Bread, pasta, crackers, toast, noodles, pretzels, bread, tortillas, Puffs, Cheerios, Goldfish, bread...man, toddlers LOVE carbohydrates. Since I know that most of us worry at times that our kids are only eating from one food group all day long, here's the scoop on why your little one loves carbs. (And why it's perfectly normal and okay in the long run!)
- Carbohydrates come in many forms, from bread and crackers, to fruit and veggies and milk. When carbs contain nutrients (like vitamins, minerals, and fiber found in whole-grain breads and pastas, peas, sweet potatoes, and beans), they are wonderful foods to eat at each meal.
- They are the preferred fuel for brain development and growth, so our kids really do need to eat them.
- Carbohydrates are usually straight forward in terms of flavor and texture, which makes them appealing in a world that can include a lot of lesser known foods.
- The usually sweet flavor is an indicator of safe energy (like how breast milk is naturally sweet).
- Foods like bread and crackers often contain salt and sugar, which taste good, so it's not surprising that our little people would enjoy the flavors.
- The need for the glucose present in carbohydrates peaks as young brains are developing, so kids naturally reach for foods that can quickly supply them with the energy they need.
Between biology, growth, familiarity, and flavor, it's no wonder that our toddler love carbs. But knowing that doesn't mean that they are destined to only eat crackers for the rest of their days. Just as with the rest of the food you feed your little one, you're responsible for what is on offer and they get to decide what of it to eat. So, try to offer a range of whole grains, starchy vegetables (in addition to non-starchy ones), a variety of beans, and high quality and low-sugar dairy to make sure they are getting the nutrients they need. And have processed carbs and sweets around less frequently so there are more opportunities to fill up on more nutritious foods.
But even if you do all of that, chances are that your little one will reach for these beloved foods first. And that's okay! Instead of making yourself crazy, let them enjoy their food—you guys, bread IS delicious after all!—be exposed to a variety (even if they don't always eat a variety), and know that this will subside as they get older, grow at a slower rate, and develop a more adult-like palate.