Tim Noakes and Banting for children
Tim Noakes recommends the LCHF or ‘Banting’ eating plan, but is it safe for kids?
Families no longer stick to an eating plan which includes meat and two veg, spag bol on Tuesdays and Cottage Pie every second Thursday. Health-conscious parents are becoming more and more aware that what they’re putting into their bodies has an impact on their physical and mental output. That’s why many are experimenting with a low carbohydrate high fat eating plan, also known as “Banting”, recommended by Tim Noakes. Of course, concerned parents are also asking, is the LCHF lifestyle safe for young children? Let’s take a look.
Read: "What is Banting?"
Caro de Waal from Food24 has described Banting as an eating plan which avoids carbs but includes fats. Here’s her list of what is to be avoided and what is recommended in an LCHF eating plan:
“Avoid: All sugar, bread, pasta, potatoes, rice, porridge, breakfast cereals, all confectionery, high carb fruit like bananas and grapes, high carb vegetables like parsnips, carrots, corn and peas, artificial sweeteners, 'low-fat' food which actually contains high sugar content. You must read your labels.
Allowed: Eggs, fish, meat - including fat, dairy (butter, cheese and yoghurt) - all full-fat versions. Vegetables - all leafy greens and things like tomato, mushroom, avocado, onion and many more. Fruit - low carb. fruit like berries and apples. Water, tea and coffee with no sugar.”
Not everyone responds in the same way to this lifestyle adaptation. Health24 has some golden rules for banting:
The golden rules of Banting
Some experts have suggested that LCHF eating plans may not be beneficial for growing children and suggest that a more balanced nutrition plan is better for young children. Here’s more on potential risks of an LCHF lifestyle: Low carb diet: health body issues warning.
Pregnant women are especially encouraged to speak to a medical professional to find out the potential risks that such an eating plan could have on their body and to foetal development.
There are some outspoken critics of Noakes and his enthusiasm for LCHF living and there are those who are avid converts.
Some restaurants have started including banting-friendly menu options, and there are hundreds of recipes available for people searching for delicious ways of adopting the lifestyle plan. Something immediately obvious about Banting and its effects on traditional recipes includes the massive revival of cauliflower as a carb substitute. You’ll find “cauli-mash” and “cauli-rice” both figure greatly in Banting recipes. You’ll even find pizzas with cauliflower bases and burgers for those not willing to give up the tastes and textures of a non-Banting diet.
There are no long-term study results available on the effects of a Banting eating plan on children. Noakes has suggested a controversial study be done on rural families- this created an uproar in the media- and he insists that children would benefit from eating animal organs, according to City Press.
One study has suggested that too much uncertainty remains about the long-term effects of banting on the body, and, in addition, details potential risks.
Responsibility trumps popularity
Noakes is enjoying immense popularity for his lifestyle plan, described in his book the Real Meal Revolution, although the evidence to support his theories remains largely anecdotal. He is currently developing his plan to be more inclusive of families.
Both avid support for and fervent opposition to the LCHF/banting lifestyle plan exist. A medical professional can better inform you of what would suit you and your children based on your current physical health and medical history- as with any lifestyle change, people’s bodies respond differently.
There is simply not enough clinical evidence to prove that it’s entirely safe (or even beneficial) for children, so a doctor’s input is best should you be considering any drastic changes in nutrition.
*Updated 15/08: Professor Tim Noakes was unavailable for comment at the time of publication.
Disclaimer: The views of columnists published on Parent24 are their own and therefore do not necessarily represent the views of Parent24.
Are parents being irresponsible if they put kids on an LCHF eating plan?