May 23 2013

Raising Your Kids on Primal Foods (plus Mealtime Strategies for Picky Eaters)

By Mark Sisson
195 Comments

The Ol' Stink EyeThe fact is, feeding children is never for the faint of heart or stomach. It’s an entirely different solar system when it comes to dining experience – the noise, the spills, the frantic pattern of go-get-this, can-you-help-me, cut everyone’s food until your own is stone cold, precise timing of chewing to complement your expected participation in knock-knock jokes – you get it. In the years my children were small, Carrie and I would relish the times when we were able to go out to dinner alone or when family members took the kids and we had a solo meal at home. The silence and ability to eat – uninterrupted – at a normal pace were enough to make us ecstatic. I think most of the time we didn’t even talk – not a word, and we each understood exactly why.

I think it’s safe to say this mismatch in preferred ambience often coincides with a mismatch in tastes. While the Primal Blueprint can be plenty child-friendly, in many cases it’s a trickier proposition for the small set, particularly if they’re used to conventional fare. Although we’d all, I’m sure, like the same perfectly Primal family affair, a lot of us don’t end up there. As hard core as we might be, sometimes the kids just aren’t so much.

You’re Primal. Maybe even your spouse is Primal (or close enough). It’s not that you haven’t tried. You’ve spent weeks – maybe months trying to transition your child to the Primal eating plan. For some, maybe it’s recurring cycles of effort over the course of years! You’ve read the books and the boards for ideas. You’ve laid out carefully crafted menus, collected all the ingredients, and experimented with an insane number of recipes. You’ve perused and “pinned” hundreds of ways to manipulate the plate presentation. You buy mini-swords, doilies, and cocktail toothpicks in bulk. Martha Stewart would be proud. Your kids, however – meh.

Sometimes it’s the taste. Other times it’s the texture. For some, it’s just the sheer, staggering force of habit. They know what they like, and that’s it. Research confirms what parents have observed: a child’s familiarity with a food determines how full he’ll feel as a result of eating it. Familiar foods are just more satisfying to kids. After a while, even the biggest believers get worn down if they’re trying to instill a significant shift in their children’s diet. With hundreds of dollars of food thrown away and dozens of cooking hours gone, it’s hard to keep justifying the misery.

I know folks – good, healthy, well-intentioned people who are strongly committed to eating Primal – but feed their kids SAD. They themselves wouldn’t touch the Cheerios or Gold Fish crackers their kids are snacking on, but there’s the paradox. It boggles the mind, sure. Still, having had kids, I get it. Having been worn down by the fatigue and the arguments and the cajoling, fed up with the wasted time and money, they finally just throw up their hands. Though perhaps bothered by guilt in certain moments, over time they learn to justify it in their minds – as we all justify many things in life. The kids are so young, they tell themselves, their bodies will burn it off. They don’t see any obvious differences in behavior or general health. They give them a multivitamin. Maybe they look at the way they ate growing up and tell themselves, “If I survived that, my kids can too.” They’ve given up the internal conflict.

However much I identify with the fatigue and frustration – and respect parents’ needs to make independent compromises based on their given situations, the actual science is less understanding. Research suggests early nutrition impacts cognitive functioning in the adult years and even by the age of eight appears to reduce IQ. In terms of overall health, we know  how nutrition sets us up for epigenetic changes – positive or negative. We know how even the roots of diabetes, heart disease, and obesity can begin in childhood.

In other words, good nutrition matters even more to them than it does to us. Though we might be motivated to stave off mortality or aging – i.e. maintain what we have longer, their bodies’ and brains’ very ability to reach their basic potential is on the line. What they eat today will determine what they’re capable of for the rest of their lives. Likewise, the habits they begin early on can cement pretty quickly. The older they are, the more the window closes on making dramatic change in diet and exercise. Unfortunately, there’s no way to sugar coat that point.

I don’t mean to throw those points out there in the interest of inciting a massive guilt trip. I didn’t feed my kids 100% perfectly all the time. It’s not passing judgment, but it is about passing on information. Doing so, with support and strategies, can help us individually brainstorm and prioritize. The fact is, I think there’s major stress in our culture – now more than ever – to be the perfect parent in dozens of ways that weren’t even on the radar screen when most of us were growing up. I’m sure we could go on for days talking about all the things we used to do that we’d never let our kids try today (e.g. lay on the floor during car trips, bike across town alone, etc.). I’d say the vast majority of today’s pushes toward perfection should be chucked, repudiated, scorned and named the worthless wastes of time and energy (and often hindrances to personal development) that they are. Nonetheless, one of the few genuine priorities worth having, I think, is nutrition. When it comes to kids’ food, fighting the good fight matters – as early and as often as you can.

Creating Strategic Versions/Substitutions

Many people find focusing on strategic substitutions allows them to preserve their sanity while making sure their kids are fed decently. Grass-fed organic hot dogs, sans buns can win over most kids. Homemade jerky or nut butter offers a healthier version of less desirous packaged foods. Parents learn to make gluten free versions of chicken fingers. They make their own sweet potato fries. They figure out how to make better fish sticks. They bake root veggie chips with healthier oil options and sea salt. I can’t tell you how many parents I’ve heard from already – on the boards and in emails – who say Primal Cravings has been a godsend (their words) for this very reason. The recipes look like food their kids would recognize and want to eat. There’s a mind to texture and simplicity that will work well with kids’ palates. Most children I know want uncomplicated food.

