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Let me introduce myself. My name is Mark Sisson. I’m 63 years young. I live and work in Malibu, California. In a past life I was a professional marathoner and triathlete. Now my life goal is to help 100 million people get healthy. I started this blog in 2006 to empower people to take full responsibility for their own health and enjoyment of life by investigating, discussing, and critically rethinking everything we’ve assumed to be true about health and wellness...

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February 01, 2010

Dear Mark: Raising Healthy Children

By Mark Sisson
93 Comments

As we all know, our Primal lifestyles don’t exist in a vacuum or (more than likely) even a very compatible environment. That goes double for our kids. However committed and exacting we might choose to be at home when it comes to their diets, the minute they walk out the door they encounter a whole world of competing interests and influences: grandparents and other family members, friends’ houses, school lunches, social outings, even sports team trips (ah, the big yellow buses pulling up to McDonalds…). While some of us might keep our Primal commitments more personal, all of us want to see our kids eat and be healthy. That’s easier said than done unfortunately. Sometimes the challenges hit closer to home, as in this reader’s email.

Mark,

I have what I feel is an interesting question that I don’t see addressed anywhere on the site. I’m pretty sold on the notion of the Primal Blueprint and I’m ready to jump in full force to change my lifestyle. I’m about to get married to a wonderful lady with 2 kids and she’s on board for herself as well. The question has come up though about the kids. While we both agree that eating healthier is a wonderful thing for them (and the Primal Blueprint way seems to be the best thing I’ve found in years of reading and searching), the problem arises with the differences between households. The kids basically split time with her and their father, and their father is pretty much a couch sitter who doesn’t adhere to a very healthy lifestyle at all. His diet is pretty typically American, although not even typically “healthy” American (whole grains, etc.) The kids would have weeks of low blood glucose followed by weeks of bombardment with high GI type foods. A week with us with controlled insulin production and a week at their dad’s without control of insulin production. This seems like it could cause more harm than good. My question is this…. Will switching over to a completely primal diet in our house and then sending them off to their dad’s house – to relapse back into a carb-centric eating pattern every other week – do them more harm than good?

Thanks to reader Jason for this one. The basic principle here applies to a whole heap of scenarios, but let me respond directly to the particulars of this situation first. It’s great that you and your future wife have found a common appreciation for Primal living, and kudos for sharing those benefits with the kids. Let me say this first: don’t sweat the diet back and forth too much. You’re not talking about a meal to meal shift. A full week of good eating at a time is nothing to shake a stick at. Sure, one half of their food intake should change, but it isn’t the half you and your fiancée offer them. I know what you’re getting at with the swinging and spiking glucose, but I firmly believe that the “break” those kids’ bodies are getting with the Primal eating strategy does them good. Although a week doesn’t allow time for a full metabolic resetting, so to speak, it does give the body a good stretch with stable hormonal balance. It gives the pancreas a rest from producing as much insulin, the liver a rest from (I’m imagining) filtering assorted junk foods, and the adrenal system a rest from coping with, well, the biochemical circus of carb overload. Rest assured, it’s better to be half Primal than not at all.

That said, I still think it’s worth trying to soften the blow of the alternating weeks. I don’t know what kinds of conversations your fiancée has had with her ex about the issue, but it’s a discussion worth having and even revisiting if there’s any chance for understanding or accommodation on his part. Obviously, these conversations can be emotional minefields, and I don’t pretend to know the particulars of your fiancée’s rapport with her ex. If it’s possible for her to have the conversation with him, keep it 100% focused on the kids and their health. After all, their well-being is a mutual concern. If he feels his role as caretaker is respected, he’s more likely to listen and engage. Just start by letting him know about the changes you’re both making for yourselves and the kids. Give him a chance to offer to make an accommodation or to at least show interest. If your fiancé thinks he’ll take the sharing as a personal affront to his own habits and intelligence, she can focus on the (basically true) “kids are still growing and need solid nutrition more than adults” angle. Even if he thinks the kids deserve some “treats,” it’s important to point out that the more unhealthy food they eat, the less healthy food they have room for. That said, it’s good to limit any negotiation/requests to a few carefully chosen foods/practices. It’s probably safe to say that the kids won’t ever eat Primally at his house. Pick your battles, as the saying goes.

And, again, the kids’ benefit isn’t dependent on the ex’s compliance. You and your fiancée are offering them Primal foods to fuel their physical and cognitive development. You’re boosting their immune function and promoting the healthy functioning of literally every bodily system they have. Another important point: you’re also increasing their insulin sensitivity as well as (I’d venture) their threshold for carb satiety. Although you probably don’t have the chance to observe it (and the kids the ability to realize it), they’ll probably choose to self-limit their sweet/carb intake more than they would if it were standard, full-time fare.

Ultimately, you and your fiancée have the opportunity to strongly and positively influence the children’s long-term choices as well as their understanding of overall health. No Primal parent can control every meal or outside influence. To some degree, we’re all in the same boat. I think the key isn’t to sweat the kids’ detours or derivations on Primal eating but to focus on the big picture. My son is a long-time vegetarian. It’s not the choice I would’ve made for him, but I respect his commitment. Over the years I’ve shared my perspective with him, and we’ve come to a middle ground that is considerate of his values and accommodating of my biggest concerns for his nutritional needs. I feel good knowing that he has the right knowledge about nutrition and a thoughtful approach to his diet.

