Have you ever wondered if the keto lifestyle is suitable for children? What about a low-carb lifestyle? There's a significant difference between the two to be aware of, especially when it comes to kids.
The article will not offer any definite answers to the initial question. Instead, I'd rather discuss the subject a little, and then, it's up to you to give your best for your kids to remain nurtured and happy.
To start bluntly, I'd never turn my child into a keto dieter unless we were dealing with some serious medical condition like epilepsy. Even then, I'd do it under close medical supervision.
On the other hand, I wouldn't want my kids to become full-blown "high-carbers," either. Most of the children of western society these days, unfortunately, consume too much sugar and carbohydrate in the form of processed and junk foods.
Why not keto kids?
As you might already know, the keto diet was invented in the 1920s to treat children with epilepsy when traditional medical treatment has failed. Only later other benefits of the diet have been considered for adults.
The original keto diet is extremely restrictive, and many forms of the popular way of eating today don't even come close to those restrictions.
These days, most adult dieters do more of a modified Atkins diet that isn't too strict about protein intake.
Nonetheless, like any other diet, the keto diet is restrictive. As an adult, responsible for oneself, you might love it and not even think of it as restrictive or feel deprived. If that's the case, I think it's fantastic. But restricting a child from a whole range of foods that are not by themselves ever considered harmful is another story.
Too much restriction can do more harm than good in the long run, even if "only" psychologically. More so in little kids who, unlike you, don't exactly feel internally motivated to start living a super healthy lifestyle or lose weight. They don't see or feel any point in avoiding so many foods out there.
Besides, how children feel during mealtimes at home with their loved ones has a lot to do with their attitude to food and feeding later in adolescence and adulthood.
Enjoyable mealtime experience without force-feeding or excessive depriving in the early years will significantly lower the likelihood for obesity and eating disorders in adolescence and adulthood.
Furthermore, there's also a risk of physiological side effects associated with the keto diet, like dehydration, electrolyte imbalance, and low blood sugar, to name just a couple. That's why children who actually need the keto diet also need to do it under medical supervision.
What about low-carb kids?
So, you guys as parents lead a healthy low-carb or keto lifestyle. And now you are wondering if you should pile up the pantry with sugary granola, white pasta, and cookies, so you don't deprive your active little one of anything?
Please don't. I see a low-carb (or keto, for that matter) household as a potentially excellent environment for exposing the kids to nutritious whole foods.
There's no need for your kids to rely on sugars, piles of grains, and high-carb snacks.
Instead, unless you're doing some kind of dirty keto, let them eat what you eat, offering a sweet potato and fresh red pepper along with that. Saying that, I do hope you do have some insight into what whole foods meal means. It is definitely not crispy bacon and eggs, drowned in butter every day.
We're talking fish, meat, vegetables, some fruits, seeds, nuts, and healthy, Omega-3 rich fats. Simple as that. Don't over-complicate, and don't make it too challenging for either you or your kids.
So, let yourself be a role model at home. Going outside for a trip or a visit is another story. I see absolutely no harm in having that birthday cake or a hot-dog at a party or going out for ice-cream every weekend.
Let them enjoy their childhood, getting much of the whole foods at home. Then occasionally indulge in some sweetness as they explore the world and socialize.
In time, sweet memories of early years will mean a whole lot more and will positively outbalance the worries about a sugar-rushed child for an afternoon.
Are low-carb and keto desserts suitable for children?
If you, a ketoer, need a dessert every now or then, you know exactly what I mean by feeling deprived of a food group.
A low-carb dessert recipe comes in handy, but I keep saying that moderation is key in everything. Even a keto dessert might revive those desires for a real sugary treat. So, if you can, keep keto desserts occasional, just like any dessert.
By no means, share the dessert with your little one. Just make sure you know what you're putting in there if they're allergic or intolerant to a particular ingredient.
Personally, I would even avoid too much sweetener for my kid when she was an infant and a young toddler. Just to stay in the whole foods zone in those early days and to avoid any potential digestive issues.
I've made a couple of low-carb desserts for the whole family. They were very much enjoyed by our infant, as well. I can't wait to share the recipes with you very soon!
In the meantime, let us know your thoughts on the subject in the comments below!