Post #6: Keeping Our Kids Off the Sugar Teet

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20150208lowcarbkids

Let Them Eat Cake Cookies Goldfish Low-Carb

 

After having two zero-carb pregnancies (minus some darned pickles), I gave birth to two healthy, happy babies.  And that, my friends, is when I faced my greatest challenge to date.

 

I had to actually FEED them.

 

You know, in today’s world, everything is about the treats.  Going to the movies?  You gotta have popcorn and candy.  Having a birthday?  Get a cake.  Going to the bank?  Here’s a sucker.  Learning to go potty?  Give them M&Ms.  A special holiday?  Candy, candy, candy!   Taking your child to the church nursery?  Here come the cookies!  Going to the grandparents’ house?  Hope you saved room for dessert.

 

I knew from my own personal experiences that I felt worlds better without carbs and sugars in my diet.  I knew that I felt more relaxed and calm without my blood sugar surging and plummeting all day long.  I was calm, but also had plenty of steady energy, more than I ever did while eating carbs.  I slept well at nights and lived my life free from cravings, moodiness, and weight gain.  I just felt GOOD.

 

Why wouldn’t I want my kids to feel the same way?

 

After much discussion with my husband, we decided to feed our children a diet of only meats, low-carb vegetables, low-sugar fruits, and water.  No grains, sweets, juices, potatoes, breads, or starches.

 

And wow.  I don’t think either of us really knew what we were signing ourselves up for.

 

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What they ate as infants/babies

 

Raising low-carb kids was simplest when they were first born, mostly because no one else really attempts to feed other people’s infants. For their first six months, both of our babies were breastfed, without cereal supplements or any additional food. I didn’t worry about keeping sugar or carbs from them, and I didn’t have to worry about someone tossing a lollipop into their bottles. Nutritionally, the ball was completely in my court.

 

The real challenge began when they were about six months of age, and they each became interested in table foods. We started out giving them a mix of solid and mushy foods.  I continued breastfeeding them, but we also gave them their first food: meat.

 

Even though meat is not a traditional “first food” for babies in America, it’s very common in many countries around the world to start children off this way. It’s worth pointing out that meat is one of the least allergenic and most digestible foods.

 

We would let Thomas pick up a chicken leg or burger patty and gum it.  Or I would cook a fatty roast in the crock-pot and then purée it in a food processor to spoon-feed to Julia. Voila! Instant beef baby food.

 

 

 

I introduced low-carb pureed vegetables a couple of weeks later, when I felt that they had developed a healthy taste for proteins and fats. And though I would usually add some form of fat to the veggies (green beans with bacon fat, or carrots with butter), the kids quickly found that they loved vegetables, too, especially green beans, zucchini, mushrooms, onions, olives, and carrots.  My kids have both been known to squeal at the sight of beets.  Seriously.  Beets.

 

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What they eat now as toddlers

 

Now that they’re both sitting in booster seats at the table, putting a low-carb meal on their plates is basically like feeding a [short] low-carb adult. Truth be told, they could probably out-eat most adults.

 

Here’s a standard breakfast selection for our children: eggs, bacon, sausage, fruit or tomatoes, and unsweetened, high-fat Greek yogurt.

 

Low-carb snacking on-the-go was something else I had to figure out.  Because they eat such huge and filling meals, they don’t snack a lot, but when they do, they eat things like pepperoni, nuts, summer sausage, carrot sticks, pork rinds, and granny smith apples.

 

If we go out to eat, I order them a meat (steak, bun-less burger, beef tips, pork chop, chicken wings, chicken salad, or roast beef with melted cheese on top), and some vegetables.  Going out to eat with them is still difficult, but only because they’re two and three years old and have the patience of a gnat when it comes to waiting for food.  They may have come by that honestly, though.

