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Monday 23 February 2015

Children and Low Carb Eating

With so much talk about living the low carb lifestyle. Would you recommend it for pregnant women? Would you bring up your children the low carb way? I read with great interest an article by Kelly on The Zero Carb Blog, but more on that in a moment. 

Our grandchildren are being brought up on a reduced carbohydrate lifestyle. Dr Andreas Eenfeldt's two girls eat real whole foods, and a reduced carbohydrate lifestyle. I can remember his daughter's birthday cake being made of melon and double cream. Dr Jay Wortmans daughter is a low carb child. 

If you want what is best for your child have you considered a reduced carb lifestyle? You can and should read the many articles and books that are available so you can make an informed choice. Neither Kelly or I are medical professionals, we share and discuss what we have found works well for us and our families.

Here are Kelly's words and her pictures.

"After having two zero-carb pregnancies (minus some darned pickles), I gave birth to two healthy, happy babies. And that, my friends, is when I faced my greatest challenge to date.

I had to actually FEED them.

You know, in today’s world, everything is about the treats. Going to the movies? You gotta have popcorn and candy. Having a birthday? Get a cake. Going to the bank? Here’s a sucker. Learning to go potty? Give them M&Ms. A special holiday? Candy, candy, candy! Taking your child to the church nursery? Here come the cookies! Going to the grandparents’ house? Hope you saved room for dessert.

I knew from my own personal experiences that I felt worlds better without carbs and sugars in my diet. I knew that I felt more relaxed and calm without my blood sugar surging and plummeting all day long. I was calm, but also had plenty of steady energy, more than I ever did while eating carbs. I slept well at nights and lived my life free from cravings, moodiness, and weight gain. I just felt GOOD.

Why wouldn't I want my kids to feel the same way?

After much discussion with my husband, we decided to feed our children a diet of only meats, low-carb vegetables, low-sugar fruits, and water. No grains, sweets, juices, potatoes, breads, or starches.

And wow. I don’t think either of us really knew what we were signing ourselves up for.

What they ate as infants/babies

Raising low-carb kids was simplest when they were first born, mostly because no one else really attempts to feed other people’s infants. For their first six months, both of our babies were breastfed, without cereal supplements or any additional food. I didn't worry about keeping sugar or carbs from them, and I didn't have to worry about someone tossing a lollipop into their bottles. Nutritionally, the ball was completely in my court.

The real challenge began when they were about six months of age, and they each became interested in table foods. We started out giving them a mix of solid and mushy foods. I continued breastfeeding them, but we also gave them their first food: meat.

Even though meat is not a traditional “first food” for babies in America, it’s very common in many countries around the world to start children off this way. It’s worth pointing out that meat is one of the least allergenic and most digestible foods.

We would let Thomas pick up a chicken leg or burger patty and gum it. Or I would cook a fatty roast in the crock-pot and then purée it in a food processor to spoon-feed to Julia. Voila! Instant beef baby food.

I introduced low-carb pureed vegetables a couple of weeks later, when I felt that they had developed a healthy taste for proteins and fats. And though I would usually add some form of fat to the veggies (green beans with bacon fat, or carrots with butter), the kids quickly found that they loved vegetables, too, especially green beans, zucchini, mushrooms, onions, olives, and carrots. My kids have both been known to squeal at the sight of beets. Seriously. Beets.

What they eat now as toddlers

Now that they’re both sitting in booster seats at the table, putting a low-carb meal on their plates is basically like feeding a [short] low-carb adult. Truth be told, they could probably out-eat most adults.

Here’s a standard breakfast selection for our children: eggs, bacon, sausage, fruit or tomatoes, and unsweetened, high-fat Greek yogurt.

Low-carb snacking on-the-go was something else I had to figure out. Because they eat such huge and filling meals, they don’t snack a lot, but when they do, they eat things like pepperoni, nuts, summer sausage, carrot sticks, pork rinds, and granny smith apples.

If we go out to eat, I order them a meat (steak, bun-less burger, beef tips, pork chop, chicken wings, chicken salad, or roast beef with melted cheese on top), and some vegetables. Going out to eat with them is still difficult, but only because they’re two and three years old and have the patience of a gnat when it comes to waiting for food. They may have come by that honestly, though.

They only drink water, which they both LOVE. They've never tasted juice, so they don’t ask for it. They've also never tasted cow’s milk (other than unsweetened heavy whipping cream), but they do get dairy in the form of cheese and Greek yogurt. Also, Julia has a great love for seltzer water. (She has her daddy’s face, but is definitely my child.)

