I am so proud to have Libby Jenkinson, from www.ditchthecarbs.com do this amazing guest post:
Libby is a registered pharmacist, mother of 3 children. After discovering LCHF, Libby wanted to retrain as a dietitian or nutritionist, but there are no low carb degree courses, hence Ditch The Carbs was born. She has been mentioned and shared by some of the most respected low carb authors, scientists and websites. To date she has reached 5 million pageviews and is now the leading low carb website in New Zealand and Australia. Libby truly feels she has helped more people regain their health in the last 2 years than the last 25 years dispensing prescriptions. Follow her on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Pinterest.
So Why Should Children Go Low Carb?
By reducing processed food from your children’s diet, you become low carb (almost by default) and improve their nutrition immensely. Start to consider processed carbs such as bread, rice and pasta as nothing more than bulking agents. Too many children are overfed and undernourished.
All children will benefit from lowering their carb, sugar, and wheat intake. Remember, we are low carb not no carb. This is the most vital point that critics need to understand. My children still eat carbohydrates, but they get them from nuts, seeds, dairy, non-starchy vegetables and low sugar fruit. Not from bread, pasta, rice, cakes and cereals.
How Low Carb Should You Go?
How far you remove carbs from their diet depends on your children’s needs. If they are active and in the healthy weight range you may allow them more carbs than those who need to be controlled more tightly. Children are generally more active and insulin sensitive than adults, so their body can deal with sugars and carbs more efficiently, but most children eat incredibly high carb diet without being aware of it. Overweight children should be controlled quite tightly. Studies have shown that children eating a ”low carb high fat’ diet, lose more weight and keep it off far better than those on a ‘calorie restricted low fat diet’.
“A Low Carb Diet Superior For Overweight Children Once Again”
Yes, children do have slightly different nutritional requirements from adults: they need more fat and protein. But filling their plates with empty calories and high carbs in the form of white pasta, bread and rice is no nutritional kindness.
What Should I Remove From Their Diet?
All children will benefit from stopping immediately all soft drinks, fruit juice, energy drinks, and eating fewer cakes, sweets, ice cream, chips and tomato/BBQ sauce. Their bodies are growing at a rapid rate, and we need to feed them the nutrients required for all the complex mechanisms that are going on inside their growing body. This is the first generation where our children have a shorter life expectancy than their parents.
I want to teach my children about having a healthy lifestyle –
- for their bodies to be well nourished (which is different from well fed)
- to be able to concentrate at school
- not eating to excess
- eating real whole food
- making good choices
- enjoy trying new foods (our family rule is “you don’t have to like a new food, but you do have to try it”)
- being active is fun
What Do Children Need?
- Children need healthy FATS – they keep you full for longer, contain essential fatty acids and supply the fat soluble vitamins A, D, E and K. Healthy fats are best obtained from oily fish, tuna, salmon, nuts, seeds, avocados, olive oil, meat, and cheese.
- Children need protein – protein supplies essential amino acids, which are the building blocks of their growing muscles.
- Children need carbohydrates – but nowhere near the quantity most people think. Remember we are LOW carb not NO carb.
- Children need vegetables – fibre, vitamins, minerals, trace elements, antioxidants, phytochemicals and all the other hundreds of compounds that haven’t even been discovered yet. Fruits and vegetables should not be seen as equal. Fruit is incredibly high in sugar and fructose so I limit fruit to 1 or 2 pieces of low sugar fruit a day. Cut back on high sugar tropical fruits such as pineapple, melons, and grapes and never serve fruit juice or dried fruit (natures candy). A whole piece of fruit contains fibre and nutrients, and is self limiting to how many you can eat. A glass of orange juice is not equivalent to 6 oranges; it is equivalent to the sugar from 6 oranges.
But My Kids Wont Eat Vegetables!
I understand this is a tough one, but please do not dismiss this behavior as incurable. As a parent, it is my responsibility to ensure they are properly nourished (which is different to fed). I established a few family rules, one at a time. Go slowly. Be proud of what you have achieved. Baby steps. They have to try everything. They don’t have to like it, but they have to try it
Put butter, grated cheese or cream cheese on the table instead of tomato sauce (too processed and full of sugar). Let them flavour their own food.
I allow my youngest to always leave one item on his plate (not the meat, this must be eaten). What he doesn’t realise, is that I serve him more than anyone (for his size) and so by missing out on one item, he is still eating a well balanced nutritious meal.
Why grain free? We have all grown up with the traditional sandwich, or more recently, wraps or sushi in our lunchbox. It is easy, just throw something inside 2 slices of bread and voila – lunch. But is this really a good lunch? Think of a healthy sandwich, now take away the bread and what remains are the nutritious elements – meat, salad, cheese, mayonnaise etc.
Grains are used to fatten animals and force-fed to geese to produce foie gras (French for fatty liver). The modern highly processed grains available now are incredibly removed from the bread our ancestors farmed and ate.