Using Copious Varieties (or Quantities) of Desired Condiments

There’s the assumption that most kids will eat a lot of things if they can put ketchup on them. Why not? I’d suggest making your own, but why limit it? Kids love the concept of dips and sauces, and I think I’ve got a good book somewhere for that, too.

Planting Forbidden Fruit

This defies reason, but sometimes the best strategy is to prepare a healthy (but kid-friendly) Primal dish and put it aside, tantalizingly almost – almost out of reach, in a place or position that makes the the child suspect it’s “for the adults” (for guests, even better) or not ready to be brought to the table. There’s something in children’s impish (or reptilian) little brains that makes forbidden food – even when healthy – seem that much more appealing. A friend’s daughter was so anti-meat that she wouldn’t even eat bacon. (Collective gasp.) One day, the husband was cooking a second batch of bacon for dinner and had put the plate with the first on a far counter to keep himself from eating it. His little girl ran in, saw the slightly obscured plate, gleefully grabbed a piece and absconded with it while he teasingly called after her to get back there and help, police. Within 10 minutes, she’d repeated the same move a few times and eaten half the batch. Since then, they’ve used the same technique to get her to eat other meats. For the “harder sells,” they go all out in making the platter look more enticing and forbidden looking (e.g. on the fancy china, in behind one of their wine glasses). Of course, it means she ends up eating most of her dinner on the run instead of at the table (so much for family dinner), but their perspective is this: at least she’s eating well!

Bartering Food for Freedom

This introduces another strategy – one we used with our children. Make certain foods or meals “roaming” approved. In other words, the parent grants freedom to skip sitting at the table if the kid will eat the healthy fare. Lay it out in a fun, festive, or otherwise eye-catching buffet style. Put on music. Teach and practice conventional manners at easier meals.

Some people might cringe at the idea of a toddler run amok and family dinner down the tubes – especially if there are other, older children. It highlights another important point. We all have our personal priorities, our chosen compromises, our sacred cows, our deal breakers as parents. This goes far beyond issues of decorum to the food itself. As I’ve said often, don’t let the perfect be the enemy of the good. Getting your kids to eat better isn’t an all or nothing proposition. It’s your call. Maybe you’re a solid no-GMO above all else. Maybe you’re first and foremost anti-gluten or grains. Perhaps your main goal is promoting veggie intake. Whatever goal you commit to, you’re making a positive difference in your children’s health and opening your mind – and theirs – to the idea that food choices matter.

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195 thoughts on “Raising Your Kids on Primal Foods (plus Mealtime Strategies for Picky Eaters)”

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  1. Seeing as I experienced blood sugar disregulation pretty much from childhood (I was one of those ‘Mum, I’m hungreeeeeeee” kids), I’m glad I discovered primal/paleo eating before becoming a parent.

  2. We’ve tried, believe me. We’ve run the gamut of puking it back up (steak, seriously) and then flat out refusal to eat for days. My older kids (11 and 9) will puke before eating something good for them.

    My 3 year old and 14 month old actually like steak, and that can cover ‘stew meat hunks’ and other large chunks of meat. Ribs, pulled pork, etc. The older two? nope.

    I’m not home every night due to work travel, so my wife is left to fight with the four of them, some nights peace is better than fights.

    1. I think its the fault of the parents. This deserving attitude that is knowingly and unknowingly passed on to the kids. What’s bad is some parents don’t even think they are teaching their child these behaviors. I have many friends who spent their childhood in foreign countries and they didn’t get a choice – you ate what was given to you. Granted most of that is because there wasn’t much choice to be had but why can’t those principals still apply in the land of plenty? How about instead of asking kids what they want you let them know what they are getting? Who says they need so much freedom and choice so early on? Too much power from “nice” parents? Setting themselves and their kids up for failure. They have sniffed out your weakness and will now apply as long as you let them. Your child is snickering behind your back about how soft you are and how all they have to do is x,y, & z to get their way. I have actually heard kids say they do stuff just because they know they can get away with it with their parents! They have no fear! PUT THE FEAR BACK IN THEM!!!! And this is coming from someone who walks the walk. It can be done.

      1. Having been raised by one such “strict” parent, I can say that its actually really damaging to kids to be like that. It teaches kids that bullying is okay, that if someone doesn’t do things you like, you just need to scare them into submission. Or in my case, it turned me into an antisocial, shy kid, who was too afraid of her mother to invite friends over or even go outside to hang out with them, and now refuses to speak to my mother because of the way I was treated. By being under the freedom of my dad, I discovered primal eating. If someone tried to force me to eat like this, I simply wouldn’t do it out of rebellion.

        Just teach your kids. Give them the articles, show them the videos. Just telling them it is healthy isn’t enough. During our teen years, we want to learn for ourselves. Show them how people get dead sexy on primal, how they don’t get cavaties, depression, diabetes, etc. Your teens aren’t little rebellious monsters, they’re people too.

        Look at the young girl behind the blog Yes to Yummy. She learned to change her eating habits.

        Your kids aren’t aliens; they’re young adults trying to understand and interact with the changing world around them. Don’t give them orders, give them knowledge.

        Don’t use fear. That just results in damaged people.

        If it is really difficult, tell them that all you will serve is paleo/primal, and if they want something else, they should earn their own money and buy it. Then you aren’t trying to scare them, you’re just exerting property rights like an adult should. Eventually, they’ll prefer the path of least resistance.

        Or just stop calling it primal or paleo or whatever and just carefully select and modify recipes from great cookbooks (Barefoot Contessa back to the basics was nearly 2/3 paleo. There were so many good grain free, paleo recipes in it) that aren’t necessarily paleo. Surely, they eat things that aren’t bread! Serve only those! Appeal to their likes first before feeding them livers! Who could turn down a good omelet?

