Is Keto Safe For Tweens & Teens? Dietitians Say No — Here’s Why

The low-carb (not even bananas!), high-fat (think: cheese and avocados) keto diet is still enjoying popularity, and granted, it works for a time for a good number of adults (my brother included). Hearing about it even piqued my teen’s interest. And that’s the thing about trends and fads, right? Once your kid hears about the latest one, they can be relentless in trying to get you to agree to let them try it. But can — or rather, should — a person age 18 or younger restrict certain foods on this, or any, diet? Not for allergies, mind you, but for wellness and/or weight loss?

If your tween or teen asks you about trying the keto diet, it’ll help to have some expert insight for handling the situation. So, Scary Mommy tapped a few pros for advice on navigating these tricky waters.

Is a keto diet healthy for teens?

Keto is not for teens, according to dietitians. “It’s not recommended to have teens follow fad diets, and the keto diet has become a fad diet for both adults and teens who want a quick weight loss solution,” says Lona Sandon, Ph.D., RDN, a professor at The University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center. “However, it’s not a balanced diet that will provide all the nutrients teens need for growth and development. It can come up short on key nutrients such as calcium, fiber, and antioxidant vitamins A and C, to name a few.”

While the 1992 food pyramid has been replaced by a plate showing the food groups, you’ll notice that grains are still a nutritional must. In fact, the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that carbohydrates — bread, beans, apples, rice, pasta, potatoes, and more, both complex carbohydrates and simple carbohydrates — comprise half of a teen’s calories. That is pretty much the opposite of keto.

There is an exception for children with epilepsy, who are sometimes helped by a very monitored keto diet for a period of time. But that’s not something to embark on without a diagnosis and a doctor.

How can we help teens eat healthy foods?

A message for all: Carbs are not the enemy. Even if your teen hears adults talking about low-carb or no-carb diets, the goal is, was, and will always be encouraging kids to eat a little of everything. No…

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