At the end of the day, the best influence we can have over our kids’ diet (and overall health) is the model we present. They see us respect our bodies and make the time and effort to eat well. They see us make good nutrition a personal and financial priority. Although our particular choices might not always transfer at a given time, it’s the basic principles that definitely do set in over the long haul. It’s not about forcing Primal foods or manipulating them emotionally with warnings or judgments that will inevitably backfire (e.g. “You’ll get fat if you eat that.”). If they see us consistently value our physical health, they’ll learn to place value on theirs. With time and maturity, they’ll put those health values into practice on their own.

In the meantime, we can maximize their healthy choices in the here and now by stocking the house with only good Primal stuff and by engaging them in ways that make the “lessons” fun. We all know about the positive influences of eating together as a family, but consider taking it a couple steps further. Let your children cook with you and even shop with you. I know this can be an undertaking, but it can have big payoffs. Even better, grow a family garden or at least some window sill herbs and greens. Make the endeavor a family affair. Let the kids choose what to grow, and put them in charge of their own crops. Sure, all this lets them see how you make Primal choices from start to finish – seed packet/shopping list to dinner table, but it also gives you a chance to bond over food selection and preparation. They learn to enjoy food and see it as something to invest time, thought and enjoyment in. They gain pride in their efforts and accomplishments in the garden/kitchen. They have fun, and they get to spend quality time with you. In this way, you’re not just imposing your choices on them: you’re inviting them to participate in feeding and caring for the family. You’re sharing an experience with them. Put in this context, the “lessons” will teach themselves.

I’d love to hear your thoughts on going Primal with dual households as well as going Primal with kids in general. As always, thanks for the great questions and comments, and keep ‘em coming!

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93 Comments on "Dear Mark: Raising Healthy Children"

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Michelle
Michelle
6 years 7 months ago
Unfortunately, sometimes reality is a little more difficult to deal with when stepchildren are involved. In our situation, mom lives nearby, and the two kids (9 and 12 years old) don’t have long schedules with either parent. Sometimes they spend 1/2 the day with us, 1/2 with her. Or weekends are split. It isn’t a strict schedule and it works to keep the peace. Unfortunately, only having whole, healthy foods around translates into “dad, I HATE coming over here–you have NOTHING to eat!!!!” tirades. They are used to free access to a pantry full of junk from their mom. They… Read more »
mikesic
mikesic
6 years 7 months ago

My biggest concern is lunch for school. When I make it, although not perfect, it’s usually rolled coldcuts and fruit. Otherwise it’s sanwiches, pretzels etc. In-laws are the worst. So fustrating.

Tom M
Tom M
6 years 7 months ago
My family is completely primal in our eating and activity. Up front we spent a huge amount of time really educating our daughters on the advantages of this lifestyle. Result is they now can’t stand to eat any other way out of fear of damaging their bodies. When they go to a friends house or party they use smart strategies like eating the meat out of the noodles, etc. They are never really hungry so they can even skip the food until later. This may work in some shared custody situations. If the children go to dad’s house and demand… Read more »
emily
6 years 7 months ago

my kids’ school literally rewards children with candy daily. it is sad to me but not my hill to die on.

our 3 boys are from ‘split’ homes too, in an almost indetical situation to the reader’s letter. my kids do make comments about wishing we could have more sugar, more fast food like they do at their other parents home. we just dont, and wont! we all deal, its ot perfect but is what it is.

Lupe
6 years 7 months ago
This is exactly the question I am wrestling with right now! I recently moved to a primal lifestyle, and have three young boys at home. I’m a single mom, so what I cook/create is what my little family eats. My boys love our traditional high-carb Hispanic foods, from tortillas to posole to pan dulce. I want my boys to be as healthy as they can be, I want them to grow to be strong, vital men. I am limiting their carbs, but making sure they have plenty of fresh veggies, root veggies, and some fruits like berries. Does knocking out… Read more »
FlyNavyWife
6 years 7 months ago

grains offer nothing nutritionally (and even act as a negative, sapping nutrients) and knocking them out will not cause trouble for anything.

as long as you’re not limiting their veggies (which are full of vitamins, unlike grains) I wouldn’t worry about their carb intake. Like you don’t need to “count carbs” for them. Just let them eat veggies and meat and fats and fruit… until they’re full. And they’ll be healthy and vital. 🙂

Lupe
6 years 7 months ago

Thanks so much for your reply, FlyNavyWife. My husband was in the service, too, but I lost him in Afghanistan. He was really into eating meat, he would have loved this new lifestyle.

My boys are resisting the “No more white flour” mantra, but I think they will come along just fine. 🙂

DThalman
DThalman
6 years 7 months ago

best wishes to you, Lupe, and welcome to the primal community. i have a feeling you are going to raise three outstanding men!

