For most of our children, tomorrow marks the beginning of a new school year. Unfortunately, the vast majority of school lunches are fast-carb loaded. If you choose school-provided lunches your child won’t be able to avoid refined sugar, wheat and corn. So make an extremely important decision about your child’s health and pack a lunch. If you are not sure what to pack, simply google “Paleo lunches” and you will get some wonderful ideas. You can use brown bags or traditional lunch boxes. I find it more convenient to use compartmentalized lunch boxes such as Goodbyn or bento boxes from Lap Top Lunch. Cool Gear makes an inexpensive collapsible bento box with cool pack. Have the ingredients prepared and ready to go on Sunday evening before your week starts. Changing your mindset on school lunches is an extremely important decision when it comes to building a foundation of wellness for your children!
When I discuss nutrition and weight management with my patients and their parents, I am always careful to discuss how to measure progress. Remember, children are continually growing with regards to both height and weight. Also, peak muscle/bone mass is achieved after puberty. All of these factors make it tricky when your child steps on the scale and you are trying to decide if the number is acceptable or not. In fact, “weight,” is essentially a meaningless number. Remember the term “density.” That is more important. Fat is less dense than muscle. Body Mass Index, or BMI, as a measurement, is a better tool in tracking your child’s health. Although BMI is not perfect (it does not differentiate between muscle mass and fat mass,) this is what I use in the office. It is superior over “weight” as a tracking measurement. Especially if it is measured over a period of time – preferably over the course of 2-3 years to get a feel for the rate of change. BMI is much easier to calculate on an everyday basis now that we use computerized electronic health records.
At home, I believe waist circumference gives us the best measure for tracking progress in children. Waist circumference gives us a better idea as to how much fat is around our middle – also known as visceral fat. Renowned pediatric endocrinologist Dr. Robert Lustig discusses the importance of visceral fat in his new book “Fat Chance.” You can measure this informally by keeping track of pant waist size or belt size. You can also measure with a tape measure. On the Dietdoctor.com website, Dr. Eenfeldt recommends the best way to do this (see #4 – measure your progress). He states:
“Here’s how to do it:
Put the measuring tape around your middle, slightly above your belly button (to be exact: at the midpoint between your lowest rib and the top of your hipbone, at your side).
Exhale and relax (don’t suck in your stomach).
Make sure the measuring tape is snug, without compressing your skin.
You can remeasure every 3-4 weeks to monitor your change when using the LCHF approach.
When my teenage patients come back into the office for follow up visits, sometimes their weight has not changed on the scale. Occasionally this brings them to tears until I ask them what has happened to their belt size or waist size. If they have been following LCHF their waist will shrink. After they realize this, the tears stop and they understand their success. In the case of my pediatric patients, the lack of weight change may result from increasing height as well as a change in the muscle/fat composition. In the office, I can also show them how their BMI measurement has changed so they can see their wonderful results!
It’s always exciting for me when I speak with other low carb physicians and low carb parents. These are people who have a clear understanding of how our bodies are designed to be nourished and I know they are spreading the good news to others – including our children. What could be better than adults teaching kids how to eat properly? How about children teaching other children how to eat properly! Long time followers of my blog know that I am a big fan of Tom Naughton and his documentary /blog Fathead . Tom definitely understands the latest in nutritional science and does a wonderful job educating people in an entertaining fashion. Tom and his wife Chareva have two wonderful daughters, Sara and Alana, who have started making YouTube videos that are designed to teach other children about low carb eating. It’s called Fat Head Kids’ Club. I had a chance to watch the videos and I am really impressed. This is the kind of peer pressure I can wholeheartedly endorse! Great job! :-)
Here is a great recipe for CRUSTLESS QUICHE. It is quick and easy enough that your kids surely be able to help with preparation.
Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
1 1/2 cups of liquid ( any combination of whole milk, half and half, cream; we usually use 1 cup milk and 1/2 cup heavy whipping cream)
1 – 1 1/2 cups grated cheese ( use anything on hand or buy it pre grated; we usually use a combination of cheddar and Monterey Jack)
2 cups chopped vegetables ( onions, leeks, scallions, mushrooms, peppers, tomatoes, spinach, broccoli or any combination thereof)
1-3 teaspoons fresh chopped herbs (parsley, basil, chives)
salt and pepper to taste
Saute chopped vegetables (in butter or olive oil) until lightly browned, and then place in 9 inch pyrex pie plate.
(be sure to use a slotted spoon to transfer the veggies, too much liquid will make the quiche watery.)
Sprinkle the vegetables evenly with the grated cheese.
In a large measuring cup beat the eggs and then add the milk/cream, herbs, salt and pepper.
Pour over vegetables and cheese
Bake for 25-35 minutes. (Knife should come out clean when done)
Let stand for 10 -15 minutes to firm up a bit
Can be eaten hot or cold.
