Even if you're not eating "low-carb," it's a good bet you at least know several people who are. Many people have found this the way to lose and maintain weight, while others argue that although you may see results, it could ultimately cause health problems such as heart disease. Most pediatricians would agree that a low-carb diet is not one a growing child should embrace.
In fact, some experts believe these kind of diets are downright dangerous for kids. Since glucose, which comes from carbohydrates, is the brain's preferred source of energy, a child who takes in very limited carbs may not grow or perform as well in school as he should.
In addition, many of the foods that are eliminated on most low-carb diets are ones that children need to grow healthy and strong bodies. A severe restriction of whole grains, fruits and many vegetables can do children a real health disservice. These foods, which are rich in vitamins, minerals, fiber and cancer-fighting phytochemicals, should be part of a well-balanced diet for kids. Not only that, low-fat milk -- an important source of calcium -- is often restricted, leaving children at higher risk for osteoporosis.
Most doctors and nutritionists agree that children need to learn healthy eating habits that they can stick with for life. So instead of restricting your kids' carbohydrate intake, make sure they eat varied diet of low-fat meats, vegetables, dairy and whole grains -- then make sure the whole family lives a healthy lifestyle:
- Limit your child's sedentary activities (such as watching television and playing video games) to less than two hours a day.
- Encourage your child to drink water, instead of sugar-laden soda and fruit-flavored beverages.
- Give your child healthy snacks and meals at regular times, to discourage continuous "grazing" on high-fat, high-sugar junk food.
- Play with your child -- dance, play catch, take a walk. Simple activities can have a great health effect and keep your family close.
- Set a good example by eating right and staying physically active.
Finally, if you feel your child has a weight issue, consult his pediatrician before attempting to put him on any kind of diet. Diets are often inappropriate for children, sending the message that they're fat, which could damage their delicate self-esteem.