Marks Daily Apple
Serving up health and fitness insights (daily, of course) with a side of irreverence.
21 Sep

How to Go Primal: For Parents

Whether we’re parents or not, we all identify on some level with the problematic influence other people can have on our lifestyle choices. Whether it’s an inflexible partner, “concerned” friends and family members, or iron-willed children, they all prove that none of us lives in a vacuum. Taking on the Primal Blueprint, particularly the diet, in these cases isn’t just revamping one’s own eating. It involves a whole negotiation with the set patterns and expectations within one’s entire household. (Deep, cleansing breath…) With the Primal Challenge this month, many readers, particularly parents, are finding that aspect the hardest element of their commitment – particularly when it comes to the food. I’ve covered some seedling suggestions in the past, but I thought I’d offer a special, Challenge-focused triage post for the well-intentioned but struggling parents out there. I hope you’ll join me in offering up your best tips, strategies, recipes, and serenity mantras.

First off, let me offer kudos to the parents taking up the Challenge this month. It’s true that all of us here, parents or not, could offer a hundred excuses for not doing it. Nonetheless, here we are. We’re on the path. We’re recommitting each day. We’re all showing up, and that’s 90% of it. For parents, the overall lifestyle negotiation takes on it’s own set of obstacles though. Home life and everything it entails ends up largely influenced if not dictated by the needs (and sometimes whims) of the kiddos. It’s easy to fall into what initially feels like a middle ground deal but gradually devolves into a wholly unreasonable and unhealthy arrangement – for everybody. We surrender our standards in the name of convenience or cost savings. We postpone healthy changes because they don’t mesh with family demands at the time. Let’s stop the car for a moment.

Secure your diet before helping others. Don’t get me wrong. I’m not advocating letting your children gorge in a pool of Cocoa Krispies while you prepare that Thai steak salad for dinner. Nonetheless, many a a mother and father have undoubtedly driven themselves to the edge of sanity trying to wholly transition little Sally and Joey just as they initiate their own Primal challenge. It’s a perfectly honorable, understandable inclination, but it’s often (not always) doomed to failure. Let me explain.

There’s the good intention of wanting to improve your children’s diet as you improve your own. I love this one. By all means, go for it. You couldn’t give your kids a better gift (besides your love of course). Some folks can do it all in one sweep, and more power to them. If you have any doubts, however, work on yourself first. I know that “indulging” in healthier food while you leave your children behind in what suddenly seems a culinary wasteland can impose a tremendous amount of guilt. (Reader letters confirm as much.)

Let me say this. Improving your kids’ diet is an infinitely worthy goal, but it’s a different project. It’s a separate intention. Give each goal its individual due, and you’ll be more likely to be successful on both fronts. Remember the oxygen mask metaphor? If you secure your own source of oxygen, you’re in better shape to help the person next to you. Likewise, if you’re established in a healthy Primal Blueprint diet – meaning, you’ve created a genuine routine and you have a respectful repertoire of recipes – you will be in a better position to stay the course with your kids.

Anyone who’s transitioned children to a different diet can tell you it’s not the easiest thing in the world. They will likely resist. They will complain. The older ones will hold out waiting for you to change your mind and go back to the old ways. Will you? If you’re a newbie just charting the course, the prospect is much more likely than if you’ve had the time and practice to make the Blueprint your own. You’ll have developed a creativity and flexibility conducive to creating a workable version of the PB for your family – without compromising the basic premise or your personal commitment.

As you forge your own Primal path, set an important but more manageable goal for the kids. Cut out the gluten in their diet or those last processed foods you’ve been meaning to dump. Get rid of the sugar or work on increasing their veggie intake. Choose whatever feels reasonable, but opt for a change that isn’t going to undermine your own efforts now. If that means doing the same old, same old for a couple of weeks, than so be it. Rome wasn’t built in a day.

Then there’s the practical aspects of juggling different menus. For one, parents new to the PB imagine the prospect of making multiple meals and decide the extra time, effort, and expense will be a deal breaker. It’s gotta be everybody or nobody if this is gonna work, they think. I understand this perspective. I sympathize with it. As a parent, I remember what it’s like to be on a budget, to have no time for yourself, to throw dinner together as quickly as humanly possible because you know a hunger meltdown is exactly nine minutes away and counting.

Nonetheless, the fact remains. When you allow your success to depend on the cooperation of others, you’ve surrendered control of – and full responsibility for – your intention. It’s a hard truth when you’re already stressed and sleepless. Let me offer a few suggestions along these lines. I know, too, there will be a whole host of fellow Grokkers who will offer the benefit of their own experience in these matters. That’s one of the greatest parts about this community. Don’t be afraid to lean on it.

  • Eat separate meals at separate times. Yes, making different meals does take longer. There’s no way around it. You can, however, get the kids fed on time and still work in a Primal dinner for yourself if you’re not married to the idea that it has to be the exact way and time that it was before. Spare yourself the meltdowns and eye rolls about having to get to soccer practice and establish your own mealtime. Break it up. Eat half your dinner with the family and half later. Bring it to go on certain days if need be. Embrace the strategically scheduled IF when necessary. Throw out your old schedule entirely and start from scratch. As disorienting as setting a new schedule sounds, it can be easier for some people than trying to force new priorities into the old one.
  • Plan, plan, plan. With a little time, things will fall into place and become more automatic, but these transitions take some effort in the beginning. Be patient with the process, and see the possibilities. Create a list of your favorite Primal recipes and snacks. List a meal plan for your kids. Figure out what can be integrated into a week’s cooking and shopping budget. Both you and the little ones might have to forgo or switch off getting one or more of your favorite foods. You might trade some expenses by leaning a little more on frozen veggies or shopping a road side farm stand this week. Nonetheless, if you plan it out, you can be sure that you’ve covered everyone’s needs for the week.
  • Coordinate meals to use the same basic ingredients. Instead of buying all separate ingredients for your food and theirs, make the respective meals as complementary as you can. A pound of ground beef, some chicken tenders, or some scrambled eggs can easily become the cornerstone for a tasty kid dinner and a fully Primal one for you. I have no doubt good readers will have tips here.
  • Integrate family meals one at a time. Do a Primal dinner once a week – something everyone can agree upon. Add a Primal breakfast or snack the week after. Let go of expectations about the food itself and make it an event. Get the kids involved in planning or cooking. Make it a fancy meal with printed menus and fine china or eat it outside together on the ground with your hands. Make a family event out of it. Let it simply be a good time – one meal at a time.
  • Always have a contingency plan. You expend massive amounts of time and brain energy packing the diaper back or day pack taking into account every kids’ conceivable need. How about your needs? Take the time to make some Primal energy bars each week, or bring along some protein shake mix when you’re on a family outing. Life with kids is less than neat, less than predictable. Always come prepared, Primal style.

Thanks for reading today, everybody. Have kids? How have you meshed (or not) your Primal choices with the family picture? What are your fallback recipes for busy times or the Primal meals that no kid can refuse? I hope you’ll add your suggestions and advice for all the Primal parents out there. Happy hump day!

You want comments? We got comments:

Imagine you’re George Clooney. Take a moment to admire your grooming and wit. Okay, now imagine someone walks up to you and asks, “What’s your name?” You say, “I’m George Clooney.” Or maybe you say, “I’m the Clooninator!” You don’t say “I’m George of George Clooney Sells Movies Blog” and you certainly don’t say, “I’m Clooney Weight Loss Plan”. So while spam is technically meat, it ain’t anywhere near Primal. Please nickname yourself something your friends would call you.

  1. I can’t imagine being a stay at home mother and having to cook for a SAD husband, a baby, an older child and myself…all seperate meals.
    I would quit!

    So darn glad I don’t have kids…well, yet.

    Issabeau wrote on September 21st, 2011
    • I couldn`t imagine it either, but here I am. I have 1 small boy, a fiance who in the past year underwent 8 rounds of chemo,(now cancer free) while I was pregnant,and shortly after baby was born and I have to try to make meals and deal with all the emotions, chores, plus trying to reno and sell our house as well as the needs of a small child, my own, and my fiance`s. You just learn as you go. There are no quick answers, but the point is to learn and try not to bite off more than you can chew, unless you are prepared to handle what life is going to dish out. That’s it, oh and live your passion, and try to be happy. Those too.

      Linda wrote on September 22nd, 2011
    • When I was married and I went Primal I just quit cooking non-paleo stuff. Kind of bitch of me I guess but oh well. My kid was just a baby so I didn’t have her attitude to worry about. I threw out all the non-paleo food and my husband just ended up going primal with me – at least while he was at home.

