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Experiences with going Primal with your kids - please share!

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  • Experiences with going Primal with your kids - please share!

    Hi, I'm Jodey. New here!

    Some background:
    I have 2 boys, ages 11 and 7. The 11yo is thin, will pretty much eat what I put in front of him. He loves veggies, meat, milk, etc. He also loves sugar. He's severely ADHD. He is homeschooled. He goes outside and plays basketball, even alone (if the other kids are at school), skateboards, loves to bike, fish, walk around, etc.

    My 7 year old is overweight (shaped very much like his father), bitches about pretty much every food I offer (except chicken nuggets and french fries or a burger on a bun, and some certain vegetables). He loves sugar too, but doesn't have as a big a fit as his brother if I refuse him. He goes to public school, and eats lunch at school. He will go outside to play with friends, sometimes goes outside to play basketball by himself, will ride his bike a short distance and will walk if I'm with him.

    I am fairly new to eating Primally, having been doing this for less than probably 3 months (I don't remember exactly when I started). I FEEL SO MUCH BETTER. I started with a personal trainer about 5 months ago, doing weight training with her and cardio on my own. My body fat has dropped 12% (I'm very overweight, btw), over the past couple months, and I've had a 14 pound weight loss over the past few weeks. Luckily my trainer is very much into PB, so it's been a joy to work with her.

    My question, and problem I suppose, is how to get my family to eat what I'm eating. Please don't tell me it's as simple as removing all the things they shouldn't eat and replacing them with things they should eat. It isn't. I did it slowly, so I expect to do it slowly with them. In addition, my husband is NOT on board with eating Primally and wants all the grains and processed crap, so I can't just remove it all from the house. I"m considering asking him to try to eat my way for a month, and if he doesn't feel better, he can go back to his crappy way of eating.

    But I'm interested in other experiences in changing your family's diet from SAD to Primal. Any tips? Any things to look out for? Lunch suggestions for the kid who eats at school?

    BTW, I didn't have much of an issue with sugar withdrawal. I think my kids probably older one, to be sure. Any tips on how to help reduce this?

  • #2
    I have 3 kids, 12, 11, 10. One has ADD and absolutely requires medication and another has migraines. With those two I have been able to appeal to their desire to feel better (ie. no headaches or better self image from NOT getting in trouble due to poor self control). The transition is definitely working, albeit slower than I wanted it to be. I actually got both of them to supplement with magnesium and Omega3 daily to help them with their individual conditions (SHOCKED) since both supplements have positive implications with both issues. The youngest likes meat and would eat that over just about anything so easy peasy there.

    My ADD one is a huge sugar fiend. She's also very sensitive to preservatives/dyes etc. I had weaned them off of normal SAD sweets and onto organic SAD sweets a couple years ago to mitigate the impact of artificial colors/sweeteners/preservatives, etc. so moving to PB has been a bit Groundhog Day all over again. It's a total pain in the ass but I was resolved not to replace the stuff once it was gone. I did it with the organic processed crap - first the crackers, then with chips, same with the cereal, same with pasta. I did take them with me to the grocery and we found replacements they liked such as cashews, dried fruit, pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds, string cheese, jerky, dark chocolate etc. and that trip cost a SMALL fortune. I made that trip to Trader Joes because the sheer variety of processed junk was less than a traditional grocery store. We also ALWAYS have cut veg, hard boiled eggs, apples and bananas around and for whatever reason they are totally addicted to this great vanilla whey protein shake formula I found, milkshakes anyone? The point here is in the absence of the normal shit that is in the pantry, they did the best with what they had and they've gotten used to it now.

    Breakfast is still a bit challenging. They love bacon and eggs but every morning... not so much. Shakes work every now and again but I had to do some work on this meal. They like pancakes etc and I tried paleo versions that didn't remotely cook up like a pancake, they were great, however, as a muffin. I swear you put anything in a cupcake tin and my kids think you hung the moon so sweet type breakfasts and lunch snacks were solved. I also found a good cocoa/banana recipe on here for a doughnut. I certainly didn't own a doughnut pan (& being Primal, buying one felt like blasphemy). Again... muffin tins... just yesterday, I baked some of them but with a dollop of almond butter in the middle and some shredded coconut on top and the kids were in heaven. They are still sweet (thanks to the banana) but they are full of "clean" ingredients versus a twinkie or cupcake of whatever SAD alternative is out there. I've found some good stuff like that on pinterest (I need the visual to get me interested) when I've plugged paleo or primal into the search engine. I spent several Sundays trying out recipes with the taste testers close at hand and I froze whatever worked. That's eased the sweet tooth transition.

