This topic is so dear to my heart, mainly because my family is so dear to my heart! Seeing entire families integrated on this lifestyle is something I am very passionate about. It is however a much bigger leap, for many people, to jump on board as a family. Usually, a parent or both parents would choose to follow a low carb meal plan, whilst the kiddo’s would still eat a regular mainstream diet.
I have seen, where families jump on board, the success rate is much higher and people can really see the lifestyle as viable in the long run. Even in a household where only one individual follows a low carb lifestyle, there is usually a smaller chance of sticking to your guns while others eat carb and sugar filled meals around you. And the kind of alienation it brings along is just plain sad.
I feel like I can write a book about this topic alone! So this will be a wordy blog, with less pictures… so please hang in there!
After a year on a low carb lifestyle this is how my shopping excursions go: I will walk into a store with my kids ages 10 and 12 and tell them to grab a snack if they feel like one. Timon (10) Will usually be back with a drumstick and Abia (12) with a packet of nuts or a piece of Biltong. They don’t ever ask for candy, they don’t try to ask for chips… Do I have perfect children? Noooo! Absolutely NOT.
How did this contentment come about?
1. I simply started to change our meals. It was winter vacation time. We had bacon and eggs for breakfast day 1. They could not believe their luck! I said sorry I don’t have bread and they didn’t mind. I gave them nut butter with veggies to dip in for a snack, and they loved it. (They did not ask for lunch that day and I did not offer – the fatty goodness fueled them just fine.) I made them chocolate mousse with cream, cocoa and xylitol for an afternoon snack, and they thought heaven came to them in a cup. That evening my hubby made some steak and I added a salad to that. They were happy campers, not thinking for a second that we are depriving them from anything. We continued like this for about three days. I just did not have certain things in the house… I focussed on “Allowed” foods I knew they liked anyway. We made our own frozen yoghurt and creamy hot chocolate and they thought I was the best mom ever!
2. We then sat them down and spoke about a very interesting article we had seen and how we thought the last couple of days had proven that we didn’t have to eat so much sugar and carbs. By that time, they already had positive feelings towards the way we ate for the previous few days. We watched these together and discussed elements thereof. We then decided as a family that this is a wise route to take. And we as parents told them that we are done feeding them the lies that we were told to be good for you. Somehow, to assure kids that you are acting out of conviction and to protect them, does not communicate …punishment. It communicates love, boundaries and protection. And empowering them to understand, makes them feel valued as part of the process. These are what we watched as a family:
3. I took the kids shopping and asked them to help me find the products with less than 5 grams of carbs per 100 gram. This is an exercise you can do with slightly older kids. For younger ones, I would suggest, just finding the word sugar on a label. For infants and toddlers… please DON’T get them used to excess carbs from a young age and they will NOT have sweet cravings! We went to cereal boxes, pasta’s, “healthy” snacks and even dairy products like flavoured milks and yogi sips. At the end of the session our kids where on board! Their own convictions started to kick in. We took bread and a Bar One candy bar, and they were astonished to see the carb count being matched. Healthy had to get new pictures in our minds.
4. I then furthermore explained to them where the whole push on grains came from and where the term low fat was created.
We watched these clips:
5. We simply created a communal ENEMY! We started to tell them about this enemy. They saw our absolute disgust in this enemy. We made it clear that this enemy does not care about them, therefor they should not care about it either! The enemy’s name is Sugar! Sugar hides itself like any good villain would. (Carbs, Processed foods, bread, pasta, chips) It infiltrates like any good spy can, and it destroys lives wherever it’s allowed to live.
We told them that we’ve been lied to for long enough and we needed their help to jump on board with us, and declare war against sugar as much as they can. We allowed and ecouraged them to be a part of our research (This was before BANTING days) We only had dear old Dr Atkins and did not like the artificial approach of his plan either.)
And I made them a promise to find as many ways as I can to “decarb” their favourites. And so low carb is lekker was born.
Earlier this year my daughter had to study the food pyramid for school. This gave her a chance to stand up for what she believes to be nutritionally true. She told her teacher that fat was not the enemy but sugar was the real enemy. They also agreed to disagree on the matter. She told him respectfully that she would answer as the handbook says, but will never believe it!
Her teacher then started to dilute his coke with water! (Much to her annoyance) I guess she got him thinking…
My son, Timon was diagnosed with autism at age 3 and I only heard him speak around age 5. He made no eye contact and had severe “stimming” repetitive behaviour. Main stream schooling was never an option. So I started to homeschool him and fought very hard to keep him integrated into this life. It was a tough journey. He was an extremely picky eater. His first word however was Cheese burger! Second word – Pizza! O dear, that was all he wanted to eat. And off course, Cocoa Pops, noodles and candy!
For many years, I desensitized him by incorporating other foods into his diet. We got him to eat crunchy veggies and that was awesome. Celery sticks – you name it. I tried limiting gluten, but saw hardly any difference and felt it was not worth the effort or money. Then, something very profound happened… We started on a Low Carb High Fat diet for my hubby’s sake really… (he was pre- diabetic at the stage, always tired, always edgy) We started to eat more fat…and Timon started to achieve new milestones! Being more independent, showing empathy towards others… he made friends…had sleepovers and exploded intellectually. I started to research this. I read Grain Brain from Dr Perlmutter. It blew me away! Good forms of saturated fat was beneficial for my son, and I limited it all his life. We also saw by limiting his sugar and gluten intake stabilized his mood dramatically. We COULD NEVER GO BACK!