      I definitely was NOT going to make multiple meals. Real people who have to prepare their own food and go to work and take care of the fam probably aren’t going to be so careful of everyone’s wants.

      Peggy The Primal Parent wrote on September 22nd, 2011
      • I’m the cook in my house, and the one who works. My wife stays home our (now) two boys. I make multiple meals almost every night, because a lot of our foods are a bit mature for my 3 year old, and I haven’t been able to transition him yet. My wife wants to get healthier, but hasn’t been able to make the switch yet. She eats what I make, obviously, but when I make a meal I know she loves/misses (like chicken parm), I make a primal version for me. Hard? Yup. Make for late nights? Yup. I’m careful of everyone’s wants, and I consider myself to be a real person, too.

        ioelus wrote on September 23rd, 2011
        • My story is nearly identical to the above. Wife stays home, 5 y/o and 5 month old boys and I usually make compromises on my oldest boy’s lunches… until last week. He started Kindergarten and we noticed some symptoms of ADHD (Although I’m on the fence about whether it exists) and I’m thinking a more Primal life may help him too. My wife is nearly on board with me and I do NOT cook seperate meals for the family. We all eat Primal when its dinner or family breakfast time.

          Jack wrote on September 25th, 2011
  2. I thought this would be a post about getting your parents to eat primal, lol. I’m pretty proud of myself (and my folks) right now because they’ve been eating primal for two weeks now. Mom even bought herself a pair of vibrams.

    LXV wrote on September 21st, 2011
    • I’m having a problem getting my parents to go Primal, and since I live at home and don’t buy the food it’s pretty difficult.

      Matthew wrote on September 22nd, 2011
  3. As one who has tried to influence both parents and children, children are much easier. My kids don’t remember my low-fat diet, or the slim fast months, or the Zone, etc. Whatever I tell my parents or in-laws just gets lumped into the “there she goes again” pile, complete with the eye rolling, despite the fact I’m looking better and am much healthier. Oh well…
    As far as kids go, I think it basically comes down to a balance of respecting yourself as the parent and therefore in charge with respecting them as individuals with likes/dislikes and a desire to control their own environment. You take your stands when appropriate and give a little at times, too. My kids went primal this past summer, about a month after I did, and they are doing quite well.

    LisaS wrote on September 21st, 2011
    • I experience the same thing with my parents… They will be complaining of this or that health problem and I’ll try to give them some advice based on my success and they just zone out and nod their head once in a while. Oh well… maybe next time they’ll make a change.

      Andy wrote on September 21st, 2011
      • Andy, i totally agree with you, i often times relate information to friends and family. The listen while they are in pain or just desperate to make changes, but it usually does not last!
        Like any major endeavor it takes time and diligence, which unfortunately is something that society at large does not posses.

        ruben wrote on September 21st, 2011
  4. A triage post? Fitting terminology! I am definitely a “well-intentioned but struggling” parent. As long as I plan like crazy, my kids do pretty well on 90% paleo (that’s paleo, plus nutella. And the occasional ricecake.)

    My oldest is 8, and once or twice a week I’ll get the “why can’t we ever have BREAD??” complaint. The underlying assumption being that bread is the best thing ever!

    If we have lots of food in the house that the kids like, then we’re golden. Dinners are easy, I just think of it as “meat and three” and we’re good. But snacks get tricky! I am always looking for good snack ideas, because we can only eat so many almonds!

    Thanks for the encouragement here. I’m looking forward to hearing what suggestions other parents have.

    Anne wrote on September 21st, 2011
    • for snacks, we do a lot of homemade beef jerky from ground beef, coconut clusters, homemade primal trail mix, fruit, veggies with almond butter, leftover meat from the night before or coconut based smoothies (with raw eggs). Their favorite is pre-cooked cold nitrite free bacon, but I have to limit that or we’d be spending $10/day just on snacks!

      Katie (Wellness Mama) wrote on September 21st, 2011
    • I’m always trying to find good snacks too! My main issue is that has to pretty much be stuff I can just buy – I expend the effort to cook a wide variety of meals, but I just don’t have time to include stuff like making jerky as well. I don’t know how well any of this works for kids, but here are my staples:

      – Nuts (almonds or macadamia, usually)
      – Sunflower seeds in shell (perfect for watching movies or games, when you want an activity more than the food)
      – Almond flax butter from Trader Joe’s (crack stuff)
      – Dark chocolate (85%+)
      – Olives
      – Pickles or sauerkraut
      – Cut veggies (carrots, celery, peppers, tomatoes, radishes, whatever)
      – Good cheese
      – Quality deli meat
      – Berries and cream or yogurt
      – Frozen watermelon (for hot days)
      – Sardines or tuna in olive oil

      Anyone have other quick off-the-shelf type snacks?

      Kris wrote on September 21st, 2011

        I found this at Wegman’s last week and it was great! I tried the mackerel in piripiri sauce.

        Nicky wrote on September 21st, 2011
        • Wow, I can’t wait to try some of these. Thanks for posting.

          James wrote on November 7th, 2011
      • Dates, tangerines, tablespoon of nut butter, hard boiled egg, avocado, cold good quality sausages cut up.

        Alison Golden wrote on September 21st, 2011
      • ditto on the HB eggs!! don’t forget you can make the tamari ones in the 1st PB cookbook, or peel & drop in with pickled beets for a day to make them pretty.
        What about apples? I don’t see here… apple slices with cinnamon. Greek yoghurt mixed with cinnamon as a “dip” for apple slices. I also mix cinnamon with almond butter.
        “ants on a log” – celery sticks filled with almond butter & topped with a trail of raisins or dried cherries.
        (celery filled with tuna or egg salad?)
        slices of cucumber or raw zucchini used as “crackers & topped with… (use a crinkle cutter to make slices fun!)
        if you have a dehydrator try making zucchini chips – yum!!

        peggy wrote on September 21st, 2011
        • Zucchini chips – thank you.
          Just put some in the bottom oven now.

          Andislimreaper wrote on September 21st, 2011
        • Another way to make hard boiled eggs pretty is to soak them in sauerkraut juice from red cabbage. They’ll be purple at first but then they’ll turn blue, very pretty! It’s also a fun experiment for kids.

          Krista wrote on September 21st, 2011
      • Dates, dried figs, pepitas, organic full fat pastured Greek yogurt, fruit, deli turkey rolled avocados, raisins, string cheese, certain Larabars, sunbutter, and my daughter loves energy chunks, many of which are primal or close to it.

        Nichole wrote on September 21st, 2011
      • I always give kids “cold apple pie” – slice up an apple into a bag/dish, sprinkle with cinnamon and a little nutmeg.

        Tanya wrote on September 26th, 2011
    • The other day, my daughter brought in handsful of grass seed from the backyard so that we could grind it and make some bread, since she missed it so much!

      Tim wrote on September 21st, 2011
    • For a while I made almond bread or almond/coconut flour bread for my daughter because she was a bread addict. She likes it and has given up the regular breads (though she gets gluten-free rice breads once in a while). After not eating it for a bit, she did a couple of times and realized her body didn’t like it AT ALL. :)

      Anyway my point being, that there are ways of substituting a bit here and there while in transition, or so that there’s a bit better quality to your 20%. :)

      Michelle wrote on September 21st, 2011
    • “Paleo, plus Nutella” – I like that! LOL

      Andislimreaper wrote on September 21st, 2011
      • Kinda like vegetarian plus bacon. Which seems to happen rather frequently.

        Michael C wrote on September 21st, 2011
    • Hi Anne, I don’t have kids, but I can understand the BREAD complaint…I have made 3 different primal “Bread” recipes that I make once in a while, whenever I get the craving…it’s fall now, so here’s the recipe for my favorite autumn one:

      Cinnamon Apple Crisp Bread

      Preheat oven to 325 F

      Grease 2 bread pans with coconut oil (I use these Pyrex dishes…

      Peel and dice a large apple…shake in a bowl with about 2 tsp of cinnamon, a dash of nutmeg and ground cloves if you have it…set aside.

      In a separate bowl, mix 1/2 cup of coconut flour with 1/2 cup almond flour, 3/4 tsp of baking soda and 1/4 tsp of salt.

      Add 2 large eggs, 3/4 cup of walnut oil (or almond oil), 1-2 tsp of vanilla extract, and 1/4 cup of maple syrup to the dry ingredients.

      Add the apples to the mixture, along with any juice that’s in the bowl.

