Children, like adults, may require a specialized diet for a number of reasons. Diet plans that require counting carbohydrates can help children with diabetes. However, following a low-carb diet to lose weight may pose some problems for growing children. Consult your doctor before making substantial changes or alterations to your child’s diet.
Your child’s body uses carbohydrates from foods to produce simple sugars for energy. As the sugars enter your child’s bloodstream, his pancreas releases insulin, affecting his blood sugar level. Foods that contain high amounts of carbohydrates can lead to weight gain in many children and to dangerously high blood sugar levels in children with diabetes.
The Institute of Science recommends children of all ages consume 45 and 65 percent of their daily calories from carbohydrates. The exact amount of carbohydrates may vary, depending on the size and activity levels of individual children, but equals about 130g per day for average children.
Counting carbohydrates helps children with diabetes manage their condition. Children with diabetes often require frequent testing to monitor and regulate blood sugar levels. Keeping track of the foods your child consumes can help you and your doctor determine the correct amount of carbohydrates necessary to manage your child’s diabetes.
While carbohydrate counting plays an important role in diabetes management, overweight individuals often choose to limit carbohydrates an attempt to lose weight. Helping your child lose weight in a healthy manner requires providing a balance of nutritious foods from a variety of food sources. Carbohydrates are only one source of calories. Fats and proteins also contain calories that can lead to excess weight in children. Cutting out about 500 calories per day can help your child lose about a pound each week. Encouraging him to exercise more can improve his chances of healthy weight loss, as well as his level of fitness.
Don’t severely restrict your child’s carbohydrates without specific directions from his doctor. While limiting carbohydrates can help manage diabetes, restricting carbohydrates to promote weight loss may lead to nutritional deficiencies. Choose nutrient-dense sources of carbohydrates, such as fresh fruit, whole grains, dairy products and vegetables to help ensure your child consumes adequate amounts of vitamins, minerals and fiber.