Oh if I could only turn back the hands of time 10 years! I screwed up along the line - I can admit it. My kids eat crap,..the worst of the worst SAD. I need to fix it and I need to soon, but I'm afraid. Yes afraid of the fight that a 6 year old can put up,...how sad is that?
10 years ago I had son #1. At 12 months I started noticing things and at 15 months I told the Dr. that I thought he was autistic. I was right. He is extremely smart and high functioning, but very classical moderately autistic in a social and communication sense. At 18 months I read that I should try a gluten free/casein free diet. It wasn't as much for behavioral issues at that time as it was for bad bowel movements of a peanut butter consistency several times a day. I bought all the expensive products including potato milk and enzymes (which I never could get him to take) and being consistent in GF/CF for 9 months really gave us no change.(had we as a family switched to Paleo then,..oh my! things would have been so much better) Eventually he potty trained at 4 years and the bowel issues seemed to go away. BUT after the GF/CF diet my son was very limiting in what he would eat. Eventually ending up to be a rotation of 5-10 foods that he still sticks to today. Being pizza, mac and cheese, nuggets, fries, corn dogs, spaghetti, and hotdogs. Occasionally he'll eat a granny Smith apple or some baby carrots (with me harassing him to do so). Cleaned the basement the other day and found withered up baby carrots everywhere.
Son 2 comes along - diagnosed lightly borderline at 15 months. Didn't talk til 3.5 yrs and very food limiting from the start of solids. Of course he doesn't have a good role model in his brother. And me, one who made excuses,....I had a lot on my hands. The battle over food was not a priority.
One of my biggest parenting mistakes has been not eating in front of my children - true, my husband and I were also eating a bad SAD until this year. But kids ate at 5pm (husband worked late) and adults ate at 8pm after kids are in bed. A habit we got into and kept because I enjoyed being able to have a quiet peaceful dinner with my spouse after a crazy day. NOW, I see the errors of our ways. Our kids never saw us eating a variety of food thus increasing the problem.
SO as of today my husband and I are full steam paleo/primal. I have 2 kids that eat only about 5-10 SAD foods.
The 6 yr old is the head strong one with an iron will. His favorite 2 foods are strawberries and bacon,...so I do have that going for me, but not much else. He eats several fruits, but NO vegetables whatsoever,..no meat that's not in nugget form.
We have been paleo 3 months now. Our kids SEE us eating paleo now all the time. They see us refusing SAD foods and explaining to them why.
The plan is right now is to run out of our current SAD foods and go full transition at the start of summer when I have more time/control of their 3 meals. Of course they both have summer camps, etc.
The 6 yr old gave me a battle just on Sunday morning because I replaced his HFCS nasty kroger pancake syrup with real organic maple syrup. It was a small battle, but I did win. Of course next Sunday he'll probably tell me that he just wants the pancake without syrup and lots of country crock crap which is a battle I have not yet won.
Were YOU able to switch over older kids (i.e the ones with more fight)
What sources/foods/techniques/websites did you use?
Great question and yeah for you and your family going primal! I have a 12 and 10 year old and we've always eaten well but in the interest of time, I fed my kids things like Goldfish and Wheat Thins. I've been paleo for 6 months (90%) and 99% paleo for a month (a splash of milk in my coffee). My kids have been transitioning over to paleo with me but I'm not forcing it on them as that is when I get the resistance. What I've done is gradually stopped buying the gluten snack foods and replaced their lunches with more dinner leftovers.
The biggest issue they had at first was thinking there was nothing to eat or rather, there weren't as many "easy" snacks. So they were forced to become creative. The other day my kid cooked her own bacon as an after school snack! (Proud Paleo Parent moment). There is less need for snacking since going paleo as their food lasts longer in their tummies.
Biggest word of advice is to not make a big deal of going paleo. Kids are adaptive but they don't like big changes. When I first announced it my kid declared that she was now a vegetarian. When I said I supported that and didn't fight her, she lost interest and realized her rebellion was futile. I eat dinner WITH them and we talk about the food: where it comes from, how its grown but I also chew slowly and savor the food. Kids are little mimics and they will take their cues from you.
