A mum in the United States has hit back after being criticised for putting her 11-year-old daughter and five-year-old son on the keto diet.
Originally developed to help treat epilepsy in children resistant to medication, the keto diet is now a popular, albeit controversial, weight-loss method around the world.
Followers eat a diet low in carbohydrates – usually less than 50g a day – to help their body reach a state of ketosis as without carbs the body has to burn fat for energy.
American mum Abby Durlewanger runs TikTok account @houseofketo, where she shares keto recipes and meal plans with her more than 500,000 followers.
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But she has been criticised for revealing that both her children also follow the keto diet, which is not recommended for children due to its restriction of carbs.
Helth guidelines in Australia state children should only follow a keto diet if they need it for epilepsy management and only after an assessment by a paediatric neurologist.
In a video shared on TikTok last month, Ms Durlewanger shared her 11-year-old’s lunch box, revealing she had given her watermelon as a “surprise”.
“My 11-year-old’s keto and this is what I made her for lunch,” she said.
“Typically we don’t include watermelon in our regular everyday ketogenic lifestyle (because it has) more carbs and sugar than we would normally eat.”
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The lunch included a chicken and cheese wrap using lettuce instead of bread, blueberries, strawberries and watermelon, two slices of cheddar cheese and a boiled egg.
Another lunch she made for her daughter showed Ms Durlewanger giving her bacon, strawberries, salami and a slice of cheese.
As well as Ms Durlewanger’s husband and two children being keto, their dogs also follow the diet, she explained in another video.
She makes their dog food from scratch using a mixture of blueberries, cheese, chicken and capsicum seasoned with turmeric, chia seeds and basil.
“Usually I will add some coconut oil or some butter to the turmeric to make a paste to add more fat,” Ms Durelwanger said.
The videos have sparked a massive divide among viewers, with people baffled by the idea that children – let alone dogs – would be on a keto diet unless it was for medical reasons.
“Why is your 11-year-old on a diet? Weird,” one person wrote.
“Why is your daughter keto? Health concerns?” another commented. “Or are we projecting societal beauty standards onto an 11-year-old child?”
“Please tell me this is satire,” one comment read.
Ms Durelwanger has since responded to the criticism, saying that she “never said our daughter was ‘on a diet’ in our video” and it was about eating a “healthy diet not full of sugar”.
She also claimed that her child’s doctor was aware and approved of their daughter’s diet, however, didn’t specify whether it was for a medical reason like epilepsy.
“Just because we share what we eat, doesn’t mean you’re entitled to our children’s private medical records,” Ms Durelwanger said.
“It’s our choice to share or not share.”
She also said her children were able to have “treats”, explaining in one video: “My kids will eat a few pieces of each thing and then that’s it, we’ll move on we’ll go back to our regular everyday schedule.”
Some people also defended Ms Durelwanger feeding her children keto food, arguing that the fact she gave them strawberries and watermelon meant they probably weren’t “strict keto” as those fruits were “generally not allowed”.
“Our kids aren’t keto but your kids are clearly eating better then most kids,” another wrote. “I don’t know why everyone is mad.”