13 yr old son w/ high insulin, triglycerides, craving carbs - advice?


Absolutely agree that you should remove temptation but drawing the analogy to an allergy, we need to do it very carefully. While this sounds great in theory, this is where we have to be careful about not blaming the victim. When you take away chocolate from an IR kid, they do not realize it is not any different than taking milk away from the lactose intolerant. Because fat is the last permitted prejudice, it can feel like discrimination even if done with love and the best of intentions.

You cannot discriminate against someone with a peanut or wheat allergy. It is not their fault they have it so you are not shaming them in any way taking away peanuts from a child who is allergic. You are protecting them. Not so with obesity. Since society is still permitted to blame and discriminate against those with weight issues and does, when a family does it (presumably with love!) any critique of weight is perceived as an attack on the self. So there is an element of shame when you make dietary modifications to someone else’s consumption (unless you are being paid to do this!). So our children do view mom saying they should be eating this instead of that as a lack of acceptance and a critique because we are in essence saying they have failed in some way to eat properly and they need our guidance. I have had a lifetime of this from my parents (started at the age of 13). I know they mean well but there is an element that this is my fault and whether CICO or exercise, there is a solution that I am not employing and how did I let myself get this way and why do I not have the control to skip dessert?

While I did not realize it until now, one thing that has helped me is reading all the science that shows weight is hormonal. That IR causes obesity rather than obesity causing IR. That is huge. I know when I have carbs I want more carbs. When I do not, I am ok and feel very little compulsion to consume them to excess. This has almost nothing to do with will power or my emotional state. While I bear responsibility, ultimately and must deal with IR for my health, it is not my fault and I may have found a solution in keto and IF. The same as avoiding dairy helps the lactose intolerant.

While I have not lost as much in the last year as I had hoped, I have lost a significant amount and even though I am still overweight, I have relaxed about it in a way I never have. A lifetime of getting the message that this was my fault, that CICO and exercise were important, that I needed to stick to a moderate carb diet and CICO and what is wrong with me if I cannot?! I think that is not the message to take to our sons but that is the message they are used to seeing from the society we live in

The message instead is you have a hormonal issue, you have an allergy to sugar. It is not your fault but you need to take care of yourself. As @amargolis said, show him Fat Head. I really think we need to end the fat prejudice but until we do, we need to help others understand this is hormonal and not will power

(J) #22

Thanks so much for these ideas!

(J) #23

Hey, thanks for your response. I’m actually already doing all of the things you suggested. He does a pretty strenuous water sport 3x/wk, has reduced his BMI from 28 to 25. I have banned garbage from my house, just not all carbs. When he craves, it’s sugar/chocolate. I buy him all kinds of alternative chocolates - I’ve bought every available brand of sugarfree Nutella substitute, sugarfree bars of chocolate, etc. Not an endless supply, but I buy them regularly so that he knows he has acceptable options and doesn’t feel deprived or punished. I also make plenty of keto desserts and yummies all the time.
I think what would help him most, since he seems to be coming from the same place I did, is to just break the addiction to end the cravings. But that decision has to come from him, because it requires a commitment that can’t be imposed externally (maybe it could for a 5 or 8 or 10 year old, but not for a teenager I only see a couple hours a day!)

(J) #24

Thanks, yes, I have been replacing with sugarfree, low-carb alternatives. We never really had much processed/prepared food in our home to start with - no chips or soft drinks and rarely cookies or crackers. So mostly it’s been just a change in cooking methods and ingredients.
I totally agree with you about how it takes time to come to the realization that things can actually happen to you. I think you also have to believe in yourself, in your own power to make a difference. I’m trying to build that confidence in him now, that he can shape his life and who he becomes, inside and out.

(J) #25

That’s great about the podcasts! I usually listen to them while cooking/washing dishes (and I live in Europe, no car, kids travel independently by bus/train/subway) but the kids avoid me at those times, lol! He loves to watch upbeat, informative You Tube videos, though - I wonder if there are any on keto/LC for teens?