My kids are also aware of what foods can do to a body. My older kid had horrible eczema and when I took her off dairy, she cleared up in 2 days. Found out she had lactose intolerance. So this was a great lesson in "listening to our bodies". Have the kids "listen" to their body. Re-introduce certain foods after a month and see if there are negative impacts. Allow the kids to report on their BMs - gross but hey, kids dig that sh*t (intended pun). Pretty soon, your kids will get so used to feeling good on paleo that they won't resist you.
Good luck and let us know how it goes!
As a child, what appealed to me most about processed food was the appearance and interactive element - bright colours, self-contained portions (always appealing to children), and the little touches like using straws to spear open juice boxes, before playing with them.
We eat with our eyes before we even consider putting anything into our mouths, so I suggest that you consider imitating the tricks of the industrial food manufacturers; buy some natural food colouring and some miniature serving pots or bento boxes sectioned into little trays, decorate foods with little paper flags/shiny streamers (my sister and I used to collect these obsessively whenever we ate at a restaurant, maybe you could turn this into a reward system e.g. decorations only on vegetables), use miniature cookie cutters to make pretty shapes out of butter, decorate foods to make faces or whatever your children are interested in (omlettes would be good for this). Consider getting the children involved in the kitchen - children like nothing better than eating food that they have helped to prepare.
Why not try making some Paleo-ised versions of their favourites; homemade almond/coconut flour nuggets or pizza would be non-threatening and close to the original. This approach has the advantage of allowing you to resort to subterfuge; later in the game you can always starting adding pureed liver or vegetables to these sorts of dishes.
If all else fails, how iron is the will of your six year old? Remember your kids are dependent on you for food at this age; if they go to bed without any supper would they wake up willing to try a different breakfast? Or were they sort of toddlers who really would hold their breath until they passed out?
I feel your pain, for sure. I just told my 9 year old that there is barely anything she eats that I would even put in my body. She lives on mac and cheese and canned soup most of the time. I am not in control of her food most of the time and grandma is not willing to "fight my battles" and my husband is not willing to fight with his mom about this, he still eats SAD too.
I am working on small battles, one at a time. I talked her into switching her breakfast to hard boiled eggs and bacon, just two days a week. Soon, I will make it three days a week and try to go from there.
I have added meat to her carb filled dinners. She is now eating steak or pork chops or something along side her other food. She argued at first, but once she took the first bite of steak, she quietly finished the rest without complaining.
I do my best to use positive reinforcement and not make a big issue about it. She knows I used to be obese and we talk about the fact that I am not trying to make these changes to be mean. I am making these changes to try to make her healthier because I love her and want her to be the best she can be.
Due to the fact that there is not any support besides myself and the other 3 adults in the house all eat SAD, I just take my victories when I can. As she gets older, I hope she can understand more.
This is a tough one, but it's not too late! Your kids are young. I know what you're going through... I have 15 year old twins and I raised them mostly on SAD, until about 5 years ago. It gets tougher when they're teens and not really wanting to listen to you even on non-food things.
I highly recommend some sneakiness in your case. I had the pancake syrup battle as well, but I refilled the old mrs butterworth container with the 'organic' syrup. They never knew! I've done this with other products as well. Some things are NOT worth the fight.
As for the country crock - make 'soft' butter by adding oil to butter and put it in the same type of container. Don't buy it again, and of course they'll taste the difference on this one, but just call it 'the new country crock'. I finally had to do this to MYSELF with mayonnaise, and obviously I knew what I was doing! Change can be tough and small steps are good. I haven't had my 'favorite' brand of mayo for awhile now but this one took way longer than I thought it should. But it takes what it takes!
One thing that has helped with one of mine recently is going to a naturopath. The guy said pretty much everything that I'd been saying, but HE IS A PROFESSIONAL so she will listen to him. This may work with teens because they think mom is dumb even when she's cutting edge.
When you think they're ready or you have a strong need to change, look into the GAPS (Gut and Psychology Syndrome) diet. Very interesting reading, and the cookbook on the GAPS diet store online is very good. There are some differences between GAPS and Paleo but they are similar.
