Transitioning the family to a keto diet is one of the best steps you can take for overall health. First, it makes it easier for you; whether you are the one doing most of the cooking or not, if the rest of the family isn’t eating keto, then you are needing to prep your own food separately. Secondly, scientific studies have shown us that modeling healthy eating behavior is the most effective way to make sure that your kids also eat healthy foods. If your kids see you eating a different meal than they are eating, it sends mixed messages. However, it can be difficult to transition younger eaters to keto; especially if you have some picky eaters. I’ve put together a list of tips to help you transition the family to keto!
Explain the Benefits
If your kids are old enough to understand, explain the benefits of keto. Teens are certainly old enough to understand the importance of following a good diet. Pre-teens may need some help with some of the concepts, but you should still keep them involved. While they may not look forward to some aspects of the diet, sitting down together gives you a chance to show them how you can still make yummy foods without sugar or carbs.
While you’ve sat everyone down to talk about the benefits of keto, let the family get involved with meal planning. Work together to find recipes to replace some of their favorite meals. Your largest priorities will be breads and desserts. A good idea is to have each of your children pick one meal per week that they will plan and help prepare. They can help you find a keto-friendly recipe and help you prepare it with age-appropriate kitchen tools. I’ve got tons of recipes on my Pinterest boards. They may help you start to build a family-friendly keto recipe base.
Make Meal Time Fun
If the kids feel like meal time is boring, they are likely to make a run for the hills, or at least the nearest fast food restaurant, as soon as they get a chance. Try to make meal time fun for the family. If you’re planning to have burgers, cook on the grill and make it a fun family evening. If you’re making pasta with zoodles, have dinner and a movie night with a fancy tablecloth, a vase of pretty flowers, and Lady and the Tramp. If you’re having a keto-friendly pizza, then plan to play card games while you eat. Build your cheat days around special occasions such as birthdays, to allow for goodies such as birthday cake.
Listen When Your Family Feels Frustrated
Do you remember when you gave up carbs? It was hard for you, wasn’t it? As a grown-up who probably started following the ketogenic diet for health reasons, you most likely sucked it up and went on with your life. Maybe you whined a bit to your friend. Your family is going to feel the same way you did. They’re going to need to vent a bit about their frustrations. Don’t take it personally. They are going to miss the goodies and may be wondering if they can ever eat birthday cake or ice cream again. Listen to their worries, help them find solutions, and move forward. Your family will feel much more willing to follow the diet if they feel like you are listening to them and understand their concerns.
Remember the keto flu? Starting the keto diet slowly, instead of fully immersing your family overnight, will help alleviate most of that for them. Start by removing specific foods, like cereals, that are full of carbs. It may take a month or more to fully transition the family. It also gives them the chance to ease into the changes. When transitioning your family to keto, try to schedule the bulk of the change for a time when there aren’t finals, big extra-curricular events, or for when your partner has a major presentation at work. There’s already going to be stress involved in your lives at that time; the keto transition can wait.
Be Prepared to Supplement Fats
One of the hardest changes for kids, especially younger kids, to make is the increase in fats. Buying or making products such as full-fat yogurt will help, but since milk is full of carbs you can only give so much of that. Using MCT Oil Capsules might be a better way for everyone to get their fats. You’ll want to start that slow, too. Adding too much fat too quickly can result in some rather unpleasant stomach upset, and you definitely don’t want your children to be dealing with that at school!
Don’t Make it Harder on Yourself
Transitioning your family to keto may be difficult. While we know the benefits are huge, kids may not care. And even if they haven’t been unhealthy eaters before you switched to keto, getting rid of some of their favorite foods is going to be difficult to them. The important thing here is to make sure that you’re building a healthy relationship with food for them. It may take a year or more to fully transition everyone to keto, and that’s okay. Every day that you take a step forward is, well, a step forward. Embrace that for what it is. And steps backwards aren’t failures; they’re just setbacks. At my house, we started so slowly. We would do things like do one meal per week which was fully keto, while other meals had keto options. We would grill burgers and they had the option to use a keto bun or a regular bun. In time, I would remove the regular buns. My husband was really worried that going fully keto wouldn’t fuel him efficiently for his high-paced job; he would eat keto for dinner but still pack on the carbs at lunch. That became problematic in more ways than one; we eventually made it work for him.
The bottom line is, transitioning your family to keto doesn’t have to be hard, and it doesn’t have to happen on an artificial timeline. Do what you need to do to make it work for your family. Need some more resources for family-friendly recipes? Stop by my Facebook group for all the tips and tricks you’ll need to transition your family to the keto diet!
You got this!
Leta ~ Intentionally Bare
❗ Health information given here is based on public research and is not meant to take the place of your doctor's advice. Always do your own research before trying something new.