I have since found out that new research now shows that children with autism and ADD, ADHD has a higher intolerance for Gluten, Dairy and Sugar. It leaks into their blood stream through a process called “leaky gut” where the glucose gets transported to the brain and it literally clogs the neurons and inhibits the neurons to “fire” so to speak. (This is my mommy understanding and NOT nice science language – sorry) Please take a look at these articles if you have any concern with the topic of autism.
So the other day, as I meandered down the baby aisle of the store, I read some labels. The average can of baby food has 15 – 17 gram of carbs. The Cereal we feed them are either carb filled maize or rice cereal. We give them only the starchiest of veggies and then we wonder why they spit out spinach. We train our kids to crave and prefer sugar from infancy.
So do we ever allow our kids sugar, fast food or the occasional sandwich?
Very occasionally. We follow a strict low carb diet at home. But LIFE doesn’t! 😉 Our kids are offered party treats at school for someone’s birthday every once in a while. They get a cookie at church from time to time. They eat “normal” food when at a sleepover. But they know how they are going to feel afterwards. And within this, Abia makes carb smart choices already on a social level. (Eat a slice of pizza and leave the chips and candy) They are children, if it is there, they will probably eat it. If not, they are not bothered. We do exceptions once a week, if that often, because we started them after we already gave them certain preferences of foods and are still weaning them, so to speak. They are allowed to have a piece of toast with their breakfast when we go out to a restaurant for breakfast. Abia would not even eat a slice. She simply does not like bread anymore. They also eat more fruit than we would eat. But maybe one piece of fruit every day, mostly though, every other day. Of which bananas only twice a week.
Once a month they can have a form of fast food. If they want. They choose real food nowadays…
However, they understand what they put into their mouths have a dramatic impact on their health. They are starting to learn that food is fuel!
Food is NOT there to make us feel special. Love makes us feel special and food is there to fuel us to do what life brings our way.
What does a typical weekday menu look like for us:
Lunch Box Love:
Cheese cubes, Crispy bacon strips, Veggie sticks and nut butter or cream cheese.
Boiled eggs, Salami filled with cream cheese & Apple
Chicken wings/ drumsticks, Cheese cubes, Mange touts
Meatballs, pumpkin fritters, nuts & celery sticks.
LC muffins, cheese, butter, biltong and veggies.
Boerewors in bite size pieces with cream cheese dip, cheese and veggies.
Mini quiche, veggies and droewors home made frozen yoghurt.
Snack on veggie sticks, Smoothie with berries and cream/yoghurt or Chocolate smoothie/Hot Chocolate
A baked sugar- free cookie, or some biltong. A fruit if they did not eat one at school.
Any of the recipes on THIS page. I don’t have recipes that I know my kids won’t like. Timon does not like very spicy food, so I usually dish his portion out and then spice. Braaivleis is everyone’s all time favourite though. We are after all… a PROUDLY South African Family.
Every night when we do our family time, our highs and lows… we drink tea and I sometimes sneak in a low carb cookie, some berries and Greek yoghurt or a tiny cup of chocolate mousse and yes… all is well that ends well for us. Thankful hearts and full happy tummies.
For us mostly this means breakfast. We love breakfast food, and we get to only deny fries and bread and swop for extra mushrooms.
When we eat out over a weekend, we make it count as brunch and really only eat two meals a day over weekends.
Sometimes we would go to Ocean basket (A Seafood restaurant) We can have grilled fish with stir fry there. If Timon has not had a sandwich during the week, he can have fries.
My LCHF Kids philosophy is this:
Every “decarbed” meal is an investment. Every “decarbed” meal is a victory when it comes to kids. And as long as they stay in the groove, they DON’T have cravings. The moment they get this, food loses it’s rule. For kids and adults alike. Kids can have more carbs than an adult wanting to lose weight. (Keep this in mind.) Therefore, we don’t always snack as many times as they do. It is just nice to have everyone on the same shopping list! So we limit our intake of dairy and nuts for carbs can pile up there, but we still get to raise kids without sugar addictions! We don’t want them to learn good nutrition after years of yo-yo dieting just before diabetes strikes.
My house went from kids hanging on cupboard doors, constantly wanting something to snack on, to kids almost never in the kitchen at all. They are however always excited to see what mom is attempting to “decarb” next. Their low – carb enthusiasm is admirable.
It only comes through a growing understanding and respect for how wonderfully and fearfully we have been made. Also, very patient and consisting parenting.
We eat like Kings really! And because we do not buy chips and cookies, we have cut our food budget. That’s a big plus.
We still celebrate life events with food. We also have double decker birthday cakes and decadent icing. It’s just been “decarbed”.
Where there is a will, there is a way!
My next blog on this topic will be more practical, with some new recipes for you to incorporate. Please talk to me and ask away. Let’s tackle this together. Would love to hear your thoughts and frustrations too.
Yours in, families-changing-the-nutritional-tide-together, Inè