Please let us know how you're doing so we can learn from you!! Raising kids against the SAD culture is HARD but it is doable.
I feel for you - the best advice I've taken away from this thread so far is to celebrate the small victories. And pick your battles. Be clear about it with them. Children, especially when they're our own, know how to hold their ground and make it feel impossible.
We've recently switched to a paleo lifestyle, 8 weeks tomorrow, and we have 2 children (3 & 5 yr old boys) who are picky eaters and patterned in their ways. We haven't pushed them to switch altogether and a portion of every meal is made just for them still. I can't wait to stop cooking the 'kids' meals... but we all eat together and there is some part of the meal that is shared. I make scrambled eggs & bacon a lot for the 5 yr old, and the 3 yr old will eat sausage if cut it in slices, speared with toothpicks (à la Costco sample). I offered him a small bit of mustard & ketchup (I know that's a pile of sugar) but it got the protein & fat into him. I buy fresh sausages from a local company that doesn't use preservatives, grains or excessive salt. The little one has taken to dipping carrots into the mustard/ketchup mess. I can cut back on the dipping aspect of it later, or start substituting in salsa. The main goal was getting the protein & fat in there. The carrot thing was a bonus.
Since their diet was dairy-heavy already (lots of yogurt, and milk on cereal/sugary granola) - I have kept dairy around, except I've switched to full-fat, and buy non-homogenized milk, yogurt & cream. Sometimes I buy whip cream for a treat and use an ISI whip cream dispenser to mix it up. I let them dispense it, as much as they'd like - with the rule it needs to go on fruit. They get loads of fat and not that much sugar. It's been a really fun thing for them (spraying whip cream), and it keeps them from thinking I'm a complete Grinch for throwing out the ice cream & cookies (and for never baking anymore).
To offset the staggering amount of grains/cane sugar that my youngest one was eating (2-3, sometimes 4 servings of Nature's Path Granola a day. Before Paleo, we ALL ate that), I tried my hand at making nut 'nola' from Girl Gone Primal's blog. http://girlgoneprimal.blogspot.com/2010/02/recipe-grain-free-granola-nola-final.html
First try my youngest cried & pointed at the shelf where his beloved "crunchies" should have been. I added freeze-dried strawberries & dried apples to his bowl to sweeten it and he will now eat some. I end up finishing it somedays when I don't mind the bit of milk - but he is at least not fighting about it anymore.
Another 'bridging' trick (?) I used was introducing a 'fruit box' in our fridge (large flat container full of their absolute favourites: red grapes, strawberries, kiwi halves) and I add new things to change it up (cantaloupe chunks, grapefruit segments, berries). I put it on the table in the AM and at lunch and let them graze from it with their meals. It's a lot of fruit, but I realize just HOW much sugar they were used to and they revolted when it was removed altogether. Even though the fruit is always present, they are getting hungrier at meals and starting to try more without prompting. It's a really slow process, but you must believe it will improve if you do not have the junk in the house.
Cutting out the snacks gets them hungry and focused on filling their tummies.
Tonight we roasted a chicken, served with asparagus (sautéed in bacon fat after it was steamed) and a spicy coleslaw. The kids were offered chicken & asparagus (the tender spear ends) and a plate of cut up carrots & cucumbers. I scrambled 3 eggs to split between the 2 of them and they ate most of it. They both protested at the chicken (didn't even try it), however the little one crunched through a few pieces of crispy seasoned skin. They had full fat yogurt afterward, and the little one ate plain yogurt without realizing it. The older one had the sugary vanilla. I'm learning to pick my battles ;-)
Good luck, I'd love to hear your progress. It's very hard work deprogramming them, especially older kids - but you are starting and that's the best first step.
Being the mom of a 4 yr. old and 1 yr. old I of course defer to all the moms that will be posting here who have actually pulled off transitions with older children.
That said, I think that gradual changes can be your best tool - that and gluten-free and/or grain-free adaptations of neolithic favorites.
