my brother's girlfriend 12 year old is significantly overweight. several months ago while talking about weight and health with her mother she was very defensive and determined that the conventional wisdom would help her daughter drop the weight. four months later, after watching me effortlessly drop 25 lbs while at the same time getting a grim assessment of her daughter's health from her physician, she is asking me about devising a plan to get her daughter on the right track. the biggest obstacle i see in this is the school lunches and the peer pressure of a kid bringing what may seem like weird food for lunch. if you guys were asked to start an overweight, unhealthy 12 year old on a paleo diet plan, how would you go about it?
First time poster. I had to jump in and ask if the mother is eating paleo and being a good example of paleo eating? If so, then its up to the daughter to choose to emulate the mother. Everyone should butt out of the 12 year girls "weight" issue. Seems like a perfect time to make health - not weight - be the teaching tool. I hope you are just talking to the mother and not the 12 yr old. It seems too much of a boundary crossing for the brother of the mothers boyfriend to be involved with a 12 yr old girls "weight" problem.
I know you mean well and your weight loss and health are commendable. You are an example for the mother and daughter and that's important.
I may be overly sensitive to this post (obviously) but having been an overweight 12 yr old (altho looking back not really that overweight) and having adults talking about my body as if I weren't inside of it and giving me horrible SAD advice - just made me cringe when I read this question. Back to lurking :)
I would say don't let perfect be the enemy of good. She is a child, surrounded by other children who eat junk.
I actually have a bit of experience with this, as my little sister had the unfortunate fate of inheriting my mother's metabolism (the rest of us can eat what we like and stay relatively thin). When she was 10 my mother put her on a modified low carb plan and it seemed to work. The good thing is that at that age it is fairly easy for kids to drop the weight.
My mom was pretty strict when at home: a variety of meats, cheeses, stir frys, with salad and veggies. Most of the time the veggies were slathered in ranch, but i think its ok not start out with FULL paleo. Also popcorn, sweet potatoes, low carb bread and wraps, fruit, nuts, and breaded chicken nuggets were used sparingly or for lunch. She still drank milk.
It was not a perfect paleo or even low carb plan, but compared to the junk she was eating it was a damn good diet. She ended up losing a significant amount of weight and has managed to keep most of it off (sans 5 pounds) for the time being. She still practices low carb, but not as strictly- with lots of little cheats here and there. However I am very happy that she has the knowledge at such a young age about what proper nutrition is and how to lose weight in a smart and healthy way.
I bet that even cutting out the sugar and replacing the bread with LC wraps and bread would help. If you keep her low carb at home she could also probably be ok with eating a little junk around her friends sometimes.
I don't plan on feeding my kids sugar at any point in time and we will eat lowish carb and paleo at home, however you don't want your kid to be THAT kid- who's parents don't let him have some cake at a party. That'll do more damage than the damn cake.
For more Paleo hacks: http://paleohacks.com/questions/12307/answer#ixzz12Ryby7gg
I would make the focus be on fruits, veggies, and meats/dairy (if they want dairy). I would also try to focus on what she can add into her diet, instead of what needs to be cut. The biggest thing I would do is cut the sugar. I would not go low carb. Not for a kid. Let her eat potatoes. Also, trying to make foods she already likes, in a paleo manner, will help.
One key to success is to find paleo things the kid likes. Give the kid as many options as you can think of that are still paleo or almost paleo. YOu want the kid to look forward to that lunch. A little bit lower carb would be good but no need to go overboard. Do maybe 100 grams of carb or a bit less per day. You can make the lunch the more carby meal if that will improve compliance. A banana or a favorite fruit would be nice. Mixed fruit cut up in little pieces is more fun than a big slab of only one fruit. The colorfulness of mixed fruit adds to the experience. I love to see a small bowl of cut strawberries, a few blueberries and maybe a few slices of banana. The colors just make it look so much more attractive. You can add a bit of stevia to sweeten them up a bit. Compliance is key here so you have to make sure the kid likes the taste.
