Carbohydrates are so great for offering us energy! Carbs have also been given such a bad rap these days. Much like the “all fat” is bad craze of the 90’s when 0% fat was the craze. We now know that there is a a good fat that we need to help our brains and bodies function well and there is a fat that actually causes harm. Today, we are starting to hit the same issue. There are good carbs that are desperately needed for our bodies and there are some carbs we really need to limit.
CARBS – NO LABEL RULE
To make this simple, most really great carbs just don’t need a label or you won’t find in the inner aisles of the grocery store. These are the carbs everyone tells you not to count calories on. All vegetables and fruits are high in nutrient density and best if eaten when picked right from your own garden! If not, find the garden section of the grocery store and load up!
What is a serving size? I did a session at a MOPS group once and a Mom said her child of 3 years old was eating an orange a day and she felt like her child wasn’t getting enough fruits. The reality was she was getting 4 servings!!!! The orange was a large orange and with that tiny fist – it measured 4 fists. Her child was getting more than enough fruit! And likely 1/2 carrot was good enough for one serving!
For Fruits: 2-3 fist fulls a day
For Veggies: 3-5 fist fulls a day
CARBS – Labeled with high fiber
The carbohydrates that are labeled and high in fiber include grains! The real deal here is to eat these as close to it’s natural state as possible. When wheat is ground into flour it is whole wheat. Then when the fiber part is taken out – it becomes white flour and is highly refined meaning it’s key nutrients aren’t nearly as high if the left at the whole wheat level. So try to get whole grains as much as possible.
For Grains: 3-6 fist fulls a day
CARBS – Sugar
Sugar comes in many forms. Take an apple for example: it contains 19 grams of natural sugar. HOWEVER – it also contains 4.5 grams of fiber. There are two things to consider here – first the apple is a fresh food so way more nutrients here and second it has high fiber meaning it will slow the sugar flow into your body so you don’t have significant sugar dips.
Now compare this to ADDED Sugar which is the focus of many scientific studies. Most nutritionists will tell you that you need to limit ADDED sugar to less than 5% of your calories per day. So for a child of 8 years old, that means they should get less than 70 calories from ADDED sugar a day. ADDED Sugar is considered a serious issue in our diets and a leading contributor to attention issues, obesity, heart disease, and more.
For Total Sugar: Less than 15% of calories with most of sugar coming from natural foods