The importance of including fruits in your child’s diet cannot be emphasised enough. They are rich in vitamins, minerals and dietary fibre, making it easy to keep various heart ailments, cancers, digestion issues and inflammation at bay. Fresh fruits are important for the smooth functioning of vital organs and contribute to the overall development of your child. However, there are several myths surrounding the feeding of fruits to kids. For instance, some parents believe that fruits should not be consumed at certain times of the day, which is actually a myth.
Fruits can supply energy, nutrition, and satiety to your child any time. Plus, they can satisfy sweet cravings easily and can be used in a variety of dishes. So, here are the myths that need to be debunked.
Myth 1: If your kid eats fruits with meals, he or she will not get all the nutrients.
Fact: When kids eat, their stomachs gradually release small amounts of digested food so that the intestines have ample time to absorb all the nutrients. Moreover, the small intestine is about six meters long, so it has enough length to absorb all the nutrients during digestion. So, it isn’t a problem if your kids have fruits along with their meals.
Myth 2: Fruits can be given to kids only on an empty stomach or else they slow down the digestion of other foods. And undigested food can cause indigestion, stomach pain and other such problems.
Fact: Fruits are packed with fibre, so they slow down the speed of food passing through the intestine. However, they do not slow down the rate of digestion in any way. The fibre that is present in fruits helps in keeping your kids full for a long time, preventing any binge eating.
Myth 3: The best time to give your kids fruits is six hours after they wake up. This is because metabolism decreases during mid day, and giving fruits reactivates it.
Fact: This is another one of the common myths that parents have about fruits. Your child’s digestive system is perfectly capable of digesting food at any time of the day, irrespective of whether fruits are being consumed or not. Only when he or she overeats does the body temporarily divert the blood flow to the digestive system, thus affecting the metabolic rate. Other than that, there is no reason to believe that the digestive system needs to be reactivated by eating fruits in the middle of the day.
Myth 4: You should not give your kids fruits before bedtime. It can increase blood sugar level as the body does not have enough time to stabilise it.
Fact: Your child’s body does not stop burning calories while he or she is sleeping. Calories are continuously burnt to maintain various bodily functions. There is no research to support that eating fruits before bedtime contributes to high sugar levels. Instead, substituting other foods with fruits can increase fibre consumption, thus preventing weight gain.
Myth 5: Kids with type 1 diabetes shouldn’t be given fruits.
Fact: Even though fruits have sugar in the form of fructose, they have low glycaemic index, which means that they do not increase blood sugar rapidly, when compared to bread and other refined products. Management of diabetes includes management of blood glucose, blood fats, blood pressure, and weight, and fruits help in regulating all of these.
Myth 6: Fruit yoghurt is the best way to start your kids on fruits.
Fact: This is also one of the common myths about fruits that parents have. Fruit yoghurt sold commercially might have added sugars and less fibre. Now, it is true that yoghurt is a good source of calcium, protein, and vitamin D, and when combined with fruits, it is enriched with fibre too. But when bought commercially, your child might not get enough nutrients. So, instead, you can add fresh fruits like blueberries, strawberries, bananas, etc. to plain yoghurt at home and give it to your kids.
Myth 7: Fruit juices are a healthy option for kids.
Fact: Whole fruits are always a better and healthier option than fruit juices. These juices are usually high in natural sugar, and also, fruits when juiced, lose all their fibre content. So, try and give whole fruits to kids, or if you are giving juice, make sure it contains the pulp.
Fruits are extremely nutrient-rich and are essential for planning a healthy diet. No matter when your kids eat these, fruits will boost their overall health. However, if you suspect that a fruit is causing an allergic reaction in your child, contact a doctor immediately.