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Easing kids into paleo without carb-flu

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Updated about 1 hour ago
Created April 14, 2013 at 8:47 PM

Hi there. I have 4 kiddos, (3, 6, 9, and 11).. Does anyone have any advice for how to ease them into a paleo lifestyle without giving them "carb-flu" symptoms? The 9 year old is an athlete who works out 14 hours/week. ( Gymnast). I don't want to mess with her energy levels and ability to perform atthe gym. The 11 year old is pretty sedentery, the 6 year old is very active and very fit,and the 3 year old is a typical energy ball 3 year old. Prior to paleo, they were eating all kids of refined, processed, carb-loaded garbage. The usual kid diet of pizza, fast food, crackers, etc. I have removed the processed pantry foods gradually by not replacing them as they run out. We're down to fruit, veggies, meat and raw milk/yogurt. I want to lose weight, so I am avoiding fruit, but will it hurt them to let them eat as much fruit as they want all day? They aren't real big on the veggies, so other than the few bites I force they are mostly eating meat now. It doesn't seem enough. Thoughts?

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5802 · April 14, 2013 at 9:07 PM

I think part of the great thing with starting kids young is that they can be totally healthy at 80% paleo - their bodies aren't broken from years of SAD, and the occasional indulgences don't bother them as much.

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15400 · April 14, 2013 at 8:52 PM

Rice and boiled potatoes for low carb flu. Carrots, pumpkins, spinach - kids find those palatable. Making fun faces with food will add excitement to their meals. My mom used to make eggheads with eyes, ears and mushrooms out of boiled eggs.

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4 Answers

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11682 · April 14, 2013 at 9:06 PM

Disclaimer: I'm not a doctor.

I would not remove the fruit from kids. Add a few starches, eg sweet potatoes, and white rice if they can tolerate it -- especially for the gymnast kid. Just because you want to lose weight doesn't mean that your kids have to too. Paleo is NOT necessarily a very low carb diet, just a "sensible carb" diet. Paleo only becomes low carb for weight loss or for some specific medical conditions, or for seasonal reasons (eg in the winter, humans traditionally ate fewer carbs). But it doesn't seem like your kids need any of that. Barring any allergies, I'd give them meat, a lot of wild fish/shellfish, eggs, veggies, fruit, some starches, some nuts, and a bit of raw, local honey. And of course, dairy. They're still kids, they need dairy. If you want the best of both worlds regarding dairy, consider fermented goat dairy (eg home-made goat kefir). Kefir is a super food without lactose, and plenty of probiotics. Fermented for 24 hours removes most lactose, and goat milk contains the gentler casein compared to cow casein. For your youngest kid, unfermented milk should still be just fine. Basically, I would not personally remove goat/sheep dairy from my kids, but I would not give them raw dairy either. I have trust issues, and consider that I come from a pastured herder family in Greece. As for you, who seems to want to lose weight, simply avoid the starches/fruit for a while.

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5802 · April 14, 2013 at 9:17 PM

I have 4 kids too (13, 7, 5, 4). Yes, absolutely let them eat fruit. And potatoes, and even rice (see the Perfect Health Diet for discussion on that). Especially if they are active. Kids burn off that energy so fast! Here is a discussion from another post about how I transitioned my kids: http://paleohacks.com/questions/180755/my-children-are-addicted-to-sugar-and-processed-food/180796#180796

Our big focus is that certain foods are "celebration" foods. We do sometimes have pizza night, or go out for frozen yogurt. But these are special foods, not everyday foods.

As your kids go paleo they will be "snacky" less and less. If you do have one that is still hunting down food constantly, make sure they are getting all their nutrients. Here is a good link to start thinking about what they might be deficient in (esp if one kid really doesn't eat much variety): http://perfecthealthdiet.com/recommended-supplements/

I would even keep full fat dairy in there unless you have a reason to avoid it. My kids love frozen blueberries and cream, or yogurt with strawberries and honey.

The only rule we have about fruit in our house is that I shop once a week. When it's gone, it's gone. Weeks where they go bonkers on fruit it runs out, and then oh well. :)

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8065 · April 14, 2013 at 11:55 PM

As said, Paleo is not necessarily low carb. If you want to be "strictly" Paleo, there's still plenty of carbs in starchy veggies and fruits. You can limit those in your own diet to reduce the carbs to lose weight, but don't skimp on the kids' servings of starchy veggies and fruit.

If they're not big on veggies, all I can suggest is to put them on the table anyway--again and again and again. Tell your kids they don't have to eat them if they don't want to, but that's part of what's for dinner. Feel free to enhance the flavor of veggies, starting with lots of butter, and offering full fat dips and dressings, too. A little fruit mixed in here or there is OK too, but you don't want kids to only eat veggies if there's fruit for sweetening.

For example: It's asparagus season. My kids love to dip their asparagus spears in curry mayonnaise (homemade paleo mayo) or drizzle the spears with lemon butter.

The theory is that if your kids see the veggies on the table often enough, eventually they'll try it and they may like it, especially if you get them away from junk and processed food which really blunts the tastebuds for food that isn't super salted or super sweet.

Some raw veggies taste better than their cooked counterparts, so give them raw veggies and dip or nut butters to spread on them.

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37187 · April 14, 2013 at 9:05 PM

Edit: Darn, I forgot to address carb flu. With my inclusion of fruit and allowing occasional SAD treats the carb flu was never an issue.

Based on what I've read, many paleo parents try hard to raise their kids paleo but I worry about backlash as newly emancipated young people go wild on SAD. My son did this to a mild extent even though I allowed some treats along the way; I've seen some who were totally restricted live on junk for quite a while once they were on their own.

I raised my son on the healthiest diet I could based on what I knew then, but I always allowed him to have a few SAD treats especially in school situations. I did the same with the grandkid so they understood the need for healthy food before indulging in SAD treats.

If we use my now-19 year old granson as my best example, he's about 60-80% paleo without ever having been preached to or restricted. He did live with me for almost 2 years and has lived elsewhere for the past 6 months.

With young folks, I don't think it's necessary to be all-or-nothing unless they have a health condition that requires it. I defined my goals as: 1) lead by example, and by being very healthy for an old gramma, and 2) offering/recommending a foundation of good paleo nutrition without trying to deprive him of his favorite SAD treats.

Simply by eating at my place and trying many things, my grandson loves fruit and meat; he's more skeptical about salads but does eat some cooked vegetables. He's tried homemade yogurt with fruit. You should see that young man dive into a paleo bone broth stew!

He's lean, which he achieved on his own simply by deciding to cut back on his processed treats while eating healthy and being physically active.

When he's with his friends, or as a weekend treat, he still indulges in some SAD items and I don't worry about it.

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5802 · April 14, 2013 at 9:07 PM

I think part of the great thing with starting kids young is that they can be totally healthy at 80% paleo - their bodies aren't broken from years of SAD, and the occasional indulgences don't bother them as much.

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