        1. I so agree with you, Little A. You can’t bully someone into eating what you want them to eat. Food is a very personal part of a person like clothes or music choice and they should choose healthy foods of their own volition. Except when they’re very young when you can mold them. I’ve seen adults who were forced to eat foods they didn’t like as kids who now have problems with those said foods and cannot stomach them. I was never forced to eat anything by my dad as a kid and I’m able to stomach all sorts of foods. My dad’s freedom helped me to develop a love for food and health.

          Respect your children and teach them the right way but don’t bully them to your way of thinking. You’ll just make enemies in the long run. Of course, there are instances where some firmness is needed. My son had TB as a baby so developed such a wacked appetite, the only things he would eat were bread, rice, meat and popcorn. My husband forced him to at least try vegetables. It took lots of tears, cajoling and persuading but he had to try. Once he tried, he learnt to like them. But he still cannot stomach some fruits and any soup or sauce. He will vomit if he eats soup. I just don’t serve it to him. Who wants to serve a child something that makes them vomit?

          Those parents who say that kids won’t eat things because they have no manners, were granted kids who didn’t have any health or mental issues with food. My step-mother forced her kids to eat everything on their plates when they were young. My step-brother doesn’t eat vegetables now. Those that say that don’t understand and I’m sorry to say, are very narrow minded. It’s like a parent whose kids sail through academics and critizise those parents whose kids struggle with academics. Every one has different genetics. We just have to do our best with the kids we have and teach them the way with firmness if needed especially when younger.

        2. Good on you,

          Nice to hear you learned a lot whilst suffering growing up, working out the right path and to pass on your knowledge.

          Well done, seriously good on yourself.

      2. You’re absolutely right! I tie my kids down to the chair and threaten to slit the dogs throat if they don’t eat their dinner……

        You’re an idiot…don’t come on here blaming parents. That is directly counterproductive to the point of the article.

        1. “You’re an idiot”. Seriously? What a reaction from you to someone who dares suggest that parents actually lead instead of plead. You sound like a typical spoiled child raised in a “democratic” household, meaning you learned that there should be no limits for your behavior and sense of self-importance. Typical for your time.

      3. I employ the “this is what’s for dinner, eat it or don’t” method. However, if my 3 year old refuses to eat any of it (and we’re usually talking food she previously gobbled – roast chicken and veggies), I cover it up, put it in the fridge and bring it out for the next meal. Even if it’s breakfast. She’s gone 2 whole days without eating food because she is stubborn and didn’t want to eat what was given to her. She is very slender – 3rd percentile for her age – so when she refuses to eat for two days she gets grayish, lethargic, we can count her ribs and she starts throwing up. At this point I usually “give in” and feed her scrambled eggs. It’s very frustrating but at the same time how can I let her physically deteriorate so much that her health is obviously at risk? I think your blanket statement is in error that it’s clearly the fault of the parents. You have to factor in stubborness of the children.

        1. My God… You would let a toddler go two days without food just so you can force them to eat chicken and veggies?

          She likes scrambled eggs, those are easy and healthy. It’s not like she’s demanding Oreos! Why not just give her the eggs to begin with? What’s the point of all that struggle – to the point she gets sick?!?!

          Seriously, wtf. I’ve been reading MDA for years, and this is the first post that’s ever compelled me to respond. I can’t believe it.

          PS – I like nearly everything, as does my 2.5 year old, and we don’t want cold chicken and veggies for breakfast either!

        2. Why not? There is nothing inherently wrong with cold chicken and veggies for breakfast. If you broaden your horizons a little, you will realize that there are no fixed attributes that predefine specific foods as “breakfast” foods. Have a look around the world – anything goes.

      4. I don’t think kids are that robotic or thoughtless. They are astoundingly capable of their own thought, and manipulating fear into them using your power of being ‘adult’ is pretty awful.
        Age is not indicative of maturity or ability. I work with kids and I can tell you they’re smarter, more loyal and more true to themselves than most adults I’ve met in my life.
        Give kids a bit of credit.
        You know how they say ‘eat/train for the body you want, not the body you have’? I believe it’s the same with kids: treat them with respect and you’ll nurture them into becoming the strong, savvy, intelligent and healthy adults they’re capable of being.

        1. @ Kids are people, too:

          Thank you for your thoughtful post. It actually made me tear up.

          I have 2 young children that will pretty much eat anything & eat almost everything that we eat but I attribute at least some of it to (good) luck.

          To the PP (Crissy): while my kids (3 & 1) are generally great (& mostly paleo) eaters, there is no way I would let either of them go 2 days without food because they refused to eat what I gave them. I would hardly call whipping up some scrambled eggs “giving in”. Some days I don’t feel like roasted chicken & veggies either…

      5. Are you really considering the consequences of what you are saying? How it reads to me is, “If an authority figure tells you something you should do it or be afraid of the consequences.” Personally I don’t want my kids to grow up to be followers and cogs in the machine. I want my kid to question authority if it seems illogical and to argue (logically and respectfully, not emotionally) with people. I treat my kid like he’s a human and expect him to treat me and everyone else the same way. This doesn’t mean he always gets his way. As humans we live in social groups and sometimes you don’t get your way in order to be a good citizen. This includes eating the dinner that is served, or not at all since I’m not a short order cook.

        I also think that you are likely assigning a lot of motive where it just doesn’t exist. I’m pretty sure that the amount of conspiratorial manipulative thought that you attribute to kids just isn’t there.

