Guest post by Diana Lehner-Gulotta, RDN, CNSC
Ketogenic & Neurology Dietitian at University of Virginia Health System
It’s no secret that keto foods look a little different, and many parents are [understandably] worried their child will feel isolated as a result. The key to ensuring this doesn’t happen is pretty simple – inclusion! Read on for some tips on making your child’s eating patterns as “normal” as possible.
We have found there are two useful ways to select meals for your keto kid that will ensure they feel included:
(1) Prepare a keto-friendly meal that is similar to what the rest of the family is having. You can work with your dietitian to create keto versions of family favorites!
(2) Let you child choose what they want to eat from their list of approved meals. This gives your child a sense of autonomy with a diet that they otherwise have very little control over.
Make your child feel special instead of different! For example, you might look at your child’s meal and say, “Wow that looks delicious, I wish I could have some!”
Consider cutting back on your family’s consumption of desserts, sodas, chips, etc. Not only will this decrease temptation for your keto kid, but it will improve your family’s health! We’re not saying you need to deprive yourself or your other children of the occasional milkshake or bag of chips, but do these things need to be part of everyday life? Having your child on the ketogenic diet might be just what your family needs to make some dietary changes for the better!
Plan ahead to prepare a keto treat for sweet-heavy events such as birthday parties or classroom celebrations. If sweets are used as rewards at school (although this practice is discouraged due to the growing obesity epidemic!), provide non-food rewards for the teacher to give your child such as erasers, stickers, or pencils.
Think of “normal” nicknames for keto foods such as the following:
- Liquid heavy cream = milk
- Whipped heavy cream = pudding or yogurt
- Fat bombs = truffles or candy
Watch your language when talking about the diet! Pitying statements like, “I’m so sorry you can’t have pizza! I know it’s hard,” will create negative associations with the diet and may actually make things worse.
One word of caution – while we want our keto kids to feel included, it is important that they learn not to share their food with or accept food from others. It may be helpful to treat the diet like a food allergy, as there are many great books out there for explaining allergies to children.