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Underweight carb-loving 9 year old. Would appreciate some Paleo insights

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  • Underweight carb-loving 9 year old. Would appreciate some Paleo insights

    Hi,
    I just switched to a Paleo diet about 3 weeks ago, and have to say, the results have blown me away. More energy, back pain gone, have lost 9 pounds so far, and am never hungry. Convinced my wife to take it up as well, and she is equally sold. The results so far have been nothing short of incredible.

    Here's my question: I have an underweight 9 year old who lives for grain-based carbs... He lives for macaroni and cheese, spaghetti noodles, potatoes, etc., hates vegetables (what kid doesn't?), isn't crazy about fruit, and is just ho-hum about meat and eggs.

    He's mostly a happy, energetic 9 year old, but has always had sleep problems, and big mood crashes (always when his blood sugar is tanking). Load him up with carbs and he's bouncing off the walls again.

    Having read most of Sisson's books now, I'm now suspecting that it's potentially his diet (heavy grain-based, highly processed carbs) that may be causing the sleep issues, mood crashes, and failure to put on weight.

    I'm obviously familiar with diets high in bad carbs causing obesity -- but has anyone heard of the opposite... Diets heavy in bad carbs resulting in troubles GAINING weight? My theory (probably ignorant and based on intuition only) is that a diet heavy in bad carbohydrates may be causing a lack of full nutrient absorption in the stomach, which subsequently may be a cause of sleep issues, failure to gain weight and so on.

    I'm thinking very seriously about some major diet modifications here to see if it might help, so any insights from this illustrious group would be much appreciated.

  • #2
    Yes actually gluten can cause failure to thrive issues because of leaky gut problems. This causes nutrient mal-absoprtion which limits growth. There is also a huge connection between the gut and the brain, which is why so many mental issues are linked to gluten. So his diet is most certainly affecting his behavior as well.
    Last edited by activia; 03-14-2012, 11:32 AM.
    Primal since March 2011

    Female/29 years old/5' 1"/130ish lbs

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    • #3
      failure to thrive = underweight in children
      Primal since March 2011

      Female/29 years old/5' 1"/130ish lbs

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      • #4
        It's a pretty serious epidemic going on right now in America. Its the perfect storm... wheat contains 30% more gluten then it did 30 years ago... people are eating way more gluten and its not "traditionally" prepared then they were... There are estimates that between 30-70% of the population is gluten sensitive.. We wont really know until more people get tested and the tests get better at detecting it.
        Watch this;
        Dr. Tom O'Bryan - Identifying & Conquering Gluten Sensitivity - YouTube
        Primal since March 2011

        Female/29 years old/5' 1"/130ish lbs

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        • #5
          It definitely sounds like you're on to something. I have three children and am steering them towards a paleo lifestyle. I recently found that they love paleo pancakes. There are many recipes out there but we usually go super simple and mix almond butter with eggs. Make sure to make them on the small side because they're hard to flip without a gooey mess. Even my really picky 12 year old vegetarian daughter is now eating scrambled eggs, so there is hope. Experiment to figure out what he does like and build on that. My girls also like sweet potatoes a lot and didn't mind paleo pizza with a cauliflower crust.

          Another way that I try to sneak stuff in is through smoothies. I add greens and protein powder. Also, make sure he's getting good fats like coconut oil and real pastured butter.
          Last edited by wendyland; 03-14-2012, 12:20 PM.

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          • #6
            Check this out, from a couple of weeks ago...My Son is Growing! | Mark's Daily Apple

            Now the challenge, as I see it, is limiting the grains. I took the approach with my daughter (4) that I wouldn't offer grains unless she asked specifically, then I would try to limit the damage to the "least damaging" category..rice, quinoa, etc. She voluntarily gave up bread when I switched her to some naturally fermented rye bread (which she used to like, strangely). She prefers rice crackers, which I slather with butter. She gets gluten-free noodles, mostly. (I am celiac, so this wasn't something weird for her. She's been getting them off and on for some time.) I do not limit her carbs, but sugar is severely restricted (but not forbidden!). She gets the primal stuff-meat and veg-at dinner and lunch, with carbs from fruit or the rice stuff during the day. We have been primal for three months, and she's just decided she doesn't like potatoes any more. Well, except for oven-fries. :-) She's little still, and muscle meats are hard for her to physically chew, so she gets a fair share of ground meat dishes, as well as the occasional sausage. I can't say I have seen huge changes in her sleep habits (she's not a good sleeper) but she has always been the kid who had to eat RIGHT NOW, even when she was a tiny baby, and I feel like she has gotten much more tolerant--I think she doesn't get that sugar-crash-hunger-emergency that she used to get. I still carry emergency rations in my purse, but I have honestly not needed them for a very long time.

            Anyway, I think there is a good chance that a dietary shake-up could help your son. I think the hardest part will be implementing it in a compassionate way so you don't get too much push-back. As he feels better, you may find that he naturally avoids the foods that bother him.

            Good luck!

