Food Choices

Before we talk about what you should avoid, let’s talk about what you can eat. You can eat as much as you want: meat, fish, eggs, poultry, vegetables (I prefer those that grow above ground), butter/whole milk/heavy creamer, olive oil, coconut oil and some fruit.  You are going to eat REAL food and make delicious recipes that are endless. You can eat as much as you want, you do not have to limit portions. You do not have to feel hungry!  Look here for more information on how to get started with LCHF.  The majority of the parents in my office want quick snack ideas as well as regular recipes. Here are MY favorite cookbooks. But once you know what you CAN eat and should avoid, you will be able to find thousands of great recipes on the web or in the bookstore as well. People who are eating LCHF are eager to share the good news! With the kids, if you are on the go after school driving to practices, games and recitals, plan ahead. Bring a small cooler with your healthy REAL food.  Or think ahead to where you can stop at a grocery store.

After you’ve reviewed the foods that are allowed in abundance, as well as glancing at the recipes, go over foods that absolutely should be avoided. They should be avoided to prevent weight problems, behavior problems and other long-term health problems in children (and adults!)  Some of these items might surprise you, but remember, we are interested in eliminating refined wheat and corn, as well as sugar.  In some people, those who have a BMI over 95%, strict avoidance should be instituted.  If you are interested in finding your optimum health as a human being, strict avoidance should be instituted.  At the very least, you need to cut down on your consumption of these foods. After a few practice shopping trips, you will have this list memorized.

I know, I know.  I can already hear you.  My child lives off of this stuff!  He/she won’t eat anything else!   My answer to that is, yes he/she will!  Kids are smart.  They know that when mom or dad gives them an item they don’t PREFER, they only have to voice opposition and MOST OF THE TIME, they will get what they want (usually off the list below).  As parents, we really are overly concerned about children not eating enough.  I remind parents that we are in a country where obesity and all of the problems related to it, are increasing in prevalence.  I remind them that the food we eat today is NOT the same food that you and I grew up with.  So, to that end, when your child refuses food from the LCHF food list, show them you mean business.  I PROMISE you that when they are hungry, they will eat.

In addition, I think, as parents, we tend to worry too much about the VARIETY in our kids diets. I counsel parents that if their child has only a few select healthy items that they eat, that is fine! This is not the time to go reaching for items that should be avoided. Our bodies are designed to live and thrive off of a smaller selection of healthy foods. You can continue to OFFER healthy items from the LCHF diet. My experience has been that children will gradually start to add foods that they enjoy to their normal regimen.

Be consistent with your message.   If it takes removing all of the food from your house, please do so. I’ve had many parents do this and it works.  Remember that you are the parent, not the pal (you can be the pal in other ways).  You are teaching your child good eating habits that will lend itself to a lifetime of optimum health.  This list comes from a handout I give to my patients in the office:

1. Bread. Yes, Bread.  Not only are we talking about refined wheat, but there is HFCS in much of the bread we eat.  Two slices of bread made from modern wheat (including whole wheat) raises the blood sugar more then 2 tbsps of table sugar. If you must eat bread, get the “Ezekial 4:9″ bread in the frozen section at the grocery store.  It has a much lower glycemic index.  Even then, I would limit to 2 slices daily. Instead of bread, substitute large lettuce leaves as the outside part of sandwiches and hamburgers

2. Boxed cereal.  Sorry.  I’ve tried to find a boxed cereal that I like and I can’t find one.  It doesn’t exist.  If you MUST have cereal then use REAL Oatmeal (put fruit or cinnamon on it).  But make the child eat a good source of protein/dietary fat FIRST (eggs, sausage, bacon, leftover chicken from the night before, etc.)

3. Idaho Potato.  This is too starchy.  The glycemic index is too high.  It is man-made in that it has been selectively bred.  I recommend sweet potatoes.  Despite the name, it has a much lower glycemic index and is truly paleo.  Make homemade fries with sweet potato.  We do this all the time.

4. Pasta.  Again, sorry.  Even the “whole wheat” pasta. Remember what Dr Davis says about “whole wheat.”  When going from regular wheat to whole wheat, he likens it to using filtered cigarettes instead of unfiltered.  The glycemic index is way too high.  It raises the blood sugar levels as much as table sugar.

5. Tortillas. (see bread)

6. Rice. Too starchy. Yes, people in Asia eat this, but they eat much less then you think.  Their total glycemic load (a concept that uses glycemic index but factors in the amount of the food) is much, much lower.  They eat protein and fat too.

7. Fried food with breading. (see bread)

8. Canned Fruit. Often has HFCS in it. Use frozen or fresh only. Canned veggies are usually ok.

9. Sugared yogurts. Anything except plain has way too much sugar. They do this to make it taste good so you will buy more. Instead, buy plain Greek yogurt (higher in protein). Use sugarfree jelly or berries in it.

