Aviva Allen's Blog
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Is Your Child a Carbaholic?
Do you find that your child is drawn to carbohydrates over any other food category? You are not alone. While I do encounter children with preferences towards fruits and vegetables and some who love meat, a large number of children I see in my practice prefer to eat grains and other starches. Carbohydrates are energy-rich foods that often have a consistent texture and typically do not overwhelm the taste buds. These characteristics can be very appealing to children, particularly the more selective eaters or those who struggle with sensory or oral-motor issues.
While many adults tend to avoid them, in fact, carbohydrates are the body's preferred source of energy. Children are generally more active and have higher metabolisms than adults, which means they require a greater supply of easily accessible fuel. Restricting carbohydrates can greatly compromise a child’s energy level and even their brain function. The brain needs glucose to function properly so without a ready supply, kids may have a harder time staying focused and alert. Instead of cutting down on your child’s intake, simply choose quality carbohydrates that are high in fibre. Try using whole-grain varieties of bread, rice, pasta, pancakes and waffles, or at least using half and half. Vegetables, whole fruits (not juice), beans and lentils are also good sources of carbohydrates.
Restricting a child’s eating, whether you are restricting the quantity of food eaten or restricting the type of food they choose, can often lead to trouble down the road with the child sneaking food or binge eating. Teach your child to listen to their body. If they are drawn to carbohydrates, there may be a good reason for this. As a parent or caregiver, our job is simply to offer nutritious options from a variety of food categories but it is up to the child to decide which foods they are going to eat and how much their bodies need. When we try to try to override their decisions we are simply teaching them to ignore their body’s signals and often create unnecessary mealtime battles in the process.