(Brandy Fischbach) #26

My son is 14 and is now doing keto with me. We have been doing it for 9 weeks and he is actually doing well. I can see how hard it can be with everyone else around him eating what they want. I’m sure it is also very difficult to deal with his dad and grandparents. If they are anything like mine, my dad is the worst person to give my child sweets. The reason we started was because not only was my son’s cholesterol high and he was very overweight, but his liver enzymes were elevated. He was diagnosed with fatty liver at the age of 14! I am so worried about him now that I will do whatever I can to help him. Once he heard that he could possibly need a liver transplant later down the road, that’s all it took for him to be all in. I definitely do not envy the situation you are in. I think just trying to control what you can is all you can do. I personally make my son’s lunches every day because school lunches are horrible. I keep his money until he wants to use it and then we discuss whatever purchase that may be. Those are just two ways that may help. I wish you all the luck in the world! HUGS!

(J) #27

Aw, thanks, Brandy. It sounds like our situations are kinda similar (I didn’t think to ask his doc about liver enzymes, I will next time).
I think the environment is going to start getting more supportive for him, since his older sister was just diagnosed with IR, and Dad has high blood sugar (maybe diabetes already?), so his other home is going to be eating better, too. I’m not happy that everyone has these issues, but I am very happy that they have come to light and that people can start making changes.
Thanks for the suggestions! I do make his lunches, he usually eats lunch at home (Europe!) but I’m sure he gets offered carby snacks at school.
Good luck to you guys!

(LeeAnn Brooks) #28

I know this is an old thread, but I’m wondering if you’ve made any progress, and if so, what have you done?

I’m having a similar issue with my 14 year old. He hasn’t been diagnosed with any serious conditions at this point, but he’s a very big kid and he’s addicted to carbs.

I could totally eliminate them from the house, but my hubby isn’t on Keto and would get pretty upset if I tried to force him. He’s supportive of me, but draws the line at giving up his own carbs. With me working and my son on summer break, there’s no way for me to monitor what he eats. To make matters worse, we live next door to my step daughter and two houses down from my in-laws. All he had to do to get sweets is go to his sister or grandparents houses.

And I’m afraid to go Keto with him as the worst diet one can do is a high fat/high carb diet. I’m affraid I’ll compound his problems. But he definately wants my Keto food too. He went througg two packages of bacon in 2 days before I realized it.

He’s very active in sports, but he’s been packing on the weight so fast in the past couple years, and I see such unhealthy relationship with food forming. It’s very easy for some to think the parent should be able to control these things😞

They clearly haven’t dealt with teenage boys anytime recently.

Had anything helped your situation?


LeeAnn, I don’t know if this helps (different gender, different kids…) but my girls hear a lot about the science of stuff as I come across interesting studies or cool anecdotes. They get exasperated if I go on too long, but plenty of it sinks in. After years of that, they’re pretty well indoctrinated :slight_smile: They can find holes in conventional medical advice and they roll their eyes at most nutritional advice. Except for the meals that we cook together, they make their own decisions about food, and I would say that about 95% of what they put in their mouths lines up with their understanding of nutrition and the body (though it wasn’t instantaneous, more like a gradual process).
My other thought is that I wonder if there’s a way to connect his sport activity to his eating (like tracking his athletic progress with a simple training log that includes food and rest?). Is there someone he admires who does this? or a LC athlete that you two can look up together? It could be just a way that he makes a connection between how you eat and how someone in professional sports eats, but it might get him thinking about his own intake…

(LeeAnn Brooks) #30

We e talked a lot about the science since I’ve been on Keto, and he’s very interested. Though I think he’s more interested in eating bacon and cheese non stop.
But none of that prevents him from also wanting carbs. His last pediatrician thought he might be OCD when it comes to food. He hides it and I find heaps of wrappers he’s hidden from me. He’s done this for about 3 years now. He just had his physical and he’s up to 205. And he’s average height, so it’s not coming from being tall.

And then I’m also concerned that the more I try to address it, the more self conscious I’m going to make him and he will be even worse.


oh, this sounds tough. It doesn’t seem like a nutritional issue…

(LeeAnn Brooks) #32

I asked him today if he would like us to do up meal plans for him to follow when he’s home alone and he said yes.

