A healthy balanced eating plan for your kids might be easier to achieve than you think
When it comes to healthy eating, nothing is more important than the food you give to your kids. The Banting eating plan from Tim Noakes has received a lot of mixed reviews recently, but in fact, encouraging your kids to follow the Banting diet might be the best thing you can do for them. Here Tamzyn Elizabeth Campbell, registered dietician and nutrition expert at
– South Africa¹s specialist health, wellness and fitness etailer – shares her thoughts on the subject.
Understand the real meaning of a healthy eating plan
The argument for Banting is that a Œhealthy balanced eating plan¹ which includes lots of starches and grains, some sugar and limits fat, is based on incorrect science,² explains Campbell. ³If this is true, and the evidence indicates that it may be, then what we previously defined as a Œhealthy balanced eating plan¹ may not be as healthy or balanced as we thought.
While Banting eating plans always exclude grains and added sugar and encourage eating more fat and lots of vegetables, the level of carbohydrate restriction can vary. Some people, drastically restrict their carbohydrate consumption to less than 60g per day, which means excluding fruit, legumes, starchy vegetables (e.g. butternut), and limiting nuts and seeds to 2 tablespoons, and dairy to 1 cup of full cream milk or yoghurt daily.
So what does below 60g look like? Not more than 1 fruit (no grapes or bananas which are very high in sugar), 2 table spoons of nuts daily, 1 cup full cream yoghurt or milk.
While others are able to reap all the benefits they desire from Banting while eating up to 120g of carbohydrate daily. The more insulin resistant or overweight a person is, the more likely they are to benefit from more strict carbohydrate restriction.
We know that the less strict form of Banting doesn¹t pose health risks for kids (though the more strict form has been safely used to treat epileptic kids for over a century) and ensures that unhealthy foods (e.g. added sugar, processed food, refined carbohydrates) are excluded from the diet. I think that the question about whether Banting is or isn¹t a good idea for kids should only come in when carbohydrate consumption is reduced to below 60g per day.
Kids who are a little bigger than others
Although very little research has been done on Banting for kids, a few studies have shown that overweight children and teens (aged 6 to 18) who follow a Banting diet containing less than 60g of carbs each day successfully lose weight, without negatively affecting the levels of fat and cholesterol in their blood, says Campbell. In fact, research reports show that reducing dietary carbohydrate is thought to be a possible treatment for insulin resistance in kids and teens. So, children and teens who are overweight and insulin resistant may benefit most from Banting. Restricting carbohydrates to below 60g per day in children for combatting overweight and insulin resistance should only be done under the guidance of a knowledgeable dietician or medical doctor.
The majority of children would likely benefit from the major tenets of Banting: cutting out processed food, added sugar and refined grains (and possibly even all grains), and eating more vegetables and healthy fats. However, in the majority of children I wouldn’t recommend limiting starchy vegetables, well-cooked legumes, nuts, seeds, fruit or dairy.
Is it ever too early to start the Banting diet? Campbell believes that if you’re simply cutting out added sugar and grains then children could start from 6 months of age. However, if carbohydrates are more strictly restricted then it’s prudent to only do so from 6 years of age (as the age that the studies have looked at), under the guidance of a dietician or medical doctor, she says.
When to tread with caution
A few children have certain genetic conditions that cause extremely high blood cholesterol levels in response to eating a high fat diet. These children shouldn¹t Bant, admits Campbell. Luckily, although it sounds very scientific, it’s easy for parents to work out if their children are susceptible. These genetic conditions run in families, so if other family members can¹t tolerate a high fat diet, then I¹d recommend treading with caution when deciding whether or not to Bant, and visiting a medical doctor before increasing the child¹s dietary fat intake, she says.
It’s all about flavour
Even at the best of times, it can be difficult to get kids to eat their vegetables, but there are a few things you can try to up the success rate. Adding butter, cream and cheese to savoury dishes usually makes them much tastier and olive oil and coconut cream can also help with this,² she says. Campbell also suggests experimenting with herbs for flavour and when sweetness is required or desired, sweeten with Stevia or Xylitol (in moderation).
Sports stars in the making
For some kids, their entire school week is filled up with sporting events and logic would say that they need extra carbohydrates to give them enough energy. Campbell believes that children who eat very low carb high fat diets may find that their bodies can tap into their fat stores to fuel their sports activities – meaning that they don’t need to eat additional carbs before, during or after a practice or sporting event. If your child finds that he or she Œhits a wall within the first 15 minutes of practice, then it indicates that the body isn’t tapping into the fat stores to fuel their exercise. In these cases I’d suggest they eat a piece of fruit 15 minutes before a sporting event, a small banana and
pure whey protein shake
or plain yoghurt with a drizzle of honey straight after a practice or event, she adds.
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Supplementing the correct way
Does Banting and supplementation go hand in hand? The good news is, provided that your child consumes three portions of dairy daily and eats enough vegetables, supplementation shouldn’t be any more necessary on this diet than with any other. I don¹t suggest being restrictive about your child¹s dense vegetable, fruit and nut consumption. But excluding starches (grains) and added sugar from your child’s diet shouldn’t pose any health risk and will likely come with a host of benefits, says Campbell. Having said that, due to the reduced nutrient content of modern foods, it may be prudent to supplement your child with a comprehensive multivitamin and mineral, no matter what diet he or she eats. If your child eats less than 2-3 servings of fatty fish each week, then I¹d recommend a fish oil omega-3 supplement. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that all children supplement with vitamin D and calcium is also recommended. However, If the Banting diet your child is on is very carbohydrate restrictive then a multivitamin and mineral, as well as calcium is recommended concludes Campbell.
This is is a syndicated post. Read the original at spice4life.co.za