        If you think this is going to lead to a spoiled jerk of a kid you are incorrect. At 8 my child is both polite and eloquent (the words of strangers not relatives). If it is “the fault of the parents” then I’ll happily lead by example and be courteous, kind, and thoughtful. I’m pretty sure kids learn more by watching what we do as adults then they do from whatever we tell them to do anyway.

        1. Although I am not a parent, I am a kindergarten teacher, so I see a huge range of eating habits among my 23-25 students each year. In my experience, the best approach for the absolute pickiest children is to find a few healthy foods that appeal to their palates and introduce more gradually. Most children have primal foods they love- apples, nut butters, bacon, eggs, something. They can eat their half-dozen foods and then you can add something similar, for a child who likes watermelon, cucumbers. Young children often need ten or more tries to accept a new food. I figure, give them time and they will find more and more foods they enjoy. I teach in a community where many of the children eat few, if any, fruits and vegetables. By introducing them in a fun way- we had citrus week and a which pepper is better contest, for example, even my most particular students found vegetables they loved.

      6. I disagree with the approach that some parents take when it comes to eating and mealtimes. I had the parents that would save uneaten meals for the next meals. I did not like the approach to say the least. It was a power move in my opinion. In my home, with seven children ages 9-27 through the years I had only one rule when it came to food. Try one bite, if you do not like it you never have to eat it again in your life! I have traveled the world, will eat almost anything and have made mealtimes a fun thing to do. Everybody helps and we experiment together. I don’t know if this is for everybody but I do know that kids tend to step out of their comfort zones when they are most comfortable.

    2. It makes me so sad to read some of these comments. That parents feel forced into using some extreme, and sometimes damaging, approaches to feeding their children. There is help available! Even a lot of doctors have no experience or knowledge about effective techniques for dinner time. Two resources available are Ellyn Satter’s works and Dr. Katja Rowell’s site, The Feeding Doctor. Please take a look at these resources to help you with the minefield it is when your child is combative when it comes to meal time. It’s about changing behaviors and allowing your child to come to the table with trust and intuition.

      http://thefeedingdoctor.com/resources/

  3. Personally I don’t have much experience with this. My kids always ate what they were served and we always served healthy stuff – there was just simply no discussions about it. And we’ve always demanded a “no-complaining” at meal time. Eat, or don’t – but no complaints. My kids are now 10 and 12 and LOVE food. Any kind of healthy food, any veg, and they love trying new things. I think a lot of people just make too big a deal of it….

    1. +1. And I think most of the problems children have mentally and physically today are due to the food they pound down as well as what their parents ate pre pregnancy. After we raise kids on all this Conventional Wisdom crap (not this community hopefully), Weston A. Price thought it would take 4 generations to get back to becoming healthy humans. I think we are in real trouble and hope we can get out of this mess.

    2. We have the same experience.

      Zero tolerance for complaining has been key for me as the person who goes to the effort of producing the meal, as well as a “thank the cook” ritual. Appreciation for the work (including appreciating the person who earned the money to pay for the food) that goes into a meal just seems good manners to me.

      I never know what to say to people who say their kids are “picky”. Neither of my kids are picky at all but I don’t have the experience to say whether it’s nature or nurture.

      Now my kids are older (13) we adopt a 98% primal diet at home and they can eat whatever when they’re out.

    3. You’re very lucky. You have “abnormal” kids. Ha! My kids 4 and 6 have no problem not eating for an entire day if it means not eating something they think looks or tastes bad. They will happily accept any punishment I give them for complaining or crying about the meal they don’t want to eat. I have accepted that I cannot make them eat a certain way for every meal. I just hope they are paying attention to how their parents eat and slowly start to follow it. Very good article. Painfully close to home.

      1. Its all nice and fluffy and a great bumper sticker until you have a child with multiple food allergies, will gladly starve rather than put a sweet potato in their mouth and continues to lose weight, falls off the growth charts and you have to put them on a medical formula that feed kids with GI tubes, plus douse what they do eat in olive oil. No thanks. Meal time has been a nightmare since she got on solids. She has a big bowl of grits or oatmeal every morning, all the white rice she wants drizzled with olive oil, and eats sunflower butter and jelly sandwhiches for lunch after I found out she was throwing away her avacado and meat wraps and going without lunch for days. We try to do what we can. But I’m not going to risk her ability to thrive by forcing a diet on her that she isnt accepting.

        1. Is that some kind of medical condition? We know that the sense of hunger can be broken… it’s a rare mutation, but children can be born who produce no leptin. And some kinds of chemotherapy can mess up the part of the brain that controls appetite. When we see those children, who stuff themselves uncontrollably, we know something is wrong. Can hunger be broken the other way, so a child will gladly starve? I do wonder. Because I know I and my sisters would never have gone completely without food for days.

        2. Have you heard about GAPS? An MD named Natasha Campell-McBride developed a a diet to treat kids who have a chronically leaky gut, and symptoms include things like very poor growth and hyper-pickiness (as well as a variety of other things: http://www.gaps.me/ ). I haven’t tried GAPS, but it has a huge following and success stories abound. It’s not that far removed from Primal, so it wouldn’t be a huge stretch for you. Good luck to you and your family…that sounds very difficult.

    4. How did you start out? Were they always told to eat it or leave it even as babies? That’s what I’m doing with mine. If he eats he eats if not maybe he is not hungry. I don’t try and cajole.

