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Low carb diet for kids - a good idea?

Monday, August 27, 2012

This topic has been on my mind these last few weeks and sharing my thoughts about it is more of a brainstorming session. I have not yet had time to look for research on the topic or even read articles on the web.
Peter Attia just wrote a blog about low-carb for kids concerning his young daughter. I know there has been some blogging on this topic but there are few guidelines and even fewer authoritative voices.
I have been trying to be helpful to my 15-year-old daughter as she is going through the process of thinking about her own eating style. She is home-schooled and has been taught from a young age to make decisions concerning her lifestyle and educational choices more than is typical of children who go to school. More about that later.
When it comes to kids and teenagers there are different issues at stake than for adults who may have had serious obesity problems, carb addictions and health problems that are the result of eating a poor diet for decades.
In many ways kids have an easier time changing habits if they are encouraged and have their parents as role models more than as preachers of a new life style.
Kids have bad habits but they have likely not experienced as many limitations as a result of unhealthy eating habits. On the other hand they have extra challenges as well. The research in epigenetics gives some indication that children whose mothers ate a high-carb diet during pregnancy and/or were diabetic during pregnancy have more insulin-producing cells in their pancreas, setting them up for greater chance of metabolic syndrome and weight struggles earlier in life and possibly for a lower carb tolerance.
There are many social pressures on kids to eat high-carbohydrate diets that they are surrounded by, including school breakfast and lunch options, fast food, snacks that friends eat etc.
Even at high school sports events meal breaks for traveling teams are typically at fast food restaurants and snacks provided at meets are often cookies, sandwiches and chips, all filled with starches, grains and sugars.
The reason my daughter is eating lower carb is in part because we don't have grains and beans and sugar in the house any more. We do have lots of choices when it comes to veggies, nuts and seeds, meats, dairy and fruit. Eating this way will almost automatically limit carbs to no more than about 120-150 grams/day, depending on total calorie intake.

I believe that "diet" for kids should almost always mean "lifestyle diet" not "reduction diet", even for kids who are obese. Any diet that can not be maintained for life would possibly deprive children of nutrients they need for their bodies to grow and being "on a diet" would single them out among their peers and have a potentially very negative effect on their sense of self.
Assuming all this, I encouraged my daughter, who is ideal weight, to consider a low-carb diet for overall health and the potential benefit of improved athletic performance, in particular in endurance events where it helps to fuel exercise more with fat than with glycogen.
As a swimmer on the High School team, the longest distance she currently swims is 500 yards, but during practice she typically swims between 5000 and 7000 yards, making this an endurance event.
After reading part of Volek and Phinney's book on low carbohydrate performance she told me today that gong very low-carb (ketosis) is not what she wants to do. The reason:
Too many restrictions; she can't have the occasional slice of gluten-free pizza, she would have to think and plan far more what to have for meals away from home and for snacks; she can NEVER EVER have certain foods again.
Since we have raised her from very young to make responsible choices for her well-being I feel very comfortable with letting her make her own choices in this area. She did her homework to learn about all the options and the possible consequences. She, like everyone else, is an experiment of one and knows her body better than anyone else. It will take her at least a couple of months to fine-tune what works and what does not work. She will make mistakes along the way, but I may have spared her many mistakes that I made when I grew up, including an addiction to sugar and pastries.
Her daily carb intake may end up closer to 150 grams/day or as low as 60, but it will be low-carb and grain-free.
I am so thankful that she will likely be able to avoid so many diseases that are common in our culture just by eating right: cancer, autoimmune diseases, heart disease, diabetes, many types of brain dysfunction.
So to sum it up, yes, I think low-carb is a very good idea for kids, it may be the only healthy diet around for kids, but it may not be necessary to go to the same extremes (think induction Atkins) as a middle-aged obese adult who has full-blown metabolic syndrome, high blood pressure, heart disease and who has not been able to exercise much for many years.

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

JUSTBIRDY 8/27/2012 8:01PM

    In Peter's Attia's recent blogpost, he mentioned that his 4-year-old eats carbs. No junk or sugar in the house, and an occasional sweet treat. Well, we'll see how that goes once she starts school. It is so hard to control what goes on there.

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-LINDA_S 8/27/2012 7:41PM

    I have a great deal of fear regarding my grandson's diet. I've tried making suggestions to no avail. I'm afraid there's nothing I can do. I don't think he needs to be low-carb, but more healthy food would be great. You're doing a great job with your daughter.