Their most favorite treat (aside from a juicy steak) is fruit. I mostly stick to lower-sugar fruits like granny smith apples, honeydew melon, watermelon, and cantaloupe. I can get Thomas to do ANYTHING for a grape.

The world is a sugar minefield.

As they are getting older, things are becoming markedly trickier. For instance, our choices in child care providers and preschools have been based in part upon who will allow us to pack our own lunches and snacks. And when my kids are invited to a birthday party, I bake them a cake without flour or sweeteners (recipe coming soon) to make sure they don’t feel left out. In case there is ever a party at my kids’ school, I always have an extra special (though still low-carb and sugar-free) bag of snacks in their backpack.

One thing I didn't anticipate was how easy it would be to tell my children that they can’t have sugar and sweets. I haven’t had to turn them down, because they've never even asked me for sweets. They don’t even like the smell of baked goods or sugary foods. They truly have NO sweet tooth whatsoever and have no desire for anything other than meats, vegetables, and fruit. I don’t think they’d like the taste of candy even if I gave it to them.

And what a difference it makes in their behavior! They are incredibly calm, good kids with a great demeanor. But, WOW. Ingesting even the slightest bit of sugar can quickly change that. Because the only sugary thing they've ever been exposed to is prescription medicine, it’s easy for me to see the instant decline when sugar enters their systems. Do you know how many common medicines have sugar and sweeteners in them? Most all of them. And when it comes to my kids, the end result is melee. It’s not pretty.

If I can spare my children from a lifetime of negative effects from sugars and carb addiction, I will be thrilled. If I can help keep their blood sugar stable and allow them to feel the calmness and happiness that I have experienced over the past five years, I will consider myself successful.

I should mention that there is one side effect that has been completely unexpected. Due to their diets being so different from most (all?) other kids that we know, I can already tell that Julia and Thomas realize that it’s completely okay to think outside of the box and go “against the grain,” if you will. They’re finding out at an early age that it’s fine to be “different.”

And I’m definitely okay with that. Because, let’s face it: Aren't we all? "

Words and pictures are Kelly's at 'My Zero Carb Life' here for which I thank her.

I hope you have found this an interesting read and perhaps it has given you food for thought?

All the best Jan


Anonymous said...

What a mum or parent does is up to them. I do think children should be encouraged to eat more healthily. I have just commented on the pepper article and agree some children need to be gently encouraged in a fun way to eat fresh vegetables.


Galina L. said...

Beautiful children, great experience! However, I do think that when they get older their diet may be turned into more inclusive one for social reasons. I do believe that it is enough for a healthy children to eat healthy mostly at home. Not everyone would welcome a child with own birthday cake for a BD party, probably most mothers may find it disruptive and even rude, and limiting children's social circle only to the families with paleo life-stile will not prepare them well to live among wide range of people. Childhood is an extremely important time of life, but it is much shorter than adult years. We must do all what we can to rise a healthy child, but I think that getting them ready to find reasonable compromises with others is as important as being healthy right now.
I am talking from the perspective of the mother of a 22 yo son.

Anonymous said...

Kids should certainly be educated into the damage too much sugar can do, but many parents need this education to. Maybe with sugar getting the bad press at the moment future generations can be the winners and not experience so much bad health.

Lowcarb team member said...

Many thanks to Kate, Galina and 'Anonymous' for stopping by and leaving your thoughts / comments.

The children in this article are clearly doing great and I hope the introduction to eating whole fresh foods stay with them throughout life.

It is and never has been easy to bring up children, lets face it, we do not receive any prior training and no child is the same ..... but there is a lot we can do to sow the seed that will help them grow, we each have to do it how we see fit.

Our grandchildren when going to parties do not make a bee-line to the sweet foods, they pick the savory sausage, cheese etc.

We as parents can only do so much but the early years are important and we should do our best to raise healthy children.

Thanks again for your thoughts .... feel free to comment more, if you wish.

All the bestJan

Galina L. said...

The main reason why we didn't have a junk food at home at all was my son's desire to eat only that, so he tried to gorge on sweets and junks anywhere he went till he became a teen, then he gradually grow out of it. Now he avoids sweet food on his own because everything feels too sweet for him.He has no cavities. Real self-cooked food at home was enough for good results in his case. I want parents of small children to relaxed a little bit about the ways of outside world. It is ok to eat anything at birthday parties and while visiting other people for a healthy children to continue to be healthy. You have to teach them how to live among the people who have different ways of life.