Food Freedom Friday Edition 74 - Low Carbohydrate Kids

All children will benefit from lowering their carbohydrates, sugar, and wheat intake. There is not as much of a need to be as strict with children in the healthy weight range, as they are generally more insulin sensitive than adults are, so their bodies can deal with sugars and carbohydrates more efficiently. 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’. 

All children will benefit from drinking less soft drinks (and energy drinks are definitely not encouraged), less cakes, less sweets, less ice cream, less chips and tomato sauce (and let's not even begin to discuss  chicken nuggets and pizza). Their bodies are growing at a rapid rate, and if they are not fed the nutrients they need for all the complex mechanisms that are going on inside their body, they are being set up for a very unhealthy future. 

It is so sad when some children exist on liters of soft drinks, hot chips, pies, McDonalds, KFC, Subway – DAILY. Next time you see a bunch of teenagers hanging out at the mall, have a look at what they are eating. It usually comprises some type of fast food washed down with an energy drink. Zero nutrition. 

These are beautiful growing bodies who have an addiction to high energy foods, neglect whole foods, and are probably nutrient deficient in some if not many areas. Try and really think about what your children have eaten in the last week. Make a mental note. 

You want to teach and gently persuade your children towards 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 

  • enjoying treats 

  • eating real whole food 

  • making good choices 

  • enjoy trying new foods (a good rule is 'you don’t have to like them, but you do have to try them') 

  • being active is fun 

  • health and nutrition are a priority 

Children need good fat. They keep you full for longer, contain essential fatty acids and supply the fat soluble vitamins A, D, E and K. 

Children need protein – building blocks of their growing muscles. 

Children need carbohydrates – but nowhere near what people think. Even severely restricting carbohydrates, the body can still make it through gluconeogenesis from excess protein. 

Children need vegetables – fiber, vitamins, minerals, trace elements, antioxidants, phytochemicals and all the other hundreds of compounds that are being researched and have yet to be discovered. Fruits and vegetables should not be seen as equal. Fruit is incredibly high in carbohydrate, especially fructose. Eat whole fruits (and never fruit juice or dried fruits), as the whole fruit contains fiber and nutrients, but they cannot be considered as equal to vegetables. Be aware of the fructose content of fruit, and limit to 1 or 2 pieces a day. Go for lower sugar fruit such as berries. Cut back on high sugar tropical fruits such as pineapple, melons, grapes and the like. 

How many parents do you know that simply just laugh and say their children just refuse to eat vegetables. It is your responsibility as a parent to ensure your children are properly nourished. It is for your convenience of not having a battle at the dinner table that allows them to refuse vegetables. Please do not misunderstand me, I am not suggesting it is easy, but establish a few family rules, one at a time, which let them know it is not negotiable. Go slowly as it may be a big change for some families. Be proud of what you have achieved. Little by little. 

  • A good starter family rule is they have to try everything. They don’t have to like it, but they have to try it 

  • Keep introducing that food (maybe weekly) until they enjoy it, this may take what seems like forever, but you do get there 

  • Get them to smother the food in something they do like to hide the taste (remember, they must to eat some of it) 

  • Flavor your vegetables. Spices, homemade sauces and some healthy fats go a long way in making even the most avoided of foods at least mildly palatable. 

  • Put butter and cream cheese on the table instead of ketchup which is way too processed and full of sugar.  

  • Let them flavor their own food. They have control and won’t battle so much. 

  • Put twice as much of something on the plate as you know they will eat and then you can negotiate they only have to eat half (sneaky psychology, but man this one works). 

  • Get them to choose what to go in their school lunch. Be specific about what types of foods they can choose, but let them make the final decision on which ones of those work best for them. 

Lastly, I think if you take the time and put in the effort to feed them well at home, there is little or no need to restrict them in any way when they are at friends or at parties. No one likes a diet bore or a food restrictor. It would be great if other parents made good choices, but really, this is not a daily occurrence for them and will not be making up a huge part of their diet. This would be different of course if your child has a true food allergy or intolerance. Maintain your focus in the home, restricting hyper-palatable, over-processed, manufactured carbohydrates and doing your best to clamp down on  poor food choices

Michal Ofer