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Dr Carina Norris tells how important healthy carbohydrates are for kids

"Children need a balanced diet which can provide them with plenty of energy and nutrients."

“Children need a balanced diet which can provide them with plenty of energy and nutrients.”

Dr Carina Norris says children need a balanced diet which can provide them with plenty of energy and nutrients.

Gwyneth Paltrow implies that carbohydrates, especially those such as wheat which contain gluten, are bad for you but that’s ridiculous.

Carbs are the body’s preferred source of energy and most people can eat them without problems.

Only the very small minority with a medically diagnosed allergy should avoid gluten.

If you’ve got a condition that means you have to avoid certain foods, you should be referred to a dietician or a nutritionist who’s qualified to explain where to find the nutrients you miss out on.

Sadly, many more people avoid wheat and other carbs because they think that carb-avoidance will make them slim. It well might – but only because they’re eating a low-calorie diet by default.

All parents want the best for their children, but there’s so much conflicting advice, with books and endorsements from celebs with no qualifications.

Young children need plenty of energy and nutrients. They are growing and their needs are proportionally higher than adults’, so a balanced diet is particularly important.

Celebrities should know better than to make dietary recommendations based on feelings, rather than scientific evidence. Rather than avoiding carbs, mums need to focus on healthy ones, like wholegrains where possible rather than the highly refined white versions, and minimising sugary snacks and drinks.

The latest Diet and Nutrition Survey of Infants and Young Children in Scotland has some worrying findings.

Vitamin C is vital for a healthy immune system but Scottish children had significantly lower intakes than children in the rest of the UK. Fruit and veg are the best sources of vitamin C.

The survey also found that most babies ate healthy amounts of salt but by the time they were 12 to 18 months, the kids’ salt intakes were around double what they should have been – even when parents didn’t add salt to food.

How come? Because it’s in the processed foods we eat.

And we now know that what children eat doesn’t just affect their health here and now, it stores up trouble for the future as too much salt can raise your blood pressure and too much saturated fat clogs arteries.

It’s never too early to encourage healthy tastes. We develop our food preferences in childhood and it’s harder to change them later on.

I’m not saying kids should never be allowed sweets as a treat, or that you never let them have a biscuit or a burger – moderation is the key.

If they eat healthily most of the time, they’ll grow up with healthy attitudes towards food. Just give them a normal, balanced diet – nothing freaky or faddy. And for goodness sake, let them eat those healthy carbs.

                   
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