How to Eat Low Carb with Your Family and Kids: Tips and Recipes

Published on 
April 26, 2024
April 11, 2018
Anna Barnwell, MSW, MPH
Anna Barnwell, MSW, MPH
Anna Barnwell, MSW, MPH

Many of us live with family members, including children, who opt to not follow a low carb or ketogenic lifestyle.  Although mapping out meals, grocery shopping, and cooking food that will appeal to everyone’s palates and dietary preferences could cause some friction in the kitchen, it can absolutely be done with a little proper planning. Check out our list of tips below to help you successfully stick to your own low carb plan at home while still getting the meal stamp of approval from your whole family.

1. Be open: Explain to your family why you are committed to a low carb lifestyle

  • Share your personal health goals and how eating low carb is key to reaching them. The more others understand how motivated you are to achieve metabolic health, the more understanding and respectful of your choices they are likely to be. This video series by Dr. Sarah Hallberg can help you explain the science.
  • Remind your family that THEY are part of the reason you want to become the healthiest version of you!
  • If you are tempted by carb-heavy foods or sweets being kept in the house, agree together on a plan that will help you avoid temptation, such as hiding those items from plain sight.
“Share your goals and successes. My kids/hubby get excited when my fasting is low or ketones are on point. They know my goal is reversal of my diabetes. When their friends are over and I'm exercising they will say their mom is getting healthier.”- a Virta patient

2. Keep it simple: Assembly-style meals are easiest to modify, so take advantage of them instead of making entirely separate dishes.

There are plenty of choices where you can simply tack on a simple carbohydrate side dish for those not eating low carb. Don’t forget to add enough extra fat to your own meal to achieve satiety!

  • Simple protein + veggies: a protein everybody likes with a couple non-starchy veggie sides (or a big salad), plus rice or bread for those who want carbs
  • Taco or fajita bar: lettuce to make a taco/fajita salad and all of the fixings, plus taco shells or tortillas for those who want carbs
  • Pizza night: your low carb crust of choice (e.g., cauliflower/almond flour crust, eggplant slices) with your favorite toppings, plus a traditional pre-made pizza crust for those who want carbs
  • Stir fries: serve with cauliflower rice, plus rice for those who want carbs
  • Hamburgers or chicken burgers: lettuce wraps and all of the fixings, plus buns for those who want carbs
  • “Pasta” bar: zucchini noodles or spaghetti squash with low carb meatballs and sauces (e.g., alfredo or marinara), plus traditional pasta for those who want carbs
“Have those quick meals on hand that you can throw together quicker than it takes for pizza delivery!”- a Virta patient

3. Involve your kids!

  • Picky eaters in your family? There are plenty of low carb non-starchy veggies and proteins to choose from. Ask your kids to identify their personal favorites.
  • Seek out low carb versions of traditional kid favorites, like chicken tenders, pancakes, and ice cream. They won’t even know the difference!
  • If your kids enjoy being in the kitchen, make meal prep days more fun by having them pitch in with the prep. Save time by packing lunches in advance while you are already prepping.
“Made a cauliflower version of potato soufflé, and it was a success at the family meal.”- a Virta patient

4. Plan ahead when dining out

  • Before heading to a restaurant, scope out the menu online to make sure there are options that everyone in the family will enjoy.
  • Remind your family to avoid comments like, “Well, I guess we need to find somewhere you can eat” or “You probably can’t even find anything on this menu.”  By planning ahead, you will have proven this wrong!
“Plan ahead! Families are busy and it helps to have a plan.”- a Virta patient

5. Establish mealtime ground rules

  • Remind your family that acting like the Food Police is not helpful.  Making negative comments about loved ones’ food choices can be hurtful, as well as disrespectful of personal health goals.
  • Request that others avoid guilt-inducing comments like “But Dad spent so much time making this” or “But I eat this and I’m totally fine!” These types of comments are tough to say no to -- even when we know it’s not the right answer for our health.
  • Around the table, turn the focus away from the food and instead toward conversation and quality family time.
“I've led by example and notice them mimicking behaviors as time goes on.”- a Virta patient

Low carb recipes your whole family will love

Almond Flour Pancakes Recipe

Egg Muffins Recipe

Baked Chicken Tenders Recipe

Cauliflower “Mac” and Cheese Recipe

Keto Pizza Crust Recipe

Maple Walnut Ice Cream Recipe*Because nutritional ketosis can lead to rapid decreases in blood sugar and blood pressure, Virta strongly recommends family members getting medical supervision before making any dietary changes if they are on medications for blood sugar or blood pressure. A physician can help you safely reduce your medications so that they don’t drive your blood sugar or blood pressure too low. Hypoglycemic (low blood sugar) and hypotensive (low blood pressure) episodes can be very dangerous.[et_bloom_inline optin_id="optin_15"]

This blog is intended for informational purposes only and is not meant to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition or any advice relating to your health. View full disclaimer

Are you living with type 2 diabetes, prediabetes, or unwanted weight?

Check to see if your health plan or employer covers Virta
Check Eligibility

Frequently Asked Questions

No items found.