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TRISH579 8/27/2012 3:50PM

    I read Peter Attia, and I love him!!!!
The only experience I have is with our 3 sons, 25, 27, 29. Growing up, we didn't do Low Carb, per se, but we did eat healthy.
Junk food at a minimum, candy, deserts were a once in a while thing, juices were diluted with water because I just thought it was too much sugar.
Fast food was , again, a once in a while treat. With all 3 on various sports teams, dinner time was a challenge, and even if dinner was a big overstuffed sandwich, fruit and maybe chips, it wasn't McDonalds. Luckily, many of the parents who brought snacks to games felt the same way. You were more likely to see orange wedges at a game than donuts.
End result: as adults, they are all slim, tall and muscular and wouldn't eat fast food on a dare. Now, they will enjoy themselves at bars and some bar-food, but it's not all the time, and they watch their food intake after indulgences.
As it should be.

You're doing well with your 15 year old. At that age, they like to make their own plans, and your daughter is planning well, with your guidance.

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When low-carb is not quite enough - food addictions treated the low-carb way

Sunday, August 26, 2012

This podcast from La Vida Low Carb was posted by someone else on Spark, can't remember who, thanks whoever you are. I found it so valuable that I wanted to pass it on.
The expert is Julia Ross. Hope this helps someone. I have learned several things about amino-acids that I'm willing to try.


  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

MYLADY4 9/3/2012 6:03PM

    So true, I was a total carb and sugar addict 10 years ago and guess what put an end to that, low carb. Sugar is just plain evil and it make me shake my head when I see weight loss shows that still promote the SAD diet. Someday they will learn.

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JUSTBIRDY 9/3/2012 5:52PM

    looks like they pulled that thread. good riddance!

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JUSTBIRDY 9/3/2012 5:31PM

    Thanks. There is a thread on the main message board, someone taking a "poll" to see if we should start censoring everyone who says that they can defeat eating disorders. Some crazymakers just want us to stay with sharing in their misery.

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DEBRA0818 8/27/2012 2:40AM

    Thanks for posting this -- I definitely qualify!

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Great video talk series by Jeff Volek about low-carbohydrate performance

Saturday, August 25, 2012

This is some of the same info you can get from the book. Enjoy!



  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

-LINDA_S 8/25/2012 12:13PM

    Thanks, Birgit, for keeping us so informed!

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GETSTRONGRRR 8/25/2012 12:03PM

    Very cool..... I just blogged about how I have been setting personal bests at ST and cardio, even with keeping my carbs below 50 gms/day.....another myth busted!

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Great video series about "Wheatbelly"

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

This is a six-part talk by Dr. William Davis recorded on video about "Wheatbelly". Enjoy!



  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

DIDMIS 8/26/2012 11:56PM

    I found the book for 4.95 online but have not received it yet.

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-LINDA_S 8/23/2012 10:25AM

    Thanks, Birgit. I'll check it out right after yoga.

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MICHELLE6468 8/23/2012 9:02AM


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WOUBBIE 8/22/2012 10:34PM

    Thanks! Found I can listen and play online at the same time. LOL!

EDIT: Listened to the whole talk, really interesting, think I'll be investing in the book this weekend. Thanks! And good idea to post the link to SP on Dr. Davis' blog.

Comment edited on: 8/23/2012 11:00:40 AM

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MYSTERY-LADY1 8/22/2012 9:25PM

    thanks for sharing

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GETSTRONGRRR 8/22/2012 9:12PM

    Very cool, thanks!

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EDELWEISS33 8/22/2012 8:53PM

    thank you so much! I am just discovering why I'm having so much indigestion & this is a validation.

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GOPINTOS 8/22/2012 8:33PM

    Thanks for sharing!!


Smile and Enjoy the Rest of Your Day!
Melinda (gopintos)
Wheat Belly Team

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_RAMONA 8/22/2012 8:32PM

    THANK YOU, Birgit!!!

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Moderately high-carb meal = No energy

Sunday, August 19, 2012

We went to a party last night.
I didn't think it was going to be that bad. I had only had about 10 grams of carbs that day before dinner.
At the party I had a little more fruit than I would usually have, maybe 2 cups total. I also ate a few tiny pieces of chocolate frosting, probably no more than 1 teaspoon. I also had about 1.5 cups of regular Breyer's vanilla ice cream and 2 servings of a low-carb dessert I had made with coconut flour, Xylitol and rhubarb. In addition I ate a bunch of raw veggies with 1 teaspon of hummus and a tiny piece of puff pastry which probably contained wheat. All in all I probably consumed no more than 100-150 grams of carbs, about what Mark Sisson recommends in his book "The primal Blueprint".
Obviously for me it was still far too much.
This morning I woke up after 8 hours of sleep with no energy. I managed to do some light outdoor chores but definitely functioned on auto-pilot, no thinking required, and I did NOT feel like exercising. Now, 10 minutes after finishing breakfast and a cup of coffee I'm starting to wake up. My brain is still only in first gear, so I'm beginning to wonder if everyone thinks I'm crazy to consider all this worthy of writing a blog about but I'm not energetic enough to care. emoticon

I still have less energy than I do after a low-carb day without coffee.
I do remember that I considered all this normal half a year ago: decreasing energy levels due to getting older, mild hypothyroidism, lack of sleep (brought on by eating carbs at night as I now know).
I am now thinking about the people who have heard about low-carb eating and have heard some success stories. Some of them may not have been able to process the information they were getting because their brain was only in first gear, kind of like running a car that requires premium gasoline on regular?
For those of you who have also made the transition to low-carb and feel much healthier because of it, you may know what I'm talking about. We need to be willing to take the time to share what we have learned with patience, respect and great kindness, even when we feel that nobody's listening. Maybe sometimes actions speak louder than words. Inviting people to a well-prepared, tasty meal in our home or to a picnic in the park, rather than preaching is a great way to start.