 

They only drink water, which they both LOVE.  They’ve never tasted juice, so they don’t ask for it.  They’ve also never tasted cow’s milk (other than unsweetened heavy whipping cream), but they do get dairy in the form of cheese and Greek yogurt. Also, Julia has a great love for seltzer water. (She has her daddy’s face, but is definitely my child.)

 

Their most favorite treat (aside from a juicy steak) is fruit.  I mostly stick to lower-sugar fruits like granny smith apples, honeydew melon, watermelon, and cantaloupe.  I can get Thomas to do ANYTHING for a grape.

 

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The world is a sugar minefield.

 

As they are getting older, things are becoming markedly trickier.  For instance, our choices in child care providers and preschools have been based in part upon who will allow us to pack our own lunches and snacks.  And when my kids are invited to a birthday party, I bake them a cake without flour or sweeteners (recipe coming soon) to make sure they don’t feel left out.  In case there is ever a party at my kids’ school, I always have an extra special (though still low-carb and sugar-free) bag of snacks in their backpack.

 

One thing I didn’t anticipate was how easy it would be to tell my children that they can’t have sugar and sweets.  I haven’t had to turn them down, because they’ve never even asked me for sweets.  They don’t even like the smell of baked goods or sugary foods. They truly have NO sweet tooth whatsoever and have no desire for anything other than meats, vegetables, and fruit.   I don’t think they’d like the taste of candy even if I gave it to them.

 

And what a difference it makes in their behavior! They are incredibly calm, good kids with a great demeanor.  But, WOW. Ingesting even the slightest bit of sugar can quickly change that. Because the only sugary thing they’ve ever been exposed to is prescription medicine, it’s easy for me to see the instant decline when sugar enters their systems.  Do you know how many common medicines have sugar and sweeteners in them? Most all of them.  And when it comes to my kids, the end result is melee. It’s not pretty.

 

If I can spare my children from a lifetime of negative effects from sugars and carb addiction, I will be thrilled.  If I can help keep their blood sugar stable and allow them to feel the calmness and happiness that I have experienced over the past five years, I will consider myself successful.

 

I should mention that there is one side effect that has been completely unexpected.  Due to their diets being so different from most (all?) other kids that we know, I can already tell that Julia and Thomas realize that it’s completely okay to think outside of the box and go “against the grain,” if you will.  They’re finding out at an early age that it’s fine to be “different.”

 

And I’m definitely okay with that.  Because, let’s face it:  Aren’t we all?

 

 

 

 

20 Responses

  1. Wonderful blog! Your story is very inspiring. Your kids are adorable! Thank you for sharing!

  2. Awesome blog! My wife and I have already decided that when we start trying, we are not changing a THING! We’re going to stay as low carb as possible, and so will our child. We haven’t had more than 15g/day for the last year and its a completely different world without sugar. I would never want my child to experience the horrors of that addiction! It’s going to be interesting how friends and family react, though. A lot of them are very against this diet and keep telling us that it’s dangerous. Of course, we know the truth but they sure are going to try hard to get us to eat “normal” when we finally are pregnant… I can even imagine the flip-out that is going to happen when our baby starts eating real foods and is not allowed to have bread or veggies.

  3. This is awesome! I wish I had had the guts to even go low carb while pregnant. My baby is five months now. I’ve been low carbing it for two months and nursing her low carbing it. I want to no carb it now! and I want to raise her on no sugar! These are just awesome tips on how to proceed

  4. I read your whole blog this evening and really enjoyed it, keep up the great work!
    I find eating alongside work colleagues the worst, so I am looking forward to hearing more about how you deal with eating in front of others, family events, work outings, etc.
    From Ciara in Ireland

  5. You are so smart. It made me nuts 15 years ago when my teens were toddlers and parents at every play group or park had some carbage they insisted on sharing. It was like a blanket law had been passed that snacking was now mandatory regardless of what meals you ate. We weren’t low carb at the time (I’m still working on them now, you are smart to have started so early), but I still fed them protein-filled breakfasts and lunches, and yet they were pining for the cheerios and juice boxes the other kids had. Don’t even get me started on the snark from the moms, oy– if I wanted my kids to spend the day grazing, we would stay home. We are not required to have a car full of crushed cereal bits and sticky places.

