Fit 5 on Friday: 5 Juice boxes NOT to share with your kids

June 28, 2013By 1 Comment

Anyone who knows imagesCAWB9YS0me well knows that my treatment of choice for low blood sugars is a good ‘ol juice box.  I remember blistering hot summer days at diabetes camp, when we would be out in the middle of the archery field, and my counselor would hand me over 2 dry peanut butter crackers and a chalky glucose tablet and all I could dream about was cold juice to treat my low.  I am also a sucker for Mike and Ike’s, but that is irrelevant to this post.

Now that I am a new mom, I think about the days ahead when my little one will look up at me with big eyes and reach out to try to ask for a drink of mommy’s juice.  How will I explain to her that it’s mommy’s ‘medicine’ without using that word of course, as I don’t want her to associate juice with medicine.  How will I explain to her that my juice has WAY too much sugar in it for her?  Will I just drink most of it and let her have the last few sips?  Will I give her a ‘special’ sippy cup when mommy has juice so that we do something special together?  Who knows how I will manage that one, but it will be amongst the many things I will have to explain to her such as why mommy has a tube always attached to her and why I have to make my fingers bleed every day.  I’ll cross that bridge when I come to it.

In the mean time, I can go about drinking my usual drink of choice, and not care if it has 25 or even 30 grams of sugar in it, because it’s a quick fix for my lows in between diaper changes and nursing.  Just a few facts before I go into the top 5:  Sugar is a carbohydrate, and different juices have different amounts of and kinds of sugar (some naturally occurring, some with artificial additives), you want to look at the Total Carb on a juice box label and not necessarily just the grams of sugar, as it will all be digested quickly (aka, juice is a ‘simple sugar’ vs. complex carbs that come from breads).  Also, keep in mind, that the average toddler should not be consuming any more than 170 calories (or 4 teaspoons) of added sugar daily (AHA guidelines).  To understand this when you’re looking at a nutrition label, note that 1 carbohydrate equals 4 calories, so you can multiple the carbs by 4 to get the calories from carbs/sugar.  The American Academy of Pediatrics states children under the age of 1 shouldn’t have any juice at all, and children between ages 1-6 shouldn’t consume more than 6 oz per day…that’s only 1 average size juice box. 

The scary truth, based on many recent studies, is that kids are consuming WAY too much added sugar, well over and often quadruple the recommended amount.  In my idealistic dietitian mind, I like to think that my baby will never have a sip of a sugary beverage before the age of 2, there is just no need for anything else besides milk or water.  However, I’m no dummy, and I know that when push comes to shove, and by way of grandparents, I am sure she’ll have her taste of sugar whether it comes from a cookie, a lick of ice-cream, or one of mommy’s juice boxes.  It is what it is, and we don’t want to freak our kids out about food and give them a complex.  I will do the best I can as a new mom to just try to limit these things, and I am sure I will have more of an educated opinion when she is at that stage in her life.  But for now, here is my take on 5 juice box brands (keep in mind many of these brands have lower sugar alternatives) that should stay OUT of your kids hands.  Keep in mind that yes, you can water down juice for them, but if your going to do that, just give them water, it’s much better for them, and if you don’t get them accustomed to tasting something sweet, they won’t miss it.

*These juice’s are perfectly fine for diabetics and adults, as it give you a good amount of Vit. C and helps bring up blood sugars, but no need to give one to the kids as well. For kids, aim for a juice that has less than 10 grams of sugar (40 calories) as a treat, there’s lot’s of options out there, just look at the label.  Remember, if they are consuming multiple amounts of the lower sugar juices a day, it pretty much defeats the purpose.  Sugar turns to fat, and I can’t imagine the extra spike helps with nap time either… again, not speaking from experience yet, and I’m sure I’ll learn the difference between a treat and overindulgence as my child gets older. 

  1. Minute Maid 100% Apple Juice 6.75 fl oz (23 g of carb in 1 juice box)
  2. Juicy Juice 6.75 fl oz (24 g of carb)
  3. Hi-C Fruit punch – (25 g of carb)
  4. Mott’s for Tots Grape Juice 8 oz (17 g of carb… the Apple Juice option is a better choice with 13 g of carb in 6.75 oz)
  5. Welch’s 100% Grape Juice 8 fl oz (38 g of carb…this is high and note the serving size, Welch’s makes a few light versions of their juices which are much lower in carbs)

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  1. elizabeth shapiro says:

    Good food for thought with a little toddler at home. We have always been a water/milk only family, but with the summer months let her enjoy the occasional organic juice box on the weekends; i will be looking at the labels today! What about you’re take on servings of fruit in general?

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