      1. I agree with Alison above – it’s a matter of good manners. Just like we taught our kids to behave in other situations, we taught our kids from the very beginning how to “behave” at the table. No punishments or stuff like that, just firm “rules”. We’ve always been big on “respect” – and that goes in both directions. You respect the person that cooked (and as Alison said – also the person who earned the money). My daughter does not eat mashed potatoes or other mashed veggies, simply because she can not handle the texture. It’s the only exception to our “eat everything” rule – and it’s a way of showing HER respect as well (she has tried it on many occasions, but just can’t). Other then that, they both eat anything. I think a relaxed atmosphere is important and simply be firm on the respect rule.

        1. Our kids are allowed to eat or not–their choice. They are 4 and 6. Many nights the younger daughter will not eat a bite. By morning, she is quite hungry and will mostly fuel her day in the morning. We also don’t offer snacks. But, if they are hungry in between meals, we have dried Hungarian salami or bacon that they are permitted to just grab off the counter.

          Now that it’s warmer weather, I never call the kids in for their meals. I simply place the bowls outside and they run over, eat and then run off to play. I often place bowls of cut veggies, cheese and different salami meats out near the playground. Not only do my kids eat it, but our “very picky” neighbour kids eat it too!

          I really believe that hunger will eventually force them to eat. We used to battle at the dinner table when I was a kid. I refuse to do that with my kids. Even a day without eating won’t harm them. Eventually they’ll get hungry enough to eat and I’ll make sure that what I provide is primal.

        2. Allison and Lisa have it right. I taught my daughter to be polite and to behave appropriately (at the table and elsewhere) as a little girl. We had reasonable, clear rules: one bite for each year of age, no complaining. No other option. She tried everything, and liked most of it.
          Now, as a young teen, she is still polite, and also has the self-discipline and self-respect to eat healthy without my supervision. She’s proud of her “strange” lunchs, stew, sweet potato, curries, salads, etc. And, unlike her mom at that age, she has an ideal body composition.
          I think that often kids’ eating problems are a reflection of an imbalance of power in families, and uncertain authority. Kids need firm boundaries that they can test but that still keep them secure and safe/healthy. Parents often try to reason and negotiate when it’s totally inappropriate, then claim they have no influence over their kids. Of course they don’t–they gave it up.

          _Bringing Up Bebe_ byPamela Druckerman is a great read that addresses some of these issues from an intercultural perspective.

      2. I’m aiming for this as well, but because he’s my stepson, not my biological child, his father has the last word, and so I try not to step in even though I’m the one who prepares the meals. If he decides to give his son yogurt and cereal as “dinner”, I won’t argue, even though he knows I don’t agree. That said, making chicken nuggets “breaded” with milled flaxseed was a hit with him. He didn’t even want dip with them, which is awesome. I think we need to give him more credit. Encourage him to eat just small bits of new food at every meal, perhaps?
        His son has intestinal distress like I do, and it dawned on me that he may have a similar grain sensitivity to me because the symptoms are so similar. The kid loves bread(sprouted grain bread is what he’s eating), but I suspect that it’s causing him problems. That or the dairy, not sure which. But I can’t experiment with his diet without his father’s(and mother’s) blessings, so I’m not sure how to help him. I know his dad will give me some leeway, but I don’t think his mom will at all. :\ Not sure what to do.

        1. If only it were that easy. Congrats to those that have kids that do everything you ask.

          I have raised both of my kids the same. They both have the same set of rules to follow. One will eat anything without a fuss, the other would rather starve than eat certain things. The personality of the kid plays a HUGE role in how compliant they will be with a diet.

          That being said, both of my kids do eat very well. They are pretty much primal at home and both kids love their fruits and veggies. When they are at the grandparents they are allowed bread/cereal/oatmeal, but I don’t buy that stuff for home. At restaurants they get to choose what they want to eat and when we go camping in the summer they get to choose a box of gluten free cereal to take along.

  4. Just yesterday, I was making beef roast and french fires for my folks, and my soon to be 7 kiddo wanted sweet and sour sauce (like I made when we do Chinese inspired things-and-dips meals), so I set her up with a can of nothing added tomato paste, soy sauce and raw honey, and let her create her own sauce. Not only she did not want ketchup, she made daddy to eat her sauce instead, and asked for the rest of it being packed with her meat for lunch at school. Soy sauce may not be the best ingredient, but I liked the fact that ketchup was not the MUST!

  5. It’s the time/money wasted that keep me from getting him there 80% of the time. Also, he likes grilled cheese. I get the good cheese but put it on bread. I do the best I can with the bread (no HFCS) but it’s still BREAD.

    The trick will be finding a primal bread that is close enough to still make a grilled cheese or other sandwich when needed. I make primal chicken nuggets, meat balls, he likes spaghetti squash and sauce… eggs, almond flour muffins on occasion… he loves fruit, raw veggies… brussel sprout chips, brussel sprouts, BACON…. It’s those damn sandwiches

    1. I should say the other issue is that my wife and I make a batch of something and eat it lunch/dinner for 3 days and that’s something I don’t expect my 3 y/o to put up with. Also, we eat a lot of chicken/egg/tuna salads to save $$ and he’s not too into those.

    2. When I want a grilled cheese sandwich, I make a quesadilla. (organic, sprouted tortillas) The young kids I know love quesadillas. (My own sons are in their 30s.) Yeah, I know – still grains. Whatever.

      Purists will probably scoff at this post of Mark’s. But it is posts like this that will enable Primal to help many millions of people, as opposed to rigid paleo, which will always be an elitist subculture.

