Before we jump into the question, is Keto safe for kids, I want to review a couple things that I briefly mentioned in my last post (LINK). After a difficult pregnancy/delivery resulting from blood sugar issues and a newborn that is already struggling with eczema, I have been doing a LOT of research on the best way to eat to control these issues.
Throughout my blog, you will see that I have some knowledge on healthy ingredients and traditional food preparation. But you can buy/grow the best quality food and prepare it in the best way possible and it still not hit the target in healing certain health issues. I know, health is a frustrating puzzle!
Why Keto seems to be the answer
But as I began to research the Ketogenic Diet, it seemed to be exactly what we were looking for! If you have read my postpartum post (LINK) you will know that I make big babies. The bigger the baby/placenta the more likely you are to have blood sugar issues. One of the top benefits of Keto is that it promotes lowering insulin and blood sugar and can even eliminate insulin resistance.
Another issue that I have mentioned was that my infant, Charlie, started showing signs of eczema at three months and I wanted to make sure I was eating in a way that would reduce inflammation as much as possible…cue Keto! This diet has been shown to have a great deal of success in lowering a body’s inflammation. I fully hoped to be able to pass that along to my breastfed son.
And, finally, in the event that we decide to have another child, both mommy and baby would handle pregnancy and birth better if mommy lost some weight! Of course, Keto is really good as helping people lose weight. So, as you can see, this seems like the perfect diet for us!
Fast forward 2.5 months…Charlie’s eczema is 75% gone (we also found out that he has a sensitivity to coconut), I am fully fat-adapted (meaning my body is digesting/burning fats very well, leading to better insulin control and blood sugar), and I have lost over 25 pounds while keeping up a great milk supply! Oh yeah!
What is Keto?
This is a place I don’t want to spend too much time simply because there is SOOOOO much information out there right now. Suffice it to say that Keto is a very low carb/high fat/ medium protein diet. On average, you want to keep your carbs between 20-30 grams a day and consume around 70-75% of your calories through fat.
The basic idea behind it is that our bodies have two fuel sources: glucose (carbs) and ketones (fat). In our normal modern diet, we consume a lot of carbs. Since glucose is an easier/quicker fuel source for our body, that is the one it runs on unless we make a intentional effort to train it otherwise.
The main catch is that carbs spike our insulin/blood sugar a lot faster and higher than fat or protein. So even though our bodies need a little more “practice” to get efficient at burning ketones, it is much better in the end. And once we enter ketosis (our bodies burning ketones/fat instead of carbs) it is much easier for them to then transition from burning the dietary fat to burning our body fat!
But there is no reason to reinvent the wheel. So instead of going into more detail on how to do the keto diet, I am just going to give you some great links that will tell you everything you need to know!
Why do Keto for kids?
As I was doing all of this research, it was becoming clear to me that weight loss seemed like one of the lesser reasons to follow this diet. Whether overweight or not, everything seemed to point to the thought that it is just a very healthy way to eat. So, should our kids be eating this way too?
Let’s stop and think about the reasons for a moment. The microbiome (or gut flora) isn’t born in a healthy state. Best case scenario, it is born in a neutral state. When the baby goes through the birth canal and then begins to nurse, the mother’s gut flora is passed on to the baby. If the baby is born via C-section, the mother doesn’t nurse, or the mother simply doesn’t have gut flora to pass on, that baby’s gut quickly goes downhill.
Every medication, piece of junk food, and breath of toxin-filled air that child encounters in their future is only worsening the state of their poor, weak gut. In our current society, there is no way to accidentally improve your gut health. If you aren’t intentionally doing it, it isn’t happening!
So then our children get eczema, allergies, learning disabilities, childhood obesity, diabetes, etc. It’s all about the gut health…and our kids DO NOT have it! Some kids aren’t showing signs yet. But you have to ask yourself:
- Did your parents intentionally eat a diet that was healing to their gut?
- Have you lived mostly medication-free during your lifetime?
- Have you been intentionally eating a diet to strengthen your gut?
- Was your child born through the birth canal?
- Did you nurse your child for at least the first 6 months
If your answer was “no” to the majority of those questions…I can personally guarantee that your child has an unhealthy gut and will one day (probably soon) begin to suffer the consequences one way or another. So, bottom line, we need to be thinking about that as we choose our kids’ diets.
Here’s another thought: there is an extremely high chance that if your child doesn’t already have a blood sugar/insulin problem, they will begin to while still in their childhood. This is their training years…if we are training their bodies to use excess insulin right now, it will be a natural habit in their body for the rest of their life.