Ika
Ika
6 years 7 months ago
I don’t have any kids yet, but me and my fiancee do plan to hopefully have 3 or so in the near-ish future! 🙂 We definitly plan to raise them eating primal, and I REALLY hope this will help them avoid all the health problems that my fiancee and I have had to deal with growing up (glasses, braces, migraines, autoimmune disease, hypoglyceima etc). I think its really important for kids to know WHY they are eating the way they are–one of my HUGEST pet peeves while I was growing up was when my parents made me do something that… Read more »
Dave
6 years 7 months ago
When I was in elementary school, the school cafeteria used to offer a discount of 75 cents on lunch when you got milk. That isn’t to say the milk was cheap, it means that it cost more to buy lunch without milk than with it. While the jury is certainly out on milk, the point remains that schools are teeming with illogical policies that do not have childrens’ best interests in mind. I staged my first protest over that milk policy (and won – not bad for 3rd grade). But saving 75 cents just meant I could buy a candy… Read more »
Grant
Grant
6 years 7 months ago

And that was a bad policy why, exactly? Milk may not be the best thing to consume, but it’s certainly better than everything else that’s on the average school lunch menu. If you’re going to eat carb load (spaghetti, pizza, 90/10 bun/meat sandwiches, potatoes and cookies on the side), why not at least have some protein and fat on top of it? And save money too!

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Matt Stone
6 years 7 months ago

Eating a “carb-centric” diet does not magically = overworking the pancreas or high insulin levels.

Kids do best on an unrestricted diet with as much nourishing food as you can get them to choke down. You’ll never keep your kids from eating junk food if they want it. Only maximizing the little ankle-biters nutritional reserves can you get them to truly lose interest in junk – assuming you don’t turn sweets into “forbidden foods.”

Dana
Dana
6 years 7 months ago

Well, if the carbs you’re centering on are all fiber, you might have a point.

If they’re something other than fiber, enlighten us as to the mysterious process wherein we consume carbs without engaging the pancreas at all.

I can keep my daughter from eating junk food. It’s called not having it in the house. She’s five and not exactly old enough to be visiting other kids by herself. When she gets older, obviously that will become more difficult, so I’m controlling her access while I still can. A head-start is better than nothing.

emily
6 years 7 months ago

very true about just not having junk i the house. i think its amusing when moms complain about thier kids eating crap at home… um hello, its YOUR pocketbook mama.

Delishix
5 years 3 months ago

Oh that drives me crazy too! It’s enough that we have to deal with all the ‘snacks’ our kids eat after sports practices. I refuse to have junk food at home.

Dave, RN
Dave, RN
6 years 7 months ago
I remember “back in the day” when the school lunchroom meant a mean old lunch lady with a hairnet and a full kitchen with pots of bubbling stuff being cooked on site. Now a school lunchroom is nothing more than a giant vending machine. All the food is in wrappers and stuck in a microwave. It’s not cooked anymore, it’s just reheated. Somewhere I read of a school that went totally organic with on site cooked stuff. It was an alternative school with kids that had behavioral problems. After they improved their food, the kids calmed down and their behavior… Read more »
Shebeeste
Shebeeste
6 years 7 months ago

That was in Supersize Me. I just watched that for the first time last week (you can see if for free on Hulu!)

Dusty
6 years 7 months ago

Supersize me is a bunch of bull put forth by a guy who is a vegan…See the movie Fathead if you want the real truth. It was made in response to supersize me and it exposes the lies put forth by vegans…

Shebeeste
Shebeeste
6 years 7 months ago
Have you seen Supersize Me? The guy isn’t a vegan, his girlfriend (now wife) is. He ate vegan dinners that she cooked to please her and after the experiment, he ate totally vegan for a few weeks on a diet she planned (and wrote a book about) to “detox” but he went back to eating meat. A quote: “I like bacon. I love pork chops.” His girlfriend compares ham to heroin. He disagrees. His scientific method might not be the best, but the movie is more of an indictment of sugar and junk/processed food (and fat–though PBers know that it’s… Read more »
mm
mm
5 years 9 months ago
Shebeeste: Still, Fat Head is a better movie to buy/watch, since the guy began by disproving Supersize Me’s main premise, but then he also gets into Gary Taubes, carb/insulin metabolism (in a very well-done, funny and easy to understand manner; some excerpts can be seen on youtube), LC paleo eating with interviews from people like Drs. Michael Eades, Mary Enig, etc. The problem I find with Supersize Me is it basically tells you stuff you already knew… (fast food evil, processed+junk food bad… exercise good) – also as Fat Head demonstrates, the Supersize Me guy lied about his daily fast… Read more »
Madama Flintstonefly
Madama Flintstonefly
3 years 11 months ago

Dave RN, I think you might be referring to a show the english guy did… what’s his name.. Jamie Oliver. Maybe you don’t mean that one, but it runs on the same lines you’re talking about. Such an amazing transformation. If my toddler eats bread/grain junk at a party (the only time he gets away with it) he has a total ADD schitzoid tantrum with mindless screaming, seriously out-of-control psychosis. It lasts about half an hour then he’s back to his happy, energetic and normal sweet self.