      Split the batter up between the two greased Pyrex dishes (should be about 1 -2 inches thick/deep…if you pour in more it takes longer and doesn’t cook as evenly)

      Bake for about 30 – 40 minutes…(depending on thickness)

      Cool for 20 minutes in dish before serving

      Hopefully this helps! :-)

      primalpal wrote on September 21st, 2011
      • OMG..that sounds awesome! I have a bunch of apples from my tree and I am soooo going to make that. My cranky teenage son will thank me for that one. Today he went off to school with a bag of almonds, a pop up can of tuna, some fruits and veggies, a container or no-sugar fruit yogurt and a two gluton-free ginger snaps (my concession). if he would just take leftovers life would be much easier..but no easy access to microwave at his school!

        Janine wrote on September 22nd, 2011
        • just made some last night…easy breakfast for the morning too! The Pyrex dishes are the best…you just bake the bread, let it cool, and then put the top on…keeps everything nice and fresh!

          primalpal wrote on September 22nd, 2011
      • If you want to make the bread even tastier, pour 3 tbsp (total…1.5 per loaf) over the batter once you have put it in the Pyrex dish…bake like this…

        primalpal wrote on September 23rd, 2011
    • I must have hit the wrong reply button…Anne, I left an apple crisp “bread” recipe at the bottom of the page

      primalpal wrote on September 21st, 2011
    • Homemade applesauce. It tastes even better if you make it after you take the kiddies to pick their own apples at the orchard. (Autumn is one of the best things about living in New England!)

      kate wrote on September 22nd, 2011
    • Snacks! Where to start.. if you don’t have a dehydrator, GET ONE! Make all kinds of jerky (beef, turkey, even chicken is great). Make your own trail mix with dried fruit (in small amounts) with nuts and coconut, plantain chips with guac, sliced bell peppers with various dips – or without, baked sweet potato fries with ghee and a LITTLE maple syrup (make them yourself, not the packaged ones), baked apples with ghee and cinnamon, kabob leftovers (my favorite)… pretty much any kind of leftovers can be turned into snack food if you modify it a bit!

      Erin wrote on September 22nd, 2011
    • heh I made some banana icecream I read about so simple.Just slice banana, put them in freezer take out & blend until smooth.U will not believe how good this is. I added strawberries, frozen & a little cocoa powder awesome no additional sweetness needed. KIDS would love it:)

      Milliann wrote on September 22nd, 2011
    • That sounds similar to my household. I’ve managed to get a lot of grains out of our household, the removal of cereal was a big one (thankfully they never ask for it anymore) and bread is a VERY rare buy. Hamburger buns and flour tortillas are another story though. They just don’t want to give them up.

      Most dinners my 7 year old just eats a plate of meat because he refuses to eat veggies.

      Ashley wrote on September 26th, 2011
  5. I cook a lot of stuff on the weekend and we mix & match those things through out the week. Lots of meat (to be eaten alone or thrown on salad), a couple of casserole-type dishes, and some veggies that can stand the reheating. Thankfully our 2 year old LOVES bacon and fresh veggies so she usually has some form of crudite plate for super. The hardest part for us has been getting the daycare on board with not feeding her bread and sugary snacks. Now we just take her organic milk and healthy snacks. Not easy on the budget, but worth it to us.

    Leslie wrote on September 21st, 2011
  6. I haven’t had too much problem with changing the big peoples(dad, big sister, and myself)diet, it’s my four year old son. To call him food neophobic is an understatement. I am unable to get him to eat meat and most veggies. He will eat most fruits, anything breadish, but not noodles or potatoes(I know real primal), peanut butter, cheese, and milk if I add flavor(as little as I can get away with). He is the first kid I have run into who will not eat a strange food if he gets hungry enough. He will simply not eat or drink until he gets dehydrated and vomits. Once in a while he will eat bacon from his sister if he thinks he is swiping it. Ideas anyone? I’m tired of feeding him food I wouldn’t eat, and as a diabetic myself-far more carbs than I am comfortable with.

    Ingvildr wrote on September 21st, 2011
    • In the short term, maybe try making some coconut based “bread” products just to cut out the grains and get more protein in him. Would he eat homemade trail mix, or coconut based smoothies? For my kids, I’ve made banana muffins (with coconut flour), apple cinnamon muffins/bread (coconut flour) and even pancakes, and their non-primal friends seem to like these options too… maybe they would work with your son.
      We also did the one-bite rule with our kids when we were adjusting. They got one bite of each part of the food we we serving, and they had to try that one bite of each before requesting more of whichever they wanted. He may not go for it, but it seemed less daunting to them than a whole plate of “questionable” food.
      Good luck!

      Katie (Wellness Mama) wrote on September 21st, 2011
      • Ooohh, could I get the recipe for your banana muffins and apple cinnamon muffins please? I’d like to try them on my kids.

        spincycle wrote on September 21st, 2011
      • My daughter has autism and has been gluten free for years but still eats lots of grain products because her taste for meat is very limited and she refuses eggs.
        I’m really trying to get her to accept coconut flour replacements but she doesn’t care for them much because they taste “eggy” alot of the time. I’m about to go the route of just removing the grain products and pushing more protien regardless of meltdowns and tantrums. Any ideas would be greatly appreciated. By the way she is 7 and is about the size of a typical 10 year old…she eats tons of fruits and veggies so I’m not too concerned with her starving.

        Charissa wrote on January 19th, 2012
    • I have 2 boys, ages 4 and 5 1/2. The younger one will eat anything, and the older one is exactly as you describe your 4 year old (which is reassuring to think that it’s just who he is and it’s not something we screwed up as parents). He will skip meals entirely rather than eat something new, and if “forced” he will gag and regurgitate (and he’s been that way from so young that I’m sure he’s not just faking it; plus the Pediatricians say “forcing” them may result in worse long-term habits).
      For us we just try to maximize the good stuff and not drive ourselves or him crazy. For whatever reason he likes canned green beans and canned peas, so he has one of those pretty much every night. He likes carrots dipped in nut butter (Justin’s almond butter with maple syrup – yum!) so that’s a daily snack. For breakfast I’ll often make up a plate with lots of little samples (makes me think of tapas) – some cashews, deli ham torn into bite-size pieces (with a drop of maple syrup for dipping), a couple of kinds of fruit (he loves black-berries but no other berry, go figure?). Anyway, we try to maximize the good stuff, and not go crazy with the lack of variety. And he’s probably only 50% primal — he seems OK-enough with dairy and gluten, and I’d rather he get some calories and protein than see him starve. I’m assuming he will grow out of it, but my wife was a very picky eater until her early 20s.
      Love the kid, don’t drive yourself or him crazy, and if you can find a few good things he will eat then latch onto those.
      p.s. I try to set a “good example”, but that doesn’t seem to matter for diddly-squat. :)

      Mike wrote on September 21st, 2011
      • One thing I did with my kids when they were little was to have a smorgasbord similar to above. I would use a lazy susan and put on lots of little dishes (all of them healthy) and they could choose as many or as little of the food items as they wanted. The novelty of the lazy susan and the feeling of being grown-up and learning a fancy word seemed to make all the difference. They still talk about it and it’s been years.

        And ditto on the muffins. You can make all sorts of different combos of fruit with a almond meal and egg base. Maybe there will be something that he will try.

        Alison Golden wrote on September 21st, 2011
      • I kinda understand where your son is coming from (except for the blackberry thing – too many seeds!) I have never been able to eat many fruits (outside of them being in a smoothie). An involuntary gag reflex kicks in and I just can’t get it down. It is weird and annoying and I have tried many times to no avail to overcome it. I am able, now, to eat a few, consistant textured fruits but if I am feeling like I need fruit, I just whip up a green smootie and it’s all good!

        thinkingmom wrote on September 21st, 2011
    • I’m having trouble with my four year old too. He hates nuts(except almonds when he’s in a good mood), hates coconut, even hates primal chocolate chip cookies, hates lettuce, doesn’t really like eggs. However he loves carrots, broccoli, peppers (only the orange ones :) ) cauliflower, beef jerky, sunflower seeds….. ahhhhhh he’s a bread man errgg. The other 3 (age 9, 7 and 2) are slowly coming over to primal. My 9 year old has always hated sandwiches, so she’s been eating salad for lunch for a year already, but the 7 year old loves sandwiches. Patience, patience, patience. Keep trying – however I am NOT looking forward to halloween…………

      Tanya wrote on September 26th, 2011
  7. I have been primal for almost a year, the rest of the family not so much, but we are slowly working on it. To be fair, Hubby is slowly but surely coming around – he is not someone who likes to be told what to do, but he is seeing the changes in me and cannot deny that they have been positive. I’ve got a 6.5 year old who is picky and a 4 year old who is less picky, but still neither of them like meat or avocados, or coconut.
    I have just been taking it slow with them and am starting to see improvements in eat habits. They both like eggs, but not all the time. They have both started eating bacon (but only the good stuff from the farmers market :). They are starting to ask for cheese or fruit as a snack instead of crackers (there aren’t any crackers in the house anymore and they eventually stopped asking!). They like broccoli soup, but not plain broccoli, even when slathered in butter. It turns out they love apple slices with nut butter. And hard boiled eggs.

