We're at a kid's party. It's a Spanish kids party which means there is a mountain of sweets and a couple of chocolate sandwiches pretending they're healthy food. It's hot. Scorching, middle of summer, you'll get fried, hat melting hot. My son is thirsty and starts to pour himself another drink. A large glass of orange juice. I tell him water is a better idea. "But mum!" he protests, "orange juice is healthy!" "No it's not," one of the grandmother pipes up, "orange juice is bad for you and it's not good for children's health!"
Many people hold the common misconception that orange juice is healthy. Whilst others vilify it as being bad for you. So which is it? Good for you? Or bad for you?
Well, it's kind of in the middle.
What is Wrong with Orange Juice?
Most orange juice contains lots of sugar. This sugar is normally naturally occurring, but it is still sugar. Sometimes, sugar is added to orange juice to make it even sweeter. (Check out the label to see.)
It is easy to drink lots of orange juice which is the same as eating all the sugary bits from several oranges. When we eat oranges we normally only eat one at a time (plus we don’t take out the fibre.)
Orange juice is also acidic. The combination of acid and sugar is especially bad for your teeth. Diet as well as tooth brushing are important in preventing bad teeth.
What is Wrong with Lots of Sugar?
A bit of sugar in your diet is fine but when you drink sugary drinks all the time, you get used to a very sweet flavour. It’s all part of training our taste buds.
A diet that is very high in sugar has nasty health consequences such as obesity and diabetes.
Water is the Best Drink for Children
Water is the best drink for all of us, not just children. If your children aren’t used to drinking water it may take time to change your habits. Once your children are in the habit of drinking water, they will ask for it when they are thirsty.
It’s fine to have sugary drinks from time to time as a treat but water should be what they drink most of the time.
People Under Estimate the Amount of Sugar in Drinks.
A study by the University of Glasgow showed that people hugely underestimate the amount of sugar in drinks that are perceived to be 'healthy' such as juices and smoothies. This included not only fizzy drinks but also regular drinks such as apple juice and orange juice.
They suggest that the average person in the UK consumes around 450 calories a day in (non alcoholic) drinks. That's amazing, that's roughly 2 chocolate bars worth of calories.
Drink Orange Juice in Moderation
A small glass of orange or fruit juice, or even fizzy pop, is a lovely treat. But that's the point, it should be a treat, rather than what you drink all the time.
- Keep the glass small. If you use a large glass, you're likely to have a bigger portion.
- Try diluting it with water (or fizzy water for a special treat).
- Let your kids help themselves to water.
- Drink water at meals as sweet drinks can change the flavour of the food, making them seem less tasty than they are.
- If you want to have a sweet drink, think of little teeth. It's better to have sweets and sweet drinks after a meal rather than in between meals.
- Set rules for parties that your children need to stick to.
Is Orange Juice Bad for you?
The short answer is NO, it’s not bad for you. You just need to make sure that you drink it in moderation.
My son changes his mind about the orange juice and knocks back a glass of ice cold water instead. Then runs off to join his friends careering around the dusty bowl of "lawn". It is difficult instilling healthy habits in your kids, but I know that little by little he's learning what is and what isn't healthy.Save