Can Toddlers Eat Too Much Fruit?
If your toddler’s a picky eater, seeing him with a bunch of grapes in his hand probably makes you happy that at least he’s eating something healthy. But fruit contains sugar -- some more than others -- and too much sugar can cause problems, whether it comes from a piece of fruit or a piece of candy. Growers have found ways to make fruit larger and sweeter, which increases both its caloric and sugar content.
Some fruits naturally contain more sugar than others. Bananas, grapes and peaches contain more sugar than apples, berries, tomatoes and avocados, according to Ben Kim, a chiropractor and acupuncturist in Ontario, Canada. Fruit processors also add sugar, in some cases. Applesauce, for example, can contain added sugar. Canned fruits in individual serving cups, such as pears, peaches or tangerine slices often sit in heavy syrup, a pure sugar product with no redeeming health benefits.
The enamel on the outside of the teeth protects them from bacterial infection and decay, and baby teeth are especially susceptible to decay. Acidic citrus fruits such as oranges can erode the enamel on teeth, BBC Health reports. Fruits bathed in heavy syrup can also sit on the teeth long enough to cause tooth enamel to break down. Dried fruits and processed fruit snacks also stick to the teeth, increasing the risk of cavities. If you count fruit juice as a fruit serving, limit servings to no more than 12 ounces per day because fruit juice represents a major risk for cavity development in children, the American Academy of Pediatrics warns 5.
If your child seems to constantly have loose stools, fruit could be the culprit. The sugars in fruit, particularly fructose, act as a natural laxative for some people because they can't break down and absorb the sugar. Children with fructose intolerance who overindulge in fruit regularly might have chronic diarrhea along with gas, bloating and abdominal discomfort, according to MayoClinic.com 3.
It doesn’t seem to make sense that a diet high in fruits and vegetables could cause rather than prevent nutritional deficiencies. But that was the conclusion that child nutritionist Sarah Almond reached after surveying the diets served by a number of day care centers in Great Britain. She found that the food choices, which were heavy on fruits and vegetables, were too low in both healthy fats, needed for normal growth in children younger than 5 years of age and too low in calories. Fruit, which provides a large amount of fiber, also fills a child up, leaving less room for other healthy food.
- Comstock Images/Comstock/Getty Images