    Some people who have kids who seem to eat anything. This is not true in my house, but any time we add a new primal friendly food to the list of stuff that they like and will eat I count that as a small victory. I’ve learned to take what victories I can!
    My 6 year old asked for broccoli soup for dinner the other night – it warmed the cockles of my heart!!

    My only advice to people with picky kids is take it slow and don’t give up. Any improvement is better than none at all!

    Sasha wrote on September 21st, 2011
  8. I have 12 and 7 year-old girls. The younger one has been going with it since she likes salad and meat really well. Plus, I’m making paleo treats from Elana’s Pantry so she doesn’t miss her ‘sweets’. My oldest, though, was a bit more of a challenge. She sees pizza and cookies at every house she goes to and every extra curricular event she attends. However, she came around when I told her about candy cigarettes. I told her when I was a girl my mother would buy me candy cigarettes. I asked her what she would think if I bought her candy cigarettes. She said she would think I’d lost my mind and that I had a death wish for her. Then I said, that’s how I feel about all the carbs and processed sugars. In the 70’s, no one really thought of candy cigarettes as unethical. Today, we don’t think cartoon characters on cereal boxes are inappropriate, but that will change. She got it. She now asks for and gets an omelette for breakfast and has stopped complaining about eating more meals at home. I think she needed to know the food I put on the table is about how much I care and not an attempt to control her.

    Melie wrote on September 21st, 2011
    • Thank you for that re. the candy cigarette. I have the same problem re. the pizza with my 11yo and I’m going to use that idea.

      Alison Golden wrote on September 21st, 2011
    • That is a great analogy!

      LP wrote on September 22nd, 2011
      • I miss candy cigarettes :( They were great!

        Chris wrote on September 22nd, 2011
  9. My kid (who is 6) is mostly OK with what we are eating these days. He gripes about the veggies some days, but since every kid in existence probably gripes about veggies it’s no big deal. He loves fruit of all sorts and I’m OK with that. He’s not all the way primal/paleo since he has granola for breakfast once in a while, and I stock corn tortillas for him occasionally. No gluten or sugar though, there just isn’t any in the house. That’s the easiest solution really – don’t allow anything in the house that you don’t want your kid to eat, then they will eat what’s available.

    Michael C wrote on September 21st, 2011
  10. We do lots of smoothies – for ourselves and our 1 and 2 year olds. Love the magic bullet mini blender! A handful of frozen berries to any combination of… banana, pumpkin puree, fresh spinach/kale/chard, steamed broccoli, plain greek yogurt, almond flour, apple, cooked sweet potato… etc! It’s really amazing how tasty these can be – and feels great getting that good nutrition in the kids. They also love avocado.

    The tricky thing with kids this age is non-messy snacks for on the go. Any suggestions?

    The most frustrating part about caring about what our kids eat is not the kids themselves… its all the adults who offer goldfish and ritz crackers and suckers at every opportunity!

    Amanda wrote on September 21st, 2011
    • how do you deal with the adults offering the inappropriate snacks? I’m still pregnant and yet my sister and mother have both said they plan to stuff my twins with junk every chance they get. I know I am a long way from having to worry about this and will have SO VERY many challenges before we get to it but I’d love to hear some strategies. It makes me want to scream and also not let them watch the kids alone once they are getting solids.

      stephanie wrote on September 21st, 2011
      • The word NO is how you deal with it, plain and simple.

        I have 4 kids, and my MIL is always trying to pull stuff. I’ve just learned to say NO — and to back it up with a consequence for Grandma. Break my reasonable rules, get less unsupervised time with the kids.

        If I can’t trust you to follow the basic family rules, I can’t trust my little ones with you.

        I also let them know what I am confortable with when it comes to bending rules — need to give the grandparents some leeway, after all.

        Cin wrote on September 21st, 2011
        • That was our situation exactly! When my eldest tattled on her grandma (grandma had given them cotton candy!), my husband and I decided right there to cut all unsupervised visits with her. Of course, she was also going behind our wishes on other things too.

          It was painful for all of us, but she is slowly starting to see that if she doesn’t go along with our wishes that she just won’t see her grandkids as often.

          Happycyclegirl wrote on September 22nd, 2011
      • Just my two cents on the family dynamic, but I think any time you have relatives bragging about how they plan to go against your expressed wishes when they are alone with your kids, you need to strongly re-think letting that happen. This likely won’t be just about food. Does she disagree with other modern parenting strategies as well? We have the same issue with an in-law, and it got to the point where I just didn’t trust her not to do things like give my allergic kid an allergen, spank or let my sons cry-it-out when I wasn’t there. She no longer sits for us. I get spoiling grandparents, but there are lots of ways to spoil that have nothing to do with food.

        I’d say something like, “I understand you want to indulge and spoil your grandkids, but I would hope you’d respect my wishes as a parent as well. If you want Twins to have treats, I’ll make some and bring them to your house.” It gives you a better position to say something later.

        Shannon wrote on September 21st, 2011
      • Frankly if this is as it sounds it is, I would not let them come close.

        I have twins and believe me you don’t want to be dealing with 2 junk-filled crazy, bouncing off the wall 2 year olds. And your family members won’t make the connection, they’ll just say you’re being a bad mother.

        Your kids, your rules. If you can’t trust them to respect that, they don’t get them. You may have to be the bad guy but so be it.

        Alison Golden wrote on September 21st, 2011
        • I can so relate to this. My mother-in-law and I had a huge fight once in front of most of the family because she mocked me for not letting my son have sugar in his cup of tea (he’s a teenager) I told her that I didn’t want him to get used to sweet tea, that a bit of milk only was just fine. She treated me like I was an abusive parent…I held my ground! It’s ridiculous!! I didn’t relent though…

          Janine wrote on September 22nd, 2011
      • My friend’s mom is really into sugar. She’s obese and diabetic. She kept wanting to give my friend’s son (her grandson), sugary treats before he was even one. So…my friend just never let her be alone with him.

        Marcia @Frugal Healthy Simple wrote on September 21st, 2011
        • Absolutely. My grandmother wonders why she never gets to have our daughter (only five months old!) to herself. So does my aunt. They both do exactly what you’re saying, tell me all about how they’re going to slip her a lollipop or tell me, “You have to buy her a Happy Meal when she gets older! All kids get to go to McDonalds!” The aunt also tells us that when she cries she’s “just exercising her lungs” and that we shouldn’t pick her up. I found a chocolate smear on the baby’s face — grandmother doesn’t watch her alone. She tells me the aunt bragged to her about letting the baby lick a breaded chicken finger — aunt doesn’t watch her alone. Simple as that.

          Erin wrote on September 21st, 2011
        • It’s so frustrating! My family members frequently bring over boxes of animal crackers, chips, pretzels (gluten free if we’re lucky), cookies, store bought pies, and other crap into our house. This, of course, is difficult because once the kids see them, it’s a big thing. Then then want them, and I look like the bad guy.

          NicholeK wrote on September 22nd, 2011
    • My daughter loves dried fruit, including cranberries and raisins.

      There are some sulfite-free dried fruit packets that come in resealable bags, and I keep at least one in the car at all times! They are a little sticky in the hand, but not too bad, and they certainly don’t ruin upholstery.

      I’ve made my own sweet potato chips in the past, fried in coconut oil and sprinkled with sea salt, and my daughter loves them. Here’s the recipe:

      Once they are completely cooled, they stay pretty crisp for a couple of days inside a paper bag.

      Kate wrote on September 21st, 2011
    • I agree that adults offering junk is the biggest problem. It seems like the only things that people think of offering a kid is some variation on flour and/or sugar. Crackers, cereal, juice, cookies, ice cream, etc. And then they complain when kids’ behavior is crummy.

      misterworms wrote on September 21st, 2011
    • My two year old loves Larabars, energy chunks, and fruit, all of which travel really well.

      With my one year old, about the only thing I’ll give him that’s processed are the Happy Bellies organic puffs. Granted they have mostly rice, but they’re all dairy, corn, and soy free, and the sweet potato and strawberry varieties are gluten free.

