I read this article on the USA Today website and couldn't help but feel for all the paleo parents out there.
I recently spent some time with my in-laws and was able to observe the eating habits of my 1 year old niece and 3 year old nephew. Their parents keep them very active (lots of outside time and play), grow a garden at home, and are very good about consistent, fair discipline, but I also noticed some things that I, from my child-less position of ignorance, considered alarming.
It seemed like the kids followed a daily routine of nap or sleep, eat something (from what I observed, microwave popcorn, nutri-grain cereal bar, macaroni and cheese, cheese, juice, conventional whole milk, or a banana), run amok, meltdown, eat something (same list as before), nap, repeat.
I did some research on WAPF and looked up some previous paleohacks posts, which seem to show no problems with kids eating meat, veggies, fermented foods, offal, and even cod liver oil.
Obviously, none of these foods are being marketed to kids and most kid's books seem to assume that cupcakes and icecream are perfectly good teaching tools (number 6 bestselling kids book on amazon, number 8 bestselling kids book on amazon).
I'm wondering how you Paleo Hack parents combat these messages and what seems to work with your kids in spite of the odds being stacked against you.
We explain why we eat this way, we don't have TV, and we don't give in.
The kids still get their screentime - they're watching Babar as I type this. But watching a few shows via the internet exposes them to a lot less advertising than standard television.
Shows pushing CW health info (Sid The Science Kid, for example) are occasionally a problem, but we've explained the economic forces that drive conventional wisdom, and they understand that.
Given those two combined, I can't remember the last time they asked for something because of the association with a branded character. But if they did, we'd just say no, and possibly help them find a more acceptable alternative (be it a healthier food or a something else involving the branded character, depending on which seemed the most appropriate response).
Also, we don't go to the aisles where most of these things are located. If you don't go down the cereal aisle, your kid isn't going to see the box of cereal with their favorite character on it.
Yup, I continuously repeat to my 4 year old that just because Elmo's on the can of organic!"chefboyardee"-esque stuff, doesn't mean that it's good for you. Same for Dora sugared yogurts and Dora cupcakes.
My daughter knows that anything asked about goes through my ingredient label inspection and usually fails that test, no matter who is on the front of the packaging. Mean ol' Mommy. ;-)
Giving up fruit snacks with characters on them in the beginning was something I thought would be hard. But we talked about whether we thought that food was healthy or if real fruit was healthier and the kids were just as thrilled to pick out ANYTHING of their choice from the produce section. They'd ask if certain gluten-free dairy-free foods were OK and we'd look at ingredients and decide if we knew what stuff was or not. If we had no idea what it was, we decided it wasn't food healthy for our bodies.
Over time they started saying "eww" to TV commercials or boxed foods on their own...
I think another way to make these foods appealing to your kids (and keep them from thinking too highly of the food and things they see on television/the supermarket/their friends' lunchboxes) are to cook with them, or at least have them watch you prepare meals and snacks. When they say that a lot of time and love goes into it, as well as the fact that they can contribute and put their own spin on things, they might show less interest in the rest of the advertisements and bad food. Then again, I don't have kids yet, and perhaps they are just too darn impressionable for this to work.
My kids have never really asked for any branded foods. We only watch tv on the weekends, and only on the computer via Netflix, so they never see commercials. Like other commenters, we avoid those aisles in the store. Also, we watch shows with mostly non-human protagonists, like Thomas and Dinosaur Train, so they don't see "people" eating a bunch of junk. If they want to imitate Buddy the T-Rex's diet, I would be totally fine with that. I can't say that was an intentional food-related decision, though. And I probably wouldn't let them eat coal like Thomas.
If they want something branded and I want to indulge them, I will buy them a toy or a book. Lasts longer and is usually less toxic.
DS gets what Mama buys. Interestingly enough, he has NEVER liked processed foods even when I was first introducing baby foods. He lost weight every time we traveled because I would buy canned baby food (for convenience). Ironically even when he was eating half as much as normal, people would marvel at how much he would eat. He will not eat canned soups or frozen meals.
We have this really strange word in our family, one you don't hear much anymore.
As in, no we are not buying that. or no, it's not in the budget.
And for what it is worth, we cut out TV before going paleo and I noticed a very MARKED improvement in DS's behavior! Less cranky meltdowns.
It is a bewitching thought that the TV parents rely on to keep their kids happy and out of mom's hair may be the cause of the kids that parents want out of their hair!
Take a look at this...It's only 9 minutes worth...
There are, of course, very postive uses as well as a plethora of demonstrated very negative ones.
In any event, it's certainly on its way. INTENSE.
A whole 'nother level...
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