Since going Paleo I offered to cook all my family meals to help them stick to the diet. At first it was great but now my 11 year old sister constantly refuses meals, saying she doesn't like pork or steak or fat. This has made me very worried to the point of hysterics. I seem to have a lot of melt downs since going paleo from a rather calm, peaceful state after surviving raw veganism. Can anyone suggest anything?
I don't want you to think bad, but I would not eat pork either. I just don't like the taste. As for the fat - maybe it is a little bit too gross for the kids this age. I would allow your kids to have one dish that they absolutely hate and I would not make it. My suggestion: try chicken. Kids love chicken, no matter what shape or form. Also, chop your steak into strips before cooking - it looks more appealing.
If kids get hungry and KNOW they won't get anything else - they will eat a woolly mammoth with fur, trunk and all. I know this for a fact. My friend offers to board her neighbors' and friends' kids who are very picky eaters. In less then two days she gets them to eat absolutely anything, even boiled onions. How does she do it? She does not let them have snacks, and they only eat what is offered to them at meal times. They are not allowed to pick any food from the fridge or to eat after/before meal times. She does not get nervous when they refuse to eat, she just tells them it is okay and they can go and do something else instead. No kid lasted longer than one and a half day.
Give your child a choice. For example, do you want steak or do you want pork? Broccoli or cauliflower? They feel empowered and they will happily accept their choices.
Get a sharp cookie cutter and cut out funny shapes out of thin slices of meat. Give this dish a funny name. Like "Shiny Stars" or something. It will look and sound more appealing. Make meatballs. Kids LOVE meatballs!
Remember that you need an acquired taste to like some foods. My mom was making kidney with pickles (an ethnic dish) as we were growing up. I still love the taste! I would eat it any day! My favorite dish, even though it does not sound nice.
Good luck and remember: if they do not eat something, they are not going to starve and it does not mean you a bad mom or a bad cook. Stop feeling guilty. You are not a short order cook and you cannot possibly please everyone. Being a mother is a full-time job. Your job is not to please your kids. Your job is to make sure they are eating healthy and nutritious foods. Would you rather them be happy and eating junk or be healthy and learn to love good food?
Unless your 11 year old sister is into shopping and cooking, at some point hunger will take over and the meals you cook will be good.
Stay calm and wait it out. Get earplugs if necessary.
Aren't young people wonderful? You've gotta' love'em as you're banging your head against the wall.
I happen to sympathize with her point of view. I was fed whole foods as a child because I happened to be a child many centuries ago--okay, 60 years or so. So even though I was deeply addicted to neo-foods, it wasn't a horrifying switch to revert to whole foods. It was great in many ways.
But if all you've even known is neo-foods, and you're still young (think volatile and with a healthy tendency toward being self-centered) then it's neither familiar nor comfortable.
If I were you I'd try to offer things she has enjoyed in some of your meals and not worry too much about what else she eats. Over time she may become more comfortable and gravitate toward some of your healthier dishes. That's what happened with my grandson--he even lectures his dad now about grain being unhealthy and meat being good for you, which I find hilarious.
Get her involved in the meal prep. Let her help with the menu planning and cooking. Younger folks tend to be more enthusiastic about food if they had a hand in making it.
She doesn't have to eat pork and beef to have a healthy Paleo diet. How about chicken nuggets coated with egg and hazelnut or almond flour cooked in coconut oil or even beef tallow. Even an omelet or some chinese egg foo young made yourself can be good, assuming she will eat eggs. I like the idea of giving her a list of foods and asking her what on that list she might like. Of course, wait until she is not in an obstinate mood.
Maybe add the meat and things to some rice pasta or potatoes or something else fun.
I found some really delicious rice pasta that looks and tastes exactly like wheat pasta, but is made with rice. The shells are my favourite. I was surprised at how similar they tasted. So maybe if you had a bit of that with meals, she would be a bit more excited about the food? I know I was excited to eat it ~ I felt like I was eating "real" food (how ironic) but didn't get that carb tiredness or anything afterwards. And of course potatoes are good. I don't know many people who don't like potatoes..
Maybe just make some quasi-paleo meals that she'll like. She'll still be eating healthier than the rest of her friends most likely, and also maybe she'll start to associate paleo with deliciousness...
That is a pretty drastic change of diet, of course you are experiencing push back. If you spent a long time talking about how "meat is murder" she's probably still feeling pretty uneasy about its appearance on the table.
Children are often really attached to family traditions when it comes to eating and philosophy about it. If you were raw vegan for a long time, the aversion to a) cooked food and b) animal food are to be fully expected.
For many people young and old alike sushi and sashimi are the gateway foods to get used to the idea of eating more meat.
Do you possibly overcook the meat? When I first started cooking meat I was so worried about food borne illness that I cooked the crap out of it, and it wasn't very tasty. Very rare steak, or steak carpaccio might be good if she is okay with meat but having trouble with cooked. Offering things like applesauce or cranberry relish to go with pork chops sometimes wins the youngins' hearts too.
As far as her not liking fat that makes me think that might be more of a response to peer pressure about being thin and listening to CW silliness that scapegoats fat for all things detrimental to our health and girlish figures.
This is her battle not yours, no more hysterics. Cook the food, eat the food, enjoy the food, and if she finds herself hungry enough I'm sure she'll join you. Unless she's anorexic, it is pretty much her business whether she eats dinner or not.
Ask her for recommendations of what she does like. Make a nice long list of stuff she enjoys, and then you can add those to your meals. There are probably side dishes that she likes that you can make alongside, especially on days when you're making an entree she doesn't care for. So for my kids, I'll make kale chips or sweet potato chips or rice on days when I'm pretty sure they won't like the entree. The other alternative that is offered in my home is that they can have a nut butter sandwich with apples any time they don't like the entree. Maybe you can create an alternative choice for nights she doesn't like the offering?