Madama Flintstonefly
Madama Flintstonefly
3 years 11 months ago

Meant to mention it happens about 24-48hrs after ingestion of grains.

zach
zach
6 years 7 months ago

I’d just lay down the law. You are the one who will have to pay for dental visits and doctor visits and orthodontist visits that result from the SAD. So while they’re in the house, there will be no sugars or grains. Other than that you can only explain to them why their diet is important to their health, fill them up with nutrient dense food and hope they’ll be too full to have a bunch of ice cream when they go over to their friend’s house!

Aaron Curl
6 years 7 months ago

A friend of mine was asking a question similar to the e-mail. He has four children and was wondering how he could implement a primal diet to his family. He tells me constantly that he and his wife just don’t have the time to cook real food. I have given him many ideas of healthy primal meals and he just won’t budge. It saddens me to see so many people who are brain washed into thinking that eating healthy is an inconvenience! The primal life, in my opinion is a very rewarding way to live.

Steve
Steve
6 years 7 months ago
I have 2 kids – 11 and 13. My wife and I eat about 95% primal with a ‘zonish’ tone. ‘A Week in the Zone’ was how I got my wife to stop the grains/starches. Her nightly (19 out of 20 nights) indigestion went away completely in a couple of days. My kids do pretty well also. The problem is that sugar tastes so darn good! Especially to kids (and me – that’s a tough one sometimes) I think that explaining to kids why you don’t want them to eat shredded wheat or Cheerios (I grew up on Cheerios and… Read more »
Sandra
Sandra
6 years 7 months ago
Ha ha ha Steve, “if I tell them something, I can’t be right”. What’s with this and kids, huh? Well, my oldest is in college, and she regularly expresses wishes for my food now that she lives with a host family who is slowly learning to prepare foods she needs. She is so tiny, like under 100 lbs and she just lost 5 more lbs because she’d rather not eat than eat junk. When I sent her back to school after the holiday break, her goodies were not cookies, candies and other typical comfort foods moms send to college kids,… Read more »
mm
mm
5 years 9 months ago

Search Youtube for: Fat Head Why We Get Fat (and “Big Fat Lies”) … you’ll find a really good, relatively easy to understand explanation of blood sugar, fat storage and insulin spikes

Delishix
5 years 3 months ago

Oh like Schoolhouse Rock – fantastic idea! It’s time to update the idea that a healthy kid’s snack is orange juice popsicles. (Anyone old like me and remember that one? 🙂

emmcubed
emmcubed
6 years 7 months ago
Mark’s primal omelet muffins have been very helpful at converting my 12-year-old son to the lifestyle. I fix a batch of a dozen or so for the week, throw in some uncured bacon or natural sausage, and he’s fine for the week. Helps him by having a non-cereal-based breakfast and he’s noticing the difference when he doesn’t eat as well at lunch. Small victory. I just wish I had more interesting ideas for his lunches that wouldn’t cause him to have to spend his whole lunchtime having to explain to other kids why he’s eating what he is. He’s certainly… Read more »
Bethy
Bethy
6 years 7 months ago
My husband takes basic tupperware-style (ziploc bins, really) to work in a comic-book-style metal lunchbox. 🙂 Our son enjoys taking food, but usually does so on trips away from the school, and such things must be ‘brown bagged’ and to be thrown away before they get back on the bus. :/ It makes it hard to send anything that needs to stay cool, like meat; but I try to make sure he’s always got an extra snack, that WE know is healthy for him when he wants it. I do know that many of the grade/middle schools around here are… Read more »
Delishix
5 years 3 months ago

My boys (6, 8 and 9) have always taken reusable containers in their lunchboxes, and we only lose maybe a couple a year.

The first thing they do when they come home from school is hang up their backpacks and empty out their lunchboxes – their first after-school snack is anything they didn’t finish at school.

It’s not hard, you just have to be a tyrant like me 🙂

Tyson
6 years 7 months ago
I am dealing with this exact situation right now. My wife and I have shared custody of my two daughters. We have a 7 day on 7 day off arrangement with my ex. I have been primal since the first of January and my wife is starting to pick up on it as well. The problem is the kids. When with us, they eat very well. Not perfect but pretty good. They also get a good load of vitamins (multi, DHA, acidopholous, etc). When at their Mom’s they go out to eat, have constant candy and no vitamins. We have… Read more »
Dana
Dana
6 years 7 months ago
Have you ever seen those “deceptive dinners” and “sneaky chef” type books they’ve got out now? I’ve checked them out from the library and they’re amazing. A lot of the meals (if not all) aren’t Primal or low-carb, so I’m wishing like crazy that the Primal, WAPF, and low-carb folks would get together and put out a similar book for those types of families. I am not that great at making up recipes yet, but if no one ever does this, I may try. It would really help for a family trying to switch over mid-stream with kids who are… Read more »
Caveman Sam
6 years 7 months ago

I’ve been working on creating recipes that my kids (3 and 2) will eat. The older is really big on the carbs but I got the younger in time and she likes the protein and fat. It’s gonna take some time but I’ll get them transitioned over eventually.