    3. If you’re trying to get him off bread, maybe start with open-faced sandwiches? One piece of bread instead of two and more meat/veggie fillings. If that goes well, move from there to alternatives to a slice of bread – a lettuce wrap might be a hard sell, but raw stuffed red bell pepper halves are pretty tasty and look fun.

      Not sure what to do about the grilled cheese sandwiches – I’m on his side with those!

    4. Zack, try looking for the Paleo/Primal bread recipes that use almond butter instead of almond flour. The butter makes a bread that has the same mouth feel as grain bread. Add about a 1/4 cup of tapioca flour to the recipes, though. It helps make the bread “fluffier.”

      1. Good idea! I’ll search for some. Do I just add tapioca flour to what’s already out there?

    5. Just run out of bread. He’s 3.

      Or try Elena’s Pantry. She’s got a good grainfree bread recipe.

  6. Very timely post I have a nephew who is an extemely picky eater and a super busy single mom sister. It’s a double wammy.

    I’ve been tryin to make a smoothie that just packs as much real food into it as possible. So far my frozen sweet potato, acocado, spinach, coconut milk, and berry smoothie has NOT been a hit. I assume smoothies would be a good vessel to get alot of nutrients In for a really picky 4 year old.

    Anyone have any recipe there kids love? I would love to pass a few my sisters way.

    Thanks
    Ps the easiest way around this is to just be the uncle and not have kids, that’s my strategy anyway 😉

    1. Avocado goes nicely in smoothies. Just serve it in an opaque glass because it can make the smoothie look muddy.

      1. Whoops! Should have reread that recipe you said! Maybe the sweet potato is too much, as it the spinach. Better to transition slowly, like a coconut milk, avocado, banana and berry smoothie and then add in other ingredients as he gets into it.

        1. My kids like spinach, celery, parsley, banana, avocado, orange, lemon, kiwi, apple, pear. It is a lot of fruit but the sweetness brings it off and they’ll drink it. Over time, I’ve been able to increase the amount of smoothie they’ll drink at breakfast (along with scrambled eggs and bacon) and lower the fruit content.

    2. Is he old enough to run the blender? Kids are more likely to eat something their not sure about if they have a hand in making it. Even just letting him drop the ingredients in might help. Color is also a huge selling point for kids. Muddy browns and greens are really off-putting for most kids. Berries are a good sell and have a little less sugar than apples or bananas. I also think kids have a hard time mixing food groups – to them, mixing fruits and vegetables can seem weird and gross. Throw in something like zucchini that won’t affect the color or flavor too much, especially if you can dice it up and call it something fun (lying isn’t always horrible!).

      1. “Lying isnt always horrible” this will key Hhaha thanks for the suggestions will pass them on!

    3. My kids, one of whom is extremely picky and in the 5% for height and weight, love The Green Monster Smoothie.

      3-4 chunks frozen banana
      a few chunks frozen pineapple
      6 oz coconut almond blend milk
      8 oz coconut milk yogurt
      2 tbsp almond butter
      and a few handfuls of fresh baby spinach

      I use the coconut/banana/spinach/almond butter as a base and swap out the pineapple for berries or avocado/cacao or whatever i have on hand. I’ve also thrown in chia seeds occasionally. I’ve never tried sweet potato per say, but I have used some of those fruit/veggie puree pouches (i think one was sweet potato/apple) and they were tolerated.

      Oh, another big hit was green apple/pear/spinach/cucumber. just make sure you peel and remove the seeds from the cuke first. Very refreshing.

  7. Both of my boys are gluten free. My older boy has very sensitive taste buds and texture receptors, and has declared he no longer likes fat, even though he used to eat butter by the spoonful when he was young. So I compromise and make rice and quinoa with bone broth and butter. I have to get fat into him somehow… My younger is more primal, but again, I hide bone broth and butter in his rice. They both love Paleo Pals (the book) and know the deleterious effects of gluten, so I’m doing a very long transition to primal. So even though I put 50/50 for the poll up there, it is really more 50 primal, 50 gluten free which is an improvement. I try to do my own baking for everything except gluten free bread and I’m going to start that this summer.

    My husband still eats Raisin Bran for breakfast (sigh), so even having the kids gluten free was a huge compromise.

    1. Yes, it is more difficult when both parents are not eating the same and that kind of food gets in the house, b/c the kids will want it. My husband went along with primal after seeing his blood pressure drop just from cutting out soda and eater lower carb (our first step) before we found primal.

  8. Definitely easy to start when they are younger. We went primal when my daughter was 3, so eliminating grains at home not a big deal. She has SAD snack at preschool (we don’t have any noticable health issues so I decided not to battle this). We talk about how this food is not healthy. One day we walked by the pasta at the grocery store and she said remember when we used to eat that? She knows we like to eat food with nutrients b/c they are good for our bodies and has said some amazing things along these lines (I guess she is listening to all my chatter about this and how the food Grandma is eating is making her sick). KEEP OFFERING THE FOODS, she has recently eaten many new veggies b/c she wants to eat what I eat. She has also commented about cookies in books and that they are not a good snack. DON’T HAVE THE OTHER FOODS IN THE HOUSE, this makes it easy, they will eat when hungry. It’s been a good journey so far.

  9. We’ve “boiled the frog” slowly at our house. I went primal first in an effort to stop my declining health and roll it back (which it did). My 17 year old son followed three weeks later and showed spectacular improvement in his track times.

    Then my wife joined at the 10 week mark. She’s been struggling with her health for 15 years (CFS) and has experienced tremendous healing, a process that still continues.

