Fruits For Kids – Can They Get Too Much of a Good Thing?
Is there anything like too much fruits for kids ?
So, you’ve managed to convince your child to eat fruits and they love it, great! But how much fruit do you feed your child and is it possible to give your child too much fruit? Current health recommendations state that children should eat a minimum of five portions of fruits and vegetables each day (so around 2-3pieces of fruit), with an emphasis on varying the fruit types each day. Fruit contains sugar but it is natural and unrefined and does not compromise health, however, eating large quantities of fruit is not recommended for a number of reasons.
One of the benefits of fruit is that it contains a substantial level of fiber which is necessary for the smooth and healthy running of digestive processes. That said, if too much fruits and vegetables are eaten (eight+ portions combined per day), there is a chance of actually disturbing healthy digestion causing bloating, excess gas and even diarrhea. It is also worth bearing in mind that eating multiple portions of the same fruit does not count towards the daily quota and is potentially overloading the body with fiber, putting unnecessary stress on the bowel. Although the natural sugars in fruit are far less likely to promote tooth decay, too much fruit (especially fruit juice), can negatively impact dental health by weakening tooth enamel.
Fruit juices contain fruit sugar in a more harmful form than whole fruit as the normally compact sugar molecules held within the whole fruit fiber structure, are released during the juicing process. If your child is exceeding the fruit recommendation mainly because of a high fruit juice consumption, try a 50/50 juice to water drink. You will find that the drink is still sweet, tasty and nutritious but contains significantly less fruit sugar.
A great way to widen the range of fruits in your child’s diet without overdoing it, is to include a different colored fruit for each portion. Interestingly, each color provides a different set of vitamins, minerals and antioxidants and a diverse variety of colors within the portion recommendation, will ensure you are giving your child optimum level of nutrients. Another tip to help your child enjoy nutrient dense fruit of a healthy portion size, is to give them fruit that is in season as it will be riper and therefore more juicy and sweet.
What is One Portion of fruits?
There is no uniformity to fruit as they come in all different shapes and sizes, so it can be pretty difficult to determine one portion of fruit. Here is a rough guide to help you calculate daily allowances.
- One portion of small fruit types would include any of these combinations: 2 satsumas/mandarins, 2 kiwi fruit, 2 plums, seven strawberries or three apricots.
- Medium-sized fruit such as apples, bananas, oranges and pears would all count as one portion each.
- Large fruit such as pineapple, grapefruit and melon should be cut into 5cm slices to provide one portion.
Remember that tinned and dried fruits also count towards fruit intake, so you would use the same measurements for tinned fruit and one heaped tablespoon of dried fruit for one portion. For fruit juices, one 150ml cup of (unsweetened) pure fruit juice is the equivalent of one portion of whole fruit. (Remember to watch out for any signs of allergy when giving young children new foods).