Tyler
Tyler
6 years 7 months ago

A lot of recent studies have shown a relationship between chronic hyperinsulinaemia and myopia in children (eating too many carbs causes nearsightedness).

http://www.hubmed.org/display.cgi?uids=11952477

Agi
Agi
6 years 7 months ago

Is there a way to reverse the myopia with a primal diet? Please?

That just sucks…now I’ll never know if my eyesight could have been better if I hadn’t eaten all that cereal and sugar as a kid. My cavities sure would have. Sigh.

Madama Flintstonefly
Madama Flintstonefly
3 years 11 months ago

My husband lost his eye glasses one day late last year and never replaced them. His eyesight hasn’t gotten worse, but since then I’ve been plying him with fermented cod liver oil which IMO helps enormously. He’s been 95% primal since early this year.

Christine
Christine
6 years 7 months ago
The kids are the hardest part of any family eating plan, whether they are part of dual households or not. I have them from college sophomore down to preschooler and there are days I just want to quit. I have one with mild autism and a host of food allergies which is enough to make your head spin. For my part, I try to make a hot breakfast every morning and pack their school lunches so that I have the most influence I can postively had. That said, I take comfort in the comments that the big picture is the… Read more »
Nick
Nick
6 years 7 months ago
Great post, I have been working with my kids on going primal and its tough. There are so many factors against us as parents, teachers handing out candy, kids having parties at pizza places or fast food restaraunts. Its tough. I have come to learn that when they do go to those places every once in a while will not hurt them. Show them that a balance in life is healthy. They usually won’t eat most of it anyway. One thing that we have told other parents and the school is that our children are alergic to juices and soda,… Read more »
HKay
HKay
6 years 7 months ago

This sounds delicious. I’ll try it for myself 🙂

Brad
Brad
6 years 7 months ago
when it comes to my kids I go with education. They know what has Protein in it what has lots of vitamins etc.. They also know what is junk food, and though we have little to none in our house its not forbidden. My six year old has never tasted any kind of soda in his life as a matter of fact the only two fluids he has ever consumed are breast milk, and water. I watched him at a friends B-day party the other day turn down Pop, and juice and when the parent asked him why he said… Read more »
Aaron Curl
6 years 7 months ago

Brad that is incredible! That story just put a big smile on my face, thanks! I really like hearing that there is a hope for our future generations.

Angelina
Angelina
6 years 7 months ago
We are doing the same with our 2 year old son and we hope that he will also make us proud at parties one day :). But we do have problems here in Australia because the pediatricians expect all toddlers need to be fat to be healthy. Then they complain when the teenagers are obese. Unfortunately, like Michelle above, I also have a daughter who spends most of her time out of my household with her father. There she eats loads of grains, sugar and dairy. She hates coming to see her mother because she hates the food we eat… Read more »
Don Wiss
6 years 7 months ago

Show her the Fathead DVD:
http://www.amazon.com/dp/B001NRY6R2/

Zach
6 years 7 months ago
Great post, Mark, and very good advice considering all of the players involved who are interested in the proper upbringing of children. I think one of the simplest things is just not to have the sweets and severe non-paleo items in the house. Perhaps, there are compromises with rice cakes, or whatever, but HFCS-laden sweets and grain products are simply not to be found during the week that they are at the “primal house.” I liked your comment on the most important thing is to offer up a good model. Eat what you talk. If they don’t like it, they… Read more »
Simone
Simone
6 years 7 months ago
I thought I’d chime in for all you parents as a kid from a whole food home. My entire family has always been very conscious of the types and quality of foods we eat and have never relied heavily on prepared foods. Certainly we made exceptions when necessary or socially required (birthday parties) but I always knew that those were “treats” or special occasions. Even though many of my friends growing up had all of the junk food available daily, I knew it was not a good choice because I was educated on the importance of “real food” from a… Read more »
Michelle
Michelle
6 years 7 months ago

How can we raise our parents to eat healthy? (Not to be disrespectful) I am in college and far away from them, but I practically grew up on fast-food, pizza, and mystery meat-loaf (grind ten corn-fed cows together, mix in 2 cups of flour, oats, and sugar, and top it off with high-fructose corn syrup/ketchup). They need to change their lifestyle for their health.

Timothy
Timothy
6 years 7 months ago

I face the very same problem, and frankly I don’t know how much time my parents have left before committing dietary suicide (as did their parents before them, to my everlasting regret).

The best I have been able to think of is 1) set the best possible example to really inspire them and 2) prevail upon their desire to spend quality years with their grandchild(ren).

Ultimately, the decision to contemplate the Primal Blueprint and decide to give it a try can only come from within.

Good luck.