Good morning!

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

ELECTRALYTE 8/25/2012 12:58PM

    I usually keep mine (carbs) around 100. I like energy!
I wish you posted your food log, I would love to know how you stay so low.

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DIDMIS 8/22/2012 5:47PM

    I ordered the wheat belly diet book for $4.95 + shipping.
As I wrote in a blog my niece has lost a lot of weight on it but she is gluten intolerant and had to do it .
I have always heard starches make a big belly.

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JUSTBIRDY 8/21/2012 8:53PM

    for me, lots of carb guarantees a nap

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JSTETSER 8/21/2012 4:46PM

    Better days are coming! emoticon

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LADYRAVENWOOD 8/20/2012 3:38PM

    I'm SO glad you posted this on the FB Wheat Belly page and just subscribed!

> emoticon

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EGALITAIRE 8/19/2012 9:58PM

    Good reminder Birgit, unfortunately the apathetic end of my bipolarity spectrum has been winning out over the evangelical side.

I have all but ceased telling people my story, even though a few people I know have changed their diets after a conversation, so I know it can have an impact.

Need to have patience and know that even if only one person decides to become more informed it would have been worth it.

Stay Strong

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4A-HEALTHY-BMI 8/19/2012 9:42PM

    Carb hangovers are the PITS.

I have a bit more resistance to carbs than you do; I eat them in moderation and just try to keep my daily total sugar below 100g per day, and minimize the starches.

But sometimes I do overdo it, even according to my (less strict) standards, and yeah. I feel it the next day too.

Sometimes it's hard to remember these things at the moment we're faced with the foods themselves, huh?

Comment edited on: 8/19/2012 9:43:35 PM

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KICK-SS 8/19/2012 8:34PM

    I did that here a month or so ago. Had a pretty high carb lunch (didn't even count it, but I KNOW it was a lot with bread, fries, dessert, etc.) And all the rest of the day, all I wanted to do was sleep - I felt so lethargic... And when I keep my carbs low, I usually don't feel all that lazy!!

And I have some cousins coming into town and are taking me to dinner tomorrow night. I AM going to be careful and not go out of my carb budget for the day. I'll try and eat NO carbs before that time, so I'll at least have room for some anyhow. I don't know where they plan to go, but I'm thinking it will be Elmer's pancake house since that is close to the hotel where they're staying. If that's the case, I can order an omelet and sub some salad for the hash browns and toast. Or a Sizzler also near by and can do with salad bar there, if I can stay out of the onion rings.......

I don't want to offend them, I only see them once every year or two, so I'll just make a careful choice and I seriously doubt they'll even question it. They're pretty healthy eaters, although not low carb........

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ADZY86 8/19/2012 3:28PM

    "Inviting people to a well-prepared, tasty meal in our home or to a picnic in the park, rather than preaching is a great way to start."

This is ABSOLUTELY right! I've given up on telling people; I'm not just going to show them. All those people who are like 'you eat low-carb?! You must be starving yourself!' Think again.

It's funny to think that's how we used to eat all the time, and now the affect it has on our bodies. Such a learning curve.

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GETSTRONGRRR 8/19/2012 3:13PM

    I'm with you on all counts. I've went low carb about 3 months ago, keeping my total to below 50 gms and I feel great. Even took a 7-day cruise and kept them very low.

I haven't gone on a carb binge yet, to tell you the truth, I am much to happy to risk it. We eat out a lot, even last night, our neighbors had a shrimp boil. I loaded up on all sorts of things and just stayed away from the kitchen where they had all the desserts.

And I agree with you on the public promotion part of this. I bring it up when I can, and am always underwhelmed by people's apathy towards my success and/or my story....seems like SP friends who have taken this leap are the only ones who really understand.

Good on you....maybe a good workout will burn off all that glucose!

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WOUBBIE 8/19/2012 2:12PM

    "We need to be willing to take the time to share what we have learned with patience, respect and great kindness, even when we feel that nobody's listening."

I totally agree! It's so hard sometimes to curb my enthusiasm, but it usually ends up putting people off the whole idea. I'm slowly learning to temper what I say and phrase it so that it doesn't sound like I'm accusing them of being slackers or even being unknowledgeable.

Amazing to feel the difference in quality of life, though, isn't it?

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