Maybe you have been on the ketogenic diet for a while and love the way you feel but hate cooking different meals for yourself, separate from what you are making for your family. Or maybe you are new to the ketogenic diet but have read about the many benefits of this way of life and want to start implementing it in both your family’s lives and your own. Regardless of how you got to this point we will give you some tips and tricks to make the transition as easy and delicious as possible.
Remain Positive, This is Not a Punishment
The first step is to explain why you want to make changes in your family’s eating habits. Focusing on the positives versus the restrictive side can set the stage for this lifestyle change to be more well received. This is not a punishment, but a reward in which you are providing your body with a clean and efficient source of fuel. You are cutting out the processed ingredients and sugar that can cause inflammation, weight gain, and have adverse effects on your health. On the ketogenic diet, we focus more on whole foods such as vegetables, meats, berries, nuts, and dairy. Focusing on whole foods allows us to get all the vitamins and minerals we need to keep our bodies healthy and strong. It’s very helpful to share pictures and recipes with your family of some of the delicious meals and treats you will be able to have following this way of eating.
One of the first questions your family may ask is, “what can I eat?” which is a very reasonable question. One of the best parts of keto are the vast amount of options available to you, especially the tasty recipes that can be made with them, like mac and cheese, cauliflower style! This is a lifestyle change that you are looking to introduce to make your family healthier and more aware of what goes into their bodies.
Let Them Captain Their Ship
Everyone is the captain of their ship so to speak when we talk about our health and bodies. And while children are shown how to eat and encouraged to eat in a certain way, ultimately you cannot be with them 24/7 enforcing what they eat. The key to implementing this lifestyle change successfully at home is to make it enjoyable! Offer options, allow your family to be involved in the meal planning (picking out recipes that look enticing to them), and even meal prep (toddlers and kids love this part). When they are able to take control and play a part in the decision making progress there is more buy-in with the change as it becomes their change not just yours.
It is important to understand that while you may want your family eating ketogenic, there are instances that may arise that are out of your control. For example, your children may receive snacks at school that do not fit with your lifestyle. While you could ask your school to enforce sugar and grain-free options by authorizing your child to partake only in the snacks you pack, as your child gets older that may not be an option. This means that there may be instances that your child will eat something outside of the ketogenic guidelines. And depending on the reasons for this lifestyle change (non-therapeutic/clinical) then that may be 100% okay! Occasional “cheats/treat/slips” or whatever you want to call it will not ruin long term benefits.
Make Keto-Alternatives to Non-Keto Favorites & Traditions
With a lifestyle change comes the dilemma about what to do with traditions. Many people do Taco Tuesdays or Pizza Fridays, not to mention the holiday traditions. And while occasionally you may want to have a tradition or food that is not in line with the ketogenic guidelines, there is no reason why you cannot keto-fy a family favorite tradition/recipe. If it’s tacos you are looking for, use a sugar free seasoning and try making it a taco salad or using cheese shells or lettuce cups! If pizza night is a family favorite whip up a quick keto pizza using any variation of the fat-head dough recipe and make extra crusts that you bake half way and freeze for quick dinners in a pinch. Or buy some of the very good cauliflower crusts being sold at local supermarkets. We happen to like Cali’flour Foods crusts. For Thanksgiving or other formal dinners you can do easy vegetable substitutes such as mashed cauliflower in place of potatoes, almond flour buns in place of standard rolls, gravy thickened with xanthan gum in favor of flour, and so much more. Pinterest is an amazing resource when it comes to planning keto for the holidays. Experimenting in the kitchen is a great way to get the family engaging with each other in a meaningful way without electronics, creating new memories and traditions!
Kids love to snack, and that is not going to change when they start eating a ketogenic diet. With their bodies constantly changing and growing it’s understandable that a snack in between meals may be needed. So you need to make sure you have easy and appetizing options available for them! Some ideas for go-to kid-friendly snacks are:
- Cream Cheese and Celery (add a little everything bagel seasoning on top)
- Hard Boiled Eggs
- Macadamia Nuts (try storing them in individual servings for convenience)
- Pecans (try storing them in individual servings for convenience)
- Cheese Sticks
- Berries with Fresh Whipped Cream
- Broccoli Dipped in Ranch Dressing
- Moon Cheese
- Keto Bark
- Keto-Friendly Baked Goods (muffins/cupcakes/cookies)
- Mascarpone Cheese with a Pinch of Sweetener and a Tbsp of Sugar Free Chocolate Chips
It Is a Learning Process
Understand that sugar and carbohydrates are so engrained (what a pun!) in our everyday lives that it will take time to adjust. You do not have to jump right in and expect perfection. This means that you can start slow. You can start by just removing added sugar from your family’s diet and instead substituting with sweeteners such as monk fruit, erythritol, and stevia. This alone will make a big difference in the health of your family. Next you could move on to incorporating fruits such as berries in place of the higher carb fruits like bananas, grapes, apples, and pineapple. Finally start to cut back on carbs for the family, possibly starting around 70g a day and moving down to 40g or less. With children you can set the goal to be eating ketogenic approved foods. We encourage you to always consult your healthcare provider and work in conjunction with them in implementing a safe and healthy diet with variation, vitamins, and minerals to ensure your child’s health and well-being. Keto can be as complex and delicious as you want to make it. Choose options that work for your family’s time, budget, and tastes so that it can be a lifestyle and not just a diet.