Kelda
Kelda
6 years 7 months ago
My concern is also going up the generations rather than down! My two children, one brought up with his father and one with me are now flown the nest and their nutrition completely outwith my control. I’ve switched to Primal since last December and the benefits have been massive. As I posted elsewhere on the site I came to it from reading Diet Delusions. The number of health issues it threw up rang many bells with me relating to close family members, my mother in particular and I duly went about spreading the good word! My brother was hugely overweight… Read more »
Jacob
6 years 7 months ago
Kelda, I’ve had the exact same experience with my parents and in-laws. All I can say is after 8 months of my wife and I living primal, my in-laws have seen that light and are on the primal path. Still working on my parents but I think they are coming around. When people see you sticking to something for longer than 6 months and they realize this is a permanent lifestyle for you they will give it a shot. I think the parents out there will come around just give them a great example to look up to.
Kelda
Kelda
6 years 7 months ago

Thanks Jacob, I shall just have to be patient, not a trait I’m well endowed with!

Todd Dosenberry
6 years 7 months ago
Excellent question… I am in somewhat of the same boat as you. I am a college student (taking time off right now while living at home) as well. My parents are interested in health and as far as a western diet goes, we ate very healthy. My interest in overall health has dramatically increased over the past few months due to the fact that I started an acne blog. I have read, read, and read but everytime I bring up something to my parents they almost completely shut it down; my mother especially. We eat a western diet but eat… Read more »
Charlie Wiederhold
6 years 7 months ago
You could try turning it around the other way. Give her a copy of Primal Blueprint, and say “You are my mother, so I respect your opinions. This is what I’m (thinking of/am) trying… can you explain to me what you think would be wrong with it? I’m trying to fully understand and it seems compelling and is working for (me/other people), but I want to hear what you think”. That turns it into a pro-active part for her where she feels her opinion is valuable (and not threatened because that’s what it feels like for people at that age… Read more »
HKay
HKay
6 years 7 months ago

This is in general a great “trick” and works from little kids to adults. We all have a need to be valued and love to give opinions. Used for “good ends”, you can really change people by letting them have the idea or make the decision themselves. A bit manipulative, I know. It was how I got my Dad to buy a second car but also why he’s eating saturated fat again.

Todd Dosenberry
6 years 7 months ago

I have never tried this before but I am going to!

I actually don’t have a copy of the book yet. This is simply due to the fact that I have about 12 books waiting to be read and 40 more in my favorites waiting to be purchased.

But, the primal blueprint will be purchased this month no doubt. When I finish reading it and am ready to go “Primal” I will try your advice.

Thanks!

Michelle
Michelle
6 years 7 months ago
I love “I have lived this way for X number of years” argument because I actually have a grandmother who is 85 and obese and can’t walk. She doesn’t have diabetes, dimentia, or heart disease if you can believe it. She has lived most her whole later life in a state of paranoia and concern for her weight, but she won’t listen to any advice on health. My mother is the same way. The are pretty stubborn. I strongly believe in maximizing one’s health and not relying on genes. I, like you, am going through a lot of changes to… Read more »
Carla
6 years 7 months ago

I have three boys ages 12, 10 and 8. They all play hockey and for some reason the parents like to bring donuts and other junk after practices and games. I felt like they were ruining all their hard work on the ice by eating junk afterwards! So my husband started bringing cut up oranges instead and everyone loved it!

Delishix
5 years 3 months ago

I’ve also got 3 boys, and the junk food after practice drives me crazy. I don’t understand why people think kids need a ‘special treat’ (girl scout cookies, donuts…) after doing something they love (soccer, baseball…) and would do to the exclusion of all else if given the chance. The treat is the game/practice itself! (don’t get me started)

Amy
Amy
6 years 7 months ago

The strategy that has helped me the most is simply not having non-Primal stuff in the house. That way, when my 4-year old asks me for a cookie I just say we don’t have any and would you like this nice cheese stick or some almonds instead? She protested at first but we’re making progress 🙂 Now if I could only get her preschool to stop serving juice and cookies at snack time!

Allison
Allison
6 years 7 months ago
It was nice to read about so many other people who deal with sharing children between two different eating philosophies. When I started eating more primal/low carb my children 13 and 15 thought I was a little whacked. I gave them the movie “Fat Head” for Christmas and now they are the ones telling their dad what is good and bad for them to eat. When I read a particularly interesting article on MDA I will forward it to my ex. Kind of stealthy without “telling” him how to feed the kids when they are with him. He hasn’t complained… Read more »
HKay
HKay
6 years 7 months ago

I don’t have kids myself but for the parents whose kids crave conventional sweets, how about keeping some cut up fruit in the fridge and a bowl of whipped cream. It’s so quick to put together and tastes amazing: in a small bowl, put some cut up fruit, top with whipped cream and you can sprinkle it with crushed toasted hazelnuts or shaved dark chocolate.

I know my CW friends love it so it might work on kids too.

Ellen
Ellen
6 years 7 months ago

Todd, I wouldn’t press the issue of primal with your mom. I’d offer to cook dinner and clean up a couple nights a week. I’m 55, and after decades of preparing dinner, I’ll eat ANYTHING that someone else prepares. She’ll see there’s nothing “wrong” with the food you’re preparing. If she “needs” starch, serve bread on the side.