So we will see how that goes. I don’t expect he will adhere to it completely, but maybe we can make some improvements.

(Erica Ramirez) #33

Not many tips but a quick story about my son (similar situation)…is your son into girls yet? I ask because my second son was always huge - very tall, mesomorphic, heavy. Plays football, on the line & never really gave any thought about his appearance (shoot, had to BEG and plead to get him to shower!).
Suddenly, now - at just turned 15, entering 9th grade, he is “normal” lol
Started when he was bumped into the summer varsity football team trainings…he has decided he wants it so badly, and he’s doing 2, 3 a day workouts & eating super healthily (lots though). Turns out, he now has an “almost girlfriend” and has gone from 240+ to about 220 (he is 6’3.5 no shoes lol). I swear, he just decided varsity football & girls were worth it…Didn’t matter how many times a doctor told him he needed to slim down! Maybe your son will also decide one day that something external is important enough to put in the effort ???

(LeeAnn Brooks) #34

Not into girls yet. But sports do keep him on track better than anything else. Especially wrestling. I’m not a big proponent of dropping weight to wrestle a lower weight class, but he was on the boarder all last year, and it was a big motivator for him not to be on the low end of a higher weight class.

Though right now he’s have to drop a good 15 to get back down to the lower class.

(J) #35

Hi LeeAnn!
My boy has been making steady good progress, at his checkup last week his BMI was down to 23.7 and he’s lost another 5 1/2 kg while having grown 2 cm taller, this in the last 6 months. He’s continued his sport and eats low-carb most of the time - I guess it’s good enough because his body has really changed. I do want to ask the doc for blood work next time, though.

I can relate to your situation with your son having several options for getting food. What might help would be getting him checked by an endocrinologist or diabetologist - if he’s big and carb-addicted, there’s a chance he also has high insulin and/or triglycerides, too. The only way these came to light for us was when a gastroenterologist referred him to an obesity specialist just due to his chubbiness (and I’m so thankful that she did!). She was the one who ordered the blood work, and there it was. In your son’s case, if you had a concrete diagnosis from a medical professional, it might be easier for all the family members to understand what they should and shouldn’t do. It might even be easier for your son to accept, too.
Though really, I think some people are (I was) both emotionally and chemically addicted to carbs, and in that case, they have to come to the decision to make big changes on their own (if they’re doing it for a doctor or a parent, there just might still be sneaky food happening). I think the best we can do is all of the above - set the example, fill the house with good food, including enjoyable alternatives to comfort foods, and make available factual information that could be convincing (podcasts, books, posters, etc.). Maybe where you could be pushy - without making him feel bad about how he eats - is requiring that he do a sport. You mentioned wrestling, does he still do that? Mine likes his sport, but would be perfectly happy to sit on the couch instead, so I decided that it’s a requirement.

I really wish some of the younger ketonians would make videos for today’s teens that would be informative but wouldn’t seem like “your Mom’s podcast”.

Good luck to you both! Let me know if you have him checked…I wonder if they would find anything.

(LeeAnn Brooks) #36

He gets his blood work done periodically due to being on ADHD medication, but I’m not sure what all they check for. Next time I’ll make sure to ask and have them check those things as well.

He’s up in the air on whether he will wrestle this year, but he’s still doing baseball and has started conditioning for football for this fall, so that helps.

Thanks for your response and I’m glad things are going better for your son.

(Lorraine) #37

I just listened to 2 Keto Dudes Podcast #66 with Tom Naughton who wrote Fat Head Kids. I’m not sure if the book is too juvenile for your teenagers, but I am considering getting it for my just turned 12 year old.

(J) #38

Thanks, I’ll look into it!

(Nicole Silvia) #39

It sounds like you’re doing everything right. You can’t control another human being, nor should you. You lead by example and offering him all those alternatives is great. He’s active and doing well. Kudos, I’m sure he sees and feels the results.

I wouldn’t become a food nazi and force the issue. Who here can honestly say they would respond well to someone doing that to them? That’s how people end up with eating disorders either binging or depriving. I’ve seen it, unfortunately. Plus, your relationship is more important.

Glad things are going well!