    Then there’s my 11 year old daughter. I am at the 18 month mark now, and she is fully primal at supper (the first meal to go), and for the last few months is primal at breakfast; I get up and prepare it every morning. Her last holdout is the lunch she takes to school.

    Our plan is to convert lunch over the summer…a little at a time…all the while experimenting and building a “go to” list of transportable, primal foods with enough variety to provide the building blocks for school lunches. If all goes well, by August we’ll be there.

    Thank you, Mark, for the even-handed way you bring relevant information to our attention. Many people promote their own ideas a little too zealously, and paint themselves in a corner due to their overreach. I’m convinced the truth is not something we have to fear…even when it means eating a little crow. Hmm, is crow primal?

    Anyway, you’ve been a real blessing to our family and I appreciate you.

  10. Gosh dang I needed this today. Thanks Captian Caveman! I had my first run-in with CW at day care and need to prepare myself for many more years. This sentence will help.

    “What they eat today will determine what they’re capable of for the rest of their lives.”

    That. Says. It. All.

  11. Sitting here with my three year old who is eating sausages and a paleo German pancake. Last night was lox, butter, eggs and blueberries. At home we are 100 percent primal. Outside they have more freedom and do eat some wheat (gasp!). My six year old loves tasting food and we talk nutrition ALL THE TIME. I categorize food into two categories – crappy and not crappy. Easy for my young children to understand though my husband does not get it by his frequent cisits to Jack in the Box….
    Yes it is more time consuming. Yes sometimes they don’t want to eat what I serve (I NEVER make them eat. I cook and serve. And we have standby snacks like jerky, fruit, cheese and butter). I figure they will eat when they are hungry. But I insist that the home be a haven from crappy food. It is a bit weird for me since my husband won’t eat with us (see Jack in the Box comment above!). But at least he respects the primalness of our hearth

    1. My husband, like yours, is supportive of my choices but wants nothing to do with it himself. He honestly believes he is living proof that the SAD is not unhealthy. Sigh, it makes it hard to get my kids on board while they see him dipping oreos in his coffee every morning!

      1. My husband, too. He loves Raisin Bran and doesn’t think he has a belly (he does). I gave him Wheat Belly, written by an MD because he really won’t read anything else I give him. If it’s not written by an MD, he won’t read it. He still hasn’t read it, hopefully soon.

      2. Kudos to you guys…my boyfriend refuses to give primal a try and it’s been driving me CRAZY. He suffers from excema and asthma, and has put on a few pounds since we started dating. I just want him to feel how I feel, and be happy with himself (I know he’s not). Sigh. I couldn’t even imagine trying to get my (non-existent) kids to eat healthy if he wasn’t on board with it too. Someday…someday.

        1. I think it is lame when a husband and father will not join in a healthier eating plan, knowing what is at stake. It is the height of irresponsibiilty. I know what I’m talking about, with a partner who smokes and won’t quit. Not even for his kid’s sake.

  12. Thanks! I needed this post. It takes a little bit of effort and motivation. Of course time and energy, but well worth it. And we need little reminders like this to stop slipping and make our kids some paleo food already.

  13. Thank you, Mark, on so many levels for your kind and compassionate approach to this today.

    I thought it would be SO hard to convert my picky eater a year and a half ago, but having her help fix the food, and making it a requirement to sit and have fun and talk while eating was all so much more wonderful that she took to the new food and in fact, LOVED it. Within two months she was eating challenging foods like braised kale, and spicy ground meat casseroles with fancy veggies in them… eggs, steamed broccoli, and a fresh fruit each morning for breakfast… All changed from Lucky Charms for breakfast, pbj for lunch, mac n cheese and fruit and the standard “Kid Fare” for dinner. No longer picky, she is a joy to eat with, and yesterday she said, “I love that you and I eat together. Other families don’t.” She’s now 10, and I love how we eat and enjoy each other and our nourishment. We’re just really fortunate.

  14. My kids are in their 20’s now and only one lives at home. We also have an adult relative living with us. I went primal first, then my husband about a year later. It took a while, but I gradually moved to completely primal cooking and shopping. If the other two want non-primal meals, they have to buy and prepare them themselves. Guess what? They don’t. So their main meals are healthy, primal fare and they enjoy them. True, they aren’t keen on the liver and fish and I do accommodate that by cooking them when they aren’t home or having two protein choices.

    If they go rummaging in the fridge or pantry, they see veggies, cheese, yogurt and fruit. If they open the freezer they see berries and meat. If they open the pantry they see canned tomatoes, canned fish and about 10 different kids of vinegar! I know that processed foods and snacks come into the house but they don’t bring them into the kitchen. They are adults and can make their own choices but I don’t enable them.

    I truly wish I had known about primal living when my kids were young but I’m not going to beat myself up over it. Feeling guilty won’t make my grown up kids healthier. Everyone in our family has a weight problem. My husband and I have ours under control now. I’ve lost 175 pounds and my husband has lost 90 pounds. I can only hope that they are watching and will someday follow in our primal footsteps.

    1. Awesome, way to go. Sounds like a success story waiting to happen!

    2. So when are you submitting your success story for a Friday read? =) Congrats! And definitely don’t beat yourself up over it…I’m a 20-something “kid” and I don’t blame my parents for how they raised me with food. I really wish we had known about being primal and I could have avoided a lot of weight issues growing up, but I know they did the best they could for me with the knowledge they had. Now I’m teaching them how to be primal, little by little, and slowly educating them on what being healthy really entails. I like the fact that I’m giving something back to them and helping with their health.