Todd Dosenberry
6 years 7 months ago
Thanks for the input. However, I help cook dinner every night! I love to cook and help out in the kitchen. I do the dishes daily, help clean up after dinner and always make the entire salad when we have one (large and FULL of veggies!). I also help with cooking the food too. I have offered many times to cook the dinners for everyone myself, but she has never wanted me to do that. She wants to be in control herself. It is completely understandable as we are really hurting financially since my father lost his job 1 year… Read more »
Marc
6 years 7 months ago

I got kids 😉
15,13,11 and 9.

Here’s my advice FWIW,
Stop stressing about it and at home give them real food. Next, introduce them to FLAVOR. The more you/they develop their taste buds, the more they will over time make the right choices in regards to food. Make sure they learn to love garlic and onion.
And last, get them involved in the kitchen. Peeling cucumber and cutting it up on a big cutting board is fun for young kids. Let them play with knives
😉

Marc

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Dave
Dave
6 years 7 months ago

I just saw this..http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20100201/ap_on_he_me/us_med_fighting_obesity

news story on yahoo and thought curse words.

I saw an Aditorial that basically put a fake front page over the real front page of the newspaper promoting the food pyramid and some brand of milk(powdered and “formulated for each stage in life” paraphrase). It included 3 mother/dietitians and stars approval/anecdotes. I almost cussed out loud.

lady_daraine
lady_daraine
6 years 7 months ago
I am a teacher, and I don’t bribe my students with food, period. Even before finding primal, I never did. Before I was worried about possible food allergies. I even talk to them about healthy choices (rarely and shortly, but I do). They know not to get me candy for holidays, for example, and I see less of them eating junk when I go to the cafeteria. It probably won’t do any good in the long run if their parents aren’t involved, but I do try, and any parents who are getting it right have my support even though I… Read more »
jennifer
6 years 7 months ago

so, mark, when do the primal blueprint for teens and the primal blueprint for kids workbook come out?

Hugh
6 years 7 months ago

It may sound selfish, but one of the reasons I’m so excited to have kids is that I can’t wait to introduce them into the world of healthy eating, healthy living, fitness, and activity. In a way, it’s a blank slate, and I am responsible for molding them – making healthy meals instead of fast food, outdoor activities instead of video games, etc.

Timothy
Timothy
6 years 7 months ago

Can anyone offer any advice or experiences regarding infant formula?

It seems that the only choices are cow-milk-based and soy-based, neither of which is very primal, to say nothing of the straight-up corn syrup and whatever else. My four-month-old doesn’t deal with any of it very well. Perhaps there is a very good reason infant formula is made with just milk or soy, and not with (for example) egg protein, but is there really no more primal option? After all, not every baby in primal times had the opportunity to survive exclusively on breast milk.

Angelina
Angelina
6 years 7 months ago
Hi Timothy. I had the same problem with my youngest son. He appears to be allergic to almost everything. I eventually ended up seeing a pediatrician who wrote a prescription for the pharmacy to make a special formula for him (which was still not very optimal but sufficed for that time). Now that he is 2 years old I have him drinking organic whole rice milk with pea protein isolate mixed into it (he loves it). It is probably not very primal but it is about all that he can tolerate without getting gastric diarrhea. He cannot even drink watered… Read more »
Yttrium
Yttrium
6 years 7 months ago

When I was 4 months old my mom’s milk dried up, and I had a horrible intolerance of cow milk. I tolerated goat milk extremely well and I thrived on it.

Some friends of mine fed their adopted daughter raw goat milk from day one, and I’ve fostered orphaned kittens successfully on it as well.

Dr. Mercola recommends goat milk for infants (who cannot breast feed) with a few supplemental nutrients added.

mm
mm
5 years 9 months ago

Never feed anyone anything derived from soybeans.

Kelda
Kelda
6 years 7 months ago
I hate to say this but a baby in primal times wouldn’t have survived without breast milk given there wouldn’t have been any alternatives (at least I don’t think there would – maybe coconut milk I suppose – not sure that would be suitable though). In the small communal groups that I imagine Grok living I think it would have been very likely that babies unable to be fed by their mothers were fed by other lactating mothers; like the nurse-maids we had during earlier centuries for wealthy mothers. I seem to recall that once lactating (like goats apparently) humans… Read more »
Timothy
Timothy
6 years 7 months ago

Thanks for the insight, I suppose that’s basically the truth. Coconut oil is already a component of many formulas, and maybe you could add kefir or something for lactose-free protein, but I wouldn’t want my baby to be the guinea pig! Maybe a Maasai-style blood-based formula would work. I will have to ask my pediatrician. 😉

Wendy
Wendy
6 years 7 months ago

I think that there are goat milk based formulas. I nursed for 9 months and then switched to an organic cow formula for my youngest. Unfortunately, my older two drank soy. I didn’t know better at the time. The mothering.com forum has a lot of knowledeable moms on there that may know of other alternatives.

Wendy
Wendy
6 years 7 months ago
I’m glad to see this question asked. My older 2 daughters spend 1/2 the week with their dad. He is vegetarian and they are, too. We agreed to raise them that way when we had kids. I am no longer veg. He doesn’t let them eat much junk, but they eat way more soy than I would like. Luckily, we have a good relationship. But, he is still a die-hard vegetarian, so I have to back up my battles very carefully with evidence. I’m going to talk to him about finding alternative protein choices. I’m very worried that my daughters… Read more »
Hugh7
Hugh7
6 years 7 months ago

I think it all starts with a healthy circumcision, and then good role modeling to encourage your kids to eat right.

