Category: Raising Healthy Children
I’m a grandpa now. Twice over. My daughter Devyn has a girl and boy. I have a granddaughter and grandson. Over the last couple decades, it’s represented the single most impactful change in how I view myself in the grand scheme of things—far more even than the sale of Primal Kitchen. I still remember the day I met my granddaughter. Looking down at that little girl, barely aware of anything going on, I realized that something enormous had happened. Things would never be the same again.
We talk a ton about gene expression around here. The entire Primal Blueprint is designed around leveraging the environment to create the best possible stimulus for your genes. Genes turn on and off based on the environmental stimuli they encounter—the food you eat, the sleep you get, the sun you expose yourself to, the exercise you do, the chemicals you interact with. What might look like a “bad gene” on paper can be mitigated, nullified, or even turned into a positive with the right environmental stimuli. And more often than not, emulating an ancestral environment will trigger those positive changes to gene expression and set you up for good health, fitness, and happiness.
Every once in a while, you run into a toddler who enthusiastically chows down on a huge dinner salad or side of ratatouille. Most parents, though, struggle to get their kids to eat more vegetables. If you’re raising a picky eater, join the club. That can be frustrating for you as a parent, but it’s not a sign that you’re doing something wrong.
Young kids, especially, are supposed to be picky. They are hard-wired to reject new foods and foods that taste bitter or otherwise “icky” to them, a phenomenon known as “neophobia.” Experts believe this is an innate survival mechanism designed to keep dangerous plants out of their mouths. Your child doesn’t know that Brussels sprouts and mustard greens aren’t trying to kill them. Although kids start to outgrow neophobia as they hit school age, most parents of older kids and teens will tell you that it’s still not easy to get them to enjoy vegetables.
So what are parents to do?
Hey folks, Board-Certified Health Coach Erin Power is here to answer your questions about how to get your kids to eat healthier. Whether you have teens in the house or are just starting your baby on solids, you’ll learn actionable tips on transitioning your family from a Standard American Diet to a Primally aligned one. Got a question you’d like to ask our health coaches? Leave it below in the comments or over in the Mark’s Daily Apple Facebook group.
“What’s the best way to transition my carb and sugar-loving teenagers to paleo? I’ve been eating this way for a while, but I think it’s finally time my kids started eating like this too.”
By the time your kids can buy their own food, it’s harder to get them to follow your food rules. That being said, my guess is you’re still the one bringing home the groceries and making the meals. Which means you’re still in charge when it comes to (the majority of) what goes in their mouths.
Is Paleo Good for Teens?
Teens can benefit from a paleo diet as much as you and I can. Even more so as teens’ nutrient needs are higher during this stage than nearly any other time of their life. Not only that, issues like acne, irritable bowel, and ADHD can be reversed and corrected through improving diet and gut health.
It’s one thing to look at studies. What if we look at “finished products”? What if we look at whole organisms that appear to be doing things right and try to learn from them? People are always looking at the “Blue Zones” or this guru or that celebrity and trying to glean insights about healthy diet, lifestyle, and behavior. I say expand that outlook to encompass other populations you might not have considered. LIke kids.
Kids are kids. We tell them what to do, they learn from us, and they are put on this earth to watch us and do what we do. What if we flipped that? What can we learn from watching kids? How do children approach life, health, and movement—and what can we take from that approach and apply to our own lives?
Here’s what we can learn from kids.
Believe it or not, Christmas has never been my favorite holiday. As a kid, I was always partial to Halloween—not just for the candy, but more for the adventure of venturing out into the black night with your best friends and marauding all over town. As I’ve gotten older, Thanksgiving has enjoyed special prominence in my life for obvious reasons—the food, the gratitude, the family gathering around the table to partake in the bounty laid before us, the lack of adornment and focus on what truly matters. I wasn’t so into gifts as a kid, instead preferring to mow lawns or paint houses to pay for my own stuff. Or perhaps it was my parents who preferred that I work for my possessions and helped instill that in me. But that’s not to say Christmas wasn’t a big deal. It was.
I have to admit: There’s something special about the Christmas or holiday “spirit,” whatever that is. You can feel it in the air, and I’m not quite sure what’s behind it. All I know is that it exists.
Let’s not beat around the holly bush: the holiday season just isn’t the same this year. You could get down in the dumps about it OR you could get creative about finding ways to celebrate with friends and family. Honestly, it’s ok to do both. Grieve the ambiguous losses we’re all experiencing this season while also looking for ways to make the best of what we have. We might be apart from loved ones, but we can still be together in spirit. One thing I’ve realized this year is how often physical closeness is used as a proxy for bonding. That is to say, people get together in the same physical space and call that “bonding,” when all they’re really doing is being near one another. Being in the same room is great—oh, how I miss it—but by itself, it doesn’t generate emotional closeness or deep connection. Nobody is making lasting memories simply by virtue of watching a football game and eating turkey together. This year, we have an opportunity to get out of old holiday ruts and try something different, maybe even start new traditions. Somebody needs to put the ho-ho-ho back in the holidays, and I nominate you. Here are some ideas you can put into action: Things You and Your Loved Ones Can Create Together Family members or friends all contribute, and the final project is something special to keep for years to come. You’ll learn more about your family members and end up with a record of special memories or family favorites. As a bonus, these ideas are all free! Shared photo album Set up a shared album in any of the many online photo album tools. Invite family members to submit their favorite family photos from years past, or ask for old holiday photos specifically. Level up: Optionally, arrange the photos chronologically. Do a family Zoom session and view the slideshow together, pausing to reminisce and tell stories about the scenes from the images. Family cookbook Everyone submits their favorite recipes. A shared Google doc will do the trick, but it’s even better if someone collects the recipes and arranges them in a pdf. Free tools like Canva make it simple to lay out a basic cookbook, which everyone then gets as a holiday gift. You could even have them spiral bound and sent to folks who prefer hard copies. Level up: Host a Zoom party where everyone cooks a special family recipe together or a virtual dinner party where everyone prepares recipes from the cookbook at home. Memory book Same idea as the cookbook, but everyone submits their favorite memories of holidays past or recounts the wildest family legends. Level up: Have one person collect the memories and put the stories in a slideshow to be shared during a virtual get-together. Music playlist Nominate an “emcee” to collect everyone’s favorite songs (holiday or otherwise) and create a family playlist in Spotify, for example. Level up: Everyone agrees to play the playlist at the same … Continue reading “How to Really Bond with Your Family This Holiday Season”