Cape Town - Since the Banting diet first reared its controversial head it has received mixed reviews from the medical community, which has expressed concern that it is not based on good science.
A registered dietician and nutrition expert says parents should consider Banting for their children from the age of six months.
The Banting diet, thanks to Professor Tim Noakes and his collaborative book The Real Meal Revolution, has become a popular eating trend adopted by many people. Noakes, along with many others, claims the low carb high fat (LCHF) approach to eating has improved lives and waistlines.
Tamzyn Campbell says the diet, which promotes eating fatty cuts of meat while steering clear of carbs, is not only the best thing for you, it is good for your children, too.
Campbell is a contributor to the recently published self-help book, Sugar Free: 8 Weeks to Freedom from Sugar and Carb Addiction.
In the book, Campbell admits that she was not initially convinced of Noakes’s theory that carbohydrates, and not fat, were responsible for the global obesity epidemic and related conditions such as heart disease and diabetes. But cutting out carbs and sugar-filled food during her pregnancy in 2012 convinced her of the merits of a LCHF eating plan. Campbell believes that children could start Banting from the age of six months by cutting out added sugar and grains in their meals.
“However, if carbohydrates are to be more strictly restricted, then it’s prudent to only do so from 6 years of age (the age that the studies have looked at), under the guidance of a dietician or medical doctor,” she says.
“Although very little research has been done on Banting for kids, a few studies have shown that overweight children and teens (ages 6 to 18) who follow a Banting diet containing less than 60g of carbs each day successfully lose weight, without negatively affecting the levels of fat and cholesterol in their blood,” says Campbell.
She says research reports indicate that reducing dietary carbohydrate intake is thought to be a possible treatment for insulin resistance in kids and teens.
“So, children and teens who are overweight and insulin resistant may benefit most from Banting. Restricting carbohydrates to below 60g per day in children for combating overweight and insulin resistance should only be done under the guidance of a knowledgeable dietician or medical doctor,” she says
She recommends that children should cut out processed food, added sugar and refined grains (possibly even all grains), and eat more vegetables and healthy fats. “However, in the majority of children I wouldn’t recommend limiting starchy vegetables, well-cooked legumes, nuts, seeds, fruit or dairy.”
Campbell urges parents to tread with caution before putting their children on the Banting diet.
“A few children have certain genetic conditions that cause extremely high blood cholesterol levels in response to eating a high fat diet. These children shouldn’t Bant,” she says.
“I’d recommend treading with caution when deciding whether or not to Bant, and visiting a medical doctor before increasing the child’s dietary fat intake.”
As most parents would attest to how difficult it can be to get their kids to eat certain types of foods especially vegetables, Campbell suggests adding butter, cream, olive oil and cheese to savoury dishes, to make the dish tastier.
She warns against giving children fruit juices or sweetened yoghurt which she says are loaded with sugar. “Giving your children fruit juices is a real mistake most parents make. Rather give your child Rooibos tea, warm or cold.”
For active children, Campbell believes that those who eat low carb high fat diets may find that their bodies can tap into their fat stores to fuel their sports activities. This would mean that they don’t need to eat additional carbs before, during or after a practice or sporting event.
“The key thing is eating real food by cutting out processed foods,” says Campbell.
In Sugar Free: 8 Weeks to Freedom from Sugar and Carb Addiction, its two authors, Karen Thomson and Kerry Hammerton describe their personal and professional journeys to a sugar-free lifestyle.
Thomson is a grandchild of Professor Christiaan Barnard, who performed the world’s first human heart transplant at Groote Schuur Hospital in 1967. In the foreword to the book, Noakes reflects on how Barnard inspired him to study medicine and commends the authors for reaching out to millions of people whose health is being destroyed by sugar addiction.
Tips for making the transition to sugar-free kids
* Don’t give in when they crave junk at home: strive for your kids to eat healthily 80 percent of the time.
* Use sugar-free or carb-free versions of their favourite food.
* Turn traditional sugar and carb-filled foods into sugar-free delights:
* Make chocolate-chip muffins using almond flour or coconut flour and 70 percent dark chocolate.
* Make chips at home using root veg such as sweet potatoes, carrots and beetroot.
* Read food labels: ingredients are listed in decreasing order of their weight within the food. The first three ingredients are primary in what you are eating. If sugar (by any of its names) or starch or grain product (wheat, rye, barley or dextrin) are listed within the first three ingredients, it’s best to avoid the product.
An extract from Sugar Free: 8 Weeks to Freedom from Sugar and Carb Addiction.