Starting at the beginning of the year, my son decided he was going to follow my lead and start low carbing. He had all the standard questions — what could eat, drink, how was he going to do this at school, and what foods he could make. I pointed him at many of videos and said if he was serious, I would help him. I honestly thought this would have been a passing fad and at best a 2-week attempt.
He surprised me. He was committed to the diet and would routinely turn down easy opportunities to eat off plan — like at football games, away from home, or in front of friends. I am sure there was an element of being different to his plan and showing off to his friends that he could do this. However in showing off, he made it a lifestyle choice, and stuck to it. Within 5 weeks, his success led one of his younger sisters, Amanda, to also follow the plan. She proceeded to lose 20 or 25 pounds over the next 4 weeks, and by the end of March, her twin sister, Brooke, was also following a low carb diet.
While we were gone on the cruise, Brett informed us that he hit his goal weight of 225 after losing 52 pounds in those 5 months. Amanda is also down 48 pounds in roughly 4 months and is nearing her first goal weight. She says she may have second goal weight after hitting the first milestone, but she wants to nail the first one before school is out. Brooke is also down 25-30 pounds, but she started last. Overall, I could not be happier with their success.
Here are some things that worked for me and my kids:
- Make it their idea; don’t push the idea on them. I believe my kids were much more successful and stuck to the diet because it was them that wanted to do it. I never even suggested they do the diet because I remember when as a kid, I was told I had to diet and hated the fact.
- If they do come and ask about it, enable them and give them the information. Don’t however coddle them and make it too easy. I wanted to be sure they were serious with their requests and not simply a phase. That is why I made them view the videos, so they could digest what they could eat or how to be motivated or how to confront well-meaning friends. If I had just told them, I don’t think it would have been internalized as much.
- Buy kid-friendly real foods that they can make themselves without potentially resorting to bars or shakes every day approach. I did buy them some bars and shakes for days in which they were band festivals or away from home, but for the most part, I’d rather them make themselves a frozen hamburger or pork rind nachos instead.
- Related to the last one, stock your fridge with lots of options. At one point, my kids were all about string cheese. Now not so much, Brooke would rather make herself a low carb mock Danish instead. If they have a desire to cook, give them a cookbook and get the ingredients for them to go wild trying new recipes. They might not always turn out, but you are allowing them the opportunity to author their own success.
- If they are doing something unique or are put in a position where low carbing is near impossible, don’t beat them up (mentally and certainly not physically) for making a decision to eat off plan. Make it a non-event, and let them know that they aren’t always in control of everything. Brett did band/choir trip to Nashville, and ate a couple meals off plan because that was the restaurant option he was given. He hopped back on the diet even before he came home.
- Finally, the idea of rewards does work sometimes. I did do some rewards for my kids for their perseverance. Brett was going to go to the Bacon Festival with me before a trip to Seattle got in the way. Amanda got new clothes. I don’t think rewards should be overdone (say for every 10 pounds lost), but I do think they can help them get through a rough day or bad patch.
One last note, I never wanted to portray Atkins Diet or Low Carb as the only way to my kids — just the only way that ever worked for me. Their elder sister, Tasha, did low carbing for awhile but determined it wasn’t for her. She reached her healthy weight now through exercise and simply eating less junk than she had. She looks great as well, and I am proud of her for finding her way.