Lifestyle Health

Friday 17 November 2017

There were too many carbohydrates in Lauren's diet

My story: Lauren & Michelle Clarke, Dublin

Even though Lauren Clarke, pictured with her mother Michelle, was an active child, she consumed too many carbohydrates such as bread and pasta. Photo by Dave Meehan
Even though Lauren Clarke, pictured with her mother Michelle, was an active child, she consumed too many carbohydrates such as bread and pasta. Photo by Dave Meehan

Teenager Lauren Clarke was only about seven or eight when her mum Michelle became concerned about what appeared to be some "stubborn puppy weight".

It was a mystery. "Lauren had a healthy diet and was exercising regularly," she recalls.

Suspecting that it might be linked to an under-active thyroid problem – the condition runs in the family – Michelle brought her to the doctor.

However, two out of three tests for the condition were negative.

Although Lauren didn't like sweets much – she didn't even eat many at birthday parties – she did consume a lot of bread, pasta and other foods rich in carbohydrate, Michelle says.

She was also a very active child.

"She was doing dancing five days a week and was in football after school two days a week – she was getting a lot of exercise," says Michelle.

But as Michelle was to discover, the exercise was not compensating for the amount of carbohydrate-rich foods Lauren was eating. "We joined the Temple Street W82Go programme when she was about eight or nine, and she was assessed."

The team decided that Lauren was not overweight, but borderline, and that her big portions and the amount of carbohydrate in the diet were causing the weight gain.

"The main problem was that she tended to snack a lot on bread. She doesn't eat many sweets so it was the bread and the pasta that were doing it."

A look at Lauren's diet confirmed that her daughter was consuming a lot of carbohydrate, recalls Michelle.

"Lauren would have had toast or a big bowl of cereal for her breakfast.

"At school, she'd have a cheese sandwich made with white sliced bread for her 11 o'clock break, and another sandwich with cheese or chicken or ham for her big lunch at 12.30."

After classes finished, Lauren attended an after-school club where the children were given toast and soup.

And, following consultation with the team, Michelle realised that the portions she was serving at dinner-time were too large.

"Lauren's portions were about double what she should have been eating. I bought smaller plates and reduced her portions."

She also invested in new – smaller – breakfast bowls.

"Lauren now eats a handful of breakfast cereal such as Weetabix and some fruit, like a banana or strawberries or blueberries.

"At school she now eats a wholemeal tuna sandwich at small break, and a snack-pot with noodles or pasta, and some fruit, eg banana or apple, at big break.

"We asked the homework club not to give her anything to eat after school, so she waits for her dinner."

Lauren's evening meal is much the same – only smaller – Michelle reports, and she's still very active, playing football twice a week and also going to the gym twice a week.

"She does walking, running and lifting there. She is an active child and that was why initially we could not understand it.

"However, I realise now it was the carbohydrates and the big dinner portion," Michelle says.

Lauren is now back to an average weight. "Once she is healthy and happy, I'm happy – and I feel she is healthy and happy! Temple Street were very good. Only for them I would never have thought about the portion sizes or the carbohydrate intake."

Irish Independent

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