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Kids & The Paleo Diet

Kids On The Paleo DietI never preached about what I was doing or how I was eating, unless someone approached me and asked  how I lost weight. I don’t go into too much detail unless they keep asking questions, and more times than none they usually keep asking questions. I never pushed the diet on my wife or kids, but after my wife saw my results and learned more about it, she decided to give it a  try.  However, I am not sure if she started because it was easier for me to cook all of our meals or because she liked the results she saw in me. So far, she loves it.

We have two daughters, Genevieve, aka Evie,  who is going to be 3 in June, and Savannah who is 7 months old.  Savannah being only 7 months old really only has breast milk, and we just started introducing mashed sweet potato and avocado to her diet. You really can’t do much chewing with 3 teeth in your mouth.

We always gave Evie, and now Savannah, organic foods: mac & cheese, chicken nuggets, mini bagels, french toast, rice, waffles, etc. The problem with all of this stuff is that it is still processed carbohydrates that she should not be having. Evie also has eczema on her neck, elbows, wrists and knees. She doesn’t have it bad, but it’s moderate and she does get flare ups that bother her from time to time.

According to ThePaleoMom, aka Sarah Ballantyne, Ph.D., a medical biophysicst, author of the book, The Paleo Approach: Reverse Autoimmune Disease, Heal Your Body, and a mom of two, eczema occurs three times more often in celiac disease patients and around two times more often in relatives of celiac patients, indicating a possible genetic link between the two conditions. For that reason, gluten sensitivty is suspected as a possible root cause for eczema, but it is still unconfirmed. However, many people find that their eczema goes away when the adopt a gluten-free diet.

I strongly suspect that I may be able to helping Evie by switching her over to the paleo diet.

Two questions come to mind. Can kids do the paleo diet, and how do you introduce it to them?

Can Kids Do The Paleo Diet?

ThePaleo Mom, aka Dr. Ballentyne, says that “Children who follow paleolithic diets . . . tend to sleep better, tend to get sick less often, tend to pay attention in school better, tend to have more energy to play, and tend to have more even moods,” she wrote in a  blog post.

Eating Paleo can also provide toddlers with more nutritient-packed foods, says Paleo advocate Sébastien Noël, who blogs at Paleolifestyle.com and has a Facebook following of over 150,000 cave diet enthusiasts. “Feeding your children a Paleo diet provides them with an enormous amount of benefits that they simply couldn’t get from standard American ‘kid foods,’” he explains. This is because unlike highly processed snacks, “Paleo foods provide all the micronutrients they need to support a healthy growing body.”

There are also different shades of Paleo. As Ballantyne describes, some families follow a strictly Paleo diet, meaning no dairy and no grains, while others include grass-fed dairy in their diets (this is called a lacto-Paleo diet) or occasionally eat sprouted grains.

How To Introduce Your Kids To The Paleo Diet

If you have a toddler, you know that getting them to eat is one of the most difficult things to do, so trying  to introduce them to the paleo diet can seem like a daunting task. Dr. Ballantyne offers some good starting points on how to go about doing it.

  1. Start with familiar foods. There are probably things on the paleo diet that your kids are already eating, like bananas, apples or raisins. While you are transitioning them, it is a good idea to freely offer these things to them.
  2. Start sneaking in almost paleo foods. Take a look at what your child is currently eating and see if it can be converted to paleo. For example if  they like peanut butter, switch it with almond butter. If they like meatballs, chicken fingers and fishstick, there recipes for paleo versions that can be found online. If  they like muffins and cookies, there are also paleo recipes for  them available.
  3. Slowly introduce new foods. This is where you may get some resistance. For example, paleo bread is usually made from almond or coconut flours. While they are good, they are different in taste and texture and require some getting used to. If they don’t like a certain food, Dr. Ballantyne suggests that you don’t force it on them,  but try and encourage them to try a food more than once.
  4. Allow for some gluten-free treats. To make the transition a bit easier, offer your kids gluten free treats like mashed potatos, rice pasta, gluten free waffles or bread.
  5. Give them a choice. I know that my daughter likes to be given choices, because it makes her feel grown up and more in control. Dr. Ballantyne suggests that you let them choose between three paleo options for dinner or a snack is a good idea.
  6. Don’t keep foods that you don’t want them to eat.  This one seems pretty simple. If you don’t want your kids eating a specific food, don’t keep it in the house. It makes it a lot easier to tell them no.
  7. Explain it to them in general and simple terms. Dr. Ballantyne recomends that you don’t scare your child into eating paleo by telling them that bread will kill them or that peanut butter will make them sick. That kind of thinking will scare them, especially when they see other extended family members eating the things that they aren’t supposed to. Instead tell them, “we eat this way because it makes us strong and healthy.” Whatever it is you decide to say, make sure it is something positive and don’t scare them into eating  this way.
  8. Don’t make a big deal out of Paleo foods when you are out of the house. If your childs wants a piece of birthday cake at a friend’s party or is offered pizza at a friend’s house, don’t make a big deal out of it. As long as they don’t have food allergies or strong food sensitivities, a little bit won’t hurt.

I have talked to my wife about getting Evie on the paleo diet and we both agreed that we will give it a try. I was just unsure where and how to start doing it. It appears that I have found my answer and now all I have to do is slowly start introducing it into her diet. I’ll keep you posted.

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