Open a popular magazine these days and there is likely to be something about cutting down on carbohydrates in order to lose weight. There have been various weight loss diets over the past 30 to 40 years that use the low-carb approach Studies which have looked at the effectiveness of these diets mainly look at the amount of weight loss and the affect on risk factors for heart disease such as cholesterol levels.
If parents are following a low-carb diet in order to lose weight, it is important not to cut out carbohydrate-containing foods for children, even if they are overweight.
Which foods contain carbohydrate?
The two main forms of carbohydrate in our food are starch and sugar, both of which get digested to glucose and fructose.
Starch is found in all foods made from grains such as wheat, rice, barley, rye, in starchy vegetables such as corn, peas, legumes, sweet potato, potato and cassava as well as some seeds such quinoa.
Sugar is found in all fruit, milk, yogurt and sucrose which is the sugar we use in baking, confectionery, soft drinks etc.
Chidlren need carbohydrates
Children particularly need carboydrates as fuel for physical activity (energy), brain functions such as memory recall, concentration and to fill them up at mealtimes. Grain foods also provide important nutrients such as B-vitamins, fibre, antioxidants and small amounts of important minerals such as iron and magnesium. Fruits and starchy vegetabls give us vitamins C and A, folate, fibre and antioxidants and milk and yogurt provide protein, calcium and phosphorous.
So children need some carboydrate at each of their five meals per day.
Choosing good carbohydrates for your children
Milk and yogurt
Legumes such as chick peas, baked beans, kidney beans, lentils, split peas
When buying whole grains, remember that the less processed they are, the better:
- Whole grain bread, breakfast cereals, crackers
- whole wheat bulgur, whole wheat couscous and other strains of wheat such as kamut and spelt
- Brown rice
- Rolled oats
- Whole rye
- Triticale (pronounced tri-ti-kay-lee)
- Buckwheat, quinoa (pronounced keen-wah), wild rice, and amaranth are considered whole grains even though botanically they are not in the grain family of plants
There are many recipes using all of these foods. Try one you haven’t used before by adding it to a familiar dish. For example, add chickpeas to lamb shanks, kidney beans to bolognaise.
For more information on grains including recipes, have a look at http://www.glnc.org.au/