Last week, Cameron wrote:
"I have a question for you Tiffany. My three year old son is not a big fan of veggies. I have been buying the V8 fusion drinks because they have a full serving of fruit and vegetables. Is this a good alternative if your child is resistant to eating vegetables? Are those fruit drinks as good as they're advertised??"
Thanks for your question Cameron! This is a great topic because I know many parents struggle with getting their kids to eat veggies. And so many parents wonder whether fruit and vegetable juices (like the V8 fusion you mentioned) actually provide good nutrition comparable to whole fruits and veggies. As a mom myself, I've looked into these questions and here's what I've found....
The answer is a bit more complicated than yes or no. First, you have to consider the juice quality. Any juice that provides a legitimate serving of fruit and/or vegetables should be labeled "100% juice". If not, don't buy it. The juice in the image above is only 50% juice. So this, unfortunately is not the best option. However, there are a variety of 100% fruit juices available. The only 100% vegetable juice I know off hand is tomato.
Secondly, the amount of juice toddlers drink throughout the day should be limited to 4 oz. Why? Because it is a very concentrated source of sugar, calories and lacks fiber. This includes fruit juices and fruit/vegetable combo juices. According to the V8 fusion website, "*Each 8-ounce glass of V8 V-Fusion juice provides a 1/2 cup of vegetables and 1/2 cup of fruit." Therefore, 4 oz of juice would equal a 1/4 serving of vegetables and a 1/4 serving of fruit. Not really that much, considering we're aiming for 1 cup of fruit and 1 cup of veggies per day for our toddlers.
So, my recommendation is to 1.) limit juices to 4 oz per day of 100% varieties only, 2) continue to encourage your little one to eat whole fruits and veggies from other sources (like fresh, frozen, canned or dried). But HOW, you ask? I have a toddler at home and definitely had to put in some "work" to get him to eat fruits and veggies. Thankfully, he eats them pretty well and I credit some simple tactics I practiced everyday since he started solids at 6 months.
Tips on getting kids to eat fruits and veggies
- Expose your child to a variety of fruits and vegetables by offering different kids regularly.
- Offer your child a fruit and/or a veggie at meals and snacks, in addition to other healthy foods. If after you encourage them to eat their fruit and veggie, they refuse, allow them to but always continue to offer at each meal and snack.
- Be patient and avoid forcing or bribing. This can set up an unhealthy relationship with food, and usually has the opposite result!
- Lead by example and let them see you eating (and enjoying) fruits and veggies.
- Here are some other great toddler eating tips from the American Dietetic Association