            Kelly

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            • #7
              I don't really have any advice, but I'll be following this thread for suggestions and info as well.
              My 4 kids went Primal when hubs and I did- January 2nd, 2012. My oldest (almost 10) has always been super skinny and pretty weak. I don't limit my kids clean carbs- they are growing and heaven knows they will use them. They have been great about nixing the grains completely (except occasional white rice or quinoa), and we severely limit refined sugars. I make sure they get plenty of fat and protein as well, and they love veggies. I am also hoping that my son will put on some weight. He is already more active and vital than ever. He's getting stronger for sure, and plays longer and harder without getting tired. We have gone months without serious illnesses and almost no colds. I've also noticed he is more confident- that is great for a mama to see!
              You don't have to be sick to get better.
              Female, 31 years old, 5'8"
              Primal start: 1/2/2012
              My Primal Journal
              Living, loving and learning.

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              • #8
                Thanks for all the insights and advice! I think we have a big diet reassessment in our future. Next thing I have to bone up on is how to transition a child from a junk diet to a healthy diet...

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                • #9
                  keep offering the good stuff and he will eat eventually

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                  • #10
                    I would work on healing his gut and only offer paleo foods. It is super hard at first for them and us, but it is really worth it in the end. My kids never put on weight but they are really thriving. If I ever slip and give them non paleo foods they are behavioral messes along with a laundry list of other symptoms.

                    My kids are the most amazingly well behaved children I have ever seen and others are always saying the same to me. It is all their diet (and a loving home of course). I see other kids and hear people talk about behaviors that annoy them but they see as just "normal" things kids do that we all have to live with. IT IS NOT NORMAL. Kids should be calm, happy and have attention spans equal to an adult. I don't discipline my children to get good behavior out of them, they just feel good and so they act good.
                    PaleoMom's Diet Recovery Journal
                    http://www.marksdailyapple.com/forum/thread82059.html

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                    • #11
                      Well, I think you know your kid best. If I tried to force mine to eat, she'd stop eating, I am sure. I know, eventually they come around, or so we hope, but I don't want to have her forever remember being "forced" to give up her favorite foods. My 40-ish cousin still remembers with horror that his mom made him eat natural peanut butter back in the 70s. Probably would've been fine if he hadn't already had the processed stuff...but now he's seriously traumatized and has an overall fairly negative attitude towards "health food".

                      But some of it is also a parental attitude thing. I think I feel some sense of satisfaction when E has a good appetite, but sometimes she just has a good appetite for "high-reward" foods--high carb, fat, salt, etc. I try to remember that she's eating because it tastes good, not because her body needs it. So I try to focus on yummy but paleo, especially for dinner, and let it go. If she's not hungry, her body knows better than me.

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                      • #12
                        Ah..and another thing just occurred to me...if you have not already done so, you may want to get blood test for celiac for your son, but BEFORE you make any dietary changes. The blood test looks for gluten-specific antibodies, and if you do not have a regular intake of gluten, the test will be negative. It might be easier for your son to accept changes if they are ordered by a doctor. (OTOH, a negative celiac test does not rule out other forms of gluten intolerance.)

                        Also, the GAPS diet is very paleo-friendly, and is often used for children. If you look up GAPS recipes for kids, you will find a ton of ideas for tasty foods that fit within the paleo framework.

                        -Kelly

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                        • #13
                          Originally posted by kelhous View Post
                          Ah..and another thing just occurred to me...if you have not already done so, you may want to get blood test for celiac for your son, but BEFORE you make any dietary changes. The blood test looks for gluten-specific antibodies, and if you do not have a regular intake of gluten, the test will be negative. It might be easier for your son to accept changes if they are ordered by a doctor. (OTOH, a negative celiac test does not rule out other forms of gluten intolerance.)

                          Also, the GAPS diet is very paleo-friendly, and is often used for children. If you look up GAPS recipes for kids, you will find a ton of ideas for tasty foods that fit within the paleo framework.

                          -Kelly
                          Only problem with that is that the tests don't catch every variance, and they are most accurate after the disease as progressed to the point where its almost difficult to ever regain your health.


                          go to Everyday Paleo from Sarah Fragoso - Paleo Recipes and Paleo Talk Podcast to get some tips on how to transition your family. Do it slowly.. check otu the new childrens books on the subject. You need to make it a positive experience.. getting them involved in the cooking and excited about trying new foods. I'd almost do this first before eliminating....
                          Primal since March 2011

                          Female/29 years old/5' 1"/130ish lbs

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                          • #14
                            Here's someone else you can get advice from on how to transition your child.. She did it with 3 children. https://www.facebook.com/thefoodieandthefamily
                            Primal since March 2011

                            Female/29 years old/5' 1"/130ish lbs

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                            • #15
                              Please note that potatoes, white rice, bananas, squashes and other starchy roots and tubers have nothing in common with grains in terms of health. They are awesome sources of glucose for your body, and they won't hurt your child. There is no reason - ever - to put your child in a low carbohydrate diet. Take them off grains, legumes and vegetable oil for sure, but load up on sweet potatoes, white rice and fruit if they want it. Your child needs fat, protein AND carbs to function optimally. There's no better meal IMO than steak and sweet potatoes.

                              Fruit is great, too. Get your child used to fruit as a sweet treat instead of cake, ice cream and cereal. I love my apples and berries and eat at least one serving a fruit a day to keep some glycogen in my liver. And because I love fruit.
                              Don't put your trust in anyone on this forum, including me. You are the key to your own success.

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