Carbohydrates are major energy giving foods. There are two kinds of carbohydrates: simple carbohydrates and complex carbohydrates.
- Simple carbohydrates are simple sugars and found in fruits, vegetables, honey and milk.
- Complex carbohydrates are found in cereals, millets, pulses and root vegetables. Complex carbohydrates provide vitamin B complex, iron and fiber.
Children should be encouraged to eat a variety of complex carbohydrates to ensure a healthy diet rich in vitamins and fiber. Many foods contain carbohydrates in different amounts and their nutritional contents are also very different. Simple carbohydrates should come from fruits rather than sweets/desserts. For example an orange, a piece of whole-grain bread, a glass of milk and a soda all have carbohydrates but an orange, a piece of bread and a glass of milk contain vitamins and minerals which help the body grow whereas the carbohydrates in soda have no nutritional value.
Carbohydrates are burned by the body as fuel and excess carbohydrates are stored in the body as fat. Activity pattern also affects the carbohydrates requirement. An active child will require more carbohydrates as compared to a less active child.