You’ve done your job as a parent and taught your child to eschew candy, chips, and most processed snacks for natural alternatives such as fruit. But can kids eat too much fruit?
The short answer is yes.
Fruit is always a better snack or part of a meal because it is a whole food, but children should balance fruit intake with all other food groups as well. Using MyPlate as a guide, fruit provides a variety of vitamins, antioxidants, and fiber as a part of a healthy diet.
How much does your child need?
- Age 2 to 3: 1 cup
- Age 4 to 8: 1 to 1 ½ cups
- Age 9 to 18: 1 ½ cups
- Age 9 to 13: 1 ½ cups
- Age 14 to 18: 2 cups
That said, when children eat too much fruit, there can be some unintentional side effects.
- Bloating or Other Intestinal Distress: Fruits are high in the natural sugar fructose, which some people find hard to digest. This can cause gas or bloating.
- Sugar Cravings: Children are born preferring sweet tastes, thus their desire for breast milk. It is natural they might prefer fruit over vegetables. However, it is important that not all foods they are offered are sweet in order to help expand their acceptance of a wide variety of foods and flavors. With an increased variety of foods and flavors comes an increased variety of nutrients.
- Fiber: Fruits are a great source of fiber, which is an important part of kids’ diets – in reasonable amounts. Fiber helps kids feel full, and if they are eating too much they may miss out on nutrients from other food groups such as healthy fats and proteins.
In addition to fruit, consider other healthy snacks, such as nuts and seeds, hummus and veggies, or string cheese. Help round out their diet and tastes!