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Is The Keto Diet Safe For Kids? Here's What An Expert Says

The keto diet is a weight loss method that is currently trending. While it started off as a recommended diet for patients with epilepsy, it’s recently become a popular method to shed weight fast in a way that doesn’t require you to count calories. Plus, you're allowed to eat the decadent things you love like bacon and cheese!

Doctors advise that the keto diet seems to be an okay method to lose weight over the short term. However, there's still much to be learned about the long-term effects that it has on the body. It's why doctors are hesitant to recommend it to patients and weight loss hopefuls for the long-term. If you have a child that struggles with their weight, you may have wondered whether or not it's safe to put them on the keto diet. The overall belief among medical professionals is that the answer is no for various reasons.

The keto diet is one that consists of high fat intake combined with extremely low carbohydrates and moderate levels of protein. This mix of carbs, proteins and fat causes your body to think that it's in starvation mode and sends it into ketosis, which is what happens when the body doesn't have enough carbohydrates. When your body doesn’t have to spend its time burning the glucose that carbs break down into, it starts to burn fat instead. Because of this, people that follow the keto diet drop weight very fast.

The fact that the keto diet is so carb restrictive is the main reason that it isn’t recommended for kids. A healthy and well-balanced diet for a child means eating about 130 grams of carbohydrates a day, which makes up approximately 45 to 65 percent of their caloric intake. In order to send your body into ketosis, followers of the keto diet are restricted to under 30 carbs a day. This means that even most fruits are prohibited, and those that can be eaten can only be consumed in small quantities.

Limiting carbs can have side effects like feeling lethargic, fatigued and/or irritable, which could impede the mental and physical development of your child. The keto diet can also cause health issues like high cholesterol, weak bones, and kidney stones. It also has some other side effects like constipation, diarrhea, nausea, and vomiting- all of which no parent wants their child to experience. All of these negative potential side effects considered, the keto diet may do more harm than good to your child.

via Sarasota Magazine

The keto diet has also been questioned because of its long-term sustainability. Even if your child saw success, if they aren’t taught healthy eating habits, they stand the risk of gaining the weight back as soon as they stop following this diet. Since the 1920s- back when the keto diet was first used to treat epilepsy- many medicines have been developed that help to regulate the disease. But it's possible that if your child suffers from epileptic seizures that your doctor may recommend that your child follow this diet. Aside from special medical conditions, most medical experts advise against it when it comes to children.

If you're looking for ways to help your child to lose weight and eat healthily, the first thing that you can do as a parent is to start with your own diet. Children pay more attention to what we do than to what we say. If you have good eating habits, chances are that your child will, too. If you have bad eating habits, then it'll be very hard to encourage them to eat well while they watch you munching on cookies. Whether your child is overweight or not, parents should focus on feeding their children a well-balanced diet that consists of appropriate proportions of all food groups for their age.

Parents are discouraged from feeding their kids too many processed foods, or foods with added sugars. Instead, give them plenty of water to drink as opposed to sugary, sweetened drinks. Kids snack often- sometimes more than proper meals- and helping your kids develop a taste for nutritious snacks over junk food will go a long way in helping them make long term healthy food decisions. Things like chips, sodas, and candy are okay- but only occasionally and in moderation.

Lastly, parents should help their children to get out of the house and enjoy themselves. Rather than plopping your kids in front of the TV, family activities that involve them getting fresh air and running around will help them expend energy. As they grow older, you can enroll them in different sports programs that'll help them to fall in love with fitness, stay active and get them on the right track to regularly incorporating exercise into their lives as adults.

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