    Bread was the final frontier. I went for a while with Pepperidge Farm bread, they have this SUPER thin version. The kids thought it was cool because it was so skinny, it held their sandwiches together and the carb load was less - plus they were TICKLED to eat white bread versus the cardboard I used to buy them. They are sort of done with it now though. Same for buns, I found these buns that were smaller than hamburger buns and they are sort of off those now too. They've gotten to where they pack meat and cheese and bacon in a bag and eat their "deconstructed" sandwich sans the bread.

    Good luck. I don't envy you, especially with the hubby. You have to appeal to how totally shitty your diet was for your ADHD kid. I've seen how this diet can improve behavior first hand. I don't know if we can get off the meds but I know early morning and late evening are SOOO much better now.


    • #3
      Hey Jodey, Welcome!!

      I am going through some of the same things right now. I have been mostly Primal for 3 months. I still tend to cheat on occasion and unfortunately when I do it is bad. I had a terrible lunch today and I am paying for it. Work has been very stressful the last 2 weeks. Its not usually this way. Only this time of year when we are trying to work out our budget for the next year. I'm a grant writer for a non-profit.

      Enough about me personally....

      Here are some things that I have been trying. This may come out very randomly so just bare with me.

      My husband is not into going primal at all. However, since I do 90% of the grocery shopping I am primarily only buy good stuff. If he wants crap then I make him go to the store and buy it himself. I have found that doing this has prevented me from 1) buying crap and 2) eating his crap. Its almost as if when I see the chips I know that they are not mine since I didn't pay for them.

      They are pretty good about eating what I cook. This has forced me to make changes in my behavior. Before, my husband and I both cooked dinner. Now I am cooking almost every meal. I do this because I know that my husband, although a wonderful cook, does not cook the things I want to eat. So I have voluntarily taken charge of cooking for everyone. I also take time each Sunday to do a meal plan for the week then go grocery shopping for each meal that I plan to cook. Then I take the time to do as much prep work as I can (such as chopping veggies, I always make a soup that I can keep in the fridge for an emergency meal, etc.). I stalk many primal/paleo blogs for recipes and keep my favorite in a binder. I try to cook really big meals so that I will have leftovers for the next days lunches. Sometimes I am not as diligent with my weekend planning if we have a very busy weekend but so far this plan and prep is what has made going primal work for me.

      Kids: I have an 11 year old daughter who is a good eater, 13 year old step-daughter who is EXTREMELY picky, and a 2 year old son who is a good eater/picky eater depending on his mood. My husband is willing to try anything but is quick to decide whether or not he likes something or hates it. If he hates it he will never taste it again.

      My daughters lunch at school is slowly changing. The prepackaged convenient fruit cups have been changed out for real fruit. I will put a paleo soup (homemade broth + small chopped veggies) is heated almost to a boil in the morning and then put into a thermos. It is still warm at lunch. Lunch meats have been replaced with 'better quality' lunch meats that I purchase from Applegate Farms. This is one of the few processed meats that I still buy. But atleast Applegate farms is a better option then some others. I plan to phase this out. Go to "Primal Kitchen: A Family Grokumentary". This blog is great for parents. She takes pictures of her childs packed lunches. I plan to slowly phase out the crap and make my daughters look more like the ones on this website. Once again, the plan is to PHASE this change.

      The search for recipes that my family likes is on-going. On the above mentioned website there is a recipe for custard. My kids love it. I put blueberries and or strawberries on it.

      With a family it just takes time. Search out blogs for recipes and don't be afraid to experiment. I have also explained to my daughter why I am making these changes. I told her that if we couldn't go out and shoot it, pick it, dig it up, fish it out of the water that we were not eating it anymore. I pulled some 'Mac 'N Cheese' out and told my daughter "Powdered Cheese, Really,? God did not intend for us to eat powdered cheese...?" When I put it that way she understood.

      I started a garden and encourage her to help me. She loves to eat the the food that she helped to grow. I am also getting her to help with cooking.

      It takes time. Don't give up. Ask them to help find recipes that they may enjoy. if you involve them in the process it may go a little more smooth.

      Good luck! I have faith in you!!


      • #4
        Your idea of asking your husband to try it for 1 month is a good one, I am sure he will feel a difference. My husband ate 80% primal for about 18 months and then in January we both did 100%. He has a real sweet tooth so giving up sweets for one month was a big deal. We bought a case of organic apples and he ate as many as he wanted. It really helped him make the transition. We have a 14 yr. old that we homeschool and he eats about 80% primal. I make just about everything from scratch. Recently he decided not to eat wheat so I've been making him cookies made with almond flour and honey. He still eats some sugar in the form of high quality chocolate. My son was never used to eating junk foods (pizzas, hamburgers and sodas ) so for him the transition hasn't been that hard. With the kids it might be best to start by taking wheat and HFCS out of their diet; you will be amazed how just doing that changes the diet significantly. My son still eats dairy, I think for kids as long as they aren't lactose intolerant it's good for them. Like with my husband having lots of fruit on hand may help your kids eat less sugar.
        Life is death. We all take turns. It's sacred to eat during our turn and be eaten when our turn is over. RichMahogany.