I actually make my own lunches for work and no one makes fun of my food. They are envious. I bring things like salmon in cream sauce, beef or venison stir fry, fried chicken legs fried with egg and unsweetened coconut powder and shreds, homemade cookies made with nutbutter, pecan bits and just a few dark chocolate chips, etc. Once in a while, I will beat some heavy cream with a bit of cacao and make whipped cream to put on the berries. Sometimes I will bring cold cuts or salami and cheese. High quality lunch meats wrapped around some cream cheese or other cheese can be very tasty. I bring a small cooler and add two small bottles of frozen water (not to drink, just for holding the ice) added into the cooler to keep the food cool. I refreeze the water each night and it is ready to go back in the cooler the next day.
Most kids can lose weight quickly on just a decent diet and no calorie restriction. My advice would be to see if you can find compliance on a decent sorta low carb diet based on all healthy foods and if it can do the job of fixing the weight problem. Nix the grain oils (those don't even taste good anyway so there should be no complaints!) and grains. Try that before getting all drastic with super low carb and all that. For most kids, it is just not needed and will hurt compliance. ONly if that does not work need you start looking at troubleshooting the diet further. You want to make this as fun as possible. Tell the kid, you can eat all the steak and fried chicken you want! And I'll get you some berries and cream! There may be a bit of a tantrum or moping around at first (standard kid response to giving up ANYTHING AT ALL), but kids adapt quickly and it will be much easier if the child gets to the point where he is no longer carb addicted. ONe thing for sure, everyone I have gotten to try paleo/lowcarb has said this is definitely the easiest diet of all to follow because you don't have to feel weak and hungry and you can still eat lots of really tasty foods.
I don't think bringing some sort of meat, be it cooked ground beef, diced ham, or chicken breast to school is a weird food at lunch. Then some fresh fruit and pecans/walnuts/seed doesn't seem odd either. I take that to lunch with me at work everyday. Worst case scenario, if that's all the kid has to eat they probably will as long as you give them enough variety. And once in awhile they might sneak a crappy carb or something from one of their friends. That's being a kid IMO. If it's only lunch, the rest of her meals can be decent anyway and the whole family should really go Paleo to support her and help themselves. My $.02
Allow the girl to pick out her own lunchbox and then browse lunch ideas online. Show her some blogs featuring Bento box packed lunches (mine does) or other primal packed lunches and ask what looks good.
The more control she has within paleo/primal parameters, the better, especially at 12!
Packed Leftovers. Meat , veggies. Good quantities. The kids make fun of someone picking apart school lunch, or the kid bringing salads and tofurkey
They don't bother the one with the steak, they're just jealous.
Make sure portions are large enough that kid won't be tempted to cheat.
I've directed my sister (she has 4 kiddos) to: everydaypaleo.com
It's a great site. The author has children she is raising on a paleo-diet.
My recommendations: Plenty of fruits (to curve the sweet tooth), nut butters,veggies with fun dips, and meats the kids like!
My kids are not overweight, but I have recently gone Paleo and they have too (slightly modified - avoiding most grains and def avoiding gluten). I have been pretty sneaky about it, but they do not complain. I think that when labeling our diets, it creates criticism. Examples of what my kids take for lunch are:
Applegate pepperoni Leftover paleo chili Leftover Meat Celery with sun butter or other nut butter tart apples Nutiva Hemp Bars Carrots Cherry Tomatoes Homemade beef jerky Nuts Seeds Low sugar fruits (sparingly for overweight child) Trail Mix (made with nuts/seeds, small amount of organic popcorn)
Hope this helps!
The key is to make the food not look or sound weird, I suppose.
Paleo meatloaf slices shouldn't be hard to make or to pack.
Fruits like berries, apples, peaches, oranges. etc are pretty standard looking, and do provide a sweets fix.
You might try using silicone cupcake cups to bake individual portions of quiche containing bits of meats & veggies. You can call it 'baked eggs' or 'muffin' or 'pie' if the word quiche is too strange. They can be made either sweet or savory, and lend a lot of taste variety in a standard sort of shape.
Deli sliced meats can be rolled up around yummy fillings (egg salad, ham salad, veggies, etc) like small meaty wraps.
Raw or lightly cooked veggies like broccoli or carrots can be packed with a yummy paleo dip.
Soups & stews can be bone-broth based and look really normal in a thermos.
You might also consider allowing the occasional lunch box sandwich made with some innocuous looking bread, for school lunches only, so that she doesn't have to feel like a total oddball at school.