    Your kids seem to be developing correct palate size for adult teeth to come in—lack of fat inhibits this = $$ for the orthodontist. Well done.

  6. Your kids don’t know how LUCKY they are! Bravo!!!

  7. Love this. I’ve been low carb for years. It’s helped me keep off the 80+pounds I gained. But I’m addicted to artificial sweeteners. I’m giving this a go. Breaking out of that cycle. Thank you for sharing.

  8. […] My children aren’t quite zero-carb, but they eat a very low-carb diet. They eat mostly meat, eggs, and cheese, but also have some low-carb vegetables and some granny-smith apples as a treat.  Keeping grains, sugars, starches, and “junk” away from kids is hard. Really hard. But at age three, my daughter wouldn’t take bread or candy if you offered it to her.  She politely says “no thanks” and can fluently explain that sugar and bread would make her feel sick. My kids have never tasted a piece of bread, a cracker, a piece of candy, or even a sweet piece of fruit, such as pineapple. They’ve never had a cookie. They have no sweet tooth at all and eat meat and vegetables quite happily!  They are wonderful eaters and LOVE their low-carb meals. They get excited for every single meal! They don’t feel deprived in the least. (Note: For more information on raising children on low-to-no carbohydrates, please read Kelly’s blod post: Keeping Our Kids Off the Sugar Teet.) […]

  9. I feed my kids (two toddler boys, currently) very similar to yours. They eat meats, cheeses, eggs, plain full-fat Greek yogurt, nuts, apples, berries…but my older (turning 3 in a few days) still asks for candy, donuts, etc., because he sees them at parties, in shows, etc. And he’s starting preschool soon where they follow state and federal requirements for “healthy” snacks, meaning grains and juice. I’m kind of terrified about this, but I grew up as a social outcast because of my weight, and I can’t help but worry singling my kids out with dietary differences so drastic from their peers could potentially make them social outcasts as well. The older they get, the bigger the struggle. I wish my experience was like yours, that my kids didn’t mind being different or didn’t want or like sweets, but that’s not the case for us.

  10. Kelly,

    I have 2 toddlers and one more due any day….I do my best to do exactly what you are doing and I think I am mostly there but it is difficult as my wife sort of “gets it” which means she really doesn’t…..I do occasionally feed them and myself raw milk I have access to which I find amazing. I am definitely lactose intolerant and milk protein sensitive but with fresh raw milk I have none of these issues so I think there is something to it….the issue for people if finding a clean source and handling it properly. My kids love meats of all kind, including organ meats and skin and connective tissue like tripe and hooves etc. One of their favorite is Menudo con Pata sin Grano (tripe soup with hoove without hominy) and my daughter prefers her liver raw when I make it…..but they do like sweets and it is a constant battle….keep posting!

    • jamesdhogan

      Kel’s husband James here… wow! Sounds like you’re eating from a pretty wild palette.

      • Hi James/Kelly!
        Not wild at all but very traditional dishes from various cultures…not your standard American stuff…”Whole Animal Eating”is what I call it….you can listen to a podcast with me here : http://ptrt.us/a/eMKqu4fW . FYI, I use the term evolution for the science but no mater where a person is on the spectrum between intelligent design/creationism to a hard core evolution the model of humans that I speak of using the term evolution fits….I just have to stick to a science based approach to be taken seriously. Since you are in education I assume you “get” this. Keep up the great work!