      I hear you about the adults. All of the adults in our kids’ lives are OBSESSED with giving them junk food, which is so frustrating. Why do people think a “happy childhood” hinges on eating crap?

      Nichole wrote on September 21st, 2011
  11. I agree that it is easier for parents to make the transition themselves so they have the energy to keep up with their kids once they are eating primal, but the actual adjustment seems much easier on kids than adults… at least from what I’ve seen.

    I’d recommend transitioning dinner first, since that is most often the family meal and isn’t typically as carb based as breakfast and lunch. Personally, we all just transitioned cold turkey when we switched, and the kids adjusted faster and easier than my husband and I did. Two days of complaining, and now they devour a spinach and bacon salad faster than they used to eat pizza.

    I think it is usually the parents who have more trouble with getting their kids to switch because they have the idea that their kids won’t like healthier foods and approach it from the perspective of trying to entice or cajole the kids into eating healthy. This can certainly be tougher with older ages, but for us, family meals are family meals… no one has to eat, but I’m not a short order cook, so no one is getting a special meal either.

    Katie (Wellness Mama) wrote on September 21st, 2011
    • I agree, Katie, I think it’s much easier for the kids. We didn’t really discuss it, we just did it. I remember when I said “that’s the last of the pb&j” after tapering off from a three sandwich a week habit, to one, to we’re out and not buying more. We’ve never asked our kids what they wanted for dinner – of course we observe and make an effort to incorporate things we know they like, but my husband was a fussy eater and he knew what a pain he’d been, so we didn’t do the multi-option thing. We prepare one meal, eat it or not, better luck next round. We have yet to send a child away from the table hungry two meals in a row.

      rachael wrote on September 21st, 2011
  12. Hmmm…I thought this was gonna be on how to get parents to go Primal….oh well

    Ham-bone wrote on September 21st, 2011
  13. I started eating Primal about 6 months ago and it was tough convincing my wife at first.

    But I explained how important it was to me, I’ve done a lot of research and I trust in Mark Sisson’s wisdom.

    Showing photos of Mark helped me seal the deal :)

    So it started with my own decision, then my wife saw how shredded my abs were and said…what are you doing? I told her….eating Primal baby!

    She was very intrigued and asked how she can eat a little primal.

    Now we are doing a Primal meal at Dinner time about 4 nights per week.

    We shop once a week and do our best to go to Whole Foods or Trader Joe’s to get organic foods….even though they cost more…and we are on a very tight budget like most people these days.

    And a HUGE side benefit of this is because WE (Mom & Dad) are eating differently, our daughter (4yrs) is trying new things….primal meats and veggies.

    So, we are taking baby steps to eating Primal as a family and it’s awesome. There are more benefits than just better health…like spending more time together.

    Anyway, for all the parents out there…take baby steps (pun intended).

    Do the stuff Mark mentions above, he’s nailed it.

    A couple things I would add….get LOTS of Plastic Containers (Tupperware etc.) to store your foods.

    Also, right when you get back from the grocery store, do as much Prep work as possible-like cutting up fruits/veggies and put those bad boys in some plastic containers so they’re ready to go for a meal or snack.

    And as Mark says…PLAN. We usually plan out our 4 dinners for the week BEFORE we go to the store (which is once a week)so we know what to get.

    Hopefully this long ass comment was helpful to someone.

    Now, I am going to jump in on the challenge and go totally Primal for 30 days this month.

    We can do this Mom’s and Dad’s.

    Thanks Mark for another kick ass post and I apologize for taking up so much realestate with this comment.

    Tim "Renegade Dad" Murphy wrote on September 21st, 2011
  14. LOL@getting parents primal! My dad will never be a convert, but I fully believe it will be the root of what eventually will take my mom’s life. Here’s to hoping she has an ephipany that her issues are due to a very obvious gluten intolerance in the family. Get on board momma!

    ahopewell wrote on September 21st, 2011
  15. Luckily we went primal right after having our son, so I’ve only had other people argue about what we feed him, he doesn’t know any different.

    Although I did think it was pretty funny that the first solid food he got his hands on that he actually really liked was BACON (grabbed it off my plate and wouldn’t let it go). Most of the veggies he’s just been indifferent.

    Jenny wrote on September 21st, 2011
  16. Love this. I have been going Primal for the last 5 weeks, and have lost 6 pounds – I’m hooked. My husband has been Primal for almost a year. We have 2 little kids under 5, so it is challenging.

    What I have been doing lately, so I don’t have to prepare separate meals, is preparing Primal fare (a meat or other protein, and fruit/veggie), then giving them some noodles or rice with it to make it more palatable. Eventually I think we will be able to wean them off the starchy carbs, but this is a good start! They already like many healthy snacks like nuts, fruit, cheese sticks, and some veggies, so I think we’re more than halfway there!

    Donna C wrote on September 21st, 2011
    • Yes, this is what we do too — a primal meal with a carb side for the kids, such as rice.

      We will also make things like spaghetti and homemeade sauce and meatballs, and eat ours on veggies while the kids can choose noodles if they wish.

      We have 4 kids, and one of them has a serious issue with being underweight. I am very reluctant to take grains away due to that — any parent dealing with an underweightn child can relate to my fear he will start losing weight.

      However, something I have noticed since my hubby and I went prinal 8 weeks ago is since there is all sorts of extra healthy fat in the house (bacon, coconut milk stirfries and smoothies, eggs every morning, etc.) is he is putting on weight (yaaayyyy) and is eating less carbs (yaaaayyyy!)

      Cin wrote on September 21st, 2011
    • This is what I have been doing for the last couple of months since I was the only one eating Primal. I just make rice or noodles for everyone else and I stick with the meat and veggies. I’m not tempted to eat them either!

      LP wrote on September 22nd, 2011
  17. I don’t comment here much, but I must comment today since I have a 20 month old toddler that has basically been eating like us (we’re mostly primal) since he started eating solid foods.
    His favorite food by far is meat and eggs. He’ll basically eat any kind we prepare.
    From the get go, we made the goal of him eating what we eat the majority of the time. The best thing is, he doesn’t know any different unless he’s at his cousins house or friends who eat more sugary, carby snacks. He’s tried them, but when we’re home and it’s just us, he eats what we eat.
    My advice is that you start them young, really young if you have the chance so that’s what they grow up with in their everyday life. Now, starting them on this when they’re older would be tough for sure!

    Liz Dean wrote on September 21st, 2011
    • When your toddler learns the word “no” – and also when he starts being exposed to all those tasty carbs at preschool, birthday parties, playdates – you will find it is more of a challenge.

      Good that you gave him a healthy start.

      Donna C wrote on September 21st, 2011
      • He knows the word “no” very, very well (amongst hundreds of other words)…but thankfully he likes what we eat. He’s had lots of treats other places and I knew that would happen, but we can stay consistent in our home! Another good thing is that he asks for dark chocolate, and likes it!

        Liz Dean wrote on September 21st, 2011
      • If you start them young enough, it can really influence them. My 4 year old has been Primal with us for at least a year now. At his preschool they had chocolate milk one day. He tried it, thought it was gross, and had water instead! A slice of bread or snack at school, he can weather that fine. Lots of it, though, and he will get a stomach ache [just like my wife and I]. He is starting to learn some of his limits with certain foods.

        Mike wrote on September 21st, 2011
    • Hey Liz, I’ve never reached out on the website before so this is a little weird for me. However, I have an 18 month old who’s been eating primal with us for most of his life. Recently we discovered that he liked eating all kinds of nuts. Great yes! But it’s messing with his bowel movements (we’ll say NOT solid). Have you experienced this ever with the 20 month? And no he’s definitely not allergic. Sorry for the weird question but since he’s in diapers it’s a problem. Thanks, Jen

      Jennifer wrote on September 22nd, 2011
  18. I have done this slowly. I removed the carbs with dinner first and changed the snacks. Now we are experimenting with primal school lunches. Breakfast is about 50/50. My husband is not paleo so there is bread in the house, and peanut butter plus a few other things so I am explaining my reasoning and then letting my kids make up their own mind. They are 11.

    It is a lot of energy to work on primalizing the family. It requires some dedication to look up new recipes, try them out, get the kids to eat them. But I agree, once the parent has their own process down, it becomes a lot easier.

    Baby steps, change just the small, easy things like no potatoes with dinner and celebrate every step in the right direction.

    Alison Golden wrote on September 21st, 2011
  19. You missed the biggest tip…get the kids in the kitchen!! A kid isn’t likely to eat something they’ve never seen before but if they help buy it and prepare it, it’s a huge advantage! We’ve got our 5 kids helping make meals in our house.