Example: Breaded, fried items like chicken nuggets can be fairly easily adapted and even prepared perhaps slightly faster than the time to bake traditional chicken nuggets in the oven - dip thin strips of raw chicken breast in an egg wash (1 or 2 eggs, raw, scrambled, with salt and pepper), and then in a mix of 1 part coconut flour, 1 part unsweetened shredded coconut (add other seasonings if you like). Fry in coconut oil. This breading combo also works nicely on raw peeled shrimp and thin fillets of fish like turbot (flounder) or tilapia.
Paleo baked goods could be your friend in a slow transition - and especially because they often include pumpkin, sweet potato, and/or pureed fruits that your kids might otherwise not be willing to consume. I realize that you are working under unique circumstances with your sons' preferences, too, so you have the knowledge of what types of baked goods they'd be most likely to try initially. There are so many great blogs with baked good offerings, but for starters I suggest checking out the grain-free baked good recipes over at Joyful Abode and also Life As A Plate. My family has recently tried a grain-free mix for Chebe pizza crust - which is a great way to sneak in some cheese - maybe Kerrygold Dubliner or Ballyshannon? - with great success. ETA: The Chebe crust instructions allow the maker to mix up to 1 cup of shredded cheese into the crust besides the cheese you'd use to top, so it could be a standalone cheese integrated thing if melted cheese as a topping is not an option.
Good luck! Turning the ship around (as it were) is so hard - and you have even more challenging circumstances. I would be so curious to know how you and your family are faring in the coming weeks and months.
I can't say they're totally converted (we have a 19, 13 and 11yo at home), but at home they eat paleo and school lunches are paleo as well. Our 11yo is the most compliant outside of the home. Our 19yo knows and understands the reasons for eating this way and sometimes preaches it to her boyfriend, but she is the least compliant. Our 13yo won't bring lunch to school. :-( We encourage them to choose Paleo options when we eat out together and sometimes they do, but we may just start making that a requirement if they want us to take them out to eat.
I did the same thing, instead of throwing out food, I used it up - weaning the kids off the gluten containing foods. They like to fiddle around in the kitchen so they learned to adapt recipes without wheat flour and experiment a little more now, since I don't buy quick and easy convenience foods. Our middle one has an incredible sweet tooth, so since the only sugar we really have in our house is fruit, we're limiting their fruit intake and having them choose other options for snacks.
I say make a gradual shift. Just stop buying what you don't' want your kids to eat...try to mimic the things they do like creatively with meats and veggies. When kids are hungry they will eat. So maybe they fast a day, they'll live...they'll eat eventually. We are gradually making the shift to Paleo, dinner time used to be such a battle and for the last two weeks, my son sits at the table with us throughout dinner and eats what is on his plate. Beef, seafood, poultry, and an array of veggies. Steak is a completely new addition in our house as my husband and I hadn't eaten it in 15 years. Honestly I am surprised each night that my son eats what is put in front of him and all I did was make sure I made only one meal for all of us and I sit with him and eat. some nights my husband eats after us when he comes home from work, but the majority of our dinners we eat together. Sometimes we tell him he can have frozen fruit for dessert if he eats X. Works like a charm. I used to have such trouble keeping my son (almost 4) at the table, and I think it was just that he was snacking too much on crackers between nap and dinner. Now he can skip afternoon snack making him rightly hungry for dinner. I also notice if I give him some kind of meat protein or fat with each meal...he isn't wanting to snack non-stop. however, if I give him a granola bar, 30 minutes later he's asking for something else, this goes at breakfast when he has cereal, the cereal is almost gone, so I'm transitioning him to eggs and sausage. (I'm no expert, just a stay home mom, with experience in child development, child care, and teaching, this is just my observation since we started about 5 weeks ago.)
I am happy to report that we are making progress. Slow but sure we are removing the bad foods and not replacing them. My kindergartener begs me to make him bacon everyday for lunch and is now eating some cheese, nuts and berries. Instead of making mac and cheese for my older son I'm using rice pasta.
We had a very Mr. Mom esk "woobie" moment a couple weeks ago - where we stood over the trashcan and said goodbye to country crock for the last time before we trashed it :-) good times,..