Oh, wait. Wrong post.

b. strong
6 years 7 months ago
Interesting discussion. I’ve recently made the switch, though I effectively cut out grains a couple of years ago. I have not, however, “brought over” DH or The Boy (age 8). One of the issues, aside from DH’s lack of interest, is that I’m worried about restricting or witholding foods that, frankly, my kid likes to eat. Now, a lot of people have argued that kids’ tastes will change, and they will make good choices when they leave the nest. Problem is, this doesn’t match my experience. I was raised on what was essentially a primal diet. My family hunted our… Read more »
mm
mm
5 years 9 months ago

Follow the 80/20 rule; give them a day of the week where they can eat all the processed carby crap they want (and throw away any leftovers at the end of the day)

Richard Shelmerdine
6 years 7 months ago

It’s definitely worth taking huge amounts of time to make sure your children are raised with good health. You can give them habits that will last a lifetime for good or for bad.

Kelda
Kelda
6 years 7 months ago
Richard and Hugh Yes, bringing up children with healthy attitudes and good templates for living is all part of good parenting, sure. However, I would like to add a cautionary message here – this topic has come at a time when I’m only just coming to terms with what I perceive as a ‘failure’ as a parent on my part with regards to my children. I set out to be a full time homemaker because I thought that was important, I also went about setting what I considered to be a proper and important set of values. However, what I’ve… Read more »
Kev
Kev
6 years 7 months ago
I am new to the Primal Lifestyle and loving it, my wife and daughters 15 and 13 are starting to follow along as they see the change I am making. Probably the biggest is eliminating grains for the last 6 weeks from my diet which has greatly reduced, almost eliminated the inflammation I have lived with in my left ankle for 13 years after breaking my Talus. I cook 95% of the meals my family eats and I have simply begun cooking and serving Primal meals for them and allowing them to add whatever they see fit. My kids still… Read more »
laurie
6 years 7 months ago
I have a 2 1/2 year old and a 7 month old. The older one had no idea what a lollipop was until this summer when my husbands co-worker offerred her one. She didn’t know what to do with it and I was nearly in tears I was so pleased! It’s so much easier because all of our friends with young children eat well, so the peer pressure is non-existent. I know it is a whole new ball game in school though. I feel good about our food choices, and I wonder about first foods for babies. We do baby… Read more »
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Marc
Marc
6 years 7 months ago
I have a related but tangential issue. I have recently converted to this eating style and have no doubt it is the healthiest way to eat. My wife however is not so convinced(she is a former life long vegetarian). We have a two year old son and have had recent disagreements on his eating. In the interest of not getting divorced I decided that her compromise to cut out gluten was better than nothing. Since she won’t agree to cut out his bread/cracker consumption completely we have been purchasing gluten free (mostly rice based) breads, pastas, crackers. This has had… Read more »
Kate M.
5 years 2 months ago
Dairy is very constipating, as are bananas. My daughter is a cheese-addict, so we have these issues, too. One thing I’ve found is that my daughter loves greek style yogurt with fruit (try Chobani with pineapple). The yogurt, being cultured, has less of a constipating effect, plus the healthy bacterial cultures in the yogurt promote digestive health. You can use it to make a smoothie that your kid will love – just add frozen berries and blend. Milled flax seed can be blended in for extra fiber, which is helpful. Corn is a natural stool softener. Popcorn works, too. I… Read more »
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Amy
Amy
6 years 2 months ago

Thank you so, so much for your post! Is there anything you don’t cover on this website? I am in a very similar situation, except we are a fully primal household, regardless of what he gets fed at his other house. I, too, had worried about the negative effects that this could have. This just confirmed that we are doing the right thing. I totally agree that leading by example and educating them to make their own decisions someday is the only thing we can do. And that isn’t nothing.

momof2groks
momof2groks
5 years 8 months ago
My boys are 4 and 2. They eat primal 100% of the time. Both have terrible digestive issues and if my older son eats anything sweet (even fruit) or starchy, his stomach blows up like a balloon, he cries at night, and sometimes gets gushing nosebleeds. It is not worth it to me to just let him have an occasional treat when it will cause a week or more of physical and behavioral issues. At preschool, he gets deviled eggs made with guac, HB eggs, or kale chips for his snacks. If we go to a birthday party, he brings… Read more »
RM
RM
5 years 7 months ago
We have lots of fun things that run in our family genes that my 2 young sons inherited: autism, ADHD, sensory integration disorder, and food sensitivites, allergies, etc. I am slowly guiding them to a modified version of the Paleo diet, and I notice on mornings they eat low carb/ high fat/protein the days seem to go better. It’s alot of work to cut out the packaged food, but I notice many of the stomach issues and tantrums they have are now going away or more manageable. Anyone out there feeding their kids Paleo also doing dairy free? We are… Read more »
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