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Children and ketogenic eating

You’re probably familiar with statements like… “Children shouldn’t follow a diet,” “Children should be allowed to be children, and that includes indulging in sweets,” and “Children need carbohydrates.” Let’s address these concerns one by one. 😉

1. It’s not a diet; it’s a lifestyle, meaning it’s a different way of eating.
2. There are actually plenty of ketogenic treats and snacks that can be made, including cakes, ice creams, cookies, chocolates, etc. So, indulging in sweets can still happen in a healthy way.
3. Children do not need carbohydrates, just as you don’t. More about this is explained in this article.
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Can children really eat a ketogenic diet?

Yes, absolutely! In fact, we encourage it!
Unfortunately, many people still believe that consuming a lot of carbohydrates is necessary, especially for children who are still growing. But think about it, if consuming a lot of carbohydrates is detrimental to you as an adult, why would it be good for your child?
All those conditions caused by excessive carbohydrate consumption (diabetes, heart disease, high blood pressure, digestive problems, arthritis, etc.), is that something you want to expose your child to? I don’t think so!
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Children are actually better at processing a larger amount of carbohydrates compared to adults. This is partly because adults have often consumed so many (too many) carbohydrates that our bodies have become insulin resistant. However, just because children can process them better doesn’t mean it’s a good idea to give them in abundance.

Babies are born in a state of ketosis. During the 9 months they developed in the womb, from a mere fetus to an actual human being, they didn’t have a need or necessity for a large amount of carbohydrates. Even during the period of breastfeeding, they receive pure unprocessed nutrients. And in those 9 months in the womb, but also afterwards, they grow and develop very well, don’t they?

It’s even used as a medicine!
Did you know that a ketogenic diet has been used since the 1930s as a medicine for children and adults suffering from epilepsy? Due to the production and use of ketones, brain function improves significantly, resulting in far fewer (or even no) epileptic seizures in patients following a ketogenic diet.

But how do they get all the essential nutrients (vitamins, minerals, building blocks)?

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All the essential nutrients your child needs can be obtained from vegetables, fruits, fats, nuts, meat, eggs, etc. It’s important for a child to have sufficient building blocks for proper development. Where do you think more good substances are found, in an egg or in wheat? And did you know that vegetables contain more vitamins and minerals than fruits? If you ensure that your child eats a variety of foods, your child will not be deficient in anything. Again, if it’s good for you, how can it be bad for your child?

But aren’t those way too many fats?

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On the contrary! One of the benefits of healthy fats is that they help in the better absorption of vitamins (A, D, E, and K). Omega-3 fatty acids are essential for healthy eye and brain development. They can be found in unroasted unsalted nuts, coconut oil, olive oil, seeds, eggs, and fatty fish.

Fats also provide a good source of energy, allowing your child to play, learn, and grow throughout the day. Unfortunately, many people still believe that children become overweight from eating fat, but it’s actually sugars (carbohydrates) that are the culprits.

Many children who follow a low-carb or ketogenic diet feel much better. Here are some of the benefits reported by children themselves and noticed by their parents:

  • Increased energy
  • Improved concentration
  • Better mood
  • Greater enjoyment of food
  • Reduced stress and anxiety
  • Better dental health (fewer cavities, less tartar, and plaque buildup, often noticed by dentists 😉)

How many carbohydrates can or should a child eat per day?

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In general, with children, there’s no need to calculate the exact grams of carbohydrates they should or can consume per day. Keeping their daily carbohydrate intake between 20 and 75 grams is a good range for children. Aim to have these carbohydrates come primarily from vegetables, berries, nuts, seeds, etc.

How do you make the switch from a high-carb diet to keto?

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If your child is accustomed to consuming a lot of processed high-carb foods, it may take some time for them to adjust to a low-carb or keto diet. However, most children tend to prefer low-carb or keto eating once they get used to it and find that it makes them feel better!

There are various ways to transition your child to a low-carb or keto diet. You can make the switch overnight, or you can gradually introduce changes.

For example, start by replacing fruit juices with whole fruit and a glass of water or swap out one slice of bread for a homemade keto or low-carb bread (or delicious waffles or pancakes!).

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Make mealtime fun!
A plate full of vegetables may not excite your child initially during the transition, but presentation matters! Making the food look appealing can help reduce resistance. Take a look at the examples below for some creative inspiration.

Engage in conversation and involve your child in this journey!
If your child suddenly gets different foods to eat and the things they were used to are no longer “allowed,” resistance is natural. Therefore, engage in a conversation with your child, explain in a way they understand what changes you want to make in their diet, and especially why.

Ask your child to brainstorm and involve them in the process, turning it into a fun game (adapted to their age) if possible!

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Let your child make a list of all the things they like and go through that list step by step to determine if it’s low-carb. If there are many things on the list that aren’t low-carb, work together to come up with suitable alternatives. Or let your child help decide what’s on the menu tomorrow. If your child still selects too many high-carb items, see if you can find a good, fitting replacement or create a list of, for example, 10 options and let your child choose from there.

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Engage your child in the cooking process.
Apart from giving your child a solid foundation of knowledge, it’s also fun for them to learn more about food while cooking. They are often more willing to listen to information because they are already thinking about food.

Don’t be afraid to give children a bit more “freedom” in coming up with combinations and preparing them. Making mistakes is okay; it’s all part of the learning process. So if they come up with something that’s not quite edible, don’t criticize it. Instead, laugh together and think about what could be done differently next time to make it delicious.

What should you pack for school?

Most children typically get bread and a piece of fruit for lunch, often accompanied by a juice box. That’s quite a carbohydrate bomb. But there are many alternatives you can pack instead.

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Here are some easy lunchbox ideas:

  • Homemade keto bread or crackers with tasty toppings
  • Cheese cubes
  • Slices of sausage
  • A boiled egg
  • A vegetable omelet
  • Raw vegetables (cucumber slices, cherry tomatoes, bell pepper strips)
  • Homemade keto gingerbread or a slice of keto cake
  • Some unsalted, unroasted nuts
  • Keto pancakes, mini pancakes, or waffles

Important for home

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Ensure that there are always snacks in the house that your child can easily access. Think of items like cheese cubes, slices of sausage, unsalted and unroasted nuts, raw vegetables, and more.

We’re often accustomed to determining how much a child should eat or when they’ve had enough (as adults). However, most children (with exceptions) can determine when they’re hungry and when they’re full quite well. It’s essential to monitor that they don’t fill up on other items just before a shared meal.

Feel free to offer your child ketogenic or low-carb treats regularly to keep things enjoyable. This could include homemade whipped cream with red berries, a piece of MCT chocolate, making tasty cookies or cakes together, and more. For inspiration, you can explore the Ultimate Ketogenic Treats Special, which features 101 keto treat recipes.

In our cookbooks you will find an amazing amount of delicous recipes suited for children, items like bread/crackers, pancakes, waffles, cake, gingerbread, and much more!


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