Check out this video for a much better explanation:
Is Keto safe for kids?
Let me begin this topic by reminding you of some things. I am not a doctor, nor am I your child’s parent. These upcoming opinions are just that…. opinions. I am in no way trying to pressure you to believe as I do. If you disagree, I encourage you to research the topic and then comment below so that we can all have a discussion and figure out the truth for our kids!
So let’s get to it…I have researched this topic quite a bit. The conclusion I have come away with is that Keto is safe for kids and VERY beneficial! Especially until they are in a healthy place with a strong gut. Here’s some reasons why:
- Anti inflammatory – The keto diet is an anti inflammatory diet. If kids have autism, Asperger’s, allergies, etc, their bodies are in a constant inflammatory state.
- Insulin/blood sugar – It used to just be a concern of putting a child on a path of insulin resistance and obesity that would ONE DAY lead them to have diabetes. Today, we are facing an ever increasing concern of kids being BORN with insulin problems (because mom had insulin problems) and entering the world of diabetes DURING their childhood! We have already discussed how keto can help that.
- Burn the ketones – Even if your child isn’t overweight now, we all know that it is very likely there will be a struggle in the future unless we are training them to be different from society now. If you train your child’s body to burn ketones and give it time to truly become efficient at it, that is a skill it will retain for years, even if your child doesn’t remain on the keto diet. This will give them a great tool to use in the future if struggles arise.
- Giving their growing body what it needs – Your child’s brain is 70% fat and cholesterol! Cholesterol also surrounds the majority of their cells! Their bodies ARE NOT yearning for carbs (even if their taste buds are)…they need FAT!
Tips for Keto with kids
But there are many concerns out there surrounding kids eating a keto diet. Are they all a bunch of malarkey? Some are definitely not. Which is why I am going to offer you some tips that have made it a safe and nutritious journey for my kids.
It MUST be CLEAN!
There are generally considered to be two different types of Keto: Clean and Dirty. Because, if you think about it, you could go to Burger King and order a burger full of hormones and steroids, cooked in a highly processed vegetable oil, with a side of carcinogen-filled diet soda and technically be eating a Keto meal. But is that going to be nutrition-filled and gut healing? I think not. Would I suggest feeding that to your kids? Absolutely not!
If you look throughout my blog, you will see many suggestions on what it means to eat a gut-healing diet. Those same rules still apply while on the keto diet. Your individual ingredients will contain more fat but should be just as whole, natural, and chemical-free as before. Here is a video with some tips on how to make sure you are headed in the right direction…
Fill in the nutrient blanks
This is an important thing to do with your kids whether they are eating a Keto diet or not. With the lessened amount of nutrition found in today’s food, it is rare that a child is consuming the nutrient base that they need.
As I researched Keto, I realized that there are a couple supplements that are suggested while on the diet. But that led me down a rabbit trail of finding out, Keto or not, what nutrients our body truly needs and how to get them through diet or supplementation.
Supplements are a little bit trickier with kids because it is often hard to find a safe and effective “kid version”. But I found food that I could work into or increase in their diet that covered the bases. I will be posting more on this in an upcoming post.
But on this same topic, the Keto diet is often criticized because it leaves out entire food groups and the nutrients included in them. But time after time I have found evidence that our bodies do not NEED for us to consume carbs! EVERY nutrient found in a carb food can also be found by eating a low-carb food.
For example, a lot of people say you should eat carby grains for the fiber. But if you consume the right amount of veggies, you will EASILY have that covered. Think about it…there have been many generations or societies in the past that have survived on a Keto or even Carnivore-type diet out of necessity. And newborns are literally made for a high-fat/low-carb diet because that is exactly what breastmilk is!
Find Keto-friendly treats
As I studied what nutrients are often lacking in our kids’ diet, I realized that a lot of the blanks would be filled if we increased the amount of dark green veggies that they consume. But that is easier said than done, right?
I have a couple tricks for sneaking in 3-4 servings a day, without them knowing. But it is also important to get them used to eating lots veggies on their plate. If you check out my Keto Pinterest pages, you will see several recipes for popsicles, snacky foods, and desserts that are amazing! Our rule is that you do not have to finish your plate. I’m not about sitting there and forcing them to finish their plate or risk making them eat past being full. BUT if they do eat everything, (which is usually at least 2 servings of veggies) they can have a treat!
Well, there you have it! I believe that Keto is safe for kids and believe our family will continue for a long time to come! But I will always be researching and sharing and I truly hope you will do the same!
Thank you so much for reading and please let me know if you have any questions or thoughts!