10. Store-bought soup. Again, I’ve tried to find one I like but can’t. Loaded with starch. Usually has wheat as well. Make your own using a paleo recipe.

11. Packaged baked goods, convenient foods.  This one may seem obvious, but it’s important to remember nonetheless. Other obvious items with sugar and HFCS (twinkies, chewy granola bars, etc.)

12. Crackers/Pretzels/Chips. See notes above on Bread

13. Pizza.  The crust is the problem. You can eat just the cheese and toppings if you want!

14. Drinks with sugar or HFCS. Not just soda pop. Many of my patients think sports drinks are ok, but these are loaded with sugar. Zero calorie drinks if you must.

15. Juice. Even orange juice and apple juice. There is just too much sugar. Especially when you consider most of our kids are getting the previous 14 items on a regular basis as well. Juice just increases the glycemic load that much more. Stick with water, milk, unsweet tea, or zero calories drinks.

16. Chocolate Milk. I give this its own special category because many people think it is OK! It is not!! I would rather they drink no milk than chocolate milk. Unfortunately, chocolate milk is even included on the terrible, disastrous USDA Food Plate and that leads people to believe it is acceptable. I REPEAT, NO CHOCOLATE MILK! Cocoa powder in whole milk is a great idea. We also use whey protein mix. Should only have 1 gram of carb per serving. Sometimes needs a small blender or hand mixer.

17. Ice Cream. Too much sugar. It too, is on the Food Plate! That is crazy!

Tip: I shop the outside part of the store: Meat, fruits, veggies, eggs, dairy, plain yogurt, cheese, butter. Stay out of the aisles. The only food I buy in the aisles: nuts (except peanuts), tomato sauce, tuna fish (or similar), canned veggies, frozen fruit/veggies, frozen chicken wings (lime flavored or plain), almond butter, olive oil/coconut oil, spices, bottled water, unsweetened iced tea, ketchup, mustard, mayo, low carb salad dressing (usually ranch), beef or chicken stock, dill pickle

Note: If you look in some of the paleo cookbooks like Make It Paleo and Paleo Comfort Foods they use coconut flour and almond flour.  If you must use flour, go with one of these.  To be honest, I don’t have a great feel yet whether these flours can be use on a daily basis or not.  But I think they are fine to try on a semi-regular basis (not every day). They are a bit more expensive.


  1. Melissa says:

    Thanks! I’ll look into it. It’s hard, with so much information out there, to know which ones to discard and which ones to pay attention to.

  2. Sweet Potato Fries. Still a higher carb food, though, correct? What’s a serving like for those?

    • It is one of the better root veggies. I think the Net Carb for 1 sweet potato baked is around 24 (compared to a baked potato which is 35-40). However, regarding blood sugar spikes, most people have much better luck with it. I know that was the case for me. I include as an option for home made fries. For my most carb sensitive kids (based on BMI and rate of BMI change), I leave it out.

  3. On chocolate milk – primarily bad because of the added sugar, right? Could one mix cocoa powder and milk and come away okay? (Not that I’ve tried – yet!)

  4. What would be a good suggestion to replace the sandwich in the kids’ lunch? I don’t know if the lettuce leaf option with lunch meat would go over that well so I am looking for some other options.


  5. Just to be clear – I was thinking of school lunches.

  6. I would buy the book “Eat Like a Dinosaur” by The Paleo Parents. Chapter 8 is all about how to pack school lunches and I think it is wonderful. There is a link to the book in my cookbook section.

  7. I’ve also just used sliced cheese as the outside part of the sandwich (deli meat without the condiment)

  8. What about those of us who have a tree nut allergy? Makes it hard to follow some of the food lifestyles. So far peanuts are ok. I have a lot of allergies and think the more processed foods I eat, the worse it gets. I have been doing a lot of research but it’s the one wall I hit…tree nuts…love them but break out in hives when i eat them. To be clear, I also have “year round allergies ” to trees, grass, mold, animals dust…and so much more. My allergy nurse said my reactions to the tests were pretty severe, outside of anaphylaxis, and that in Europe they are rare allergies because of the ban on GMO’S. Anyway, do you have any suggestions for substitutes? Also, is there a “safe” sugar substitute to use?

    • Depending on your carbohydrate sensitivity, you can eat nuts/peanuts. Obviously, if you have allergies to any food, that should be avoided. Peanuts are technically a legume, so in the most carbohydrate sensitive people, you will have better success if you avoid these as well. Here is a recent DietDoctor post on nuts: With regards to a “sugar” substitute, safety is a relative term. The science implicating sugar substitutes as cancerous has been debunked. However, there is some evidence that these products do inhibit ketogenesis (remember, ketones are good). How that works exactly – we are unsure.


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