    I was primal first (because of stomach issues) and I recruited my husband soon after. We started transitioning the kids by doing primal suppers and by the time school started up again, they were completely primal.

    My way of helping the kids, post transition, is to make things they like…primal’ed up. I make coconut flour muffins for school lunches in every flavour I can think of.

    Tara wrote on September 21st, 2011
    • Totally agree with this. Kids that help make something are more likely to help eat it, too. Compliment them on their culinary skills. :)

      Jane wrote on September 21st, 2011
  20. My family is primal at home, and I make my own baby food for my daughter, which I bring to her day care everyday. The only issue is, when she is at her day care, they insist that I am doing something wrong sticking with primal foods and instead give her graham crackers and puffs. Any ideas on how to combat non primal care givers?

    hbs wrote on September 21st, 2011
    • Sometimes I think we say too much when we trumpet the benefits of a “diet.” People think we’re crackpots, just another pair of diet faddists, no real reason to be different and no scientific reason to buck conventional wisdom. Pity the poor suffering baby!

      Try the diabetes tack. (Fat baby tack won’t work…everybody LOVES them.) Find the supervisor. Just say, “Look. We’re trying to avoid having to deal with diabetes with this child. (Completely true.) These foods are bad for her, even a little bit. (True.) She can’t have them. Period. (The 80/20 rule could be invoked here by those who really know, but they don’t, and she’s YOUR baby and YOU get to choose the 20. You’re providing her food for the day anyway, for crying out loud.)” Repeat as often as necessary with no further embellishment.

      And start looking for another daycare. Call around and find out who respects your choices. Perhaps your current caregivers would be interested to know that they are out there.

      If you’re not a Dragon Lady like me, you can resign yourself to allowing for the 80/20 rule applying to daycare treats. Baby won’t develop a taste for such things if you don’t serve them at home.

      Nannsi wrote on September 21st, 2011
    • I might be a little hardcore in this department but I would simply say “I’m paying you…feed my child what I’ve sent.”.

      Tara wrote on September 21st, 2011
      • My dcp asked me to bring formula “just in case”. I said “nope, I’ll make sure you have plenty of breastmilk in the freezer, but thanks for your concern!”

        Marcia @Frugal Healthy Simple wrote on September 21st, 2011
  21. I feel fortunate. Very fortunate…

    In May, after researching and reading about the paleo lifestyle for almost a year, I decided it was time to put all my newly gained knowledge into practice. When I shared with my spouse that I would be challenging myself to 30 days free from wheat, sugar, and all the other paleo no-no’s, my 8 year old daughter overheard our conversation and said, “Heah mom, I’ll do it with you!” What? My daughter, who LOVES her occasional (I’ve always been anti-processed sugar and anti-HFCS) sugary treats more than anything else in the world? I laughed to myself and thought “yeah, right.” But I discussed the “rules” with her and explained that if she committed to this, I was going to make her stick with it for the entire month. And she still wanted to do it. Her decision, by default, pulled my younger 7-year old daughter into the challenge as well.

    All I can say is thank goodness for Larabars!!! Seriously though, they did FANTASTIC! They had a few cheats as our month overlapped the last week of school when the end-of-year celebrations were in full swing. But other than that, they stuck to it. We’ve always eaten healthy, but our normal diet of mostly Asian style cuisine included rice nearly every night. That was the toughest thing to cut out. My daughters both begged for sandwiches a couple times and since they hardly ever eat them anyway, I just told them to wait until the end of the month. They missed pasta a little, but I luckily discovered kelp noodles and they haven’t had wheat pasta since!

    As the end of the month approached and I announced that I would be continuing to eat in this manner, my oldest told me that if I gave her a week off, she would go for another month. I asked what she wanted during her week off and it really came down to three things: sushi, pizza, and a third “legal” thing that we had been eating throughout the month anyway. I think she really noticed a difference in the way she felt after eating paleo for the month. She looked great and seemed to have discovered a great deal more physical energy while becoming a more calm in her behavior and mental energy.

    We’ve been eating paleo for five months now, minus a month for the girls that they spent at Nanny’s house over the summer. And even my spouse is coming around. I call this a success story!

    Angie wrote on September 21st, 2011
    • That’s awesome.

      It’s funny how kids will resist things like the plague, but occasionally just decide they want to do something you thought you’d never get them to do.


      Josh Frey wrote on September 21st, 2011
  22. If they don’t like what I’m eating they do without. They gorge on crap over at their mom’s house enough.

    Trelow wrote on September 21st, 2011
  23. MARK, question — what do I send in my kid’s lunch boxes???? The school has a nut-free policy, and my kids hate salad and soup (I have no idea how this happened, hubby and I love both!!)

    Cin wrote on September 21st, 2011
    • My stepkids eat:
      -applesauce (no sugar added)
      -some sort of lunch meat (salami, roasted turkey breast, beef jerky, etc; all good quality)
      -cheese strings
      -carrot sticks
      -apples, bananas, strawberries, oranges
      -yogourt (I’m okay with eating flavored as long as it’s full-fat)
      -hard-boiled eggs
      -black olives
      -little bit of chocolate as a treat

      Michelle wrote on September 21st, 2011
      • Try using plain yogurt as a base and adding to it. I have done the following to great success.

        yogurt, applesauce, cinnamon with a touch of maple syrup.
        yogurt, blackberry jam, diced peaches
        yogurt, huckleberry jelly, basil

        I used low sugar jam and jelly. Still less sugar than the typical grocery store yogurt. My cousin’s picky 5 year old scarfed them down!
        There are so many different combinations you can come up with

        Honeybuns wrote on September 22nd, 2011
    • Sunbutter! Call the school and ask first, and I always send a note when I pack it, since it looks like peanut butter. I also do lunchmeat rollups with veggies, cream cheese, mustards, you name it. You can even buy a compartment tupperware container and do a home-made “Lunchable.” My son loves them.

      Shannon wrote on September 21st, 2011
      • I second the lunch meat rollups. the kids gobble them down seemingly without missing the bread: Lettuce, turkey, ham, cheese, avocado, olive tapenade. paired with MDA’s awesome almond crackers and a cucumber.
        also tuna with almond crackers.

        DesertTomte wrote on September 21st, 2011
    • Our nut-free lunches are leftovers from the night before, a piece of fruit, a vegetable, yogourt (plain and then we add our own pureed fruit), and a coconut flour muffin. The line at Tropical Traditions is a dedicated one so it’s nut-free. (I’ve asked)

      Tara wrote on September 21st, 2011
    • I have no kids but have a similar question. My boyfriend is pretty much on board with the diet, but we have problems planning for a picnic at a park with friends. He misses sandwiches. Does anyone have a good sandwich substitute (occassional treat or staple) that would hold up for a picnic or lunchbox?

      Missy wrote on September 22nd, 2011
      • The crepes recipe, which is in second Primal Blueprint cookbook, is amazing. They’re perfect for sandwiches, and my husband (who’s not fully on board either and misses sandwiches) loves them. They’re super easy to make, so you can just whip up a big batch for the week for lunches.

        NicholeK wrote on September 22nd, 2011
        • Thanks NicholeK! I had seen the crepes recipe, but have never made them and never thought of using them that way. I guess I have something new to try soon! (Mini challenge to complete?)

          Missy wrote on September 22nd, 2011
  24. My husband and I have been fully Primal since Jan 1 of this year, and eased the kids (13 and 7) into it slowly over the remainder of the school year – only made them eat the same dinner as we had, but treated them to mac & cheese once a week. When school let out for the summer, we told them they’d have to eat everything primally from then on.

    The two hardest parts of the transition have been going to friend’s houses and the constant complaints about not having anything but meat and veggies for dinner. They miss having a starch. I do occasionally relent and make rice, but not too often during the month.

    Our son is kind of a picky eater at times, but he’s also a little OCD about making sure he’s eating healthy – so it balances out. He knows that things with wheat or sugar are very bad for him, and so he’ll point that out whenever he’s faced with the options (like school lunches, which I now make for him at home).