        • #5
          Originally posted by jodeyh View Post
          My question, and problem I suppose, is how to get my family to eat what I'm eating. Please don't tell me it's as simple as removing all the things they shouldn't eat and replacing them with things they should eat. It isn't. I did it slowly, so I expect to do it slowly with them. In addition, my husband is NOT on board with eating Primally and wants all the grains and processed crap, so I can't just remove it all from the house. I"m considering asking him to try to eat my way for a month, and if he doesn't feel better, he can go back to his crappy way of eating.

          But I'm interested in other experiences in changing your family's diet from SAD to Primal. Any tips? Any things to look out for? Lunch suggestions for the kid who eats at school?
          I haven't transitioned the whole family, and I have no intention of tricking or forcing anyone into this way of eating.

          Instead I've made gradual changes, starting with adding more butter and removing industrial seed oils and soy from the house, and not buying some foods. I haven't thrown everything out, but as certain foods have run out I havent replaced them, and I've added in some new recipes so they still get the old standbys, but less often. Dinners in our house aren't much different. They've always been sort of "primal with a side of rice" so not much tweaking needed. I serve white rice mostly or potatoes occasionally and pasta rarely. Tacos are now taco salads. Burgers are now 'cheeseburger lettuce wraps'.

          Instead of cutting out the kids' sandwiches from lunch, I've changed some of the ingredients. Instead of a carby snack with their sandwich, they get a 'meat muffin' which is really a giant meatball, or a hard boiled egg, plus fruit and/or veg and water. They've never taken cookies, granola bars or juice.

          Hubby likes his midnight snacks, and usually goes for cereal or crackers or bread. When we don't have them in the house he has to find something else to eat
          *My obligatory intro

          There are no cheat days. There are days when you eat primal and days you don't. As soon as you label a day a cheat day, you're on a diet. Don't be on a diet. ~~ Fernaldo



          • #6
            Awesome responses! Thank you for the suggestions.

            I should have mentioned that my kids rarely eat candy from the regular grocery store; my ADHD one is incredibly sensitive to red and blue food coloring as well as artificial flavorings. I buy as much organic and all-natural foods as I can, so no HFCS either. I buy him salt-water taffy from Trader Joe's for 2 reasons: 1)it has nothing artificial in it and 2)he has sensory processing disorder, so chewing taffy helps calm him.

            Our other problem, which I also forgot to mention(!), is that he is also egg allergic.

            @amdws1234, my son absolutely requires medication too. I hate it, but it's a necessity. We tried everything (though at that time, Primal wasn't an option that I knew about) to live without meds, but he is one of those children who requires it.


            • #7

              I'd look into magnesium and Omega3. If you can get your son to try pills those may help. The magnesium has a calming effect on the brain and if a pill doesn't work, i know you can get a compounding pharmacy to create a lotion that you can rub into the back of the neck. Since the majority of the population is deficient, seems like a no brainer. Also, the Omega3, there was a study where they supplemented prison diets with Omega3's and noticed that the incidences of violence and behavioral issues decreased. My ADD child can be pretty challenging, not violent but definitely not budging and talking back and reasoning are sort of out the door sometimes... I do realize this comes the with the age territory. I found this podcast interesting as it relates to low carb/high fat/moderate protein diets and ADHD/Austism - I think that is where I got both of those supplementation ideas too. It definitely made me more resolute by doing right by the kids in terms of the food I feed them. The Alzheimer's stuff is pretty amazing too...

              14: ‘Diet And The Three A’s: ADHD, Autism and Alzheimer’s’ | Dr. Larry McCleary | Jimmy Moore Presents: Ask The Low-Carb Experts


              • #8
                Both 'bigs' in our family are on primal. The kids mostly are too, with the exception of breakfast (they alternate between ricies and porridge) and the occasional treat like fish fingers. The hardest things are no breads (and particularly no pizza). The kids frequently request them.

                My question, and problem I suppose, is how to get my family to eat what I'm eating.
                Step 1 is the quick wins. I think that you can easily implement the following:

                a. Eating a primal breakfast with your husband (bacon/saus and eggs)
                b. Make your family dinners primal (i.e. meat and veggies, aka real food).
                c. Eliminate polyunsaturated fats from the house (replace with butter, cream, coconut oil and olive oil)
                d. Add lots more cream to your diet (our go-to dessert is now banana splits with whipped cream, melted chocolate and a little ice cream)

                Processed foods, breads and sugar will be more of a problem, particularly around lunches and snacks. Possibly provide alternatives like a big bowl of fruit, lots of nuts, maybe some homemade beef jerky?