How To Start? Ask your children to choose what to go in their lunch boxes. I know each of my children’s preferences so I make their lunchbox accordingly. Where one has tomatoes and feta, another will have capsicum and carrots.
Parties/eating out. I would say I am pretty good at what I feed them at home so I don’t restrict them too much when they are at friends or at parties. I do have one rule however, they are not allowed to drink soda or juice. It is easy to ask for a glass of water and avoid possibly 20+ spoons of sugar.
Eating out is a tough one. Sometimes there is no other option at a café than cakes, muffins, donuts, and sandwiches. Try to make the best choice from what they have. Would a handmade meat pie be a better option than a caramel slice? Is this a special occasion with Grandma where it is part of their tradition with her? How about ordering 1 cake and splitting it? Ensure soda or juice is not ordered. Save your $$$ and ask for a jug of water.
McDonalds – how about a small burger meal, water and replace the fries with a side salad. Open the burger and put the meat patties, sauces and cheese on top of the salad. Voila, the regular meal would have been 870 kCal, 133g carbs, the new meal is only 204kCal and 4g carbs!
Mexican – how about a burrito but choose plenty of extra salad, meat, salsa, cheese, guacamole but no rice or beans.
When eating out, do the best you can. See if you can adapt what is on offer, remove the rice, bread or even remove the pastry from a sausage roll.
How to Start Low Carb Lunchboxes?
Start slowly. If you have a fussy eater, your household will not be a happy one if you go straight in and change everything overnight. If they really can’t do without a sandwich, find the thinnest bread/wrap to reduce the carbs. Start by going breadless 1 or 2 days a week, then increase the frequency. No more cakes, biscuits, muesli bars. Cut back on the fruit.
Put your regular sandwich filling, in little boxes. Children love picking at lots of different foods and grazing. Buy a lunch box with little compartments, fishing tackle box or bento box.
Use cold meat as a ‘wrap’. Use a slice of ham or roast beef, with some cheese and vegetables inside.
Some children are picky eaters so their parents try and get them to eat whatever they can when they can. Personally I feel these are the children who need restricting the most – with their snacking. They snack constantly, demand their ‘special food’ then are never hungry for meal times. These children are getting their energy through nutritionally devoid foods such as breads, flavored yogurts, muesli bars, and processed snacks.
Changing eating habits and teaching children about nutrition is so valuable. If they are brought up with healthy food principles, it will continue throughout their life. But remember, any step is a great one. Don’t feel it’s daunting, be proud of any achievement and you are trying your best.
It’s hard to change our mindset from giving our children sweet treats such as muesli bars, cereal, toast and spreads, cakes or baking, to giving them savoury snacks. Try to cut down on how much and how often they snack too. Children will eat their dinner easily when they’re hungry.
- Make a large chopped vegetable platter. Serve the veggies with plenty of dips, grated cheese or cream cheese (they are far more likely to nibble away just to eat the dip).
- Smoothies. Base smoothies on low sugar fruit such as berries, add some leafy greens such as spinach and some good healthy fat to fill them up such as coconut cream.
- Eggs any which way. Boiled, fried, scrambled, poached, devilled eggs, paleo scotch eggs.
- Cheese – sticks, cubes, grated
- Flavored waters
- Ham rolls
- Beef jerky/biltong
- Pepperoni pizza bites.
- Crustless quiches
- Pancakes with berries and cream
- Low carb, sugar free baking treats
- Berries and cream
- Avocado and salt
- Apple slices with peanut butter/tahini/almond butter etc
So to all the critics who think we are restricting our children’s diet, why has it become more acceptable to eat a piece of chocolate cake with a low fat yoghurt than eating meat and vegetables in your lunchbox? We are LOW carb, not NO carb. Our emphasis is on the real whole food approach.
When children aren’t on the sugar roller coaster, concentration is more sustained, and their nutrition is improved. There are so many hidden sugars in foods these days, especially ‘health’ foods. The World Health Organisation recommends 12g sugar a day (3 tsp) for children, but this is exceed each morning on cereal or toast alone. It is the accumulation of sugars throughout the day that are concerning experts.
I have written a series on Low Carb Kids. Take a look at the infographics and printables to help planning lunch boxes easier. (The series begins HERE.)
Low Carb Kids 1 – tips and tricks
Low Carb Kids 2 – printable guide to get your kids involved. How to plan you lunchbox each day.
Low Carb Kids 3 – 2 weeks of school lunches and how to plan them.
Low Carb Kids 4 – how to make a low carb lunchbox, and more Low Carb lunchbox ideas
Low Carb Kids 5 – healthy sugar free snacks for after school
FREE printable PDF Healthy Sugar Free after school snacks
Low Carb Kids 6 – and entire MONTH of low carb lunch boxes
Free Printables Below
To Download and Print, Click Image
(This Will Direct You To Ditch The Carbs Website)
(Not Downloadable or Printable From LowCarbRN.com)
All of this content has been added to my page “Healthy Kids” HERE