    Licia wrote on September 21st, 2011
  25. My strategy with the kids, and wife, has been keep the apparent changes minimal. We pack my 11-year-old twins lunch every day. Usually meat (good quality deli meat rolls, chicken salad, or grass-fed meatballs), veggies, and some fruit. Really all the foods they used to eat in sandsiches, just no bread. They remark that their friends have sandwiches, a granola bar, and dessert – “everything is so bready.” one told me just this week. They really like their paleo lunches even if they do stand out to the other kids as freakishly healthy!
    Dinners, too, are mostly adaptations of our typical foods: “Spaghetti” with meatier sauce over spaghetti squash, tacos without the shell, etc. Breakfast is harder. None of them can get out of the mind-set of having “breakfast” food for breakfast, and eggs get tired every day. So…I don’t let the perfect be the enemy of the good. If we break down and have cereal (albeit with walnuts, cocunut flakes and frozen blueberries) once a week on a busy morning, well, that’s better than we were 6 months ago!

    Dave Pryor wrote on September 21st, 2011
    • Re; your breakfast dilemma — My 4 year old granddaughter loves pancakes, so I make the coconut flour pancakes (I add blueberries) from They are just a tad more dense than regular pancakes, but if you don’t tell anyone they are made with coconut flour, nobody seems to know the difference especially with butter on them.

      PrimalGrandma wrote on September 21st, 2011
  26. Oh, I reached what I think is an important milestone. My wife is a little slower than I to commit to Paleo / Primal, and has insisted on keeping bread in the house. We threw away a moldy half-loaf recently, and have not bought another one! Yay, the tide is turning…….

    Dave Pryor wrote on September 21st, 2011
  27. Great Tips! I especially like eat at different times from your kids. I find that taking it one meal at a time, if I can get two of three meals a day primal then I have accomplished a lot. as far as snacks go, my daughter asked for popcorn and I gave her nuts instead. my son asked for cereal and i gave him his favorite veggies. take the plunge, have them try different things than you would “expect” them to like. my kids love kale and even radicchio artichokes and all kinds of grown up food.

    MIDI GRRL wrote on September 21st, 2011
    • Fantastic post…yet I must say I find the “eating at different times” tip a bit bothersome. Here in France, mealtimes are a near-sacred connecting, social “moment” that can last up to one hour (or longer)..A better solution, for me, would be to focus on what you can share and perhaps provide a non-primal starch until they can “convert” on their own terms..I find that when the atmosphere is relaxed..non-charged with what is “right or wrong” the family tends to swing in the same, primal direction. Often, mealtimes are the only time older teens with their myriad activities can get together with their parents..The communion of talking, laughing and sharing points of view is so important. I find the less I “push” a primal lifestyle and the less I differentiate myself from them, the more open the other family members are to healthy changes in our culinary fare and experiences.

      Donna wrote on September 22nd, 2011
  28. I had read somewhere that when it’s time to switch your child to table food to start with veggies instead of fruit and it will get them used to eating veggies and not develop the fruit “sweet tooth” as fast. That’s what I did. I also didn’t follow any of the other rules about how to introduce foods to my baby. I just gave him a wide variety of veggies and meats and then later introduced fruits.

    He’s almost 4 now and he loves all veggies except okra and beets. Waitresses in restaurants are amazed when he eats a plate of broccoli with his grilled chicken breast. He didn’t want to eat pork because pigs are dirty so I told him it was reindeer meat and now he’s fine with it. Before he was two I introduced him to elk, seafood, venison, frogs legs, alligator and other type of meats like that. He loves them.

    He will ask for cookies, but he will take one and I will find it somewhere in the house with one bite taken out of it. When I get his preschool paper back each day I noticed he doesn’t eat the potatoes or whatever the starch is.

    He does like pizza and we do let him have pizza but 9 times out of 10 he will eat the toppings off the crust. And he will eat spaghetti but not rice or beans. He loves bacon.

    We had friends come over for dinner Saturday night. My son ate grilled steak and salad for dinner. Her son who is the same age ate a hot dog, french fries and grapes. And she wonders why her son is always constipated.

    My son wants to eat like Mommy so since I don’t eat bread or hamburger buns he doesn’t either. Thank goodness he wants to eat like Mommy instead of Daddy.

    Susan M. wrote on September 21st, 2011
    • Great habits your little man has picked up! My son is difficult to say the least, but my daughter who is just turning two hasn’t shunned too many foods yet. I love that your son prefers your menu over anyone else’s.

      Jenn wrote on March 9th, 2012
  29. We’re taking it pretty slowly. Starting with no longer serving carbs with diner, restricting juice and soda, and having better snacks. The kids both love seaweed snacks so that’s good.
    For the most part it hasn’t been an issue. We all enjoy a couple of squares of 85% cacao chocolate for desert and everyone is satisfied. The real challenge is going to be getting my daughter, who inherited my stubborness and defensiveness as well as my propensity to being heavy. I can’t force her to do anything so I’m just trying to teach by example. Hopefully as I lose more and more weight she’ll come to the primal side.

    DesertTomte wrote on September 21st, 2011
  30. Mark and the comments are spot-on with so much of this. Two things that weren’t mentioned that helped us:

    If your kids are pretty young, my oldest is six, I’d gradually make changes and not really comment on it. Offer certain things for snacks and meals, and they likely won’t even know what they’re missing. “Want meatballs for lunch or lunchmeat roll-ups? What do you want for a side? A banana or grapes or carrots?” I’d say 7 out of 10 times grains never even come up. When they do, I don’t stress too much.

    Also, when you transition yourself, go nuts over the yummy “Grown-Up” food you’re eating. It’s sooooo good, only for grown-ups, Nooooo, you’re too little! They’ll be so happy when you give it to them they won’t even think about what they’re missing.

    Shannon wrote on September 21st, 2011
    • When my kids were very little I would make them go to bed without brushing their teeth whenever we had an especially difficult evening. It happened rarely enough their teeth weren’t harmed in the process but once they were older I never had a problem getting them to brush their teeth. They’re 18 and 20 now and neither one has a cavity. At least half of parenting is in the presentation. =)

      LisaS wrote on September 21st, 2011
  31. I’m right in the middle of this struggle at the moment. Blogging about my successes and failures seems to help keep me sane as well as put me in touch with other like-minded parents who are trying to make the switch to Paleo. I find that my kids will eat some things one day and then the next will turn their nose up at them. We have had successes with gluten free/casein free ‘muesli’ bars whenever the kids get too restless. We’ve played games of being monsters and eating the forests, putting sultanas on our boiled eggs to make faces, lots of fruit, nuts and ‘almond bread’. I definitely recommend Marks advice on changing yourself before implementing the change to the whole family, it takes time, organisation and patiences, but so worth it in the end.

    Natalie wrote on September 21st, 2011
  32. Our kids made the change to Primal a ton easier than we ever thought they would!! Its been great!!

    The Paleo Parents have a great website for kid friendly Primal/Paleo living!!

    Joanne - The Real Food Mama wrote on September 21st, 2011
  33. Great post. I’m slowly trying to transition myself and my 20-month-old to primal eating (Project Hubby is on hold – he refuses to give up his Coke). My biggest problem is snack foods, especially when we’re out and about. He’s too little for nuts, and doesn’t like crunchy vegetables (he’s only just getting the teeth to be able to deal with them) or hard-boiled eggs. I feed him a lot of fruit, but I’m afraid I also rely on carby foods (sandwiches, fruit bars, even donuts) to satisfy him when we’re on-the-go. Any suggestions in this regard would be very helpful. Also ideas for what to use instead of infant cereal…

    Christie wrote on September 21st, 2011
    • I made my own “infant cereal”. Mashed up sweet potato mixed with any veggie is really yummy. I added bone broth or sauerkraut juice to thin it out. If they need more sweetness at first, you can add fruit purees!

      Erin wrote on September 21st, 2011
    • Try giving him avocado mashed up with cottage cheese or hard boiled eggs (I know he doesn’t like them by themselves but he might eat it if the smell is camoflaged a litte). My kids loved it (and so did my husband!. Also, don’t forget a small amount of seasonings to make things more interesting, just remember little tastebuds are more sensitive than ours are. Mashed pumpkin with a little pumpkin pie spice, coconut oil and a little applesauce or other puree to sweeten it up a little might be a tasty option.

      thinkingmom wrote on September 21st, 2011
    • I loved the pouch baby food for that age–you take the cap off and just give it to them. I even gave my younger son them in the car on long car rides since they were pretty mess-free. I use them for myself, too. :) If you do cheese, that’s an easy one, too. You can either put it in a little lunchbox (I loved the little breastmilk storage coolers I got from the hospital,)or put it in the freezer for a bit before you leave so it stays cold until you eat it. The same works for little bites of meat. We also have used freeze-dried veggies like peas and green beans–they’re crunchy but not super hard and don’t need to be refrigerated. They’re kinda like the puffs–if they suck on them for a few seconds they dissolve.

