Why Kids Love Carbs

young girl eating pizza on the beachOne of the major reasons that kids love carbs is because, like many of us, they have become addicted to sugar. While carbs in the form of bread and cereal are a more stable source of sugar than, say, a popsicle, they still break down into simple sugars and kids’ bodies have figured that out.

In many households, main sit-down meals have been replaced with small frequent meals and snacks on the go. Instead of a meal, kids look for a quick fix in the refrigerator. This tendency to eat small meals throughout the day has de-conditioned their ability to burn fat – their stable, calm, non-emergency fuel. This contributes to the sugar craze, because not only are they now craving the taste of sugar, but their bodies are relying on it as the main energy source.

When the body is asked to make long trips between breakfast and lunch, and then lunch and supper, it begins to burn fat efficiently. The longest trip was traditionally the one from supper to breakfast. It wasn’t that long ago that supper was as early as 5:30 or 6:00, and after that, the kitchen was closed and kids along with grown-ups fasted from supper all the way to breakfast. During this 13-hour fast, kids reset their ability to burn fat as a natural fuel and then break the fast with breakfast.

As a result of being good fat burners, they remained calmer, rarely gained weight, and were not nearly as addicted to sugar as kids are today. So, part of the sugar craving cure would be to get your kids fed handsomely three times a day. Don’t eat in front of the TV and make sure they don’t leave the table until they are completely finished eating.

Remember the old saying: If you eat standing up, death looks over your shoulder.


  1. Nick Me says

    I’ve been seeing some of these patterns in play. We are cutting back on sugar in processed foods. Another battle has been for me to get them to eat what we eat – considerably healthier. It doesn’t happen. We go out of the way each time to make or order separate food. And at restaurants, even healthy fresh ones, I pay for decent food for them and they don’t eat it and catch up at the next meal or two.

    Well, I had enough, and twice now, a few years apart, I have tried a force-food strategy. The thought goes, if they are hungry enough, they will eat it. Well, this time it has been about 36 hrs, the same exact plate of food across 4 meals, and they eaten only 1/4 of it, and that was via coaxing and hand-feeding my 5 and 2 yr olds. Theyve gone 4 meals, no snacks, while barely eating half a meals worth of food. It’s getting to where I feel it’s short term unhealthy / risky for them, however I also feel I don’t want them to “have the last word” and “win”. 

    The food, also, is not obscure. In fact, they like other forms of it. It was a fresh cooked Mexican meal of Mexican rice ((they only like white rice), and tacquitos (of which they like meat and bread, but apparently not in this combination and method), along with beans (which they’ve never liked) and tomatoes (they love). Even the tomatoes have hardly been touched outside of the first initial night (it was the only thing she ate, and he only ate avocado). 

    Now, lately, after 24 hrs, She gagged down some of the food a few times and spit it out other times while crying incessantly – much more crying than normal. At one point she tried actual bites of the taqueto and said afterwards “actually, I like the taco!”, yet later she couldn’t bring herself to eat another bite. My younger one see’s the older one and follows suite.

    The heart breaker here, is that she told me tonight before bed “I don’t know what’s wrong with me!?” While sobbing and reaching to explain why she was exctatic and gagging up food. I talked to my daughter deeply about the why and implications during the entire multi day episode, so that she would understand our decisions and actions. When she quite clearly and abruptly said she felt out of control and “in the wrong”, it deeply made me consider what the heck was going on here. 

    Is it outside of her control for me to expect her to eat healthy meals just outside the grasp of her norm? Is she having “withdrawal” symptoms, similar to a drug addict? Or is it all something that I should expect and lay down as the law – like I’ve heard and seen other parents do? Maybe I’m just so late to that game that it’s super hard to break the habit?


    • John Douillard says

      Hi Nick,
      It is hard to say. It seems they are truly trying and very sad that they cannot please you. I wish I had a solution. It would be good to make sure they are digesting and eliminating well. They will also not eat well if under stress while they are eating.
      Perhaps serving them the components of your meal without mixing could be a good compromise? Also, creating ‘build your own’ style of meals (tacos, sandwiches, pasta dishes, salads, etc.) a couple of nights a week can be a good way to avoid making special “kid food” while still allowing them to control the amount of mixing on their plate. These are just some ideas – not sure any of this will help.
      Hang in there.
      These days will pass – I promise.
      Be well,

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