“My 11-year-old daughter is keto,” says House of Keto influencer Abby Durlewanger in a TikTok video posted in June. The video shows viewers what Durlewanger packs her daughter for lunch.
The meal consisted of a lettuce wrap, berries, watermelon—which Durlewanger says will be a “nice surprise” because it has more “carbs and sugar” than the family normally eats—a hard-boiled egg and two slices of cheddar cheese.
“Our entire family eats this way,” says Durlewanger, “including our 5-year-old, our puppies, and my husband.”
According to Harvard Health Publishing from Harvard Medical School, the keto diet is a low-carb diet that “centers on fat, which supplies as much as 90% of daily calories.” Durlewanger’s lunchbox seems to follow the typical guidelines of keto: fruits and vegetables are restricted to berries and leafy greens.
“This is for weight loss purposes,” says TikTok user @Rutherfordsistaz in a comment on Durlewanger’s video. “Not sure kids should be on this, actually I am sure they shouldn’t be.”
Durlewanger responded with a video, stating that “it is entirely possible to be keto and lose absolutely no weight.” She claims that those on the keto diet can gain weight, or even maintain their weight.
Dietician Kathy McManus from the Department of Nutrition at Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston told Harvard Health Publishing that a ketogenic diet is “primarily used to help reduce the frequency of epileptic seizures in children.”
She also said that although people use the diet for weight loss, “We don’t know if it works in the long term, nor whether it’s safe.” Other risks associated with keto include nutrient deficiency as well as liver and kidney problems.
With the exception of a comment from TikTok user @Heather_May that states that viewers “would be mad” if Durlewanger fed her children “lunchable and junk,” many of the top comments on Durlewanger’s video question why an 11-year-old is on the keto diet in the first place. One viewer even threatened to call CPS.
Durlewanger also makes claims about the keto diet on her Instagram account.
In a recent post, she reassured her followers that those with “little or no access to food” don’t gain weight.
“If you’re not losing weight, you’re eating more than you should be,” she said.
The Daily Dot has reached out to Abby Durlewanger.
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*First Published: Jun 30, 2021, 2:05 pm CDT
Tricia Crimmins is a journalist and comedian based in New York City. She is studying at Columbia Journalism School and writes for Moment magazine and Columbia News Service. Previously, she has written for Mashable, Complex Networks, and the Lewiston Sun Journal.