      For infant cereal, I’d just leave it out. It gave my younger son horrible constipation, and his Dr. said as long as he was nursing really well and, as he got older, eating other foods, it wasn’t a big deal. It’s more for teaching them how to mouth food and testing for allergens than a ton of nutrition.

      Shannon wrote on September 22nd, 2011
  34. I think the approach certainly depends on the kids’ personalities and developmental levels.

    At our house, we did an “add first, subtract later” approach. That is, we figured out some primal meals and snacks that our daughter enjoys and served them for dinner and had them available for snacks, while still allowing her to bake cookies (she is 12 and bakes her own cookies if she wants a sweet treat!), drink hot cocoa, and have other non-primal snacks or her favorite meals for lunch when everyone was eating different things, etc. For meals, a primal meal for everyone (meat/veggies/salad) plus potatoes or rice for her (and my hubby) works out well.

    The next phase for us is going to be cutting down on her sugar intake. Her meals are mostly primal plus the occasional potato and rice, as she’s really given up things like sandwiches voluntarily and spontaneously over the past few months, but she’s allergic to almonds so switching pancakes and cookies to almond flour isn’t an option. I’ve experimented with coconut flour but haven’t yet hit on something she likes. I’m still trying to figure out how to approach this part of the transition with a stubborn 13yo…although the greater the %age of her diet that is primal, the better she feels, so I’m wondering about doing a month trial of no sugar, make it kind of a contest, and hope that after a month she will see the light and realize how much better she feels with the sugar cut out.

    Christie, what about cheese for a snack on the go? I know dairy is out for some primal folks, but it’s an easy snack for kids and IMO one of the lesser evils as long as you don’t have a dairy sensitivity.

    Lauren wrote on September 21st, 2011
    • Can she do sunflower seeds? Mark has a great recipe for pancakes with bananas, eggs and almond butter, and I bet you could sub sunbutter for the almond butter. They’re really good!

      Shannon wrote on September 22nd, 2011
  35. I been mostly primal since spring, when my teen and I did a 30 day gluten free month. I loved the changes I felt, but he really didn’t like it (he’s a carbaholic). Since learning more, and cutting more grains from my diet, I’ve decided to bring the kids in. I’ve been making mostly all primal dinners over the summer, but with more cheating (mac and cheese type) stuff that they wanted. So teen and I decided to let what we have run out, and that’s it. I explained the science (he’s going to read Mark’s book soon), he understands, but doesn’t like. My 3rd son though is a really picky one, is hooked on PBJs and bagels. We’re out of bagels, and nearly out of bread, so he’ll be adjusting soon though. I’ve been making almond flour muffins for him to bridge the gap though.

    Our rule for dinner is that they have to take how many bites they are old. So the 6 year old tries 6 bites. After that, pbj, deli meat, whatever is ok. If it’s something I really don’t think they’ll like (like chili a couple days ago) it’s only a bite, just enough to expose them to the new taste.

    Though I’m grain free, I’m just starting with gluten for them. Since that’s going to be such an adjustment, I figure it’ll be easy after that. Dinner is easy, our worst is lunch, of the 4 kids, 2 are really picky and will just not eat if they can get away with it.

    APRYL wrote on September 21st, 2011
    • Forgot to mention that my husband isn’t completely on board yet. He’s understanding it makes sense, but not ready to give up soda and oreos, so I’m having to work around his influence a bit

      APRYL wrote on September 21st, 2011
  36. The good news is that you don’t need to keep snacking it up when your kids are finally (at last!) primal. Forget packing snacks for food intake every two hours, now DS can wait until we get home, as he can now go for 4 or 5 hours between meals without whining for food. Primal snacks are harder, but so less needed. And it’s fantastic to go out with DS and play without being weighed down with a bag full of snacks to carry around, and less ‘getting ready’ time, cause I don’t need to bother with food, he just had his eggs and cheese for breaky, we’re good for hours! The benefits are worth it, life does become easier, stick with it!

    Tam wrote on September 21st, 2011
  37. My mom had a very sensible (I think) approach to feeding us. Eliminating those things we simply couldn’t gag down…I still I can’t eat liver…she had just two rules about food. Well three.

    1. If you’ve never had it before, you must try one bite before declaring, “I don’t like that.”

    2. If you don’t like what we’re having for dinner tonight, you don’t have to eat it. But…

    3. …you don’t get anything else. You eat what’s put before you, or you don’t eat anything at all.

    There was no yelling, no threatening, no “Children are starving in…”. I’ve always loved food, so I never got to #3, but my brother, who was one of those kids who moved his food around but never seemed to eat it (until he was a teenager), sometimes did.

    PrimalPotter wrote on September 21st, 2011
    • This is the same type of approach we take with our kids. At some point, they’ve all ‘hated’ the foods they love today. If someone seriously dislikes one food, I try different methods of preparing it to see if they will eat it. If that’s still no-go, we let them swap out for another healthy item (which is easy to do when you’re having 2-3 types of veggies).

      Tara wrote on September 21st, 2011
  38. I found setting their plate with one known “liked food” heads off complaints. The rule is if you want seconds of anything you have to have eaten your firsts. So breakfast when we started was frozen blueberries (liked) sausage and eggs (not so much) now if I serve sausage and eggs they are happy, time to add another (not so much) until they get used to it.

    jumbe wrote on September 21st, 2011
    • Yes, this approach is great here too! We have one that won’t eat eggs any way except hard boiled. We’ve negotiated a hard boiled egg if he eats 1 egg the way we’re serving.

      Tara wrote on September 21st, 2011
  39. I have been primal since January of this year, and my husband is on board, although with his tall and lean build he can handle more carbs than I can.

    I have been trying to transition my boys to paleo, but it is a challenge. My biggest problem areas are breakfast, lunch and snacks. We usually eat meat and veggies for dinner, and they are fine with that.

    They are all school age, so they need a snack that does not need to be refrigerated. What is recommended other than fruit?

    For lunch – i love the ideas posted in comments here. Can folks recommend lunch boxes and thermoses that keep food fresh at school?

    Both my husband and I come from families with a lot of diabetes, and we feel a strong desire to change that for our boys.

    Thank you Mark for all you do!

    Kristin Smith wrote on September 21st, 2011
    • I use a Thermos brand thermos. If food is hot, I fill it with boiling water, let it stand for a few minutes, empty and dry it and put the hot food in.

      If it will be a cold food, I put the thermos in the fridge overnight. I will also put an icepack in the lunch bag which is also insulated.

      They eat meatballs, chicken nuggets (homemade,) soup, leftovers, meat sauce and veggies, almond flour muffins, hard boiled eggs, etc.

      Breakfast is usually eggs, bacon, yogurt, coconut pancakes, nut butter, the aforementioned muffins.

      I second what a commenter said about snacks being less necessary but if necessary the same food comes out along with cut up veggies and fruit.

      Alison Golden wrote on September 21st, 2011
      • My daughter just started kindergarten this week. They have 2 “nutrition breaks” which poses a bit of a problem in terms of packing food. They have great insulated lunch bags here in Ontario, Canada which are separated in the middle to provide space for both breaks. Works well!

        We also have a nut-free, peanut-free school so no almond-flour muffins. The homemade larabars are great. I will try next time with sunflower seeds instead of walnuts and almonds. Thanks for the tip!

        She also gets her orange yogurt everyday. It’s plain yogurt to which I add her multivitamin. She loves it! (and is none the wiser) 😉

        Happycyclegirl wrote on September 23rd, 2011
    • Seeds, if the snacks need to be nut-free, jerky, I also have a couple of the better brands of fruit snack type-stuff to help with the everyone else has it complaints. (Annie’s bunnies, Archer Farm’s brand from Target. Read the labels to make sure, but they’re usually dye and sugar-free.) You can make your own Larabar type snack with seeds instead of the nuts. (I’d include a note telling the teacher what is in it, and also for sunbutter with veggies.)I also put veggies, organic yogurt tubes or cheese in the freezer overnight to keep them cold for the am snack. We’re lucky in that the school doesn’t allow real sugary/fatty snacks in the classroom, so at least he’s not sitting next to someone eating a candy bar or Doritos.

      Shannon wrote on September 22nd, 2011
    • My daughter has a Planet Lunch Box. It’s metal and sort of flat, like a laptop. It has an insulated carrying case. I got little plastic ice cubes to tuck in the corners. Also, there are two small containers that fit inside. One I use for dips. I put it in the freezer for ten minutes. If I use the other for something warm, I fill it with boiling water for a few minutes; it not going to keep something hot, but it won’t be cold, either.

      JenCat wrote on September 22nd, 2011

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