In Part 1 of “Kids & Keto” I discussed our experience with raising our daughter on LCHF, in particular her dairy intolerance. Here is the final part in which I discuss our overall feeding policy, including carbohydrates..
Over the years, we have found that the effects of just a small amount of dairy has an equal or greater effect on our constitutive inflammatory response than that of a large amount of carbs. In other words, the dairy protein (casein) response is greater than the insulin response on a weight-for-weight basis. This is particularly true for our daughter. Hence, we have adopted a strict “zero dairy” policy whereas with carbs, we can afford to be slightly more lenient, especially as there are large parts of her time beyond our direct control i.e. daycare, friends, family visits, etc.
Controlling Carb Intake
The key to success is education. Teach your child the meaning of high and low carb and what it means to their health. You’ll be pleasantly surprised at how quick your young child will pick up on these things! Also, lead by example. This is VERY important. Children naturally mimic and look to their parents as mentors. It’s no use telling your child not to eat carbs if you yourself are sitting on the sofa stuffing your face full of them! We also use visual signs to make associations, so that the message is further enforced. For example, if our daughter has consumed a lot of carbs in any given day, we notice that her stomach becomes bloated. She will even complain of stomach ache on occasions. We tell her that this is the effect of carbs and that if she doesn’t want this to happen again, she should herself learn to control what she eats. In other words, teach your children to say, “no thank you, I’ve had enough”!
This simple policy has been very effective for us. As our daughter grows up and begins to appreciate for herself the effects of both carbs and dairy on her body, she has learned, by association, to restrict these through her own free will. It has got to the point now that she fully appreciates that “some” carbs are OK but dairy is an absolute “no go” for her. For those of you concerned for our daughters health, fear not! All her regular medical check-ups have been perfectly normal, both in overall health & development. Hopefully, this message will remain with her for the rest of her life..
Based on our experience, this is our simple strategy of how to raise kids “on keto”:
- From birth, breast feed your child for as long as practically possible. Human breast milk is (unsurprisingly!) best for humans and is also full of fat!
- As you ween your child off breast milk and onto cows milk, introduce in small amounts only to begin with and watch closely for any signs of inflammation as described here, especially if as a parent you also have a known dairy intolerance. At the first signs of inflammation, stop ALL dairy altogether.
- Educate your child about high & low carb and its health effects, as described above. Lead by example and teach them how to say “no thank you” when you aren’t around.
- Give them a cooked breakfast, the same as you have, even if its only a fried egg before they go to to school/ daycare so that they aren’t hungry again until the evening meal. That way (high carb) lunches at school can be just “nibbled at” or even skipped altogether if required.
- Whenever kids are directly under your control, try to restrict carb intake as much as possible in order to remain in ketosis at all times. Remember that although children by virtue of their age have a higher carb tolerance than we adults, 30g of carbs for a 20 kg child is still a far greater “carb hit” than for an 80 kg adult! Don’t underestimate that fact.
- Always provide food supplements for your children, especially vitamin D & calcium and increase according to weight as they grow. These are vital for child development.
Tips & Tricks:
Any parent knows that kids are notoriously picky when it comes to food! Here are some simple tips and tricks that we have used to get our daughter to eat healthily and remain “in keto”:
- A small amount of bread soaked in olive oil and a bit of salt makes for a great snack. Our daughter loves it! This is a great way to get vital Omega 3 fatty acids into your child. The small amount of bread, broken up into small squares has a negligible carb load but brings with it all the anti-inflammatory benefits that olive oil has to offer. Watch your child’s skin literally glow all over when consuming this on a regular basis!
- Dairy ice-cream substitutes: there are more and more of these out there these days, including rice and tofu. I’ve tried both and they are virtually indistinguishable from the dairy version. If your child is exhibiting dairy intolerance use these instead, but still bear in mind their relatively high carb content and hence limit their use as a “treat” rather than on a regular basis. The great thing is that ALL children like them anyway!!
- Berries make for a great dessert e.g. straw- rasp- and blue are all sweet enough to satisfy any sweet tooth but without a huge carb penalty. Serve with cream/ coconut cream as required.
- Steamed broccoli: goes down very well with our daughter and is a great natural source of calcium & magnesium