What Kind of Calories Are Best For My Child?

The old argument that a calorie is a calorie has been put to rest by exciting new research. If it is true, that not all calories are created equal, then the problem of childhood obesity is not just about controlling children’s impulses, but also about changing our beliefs about what is a healthy diet.



Researchers are beginning to understand that our bodies process foods, or calories, in different ways. Therefore what our children eat is just as important as how much they eat. It turns out that the recent advice given by organizations such as the USDA and the American Heart Association to eat a low-fat, carbohydrate rich diet that included some sugars, and refined grains like bread and pasta, and even starchy vegetables like potatoes, could be the reason for the obesity epidemic.

So what should my child eat?
This latest research suggests that our children should eat fewer (if any) sugars, refined grains (bread, pasta) and starchy vegetables (potatoes). It also suggests that healthiest diet to eat is one that includes meat, eggs, cheese and lots of green leafy vegetables. With this new shift in thinking so will the way your child’s plate looks. The largest portion should be green leafy vegetables, such as kale, swiss chard, collard greens, with a small serving of meat, eggs or cheese, and a small serving of whole grains, such as brown rice, cous cous, or a slice of whole grain bread. This diet is the opposite of the familiar USDA Food Pyramid.

What is the problem with carbs?
Carbs, refined sugars and grains effect children’s insulin levels, which regulates fat accumulation. Basically, the highly over-processed kinds of carbohydrates we eat today raises insulin levels allowing fat to get trapped in children’s fat cells. The more highly processed food your child eats the higher their insulin levels, which means more fat is accumulating. Offering less sugary drinks and highly processed carbohydrates is a good start to helping your child reach a healthy weight.