It is all relative!
Parenting rule #1: kids won't starve themselves.
2 things might be happening - the "testing you" has already been mentioned. But when my kids eat a big primal breakfast, they often aren't hungry for lunch and certainly don't need a snack 2 hrs later! So if they are eating primal and don't want to eat 3 hours later they might legitimately not be hungry.
My kids are 16, 9, 7, 7 and we do like you - basically serve primal foods but occassionally have treats (holidays and birthdays) and we don't try to control what they eat outside the house (although we only let them buy school lunch once a week). When they do eat crap, they often feel rotten afterwards, and we talk about what they ate and how it made them feel, vs. when they eat well and have good mood, good focus, and plenty of energy. After a year of this, they are starting to self-monitor and tell US when it's time to "be primal again". They also know that trans fats are walking death and refuse to eat certain brands of hot dogs and snacks because of it LOL.
It is all relative!
My kids are 5, 8, 8 (twins), 11, and 13. Lots of mouths to feed. Thanks for the encouragement everyone. I agree with the comments about getting the kids more involved in cooking. We do a litte of that now, but I think it would help with the dinners, which hardly anyone eats right now. It's really frustrating to make a dinner and then watch everyone just sit there and not even try it. My wife has had more than her fair share of that. And I actually made dinners for a week before Christmas to give my wife some time to finish up gift shopping, and I can attest to the utter disappointment and frustration with making a great meal, and having everyone turn their nose up. Sweet potato fries with sugar and cinnamon... I mean, come on... what's not to like?
It sounds like a lot of people are recommending just staying on track and having lots of good food around and giving them options. It may be that the kids are in the rebellion phase of this transition. Maybe once they move on to the acceptance phase, this they'll start trying more things as hunger dictates. They may be waiting to see if we flip-flop (we've certainly done this before... at one time we were vegetarian, although we didn't require it of them). I think they may also be loading up on the crappy school lunches. We decided we're not going to interfere with what they choose to eat at school. I think if we just keep only good stuff around the house, at least 2 of their 3 meals are good... and maybe they'll start noticing that they feel better and enjoy real food more when they eat at home.
About what they will eat... none of them agree on anything completely, as you would expect with 5 kids. But a few things that some of them will eat are eggs, sausage, various fruits, chicken soup, chicken tenders, cucumbers. Our little guy eats salad (wohoo!). The girls will have some vegetables at dinner, sometimes. Our oldest is really the pickiest of them all. For instance, he'll eat bacon... if it's on a sub roll... only at Subway. He won't eat any of the bacon we make at home - regardless of the brand or how we prepare it. He just won't try anymore. It's like that with a lot of foods with him. He used to eat a lot of cereal for breakfast, and now that that's gone he won't eat anything for breakfast.
I do have the Everyday Paleo cookbook. We've tried a lot of the kid-friendly recipes there. Not a lot of luck with that. When she talks about how her kids gobble up various dishes I just want to throw the book out the window sometimes. But it is a good cookbook... lots of good kid recipes. We've got the Quick & Easy Primal cookbook too. I've pulled a lot of stuff of the internet too. For Christmas I made chocolate cookies with almond meal, pancakes (almond meal again), apple muffins, etc... but they didn't like any of my attempts at semi-primal bakery items - even the cookies! Unfortunately, my wife and I loved the stuff so we gobbled it up.
Anyway, it feels like the right answer is to just keep stocking the shelves with good primal stuff, provide lots of options, ignore the pickiness, praise them when they do eat, keep experimenting, and give it some time and they'll come on board slowly.
Oh, one thing I forgot to mention. Since we're having a difficult time mostly at dinner-time, we thought of moving dinner time up. I think what is happening is that they get home and they grab a bunch of fruit, nuts, and whatever else I've cut up and laid out for them to snack on. And then when dinner comes they're not completely hungry, so it makes it easier to resist the dinner options. So instead, we're thinking we cut back on the pre-dinner snacking and move dinner time to 4-5pm instead.
Well, we're going to to try it for a few weeks and see if that improves the situation. I'm also thinking that maybe we just don't need a big prepared dinner. Maybe we just have stuff for them to graze on throughout the evening and skip the big sit-down dinner thing.
Anyone had any experience with experimenting with dinner times, or eliminating a big sit-down type dinner altogether?
I think you need to discuss with your wife her eating habits to be honest. If the kids see her actively refusing to eat and talking/activing negatively towards the food then its showing them that its ok to do that. I would talk to her about how it is effecting the family as a whole. If you are both on board and show that you can try new things and enjoy primal eating it will make the gets be a lot more willing to do the same.
I would cut the primal substitutes... this only reminds them of the old food and it wont taste as good.
If it were me, I'd be giving them primal lunches as well... it's going to be difficult to really change how they feel and change their tastes if the majority of what they are eating right now is school lunches. I'd go WHOLE 30. For 30 days all primal all the time... like adults do. Then allow them 1 school lunch a week for the next 30... after a few months they will most likely not even want it anymore. Maybe allow them 1 treat a week if they try something new. Or reward them some other way with some personal time with mom or dad doing something that they like.
Try also having 1 kid get to pick the primal dinner everyday. That way they will be excited about their day.
We keep basically primal foods in the house. For dinner, I usually make a protein, 2 veggies, and a salad. Sometimes rice or potato but rarely. Then serve buffet style and they can eat what they want. Leftovers become lunch for DH and I.
I have had success with things that they can "dress" themselves. ie. taco salad. I make a pan of the meat for it, and then lay out cut tomatoes, salsa, cream cheese, shredded cheese, avocados, etc. and let them make it any way they want. (One of mine is vegetarian). Then I try really hard not to pay attention to what exactly they do.
Also, my vegetarian is a grazer (duh), so I just keep all primal foods and let them eat when they are hungry.
p.s. mine are 16 and 18 now, but I have been doing this style of feeding them for a very long time. before I was primal we were all vegetarian, before that it was low-fat, etc.
"Life isn't about waiting for the storm to pass. It is about learning to dance in the rain."
My journal: http://www.marksdailyapple.com/forum/thread36279.html
My "Program": doing my version of a 4:3 - 3 day fast diet with real food every day, with a little twist of anti-inflammatory mixed in.
I would like to suggest you try and make this for your children.
Wild Salmon with Coconut Almond Crust | The Caveman Eats
I thought it was absolutely delicious. Simply substitute chicken breast for salmon to make "paleo chicken fingers." I bet they'll enjoy that with little fuss. If you want, you can even make your own honey mustard sauce with...honey and mustard
Who knows, maybe they'll even like the salmon but I doubt it. I love it though, so if you wanna make me salmon I'll be over at 6.
Don't put your trust in anyone on this forum, including me. You are the key to your own success.
When I was a kid, the invention of cheese sauce suddenly made vegetables my favorite food. I know it's not the healthiest thing, but it was my gateway to vegetables.
Female, 5'3", 50, Max squat: 202.5lbs. Max deadlift: 225 x 3.
My son is 3 and most likely autistic (he hasn't been officially diagnosed but it is extremely likely at this point). Unfortunately diet is something that he has a problem with and if I were try to just give him primal foods he would starve. It really depends on the child because not every kid is just going to eat what they are given.