                I think you might need to bed in your 'easy' changes first before tackling some of those harder ones (while making sure that the dinners you cook are wheat/sugar free)

                p.s. We homeschool too.
                Last edited by magicmerl; 05-02-2012, 04:23 PM.
                Disclaimer: I eat 'meat and vegetables' ala Primal, although I don't agree with the carb curve. I like Perfect Health Diet and WAPF Lactofermentation a lot.

                Griff's cholesterol primer
                5,000 Cal Fat <> 5,000 Cal Carbs
                Winterbike: What I eat every day is what other people eat to treat themselves.
                TQP: I find for me that nutrition is much more important than what I do in the gym.
                bloodorchid is always right


                • #9
                  My OH and sons (14 and 16) are partially primal. Soon after I first started I suggested they do a full week of 100% primal and they did, but they weren't interested in continuing and at their ages I can't force them. However, some things have changed. They no longer have sandwiches or rolls for their packed lunches, I make and freeze, frittata, zucchini slice, chicken drumsticks, meatballs, chicken 'nuggets' etc and also bake primalised slices/muffins/protein balls/'muesli bars' etc and they are more than happy to eat those. Of course when they buy their lunch they buy crap, 4 days out of 5 is OK by me. For breakfast they tend to have toast or dinner leftovers. I make sourdough bread so, yes, it's bread, but better bread. For main meals we just eat as we always have but with less pasta/rice/bread etc and I rarely have any of those things. I make lots of bone broth ala Nourishing Traditions, along with an increasing number of fermented goodies and kefir and kombucha, I also soak any flours (also ala NT) when I do cook with them.

                  I think the key is to 'pick your fights', some things just aren't worth the battle and some things are worth coming to a compromise on. The other thing is to be patient, I've been doing this since around last October and I'm just gradually reducing or eliminating things... VERY gradually. By stealth even.
                  Last edited by ljq309; 05-03-2012, 03:06 AM.
                  Lost the weight using CW. Now I just want to be healthier.
                  Lisa's primal-ish when she feels like it journal.
                  Feel free to read and/or comment, but don't expect me to listen.
                  Distance walked 2012: 321 kms as of June 15.


                  • #10
                    I made a deal with DH that I was cleaning out the cabinets and no longer buying any CW food, but if he didn't want to go along with it he was welcome to buy junk food himself. I've been mostly primal for 6 months and lost 20 lbs. and he's finally decided to go along with me, but even then just forgetting to pack his lunch will result in fast food (and not a salad either). He's getting there though. Our daughter is 4 and a severe carb/sugar fiend. Her behavior has been so much better since we went primal though--I do let her have treats when we eat out (she doesn't like salads anyway, so that doesn't leave many options) but at home she's primal along with us. I do buy fruit, but we pick it out at the farmer's market/grocery store, and she knows that if she eats it all in a day (it's happened before) there is no more until the next shopping trip. She's doing a lot better now, I remind her of that every time she asks for a second banana or whatever, and offer something else like carrots, cheese, or meat. Juice does not exist in the house, only the occasional juice box when we're out. Milk is limited to a morning cup with breakfast (it's good non-homogenized local whole milk). I make primal treats about once every week or two, my last treat was primal chocolate chip cookies (almond flour). It sounds strict, but she would be a fruititarian if left to her own devices.

                    Lunch is our easiest meal--she likes lunch meat (I buy Applegate as well, sometimes Hormel Natural Choice), hot dogs (again Applegate), cubed leftover meat, mini meatballs, mini-muffin fritattas, salami/pepperoni (uncured), cheese, carrots, cucumbers, etc. and I usually include a small serving of fruit as "dessert" (or Annie's gummy bunnies if I'm generous--those are like crack to her though). Little kebabs of meat, cheese, and veg are fun. Thankfully she deconstructed sandwiches anyway, so she doesn't seem to miss bread at home. When she was at a mother's morning out program, the kids thought her bento box lunches were weird (alongside their pb&j and chips), but she loved them. My oldest is 13 and isn't with us full time, but he seems to be okay with our changes. He is overweight and wants to change--last summer he lost 15 lbs. by joining us on our exercise routine and being mindful of his portions. He is old enough this summer to use the gym equipment (last year we just did couch to 5k on the track) so I think that'll be fun for him too. I was shocked that he was enjoying it so much, I figured he'd rather be at home playing computer games.