The Paleo diet is based on maintaining a diet based on what the ancestors ate thousands of years ago during the Paleolithic era. Foods such as meat, fish, fruits, vegetables, nuts and seeds, not including any processed foods.
Is the Paleo diet enough to meet energy requirements in children?
Although for adults, following a Paleo diet can help them lose weight, lower blood pressure and certain benefits for coronary health, among other benefits that children would not obtain.
Children, due to their high energy demand due to their daily activities, also need to include other foods that contain carbohydrates and other nutrients necessary for adequate growth and development in their growth stage.
More research is needed on the benefits of consuming a Paleo Diet in children regarding its safety and effectiveness.
Children should include foods such as whole grains, beans, lentils, and other legumes, as well as yogurt and other dairy products and starches such as potatoes, in their diet.
Some points of the Paleo diet could be taken up again, for example, avoiding the consumption of processed foods, especially those with refined sugars and unhealthy fats.
A Paleo diet is very restrictive, it requires commitment and proper planning. A child may be conflicted about only consuming foods allowed on the Paleo diet especially at school, dinner parties from friends, and playgrounds.
Do Paleo diets contain enough carbohydrates to cover the recommendations for children?
Children need carbohydrates for energy and to maintain attention. Research shows that 40-55% of complex carbohydrates should come from whole grains, dairy, and legumes like beans, as well as fruits and vegetables.
Which are necessary to provide daily energy.
These types of complex carbohydrates should not be restricted in children, as they contain essential nutrients for brain function and provide the energy necessary to carry out all their activities.
Although processed foods that contain simple carbohydrates, such as cakes, sweets, sugary cereals, can be avoided, since glucose is absorbed and enters the bloodstream quickly and raises blood glucose levels.
Eating excesses of these on a frequent basis can affect health by creating hormonal and metabolic alterations, generating more body fat and increasing the risk of diabetes.
Cons of following a Paleo diet in children
Since the brain and body are developing, children should eat a balanced diet, according to the Dietary Guidelines for Americans 2020-2025. They should include foods such as:
– Fruits and vegetables.
– Whole grains.
– Dairy (yogurt, milk, cheese).
– Foods with proteins of both animal and vegetable origin.
Nutrients necessary for the proper development of the child
Children’s diet should cover their requirements for iron, calcium, vitamin D, folic acid and fiber. And of course protein, carbohydrates and healthy fats, among others.
Since whole grains and dairy are restricted on the Paleo diet, it can affect calcium and vitamin D requirements, which are necessary for proper growth and development and also to prevent osteoporosis later in life.
Although calcium can be found in some green leafy vegetables, they contain phytates that make it difficult to absorb.
Children on a Paleo diet need calcium and vitamin D supplements or supplemental toddler formulas prescribed by a Nutritionist or Pediatrician.
Whole grains provide folic acid, fiber and iron, as well as energy, so restricting yourself on the Paleo diet could affect meeting recommendations for these nutrients.
–What can not be eaten on the Paleo diet?
While one of the strengths of the Paleo diet is restricting the consumption of processed foods high in sugars and fats, you could go back to that aspect and maintain a balanced diet that includes foods from all groups.
The Paleo diet for children may not meet the energy and nutrient recommendations necessary for proper growth and development.
What is recommended is a balanced diet that includes all food groups and avoid processed foods, high in refined sugars and unhealthy fats.
Source: US National Library of Medicine. National Institutes of Health (PMC). 2020-2025 Dietary Guidelines for Americans.