Max is definitely not keto. He shouldn’t be anyway, but if he was it would write off pretty much all his favorite foods. Put him in front of a balanced plate of food that includes some pasta and all he sees is this:
I think if his diet consisted of nothing but pasta with a side of bread he’d be ecstatic. And while carbs themselves aren’t a problem (rather they’re completely necessary), I still want him to get a bit of balance. Even if it is just a bit.
But I know I’m not the only one. It seems to be a super common
complaint observation of other parents too – their kids just eat carbs and ignore the rest of their food. And let’s face it, most of us would also eat carbs all day long too if we didn’t know any better.
So how do you deal with it? Is it even a problem? Frankly, most of the time, the solution is pretty simple.
Don’t Sweat It
First things first – carbs aren’t a problem. Kids need them, and they need a lot. They use up a ton of energy and need to keep fueling their growth.
Meanwhile, kids are incredibly perceptive and will notice if you’re bothered by what they’re eating. They shouldn’t think there’s anything wrong with what they’re eating – after all, if it was bad, why would you serve it to them?
However, it also does nothing to actually encourage them to eat other things. This could lead to them seeing how far they can push you, or they might not want to eat at all.
But if you act like there’s nothing out of the ordinary and just keep serving other food alongside the bread or pasta (or any other carb), they will likely move on to other foods eventually. Especially if they see you eating other things too.
Model good habits and your kids will most likely follow on their own.
Toppings, Toppings, Toppings
Obsessed with bread? Add some peanut butter and you’ve already got protein and fats on top of your carbs. Or mash an avocado on top. Consumed by pasta? Grate some cheese on top or mix in a little olive oil. Making rice? Add in an egg. You get the idea.
On top of that, offer them a glass of milk, some yogurt or cut up some fruit. Maybe mix them together in a smoothie. Either way, even if your child does just eat carbs, they can still end up getting a more balanced diet than you realized with just a few additions.
Offer Good Options
There’s no doubt that some carbs are definitely unhealthy. But that doesn’t mean they have to be. And since you’re in charge of what you serve to your kids, you can choose to get the healthier options.
For example, wholegrain goods have more fiber and micronutrients than the white, refined alternatives. Lentil, quinoa, or chickpea pasta will all look and taste the same to your toddler, but have lots more protein. And there are lots of ways to make healthy, sugar-free cakes or cookies. And ones packed with vegetables too.
If you serve them without announcing that they are healthy alternatives, then they will just be the norm.
Keep Serving Balanced Meals
Ultimately nothing will change if you don’t keep serving other foods. Your toddlers can’t eat something they don’t have. Even if they just eat carbs, the most important thing you can do is to keep offering them something else and allow them to come around to it.
And don’t forget that even though carbs can be demonized, they are essential for a healthy diet. Both for a toddler and for you. Some are better than others, but overall, they are a crucial macronutrient and one that toddlers rely on more than any other.
Max still loves carbs more than any other food. But he rarely has them without something on top – like some cheese on pasta. He also has a variety of foods on his plate with every meal. So while he might not want it every time, sometimes he’ll start eating salmon and realize it’s actually pretty tasty too.
But I’ve also noticed that because he’s learned to love the taste of grated cheese, add a little to broccoli and he’ll eat it almost as enthusiastically as the pasta.
At the end of the day, I’ll just keep serving him tasty balanced meals and keep in mind that phases of any kind at this age are normally pretty short-lived.