The most popular way of eating today, with or without keto, might be intermittent fasting. Essentially, intermittent fasting is going through longer fasting states with the goal of losing weight.
One question that is being asked very often from people who practice Intermittent Fasting is whether or not their kids and teens can or should do fasting with them. After all, teaching our children about healthy living is important and will help them carry that behavior into adulthood.
Is it appropriate for kids and teens?
Intermittent fasting is not recommended for kids or teens because they are experiencing periods of rapid growth. Furthermore, there have been no studies regarding fasting in children.
Children do not need to follow intermittent fasting. They have smaller stomachs than an adult and therefore eating 3 meals per day is better suited for them. Keep in mind that the growth rate of children and teens demands a LOT of fuel to keep up with those demands. And if they play sports that demand become even higher.
That does not mean they need to continue to graze or snack all day long either! It is no problem for your child to skip breakfast if he/she is not hungry. If his/her body is refusing food, there is no reason to force it in. The problem arises when people skip breakfast and use that as an excuse to eat a donut at 10:30.
One of the world’s leading experts on Intermittent Fasting, Dr. Jason Fung stated “I don’t generally recommend extended fasting because children are still growing and there is a risk of malnutrition. The main components of good nutrition are not fasting, but instead: 1. There is no need to eat snacks; 2. Eat real food; 3. Decrease added sugars severely.”
Also, while intermittent fasting is not recommended for kids and teens, children should also not participate in any other types of extended fasting, water fasts, etc.
So what can they do instead?
An intentional approach to eating is recommended for kids and teens. Follow these tips for helping your child manage a healthy weight using the keto/low-carb way of life and setting macros that are appropriate for that child (again, much like fasting, macros for kids and teens are not the same as an adult).
- Plan your family’s meal and snack times throughout the day to help manage hunger and achieve portion control
- Consume nutrient dense foods that the keto and low0carb way of life has to offer
- Cut back on processed and fast foods, home cooked meals are best
- Mindful eating is also key to promoting a healthy relationship with food, if they are not hungry enough to finish a meal do not force them to clean their plates
- Take the time to eat at the table as a family
- Get your kids and teens physically active, this is a vital step for your child’s development and helps reduce weight and obesity, increases strength in muscles and can improve concentration at school