Q: My son loves fruit pouches. It’s the only way I can get him to eat fruits and vegetables. But he will eat up to four pouches a day if I let him. So I bought the reusable ones to cut down on cost. He refuses the homemade ones. I’ve tried everything to trick him into thinking they are store bought. Do you have any ideas?
– Leanne G.
A: Sorry Leanne. Mommy confession – I hate the pouch. Though I understand the convenience and the appeal, these types of strategically marketed foods are no replacement for whole fruits and vegetables. Yet I see so many children with these plastic baggies protruding from their lips. Welcome to the age of the pouch!
I realize hate is a strong word. But I do, indeed, hate the pouch. The main reason is that it is yet another cleverly packaged processed food marketed to parents as being just as healthy as whole fruits and vegetables. We all want our children to eat healthy and that desire combined with the ease of the pouch makes us ripe for the picking with the food industry. I will tell you that the little store bought pouches are not, nor will they ever be, a suitable replacement for whole fruits and vegetables.
Many of the pouches, even those that are organic, have added natural sweeteners like fruit juice. The reason your little one is refusing the homemade option is because it doesn’t have the same sticky sweetness he has become accustomed to.
I don’t believe these pouches are bad for kids once and a while and they are certainly a better snack option for on-the-go at times. My children have consumed these from time to time (though we do not buy them or have them in our home). I was never won over by the pouch because I never understood what’s so inconvenient about whole fruits. An apple, an orange, a banana—are great on-the-go. And all provide less sugar and more fiber with less sticky sweetness.
Most important, in my opinion, chomping on real fruits and vegetables helps your child consider food the right way: not as something processed and sold in plastic pouches, but as something whole and from nature. I hear from many friends and customers that their kiddo will suck down 4-6 pouches a day. The reason? Research suggests that people consume blended fruit about three times faster than whole fruit, which means that the fruit, and all its sugar, hits your child’s stomach far faster than it would if you’d handed him a whole banana.
My frustration with “kid food” like the pouches was a prime motivator in the creation of TippiTopper. I know that all of us want our children to be healthy and a big part of that is their diet. I didn’t believe that hiding whole fruits and vegetables was the way to teach my kids to build a lifelong relationship with nutritious foods. But our mealtimes were a battle until I gave the kids what they wanted – the ability to flavor their foods with something familiar. But TippiTopper doesn’t shield them from seeing, smelling and knowing what they are eating unlike processed, plastic convenience food. There is no chip, pouch or pill that can give your child a healthy, lifelong relationship with whole foods. So I created one.
While I do applaud you for making the pouches rather than purchasing, when you want your child to eat fruit, consider giving him fruit. There are so many yummy fruits and vegetables. Take him with you to the market for a special fruit and vegetable hunt. Let him select something special. Maybe a new fruit or vegetable you have yet to try yourself. When you get home let him wipe the produce clean and place it in a large bowl. We have a large bowl of fruit on our kitchen table that is available to my kids all of the time. I make sure there is some variety. Our blog entries about smoothies and books about food may also be helpful for you.