I would like to start introducing my son to a Paleo lifestyle, however My concern is this... He is already nderweight and a picky eater. it takes him forever to eat anything so I don't think that just feeding him a lot of calories jn the form of big servings is going to work. I'm really worried that he will lose even more weight... And believe me, he doesn't have any weight to lose in the first place. Thoughts/advice?
Kids will eat some proportion of the food that you put in front of them. He might only eat a few different foods for a little while, such as fruit, but he will start eating real food if you stick with it and try different things. Then, particularly if his current diet is lacking in nutrients, you'll probably see a growth spurt.
My son (8) is horribly picky, too. He didn't lose any weight when we went Primal, but certainly didn't gain any weight, either. It was a battle in the beginning, but I enlisted his help in planning/preparing/shopping for meals and his complaints are far fewer than they used to be. (We made the switch about a year ago.) I kept dairy in his diet, which helped, as he is a major cheese eater. He was never much of a milk drinker, but fell in love with raw milk and will drink a quart a day if I let him.
We still battle with veggies, but he is more willing try more and more as time goes on. I make sure his meals are loaded with fat and it keeps him full. On his own, he practices a form of intermittent fasting. Some days he won't be hungry until he has been awake for 4 or 5 hours. At first, I stuck to the conventional wisdom of "you must eat breakfast," then I realized how ridiculous I sounded and let him decide when it was time to eat. (We homeschool, so I do have a little leeway with timing of meals.) Some days he will eat 5 or 6 meals, other days he'll eat two.
It was difficult in the beginning, but I stuck to my guns and explained frequently that we were eating this way for our health and that it was important that we take care of him now so he doesn't wind up with the health problems my husband and I have that we are now seeing relief from.
I remember as a kid I was very picky (the usualy would gag on veges, never ate salads, only wanted desert) my mum continued to put the same food in front of my brother and I every meal. She never forced us to finish a meal, and by the age of about 10 I would pretty much eat anything. I think you need to show a kid a certain food over 10 times before they may be comfy to even try it?
All I can offer is my experience of having a very picky eater, who was eating a worryingly narrow range of foods, and slowly dropping them out of his diet. I could see we were on the road to baked beans, fish fingers, and chips (fries) for every meal.
We got him on board with whole 'caveman' metaphor, got him more involved in preparing real food, and now he eats a very wide range of foods. He will even eat a bit of mackerel, liver, heart, nuts and a range of fruit, which was unthinkable a few years ago.
I can recommend the book 'eat like a dinosaur' to help getting children on board with the change, and also doing a lot of home 'ground nuts and dates' type baking.
Final bit of advice is a no pressure approach. If they don't want to eat a bit of food on their plate that is fine.
I was a picky eater, too, and the very worst thing my mom did was make pronouncements like "Janknitz doesn't like _." She would make a big deal of my dislikes (I'm an only child, couldn't you guess?) and an elaborate show of making things I would eat.
Just put the food on the table and don't make a big deal about it. When that's what there is to eat, your kid will eventually eat it. As soon as I went away to college and no longer had my mom feeding into my issues with food, I started eating a whole lot of new things.
Now, I understand some kids WILL not eat unfamiliar foods--my Asperger's nephew for example. He is very thin, and will go days without eating if he doesn't have foods he likes. It doesn't sound like your child has these sensory issues. If he does, that's a different story.
I did the "no big deal" approach with my kids. They actually eat a good variety of foods. They don't overeat--both have healthy body weights--we also made a point of never commenting on how much they ate or making them eat more--I think kids need to learn to trust their own appetites and bodies. My eldest probably would have been a picky eater if I'd fed in to it (at 20 now she is making her own choices, I'm seeing a lot of things she doesn't want to eat anymore, but we still don't make a big deal about it).
Does he snack a lot? One thing I have noticed with my picky eater is that when he eats paleo, and we cut out the crackers, etc, his appetite improves greatly. Also, I let him skip meals. Breakfast and lunch are optional, depending on his appetite. No snacking in the afternoon, and usually he's outside playing anyway. Then he eats an amazing dinner (more calories than he would have eaten at 3 meals). I would never promote pushing kids into IF (intermittent fasting), but if this seems to be their natural rhythm, then go with it. My picky eater (1 out of my 4 kids) is the strongest in this cycle. My other boy is similar, but he tends to want a big breakfast, skip lunch, and is not picky at all. One of my girls skips breakfast, and eats lunch and dinner. And my other girl eats everything at any time of day, lol. She weighs the most, but is solid muscle (gymnastics). I am a big proponent of teaching kids early on to listen to their bodies and develop their own unique, healthy relationship with food. (Lest you think I spend all day cooking, I make a big breakfast, and that's what's available to them to eat until about 3 pm. Then I make a big dinner).
Many of the foods favored by paleo eaters are very calorie-dense, so serving size should be an advantage rather than a problem. Even vegetables become a pretty good calorie source if you're not afraid of cooking them in butter.
I realize I am answering my own question, but that is first to thank everyone for their comments, and also to add my own.
I went ahead and went pretty primal with everything (don't yell at me, but I did still keep some grains). However I focused on fresh fruit instead of sugar, homemade everything as much as I could, veggies cooked with butter/bacon/meat fat, etc. ALthough his weight still seems to be down, he is eating a lot more fresh veggies/fruit along with the fat, which has helped make him more regular... which ultimately helps his mood. So far then, Paleo is a go. Thanks again for your input.