Help! My toddler will only eat carbs

This is a question I get asked all the time.

First of all to understand this you need to know a few things about children once they turn 12 months old.

·         Their growth starts to slow down and they are more active i.e. crawling, pulling themselves up and walking.

If your baby continued to grow at the rate they have from birth to 12 months you would have a giant on your hands in no time. Around the age of 12 months growth starts to slow. This is completely normal. The most important food group for growth is protein. This means that when your baby is not going through a growth period their need for protein naturally reduces.

Another development stage that happens around this time is getting on the move. Your baby is going to be using a great deal of energy either crawling or pulling themselves up and walking. They will therefore tend to favour the foods that are going to give them the most energy i.e. carbs!

Seriously, your baby is very clever! They will tend to dismiss the meat in favour of the pasta!

·         They have an in-built safety mechanism that makes they favour sweet (high carb) foods.

In order to protect your baby from the dangers of their environment, evolution has given them an in-built and rather powerful safety mechanism.  The problem is, your babies body thinks it is still living in a cave, out in the wild! So, to give an element of protection against wandering off and eating anything that may be poisonous, your baby will have developed a slight detest and fear of anything green and bitter. This is because most poisonous plants are in fact green and bitter. How clever is it that your baby knows to avoid these? Well, not so great when you have them sat safely in their highchair with a bowl of broccoli that they have now refused!

·         Hunger will naturally point you towards carbs.

When you are hungry your blood sugar drops and your brain will automatically signal to you that you need to find some easy sugar to consume. Young children have very small tummies but because they are so active they use up their calories very quickly. Their tendency towards carbs is usually to lift their blood sugars and keep them moving. Carbs are easy to eat and they taste good, it’s a no brainer!

Try not to panic about this phase as it is completely normal. Keep offering a good selection of foods from all the food groups. Write a food diary so you can keep an eye on the food choices. You may actually be surprised how many different foods are in your child’s diet.

Protein is not just found in meat and fish but also in seeds, nuts, eggs, milk, cheese, beans and even vegetables.

If your baby is growing and developing as expected, then do not worry. Look at ways to help increase variety i.e. savoury muffins, fruit pancakes, courgette cake etc.

Top Tip: Eating carbs is fine but do make sure you choose a good variety of healthy carbs including those with wholegrain and those low in sugar.

 

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