Healthy kids blog

Is my child eating too much fruit?

Fruits are full of essential nutrients children need to grow in a healthy way. They are low in kilojoules (energy) and are a great source of fibre which can make children (and adults!) feel fuller for longer, while also helping with regular bowel movements. Fruit is also full of vitamins and minerals, especially vitamin C, which can help boost their immune system and prevent them from getting sick.

When making healthy changes as a family, it’s common to swap a ‘sometimes’ food out for fruit. Fruit is a healthy, everyday option, but have you ever wondered if your child is having too much fruit?

How much fruit should my child eat?

According to the Australian Dietary Guidelines, children should aim to eat up to 2 serves of fruit every day, depending on their age.

Source: Eat for Health – Healthy Eating for Children’s poster

A serve of fruit is equal to 350g (150kJ) or:

  • 1 medium apple, banana, orange or pear
  • 2 small apricots, kiwi fruits or plums
  • 1 cup diced or canned fruit (no added sugar)

Or occasionally:

  • 125ml (½ cup) fruit juice (no added sugar)
  • 30g dried fruit (for example, 4 dried apricot halves, 1½ tablespoons of sultanas)>/li>

What are the risks of my child eating too much fruit?

Despite fruit being full of vitamins, minerals, and fibre, they also contain little protein and no fat, which children need in order to grow and develop in a healthy way. Having too much fruit can mean that your child is missing out on other important nutrients from foods from other food groups.

Don’t stress if you find that your child is having a little more fruit than normal. It’s important to think of the bigger picture. Ask yourself – if not fruit, what else would they be eating? If the answer is chocolate, chips, soft drink, or other sugary snacks than of course fruit is a healthier option!

Overall, encourage your child to eat a balance of foods from each of the five food groups.

If you’re worried your child is having too much fruit, try:

Offering a variety of different types and coloured fruit.

Just like veggies, different coloured fruits contain different nutrients. For example, orange, red and yellow fruits have carotene (Vitamin A) which can help boost your child’s immune system. Whereas other fruits like watermelon have higher water content and are great on hot days to keep your child hydrated. Offering a variety of different coloured fruits to your child can increase the variety of healthy nutrients they receive so their bodies can grow and function in a healthy way.

Purchasing tinned fruit in natural juices instead of tinned fruit in syrup.

“Fresh is best” is a common nutrition myth. Fresh, tinned and frozen fruit are all great, healthy options! Tinned and frozen fruit are convenient, can help you stick to your food budget and allow us to preserve fruits so we can still eat them when they are out of season.

However, tinned fruit “in syrup” is often code for added sugars which isn’t the healthiest option. When purchasing tinned fruit, choose tinned fruit in ‘’natural juices’’.

Offering mostly whole fruit instead of fruit juice or dried fruit.

When fruit is juiced or dried, the fibre, vitamins and minerals are removed. It’s also very easy to eat more dried fruit or drink more fruit juice than needed which may lead to a high intake of sugars naturally found in fruit. The sugar naturally found in fruit is called fructose and is a healthy sugar. However, anything in large amounts isn’t the healthiest.

Offer fruit juice to your child occasionally and when you do aim for no more than 1/2 cup (125ml) per day and choose options with pulp and no added sugar.

A serve of dried fruit is equal to 30g or a small handful. Try offering dried fruits to your child with nuts and seeds for a more nourishing, healthy snack!

Serving fruit with foods from the other food groups.

If your child loves fruit, they will be more likely to eat new or different foods when served with a fruit that they enjoy. This can help your child work towards having a balanced diet with foods from each of the five food groups.  To start, try some of the examples below:

  • Serve fruit on top of their wholegrain cereal
  • Add fresh fruit to their water
  • Add dried fruit to a nuts and seeds mix
  • Add fruit to natural plain yoghurt

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