The start of the year is a time when many people start a new diet or aim to lose weight as part of their New Year’s Resolutions.
Managing dieting and dealing with preparing meals for the family can be complicated and it’s natural to not want to create multiple versions of meals.
A popular dieting trend (which comes in and out of fashion) is to reduce or cut out carbohydrates from the diet. While it might be tempting to have the whole family join you on your quest as you try this type of diet, it’s important you leave the kids out of this one (and any type of weight loss diet, actually).
What are carbohydrates?
Carbohydrates are the body’s main source of energy. They are often classified into two groups – simple and complex. Simple carbs are easily broken down by the body and are often found in cakes, biscuits and other foods with refined sugar, but are also found in fruit and dairy products. Complex carbs are found in grains and starchy vegetables and take longer for your body to break down. They are found in wholegrain varieties of bread and cereals.
Kids need carbohydrates in their diets because:
The body uses it for energy
Carbohydrates are broken down by the body into simple sugars which then circulate in the bloodstream and are used by the body’s cells for energy. Kids are very active – constantly moving, talking and learning – and they need a lot of energy to fuel their day. Restricting their carbohydrates can limit the amount of energy they have during the day, making them feel tired.
As well as that, kids are still growing. Even when they are at rest their body is working hard to make them bigger and stronger, and that takes energy too.
It fuels their brain
The brain uses glucose (one of the simple sugars) as its primary energy source. Kids need carbohydrates to keep alert during the day and to keep their brain in good working order. This is important for all kids, but especially those of school age who are learning all day and need to concentrate for long periods of time.
So, while limiting your intake of simple carbs and refined sugar is a great idea, you shouldn’t cut carbohydrates from your kids diets completely. Include a variety of foods from each food group and include complex carbs wherever possible. They need this source of energy to keep active and alert throughout their busy day, and to make sure they keep growing and learning.