When I see people in the hospital for nutrition education, I (usually) literally have ten minutes to plant a seed of motivation or to make a small change in their daily intake.
Let’s face it, even post-heart-attack, most fifty-something year olds just are not ready to give up fifty years of bad eating habits because some nutrition nerd is urging them to toss the potato chips out the window.
So where do I usually start?
With the beverages. Okay, okay. There’s the obvious– soda equals no bueno. But I am constantly shocked by how many people do not realize the importance of avoiding and minimizing juice!
I’m not a calorie countin’ crazed nutrition professional over here, but drinking calories is just sooo not good for you! Drinking calories is not satiating and does nothing to quell hunger, even though you can easily consume 60 to 90 calories in a mere 4 to 8 oz portion of juice.
I know what you’re thinking, “BUT WAIT, why is fruit a good choice but juice is bad?”
Let’s talk fruit. First of all, excessive consumption of fruit is not typically advised for most people (especially for those looking to drop fat) with recommendations generally to stick to less than 2 servings daily and to aim for lower sugar fruits such as berries, citrus fruits or melons. That said, for those of you who are physically very active, do not have fat loss goals in mind, or are experiencing a lot of stress; a bit more fruit won’t kill ya.
However, fruit and fruit juice are two entirely different animals. When we eat fruit, we’re getting a myriad of fiber, vitamins, water in addition to fruit’s naturally occurring sugar. Squeezing or juicing the fruit eliminates the fiber. Processing destroys many of the vitamins. And since it takes two to four medium oranges to make one mere, 8 oz portion of juice; you know you’re getting way more calories and sugar than if you were to eat just one orange!
Okay. Time for the trick question… what if you’re making homemade, organic, fresh squeezed juice? Is that okay?
Well, sure, there may be more nutrient density/vitamins intact but otherwise, that homemade organic option will still be loaded with as much calorie dense, un-satiating sugar as the stuff from Tropicana.
Great alternatives to juice include keeping a pitcher of water in the fridge with cucumber, orange slices or frozen berries added to give some light, delicious flavor. Alternatively, try blending or food processing half a de-seeded orange or 1/2 cup of de-stemmed berries with 8-16 oz of water. At least when blending (rather than juicing) the fruit, the fiber stays intact!