Monday Message (on Tuesday)

Today’s post is focused on two of my favorite things: water and carbs.

Scientifically (stay with me here), a “carbohydrate” is a molecule containing carbon, hydrogen, and oxygen, usually arranged in a five or six sided ring. These rings join together and create sugars and starches. These compounds are present in grains, cereals, legumes, vegetables, dairy, and fruits. However, most people use “carbohydrate” in reference only to starches present in spaghetti, bread, and sugary snacks and candy.

mean-girls

So, from now on, if anyone ever asks you, don’t be fooled: all food groups except meats contain carbohydrates.

Carbs of any kind, but particularly those of the pasta/bread variety, are my absolute favorite. But you know this already; you saw my toast post last week. However, many popular fad diets advocate low carb intakes or recommend eliminating carbohydrates from one’s diet altogether. While reduction of certain carbs in the diet may be beneficial, complete elimination is a big ol’ no bueno, particularly for kids. Why is this? One major reason is because your brain works best when it can use carbohydrates for fuel. If you’re not eating carbs, your body has to jump through all kinds of metabolic hoops to make an acceptable fuel source for your brain. This can be hard on your liver, kidneys, and mess with the acid balance of your blood. In summary, the reasons to eliminate carbohydrates from your diet are all in your head.

The Good: The best carbohydrates are packed with vitamins, minerals, and fiber, which boosts intestinal health and plays a role in lowering cholesterol. Whole grain breads, pastas, and cereals are high in fiber, as are beans and legumes, potatoes with skin, and brown rice. Vegetables are great resources for all three nutrients. Milk and dairy contain a specific carbohydrate called lactose and are both definitely healthy for kids and adults.

The Bad: The not-so-great carbs are the added sugars, or “bad carbs”. These are tricky little buggers that hide in all kinds of processed foods. Look on the nutrition label and ingredients list for “added sugars”. Flavored milks usually have a significant amount of added sugar, as do baked goods, candies, and sodas and “fruit drinks”. These are the type of carbs everyone could benefit from reducing in their diet. Remember: every food has a place in the diet in moderation, so don’t enter a guilt spiral because you don’t want to give up cookies.

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Now, one cannot increase fiber intake without also increasing their hydration! Fluids are recommended for adults at 1 milliliter per calorie consumed per day. Therefore, each adult needs roughly 2,000 milliliters, or 2 liters, of fluids per day based on the standard 2,000 calorie diet. The recommendations for children range from roughly 1.5 liters for young children to over 3 liters for teenage boys. That’s a lot of fluid!

Don’t panic, though: these fluid recommendations are for total water, which includes both beverages and the natural water present in foods. Fruits and vegetables both have very high water contents that help keep their calorie levels low and nutrient levels high. That’s another reason why fruits and veggies are so good for you!

Kids are more likely to become dehydrated than adults, particularly with exercise! Kids need about six to eight cups of water a day to meet the recommended levels of hydration. Combine that with an adequate intake of of fruit and veggies to ensure your kids are staying hydrated throughout the day. Be sure you have water available for kids before, during, and after physical activity. Also, be sure to give them exercise breaks every 15 minutes in which to guzzle some cool, watery goodness. Another benefit of drinking water is that the more water kids drink, the less sugar they’ll get from artificially sweetened beverages!

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The Kids Eat Right initiative sends out a Monday Message to everyone who signs up for their email list.This message shares cool nutrition tips for kids and families. As a Kids Eat Right Volunteer, it is my duty to spread the healthy message to anyone interested in learning about nutrition! Please visit the links below to read the original Monday Messages and learn more from the great Kids Eat Right website!

Kids Eat Right Monday Messages:

Carbohydrates: http://www.eatright.org/kids/article.aspx?id=6442482392

Hydration: http://www.eatright.org/kids/video.aspx?id=6442481293

Also see: http://www.eatright.org/kids/article.aspx?id=6442470651

Sassy Mean Girls meme from: http://www.prettylittlegrub.com/tag/nutrition-myths/

Girl with copious foods from: http://wealthcreationseminars.net/sabotaging-health/

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