Like we mentioned in our Paleo Pals post, it can be a challenge to switch to a primal lifestyle with children. Adults are generally open to trying new foods, understanding basic scientific research, and mustering up enough self-discipline to make some changes. Kiddos, on the other hand, are a bit more resistant to giving up mac-n-cheese for steak. Too bad I can’t go back in time with my kids so they always thought a perfect snack was blueberries and chicken instead of Goldfish and fruit snacks!
An important thing to remember is to not to use the word diet with them. We don’t want our little ones to think they are on a diet or (gasp!) need to be on one. Present it with a focus on health and fitness, and in terms of what makes us grow up “big and strong”. A dear friend’s daughter used to say “I don’t want that because it won’t make me grow big and strong like Daddy.” I have since borrowed the phrase for my family (although…I like to put an emphasis on strong Mommies too!).
Another simple thing is to ask your kids, “does it grow on trees or up from the ground?” OR “does it come from an animal?” Our kids love to answer these questions with excitement when asked, and feel super smart and confident when they know the right choice!
Balance is also key. Like we mentioned in our interviews, our kids are somewhere around 70/30 when it comes to primal/paleo eating. At home, the pantry is stocked with a variety of nuts, trail mix, applesauce, nitrate free beef jerky, larabars and dried fruit, and the fridge with eggs, fresh fruit, nitrate free deli meat, full fat cheese, leftover meats, and an array of fresh veggies.
Here is where we incorporate the wiggle room: hot lunch at school once a week, birthday parties, special trips to McDonald’s (they are kids, they love it, they know it’s a special treat…and for me, their salads aren’t half bad!), flavored Greek yogurt, grain free waffles, Pirate Booty, homemade stove top popcorn (thank you, Leigh for introducing this to our family..so fun!), gluten-free cereals, and after dinner (did you make a happy plate?) ice cream or Easter basket treats. It keeps them happy, well-adjusted, and promotes compromise.
Some other good tips include:
-Have them eat some form of protein with every meal or snack. This can be eggs, meat, cheese, yogurt, cottage cheese, and at the very least nut butter. It’s funny to hear my 5-year-old tell her older sister to “pick her protein” when she is begging me to have only a grain-free waffle for breakfast.
-When in doubt for lunch or a quick dinner, invest in some frilly toothpicks and roll up some nitrate free deli meat, cube some cheese, slice up apples and cucumbers, plate some carrots, bowl some nuts or trail mix, and serve with a friendly Ranch dressing. My kids deem this our “sample tray” lunch or dinner, request it often, and devour it within minutes.
-Talk to them about how they feel after eating too many sugary snacks. We have had this discussion many times post birthday party when tummies and heads don’t feel right, or bathroom issues persist the next day. Encourage them to understand the concept of “what you eat today–walks and talks tomorrow.”
-Start with the family dinner. Make it 100% primal, make it fun, and eat it together. If we make the right choices in front of our kids, they will eventually follow suit. I see this a lot not only with food, but fitness too. When they see me training, or coaching other women in the garage they beg to get involved and work on their box jumps and tricks on the rings!
If you are sold on the paleo/primal lifestyle, it seems given that you would want to fill your children’s bellies with the nutritious foods they deserve. We see many people who are believers but not quite capable of getting their kids on board. Perhaps out of fear? Organization and planning?
Fill us in on what is holding you back. Or, fill us in on what has worked for you and your family. We can lend an ear, shed some light, and share the love!
Since we got a lot of great feedback on the lunchbox post a few weeks back, I’ll leave you today with another week of packed lunch ideas. It’s up to you whether or not to fill the tiny treat square. It keeps my first grader coming home with every last brussels sprout eaten, and that makes me a very happy mommy!
Enjoy, and we look forward to your feedback!