Carbohydrate foods are the foods that provide starch and sugars in a kids diet. Foods that provide carbohydrate are digested to glucose, this is the body’s preferred energy source. The main sources of carbohydrate in a child’s diet should be breads and cereals, pasta and rice, fruits and starchy vegetables, legumes and dairy foods. Other foods such as cordials, lollies, soft drinks and savoury snacks may provide a kid with carbohydrate however they are poor sources of other nutrients, and may be high in bad fats, salt, caffeine, colours, flavours and preservatives.
When carbohydrate foods are digested they are broken down to glucose, however some foods are digested more slowly or quickly than others. This rate of digestion is referred to as Glycemic Index (GI). A slowly digested food has a low GI, and a quickly digested food has a high GI. Low GI foods are great for long lasting energy and feelings of fullness, and high GI foods are great for quickly replenishing energy used up playing, running, jumping and all the other things kids do. So kids need a mix of low and high GI foods in their day. Give kids carbohydrate foods at each meal and snack to ensure they get a good spread of these foods throughout the day.
A regular intake of carbohydrate is shown in this meal pattern:
Breakfast – minimally processed cereal (eg porridge or weet-bix™) and milk
Morning Tea – pikelets and jam
Lunch – grainy bread sandwich with cheese and salad