Have you ever wondered if it would be ok to put a child on a low carb ketogenic diet? Today’s post is going to tackle this very subject.
More people are becoming aware of the benefits of eating a low carb diet for weight loss and greater health. Which is why it only makes sense to ask if children doing low carb keto is a good idea. Can a child also be included in this way of eating?
Let me remind you that I am not a doctor, nor a nutritionist. I am strictly speaking from what I have learned personally. It is my advice to consult your doctor before deciding to place your child on a low carb diet.
Children Have Been Doing Low Carb For A Long Time
You may not realize that children have actually been eating low carb for decades. Children doing low carb keto is not something new. In fact, children that have been diagnosed with epilepsy have used this way of eating for therapeutic reasons. As well, as children with Lennox Gastaut syndrome, Dravet syndrome, Pyruvate dehydrogenase deficiency, Glucose Transporter type-1 deficiency.
A ketogenic diet has proven to prevent seizures successfully. It has also come to light that children that are autistic can also see improvement with a low carb keto diet. The idea of children eating a diet lower in carbs is not as foreign as you may think.
Let’s get the facts straight
A true low carb plan is not a diet limited to only protein. Too much protein can be harmful. A true ketogenic plan understands the importance of plenty of healthy vegetables, the right amount of fruits and a balanced amount of protein.
When we eat a low carb plan we get rid of a lot of junk, overly processed food from our diet. It is clean eating. Which is why I can’t imagine how a child could not benefit from less junk in their diet.
According to the Journal of the American Medical Association 2014;311(8):806-814. Childhood obesity has more than doubled in children and quadrupled in adolescents in the past 30 years.
The percentage of children aged 6–11 years in the United States who were obese increased from 7% in 1980 to nearly 18% in 2012. Similarly, the percentage of adolescents aged 12–19 years who were obese increased from 5% to nearly 21% over the same period.
Childhood Obesity Problem
Without a doubt, in the United States, we have a crisis when it comes to childhood obesity. Although we can point to the fact that children today do not get enough daily exercise because of their sedentary lifestyle, the problem lies deeper. It’s hardly just a lack of physical activity. It’s overconsumption and addiction to processed high-carb junk food.
Health Benefits Of Low Carb Foods For Children
We know that children need a good amount of iron and fat in their diet for proper growth and brain development. This is not difficult to come by on a low carb keto diet since it is rich in both.
The Hormone Insulin Is Being Over-Stimulated
Eating this way is what causes high levels of our fat-storing hormone insulin to rise. Refined, overly processed carbs burn up quickly, producing a sharp spike in blood sugar levels that encourages our bodies to produce insulin. Too much insulin is what causes fat storage.
Unlike protein and fat, which give a longer, slower, steadier release of energy. Junk carb calories may contribute to children being overweight when not balanced by enough physical activity.
Carbohydrates are found in foods such as sugary beverages, candy, and baked goods. According to Jill Castle, MS, RDN, limiting these kinds of carbs is fine. “You don’t need those foods to be healthy,” she says, “and kids eat too much of them anyway.”
How Can We Help Our Children?
This past summer my great-nephew Johnathan Valdez, who is six years old wanted to join his local little league football team. Unfortunately, he was told he had to lose at least six pounds before he would be allowed on the field.
Although these rules seem harsh they are present to protect our children. Disappointed with this news, my sister-in-law, Bessie Solares Kent a member of our group Fittoserve, knew she had the solution.
Bessie, explained to Johnathan the need for him to get healthier before he would be allowed to play. She took the time to explain to him what foods he needed to eat and the ones that could only be eaten as occasional treats.
Bessie converted some of his favorite foods so that he would not feel deprived. We were all surprised how quickly he embraced this way of eating and before long he had lost the weight he needed in order to play.
Today, Johnathan is a valuable player on his squad and has lost a total of nine pounds. I can’t tell you how happy he is playing football with his friends and having his family cheer for him on the sidelines.
Without a doubt, children have different nutritional needs from that of adults. They need more fat and protein. Which is why filling their plates with empty calories from white pasta, bread and rice is not ideal nutrition.
The solution for Johnathan was to remove the junk and replace it with clean healthy foods. Traditional low carb plans avoid fruits that are high on the glycemic index. However, children can handle more carbs and they should come in the form of a greater range of fruit.
Understand that no one is advocating that children be placed on restrictive diets. However, teaching our children to make healthy choices at an early age is of great benefit to their long-term health.
Considering the high incidence of diabetes in our family it makes perfect sense that Johnathan learn this lesson early on.
I find it interesting that although no good parent would allow their child to be become addicted to alcohol or encourage them to smoke. Don’t you think we can all be more cautious when it comes to allowing them high carb, sugar-laden junk food?
Perhaps, if we were more diligent in limiting their junk food intake we could reduce the levels of childhood obesity that plague our nation today.