Variation: Cut up some pre cooked bacon or ham and saute along with vegetables.
This dish makes a highly nutritious breakfast, a filling after school snack, or served with a green salad, an easy dinner.
Beef snack sticks (i.e. “Slim Jims”) are an extremely popular quick snack in our house. They make me happy because of the (essentially) zero glycemic index and our kids really enjoy them. So I was pleased to find there are versions of this wonderful snack that are more paleo-friendly. In other words, no added synthetics, wheat, sugar, or HFCS. I ordered a box of “Chomps Beef Sticks” recently. We went through the box fairly quickly and I’ve started recommending these to patients now!
My wife and I have been big fans of Jimmy Moore since first meeting him on the 2012 Low Carb Cruise. His blog and podcast interviews are vital in facilitating online communication about low-carb nutrition. He is passionate and driven with regards to helping others achieve the health and well-being found in low carb living. A couple of weeks ago, I had the fortunate opportunity to record a podcast interview with Jimmy which was posted today. Thanks Jimmy!
OK low carb eaters, missing that baked potato? Here is a wonderful alternative. Take a few avocados and slice them length-wise and remove the pit. Then take your knife and slice 3 or 4 grooves in a grid-like pattern. Sprinkle some seasoning – whatever you like (I used a little salt and pepper). Lay on some of your favorite sliced or shredded cheese. Feel free to add other items such as bacon, egg, or green onion. Bake at 400 for 10-12 minutes and enjoy! I also topped with whole fat greek yogurt. Good stuff.
If you are looking for something new that might just knock your socks off, check out this recipe for cured salmon with dill and yogurt. I found it on the Fage website. As I mention in my food choices section, I prefer plain whole Greek yogurt because it contains plenty of healthy saturated fat as well as increased amounts of protein without the added sugar. Fage happens to provide this. With this particular recipe, you can leave out the sugar (which is what I did.) I also zested my first lemon – I knew I would get around to it someday :-). No, I have not given it to the kids yet, but if they don’t like it that means more for me!
As parents, we have all struggled when it comes to feeding our children healthy food. Certainly, there are children who simply need to be reminded who is in charge – you!! Removing refined sugar, wheat and corn from your home is an excellent start. This will help to accomplish two things. First, your child will not be watching other members of the household (siblings, parents, etc.) eating the junk food. This will help YOU to set a good example. Remember, they watch everything you do! Second, when your child refuses to eat the REAL food you have prepared, you won’t be tempted to cave-in and feed them junk food.
Also, remember, there are children (particularly toddler-age and preschool) who will have varying appetites at any given meal and sometimes during a given day. Some children will eat 2 bites at one meal and devour the next. This is a normal feeding pattern for many children. If your child tends to eat this way and he/she is growing at a normal rate, be patient and avoid a power struggle when he/she has a poor appetite.
Food generally tastes good for one of two reasons. Either it is extremely sweet (often the items we are trying to avoid) or there is healthy dietary fat (saturated and monounsaturated) in the food. This is why cheese with butter or berries with heavy whipping cream taste good! Be sure to look at the low carb/paleo recipe books for ideas on this.
Two of my recent favorites, are Kate Evans Scott’s books Paleo Kid Snacks and The Paleo Kid. She recommends a couple of “Tricks of the Trade” that I really like. If your child is just too busy to stop and eat, trying to put him in a high chair or booster seat often fails. Instead, as she recommends, “The best trick for the busy child is to set out a plate of food where they can see it and graze.” These children will often grab a bite while they play.
Some children take picky eating to a whole new level. My wife and I have dealt with this in our home. We learned early on to use a bit of reverse psychology. In her book, Kate Evans Scott calls it the “My snack” trick. In her words, “Instead of sitting down with a turkey-pesto rollup and telling her to eat, quietly make the dish and sit down with it yourself. Relax, grab a cup of tea, and enjoy your delicious snack. Soon enough, you are sure to have your daughter up on your lap asking what you’re eating. Say, ‘Oh, it’s a rollup.’ Take a bite and look like you really enjoy it, but don’t push it on her. When your child asks if she can have a bite say, ‘Hmmmmm… I’m not sure.’ Before you know it, she will be begging for one! If she tries it and doesn’t like it, be patient. It takes about 3 times tasting a new food before a child will become accustomed to the flavor.” I love this trick!
Wow, are these good! My wife whipped these up the other day and they were devoured quickly. Simple to make – whip up heavy whipping cream (can use an immersion blender) until it forms soft peaks. If you wish to sweeten/flavor a bit, add stevia or extract (almond, lemon, vanilla, etc.) to taste while whipping. Place this in a zip-lock bag and seal. Using scissors, cut off a corner of the bag to make a dime sized hole. Place a piece of waxpaper on a cookie sheet or plastic cutting board. Squeeze out half-dollar sized portions spaced an inch or so from each other. Top with your favorite frozen berry! You can eat these immediately or freeze for later.