  11. You are the best mom ever. After me.

  12. Just read your zero carb pregnancy post and this one. I did low carb for a bit of my pregnancy and hope to do a better job this time round 😉
    I breast fed my son and then weaned him onto liver, eggs (homegrown), fish, fisheggs, meat, veg and cheese with the odd bit of fruit. He has thrived! The doctors were worried because they’d not seen him on his first year and a bit – I had to explain that he’d never been ill!
    Now he’s a toddler he eats more carbs. Family members are not against me, but not fully onboard, so he get the odd splash of fruit juice, cracker, biscuit, pinch of chocolate here and there. It’s an uphill struggle for me, so I congratulate myself for any day that I know he’s had proper lchf. I hope that a couple of small things in a day don’t do the same harm to him that a bowl of cereal, sandwiches, followed by pasta for dinner with sweets on the side did to me. I think this compromise will be ok; it’s the best I can do.
    But wanted to say thank you for posting your experience, inspirational to hear how it CAN be done. I look forward to reading more of your posts.

  13. Hi Kelly

    I have read all your posts and really enjoyed them. I started my low carb life few weeks ago. Reading your posts and comments have helped me to understand this lifestyle and helped me to stick to it with confidence that I am doing the right thing. I want to do this long term and not only for weight loss. I find it amazing how easy it was for me to give up sugar and high carb foods. I used to be a sugar addict. Hopefully it will stay like this.
    In Keeping Our Kids Off the Sugar Teet you wrote about what your children have for breakfast, snacks and when you eat out. Could you also give some examples of their lunches and dinners?

    Thank you. Looking forward to your next post.

    • jamesdhogan

      Kel’s husband James here–thanks for your comments!

      Regarding lunches and dinners, there are lots of things the kiddos enjoy: most any kind of meat course is always welcome, including beef, chicken, and pork (carb-free, of course). But they also enjoy fresh, non-starchy vegetables, like carrots, zucchini, squash, onions, coleslaw, green beans, and even sweet potatoes.

  14. I’m currently nursing a new born and love eating low carb (around 20 g net carbs a day) but I’m facing a lot of pressure to eat at least 50 g (even 100 g!).

    My intuition tells me that eating low carb is fine while nursing as many primitive peoples must have ate that way and nursed their babies.

    What is your experience with zero carb and milk supply and weight gain in your babies? So far I notice no decrease in milk supply and my baby (5 weeks now) seems satisfied.

    There is quite a bit of anecdotal evidence online that eating very low carb decreases milk supply.

    I’m also not limiting calories, I eat 2300-2500 kcal a day with Macro ratios of 70-75% fat 20% protein and 5% carb.

  15. Hi Kelly, I recently found your blog and am feeling very inspired… But like you I have the biggest sweet tooth ever! I love meat. I could easily live off of steak, burgers and colby jack cheese no problem…… But then the sweet tooth chimes in… I know that carbs affect how I feel….I can feel the crash, and veggies kill my stomach, I won’t touch them other than when I’m attempting to follow some diet that says I have to eat them….It never works. But I am an instant gratification type and I know that I won’t be able to maintain my will power if I don’t see quick results…. I have been going back and forth between calorie cutting and binging for a long time. So I’m sure I’m a little out of whack, but realistically when can I expect to see the scale move? Like you, I weigh myself daily.

    Also, please can we have the zero carb cake recipe? I’m just like you and Jell-O I need a way to ween me off as opposed to cold turkey….

  16. Hi. I found your blog googling a 2 day meat, egg, and cheese diet my mother told me she heard about to curve “carb addiction” before starting a healthy low carb diet. You know, to have self control and descipline in case one is at a party or someone offers some loaded carb meal. I too have been unsuccessful with other diets and feel that no carbs is easier then low carb. I’m intrigued that you have done this diet for so long and that it’s worked so well. I just started today. I’m a little worried about something my mother mentioned to me when I told her I was going to stay on this diet. She said its not healthy to be on a meat, cheese and egg diet for too long because it can cause kidney damage. What are your thoughts and experience on this? Thanks 🙂

  17. Also osteoporosis

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