sized candy bar. Neither is a nutrition powerhouse. So if the choice is between soda and a juice based drink, especially one with real fruit pieces floating in the drink, then juice wins.
But there are ways to make wiser juice choices when eating out.
Look at the size of the drink you’re ordering. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends 4 to 6 ounces of 100% fruit juice per day for kids aged 1 to 6—that’s the equivalent of only a third to a half of a can of soda. For kids 7 to 18 the recommendation is eight to 12 ounces. So if the juice is huge, maybe it should be split between the kids. Is it 100% juice? Ask! Is it blue or some other odd color? If so, it may contain food colors. Are you okay with that choice? Fruit smoothies or frozen fruit juice slushies can be good choices, but cotton candy–garnished lemonade is no healthier than a cola.
As a parent, if you say “no” to soda be sure that the alternative choice is a good one.