  15. I don’t have kids myself, but I’m getting to the age where I’m starting to think about them a lot. I’m grateful that I’ll have the opportunity to feed my kids primal right from the beginning.

    1. Cool, I hope you do Lucy. My first was totally conventional- I had low iron, took iron supplements for it, and had a fair bit of fatigue and morning sickness back when I was 22.
      Four years ago (36yrs) with my second I still had morning sickness but iron levels were fine- I was on the WAPF diet and soaking/sprouting/fermenting grains, then cooking or dehydrating then grinding in to flour. EFFORT.
      Now I’m 40 and pregnant with my third; iron (everything) levels fine (full primal) plenty of energy, and NO MORNING SICKNESS. Just thought I’d mention this for when you do get pregnant. You CRAVE hollow carbs but if you meet the cravings with grains you get morning sickness. Meet them with root veg you sail through.

      1. I just had to say, that it doesn’t always work out that way. I’m glad it did for you, though! I was certain I would have an easy pregnancy. I’d been primal for two years, eating liver and heart, all the good veggies, lots of steak, some fruit, and no grains. My anemia was gone and I was finally building muscle. My mom never had any morning sickness. I figured I’d done everything right and my genetics were good, so I would breeze through pregnancy.

        It didn’t happen:(.

        I’ve had nausea, light-headedness, and shortness of breath/weakness. It’s slightly better now in the second trimester, but I’m still weak and lightheaded. During my first trimester, I couldn’t stand the smell of meat. *ANY* meat. My husband (Knifegill) would cook bacon, pork spleen, beef, liver, fish, even eggs, and I’d have to hide in the bedroom with the door closed for hours until the smell was completely gone. So much for me being Primal while pregnant!

        For two months, I ended up with a diet consisting largely of butter, cheese, cheese, more cheese, milk, yogurt, rice pasta, frozen organic gluten-free dinners, seaweed and fruit. You know you’re not making it up when even chocolate doesn’t taste good anymore!

        Now, in my fifth month, all I want to eat is steak, and I rejoice in that fact. I’m positive eating primally helped and things would have been worse if I hadn’t eaten so well before I got pregnant. But, being primal doesn’t necessarily mean there won’t be morning sickens!

        1. Thank you. This is (mostly) what it’s been like for me (a full evening of bone broth cooking was a total nightmare). I’m in month six and still don’t really want meat, but I keep trying.

  16. My wife, bless her, suggested a family-wide Whole 30 (prior to that, I was the only one Primal, the rest were maybe 60%), and it made a huge difference. The main thing is, don’t have SAD food around! The kids adjust really quickly to eating what is available. Another big help was taking the kids shopping and asking which veggies they wanted. We had no idea our daughter loved artichoke (maybe she just decided to?), but that has become a regular thing. And, yes, sauces! Or at least a nice amount of olive oil, salt, and dill on those green beans…cooked right…
    The amazing thing was to watch their appetites change over the 30 days (and the fact that there is no more sugary crap in the pantry!). They are malleable, especially when they know it’s good for them, and especially when the whole family does it together.

  17. Primal food choices for kids at school, parties, sports, etc, primal food is not always available and not always convenient, especially as they get beyond age 10. Plus, we know as adults how hard it is to “pass” when the food is social. My kids understand primal living and eating, and generally would choose a primal meal over anything packaged or fast-food, but they do like pizza and are slightly addicted to sugar, which I think only goes away with very, very purposeful elimination of sugar from the diet. And my 13-yr old drinks coffee with coconut oil most mornings (plus sugar :p). Looking for moderation and knowledge, not perfection .

  18. 1st thing is kids are going to eat junk. It is just going to happen. The best you can do is to give them good stuff and remember Hunger makes the best sauce. Get them to busy to eat, make them wait a little for supper and then have them try something new first. When they are hungry things will taste much better.

  19. It wasn’t easy choosing a vote category. My kids eat primal meals without even realizing it and there are times when we’re better at feeding them strictly primal, so maybe 30-50 percent primal. My kids are not picky eaters at all. Compared to other kids in the lunchroom, my kids are anomalies – vegetables, fruits, dairy, protein – very different than Fluff on white bread. So, yeah, I might throw in a graham cracker smeared with nutbutter, but I try to look at the overall nutrition. Could I do better? Sure. But I’ve had several moms tell me I should receive the “mom of the year” award for the lunches I pack. I don’t think so, but it’s all relative, you know?

    The biggest problem we have with fully converting our kids is volume. Our kids are slim and eat large volumes of food. They are great at eating nutritious food (vegetables, etc.), but it would take quite a few sweet potatoes in addition to a regular meal to fill them up. And they aren’t that fond of sweet potatoes. So, getting them to eat large volumes of strictly primal food might cause more food issues than it would solve: unhappy kids, kids who start categorizing food as “good” or “bad.” Right now, my kids know they’re different than other kids (no fast food, no fluff and hershey bar sandwiches, no chips), but they’re happy and healthy and make good food choices independently. Why mess with an already good thing?

    We talk about eating more plants and protein and less grains. We talk about healthy choices. And they do a great job. Primal, to me, is not stressing about perfection but raising health-conscious kids. A way of eating they can use throughout their life – not from a childhood of restriction, but from knowledge and choice.

  20. What a helpful post. I have a 8 month old who has been 100% primal so far and I plan to keep him that way for the first year. After that most people who have older kids have told me best of luck, it’s not going to happen.

    But for those who’ve raised primal babies, do they develop a taste for the real stuff? Or do they all just meander towards sad? I think that would be a helpful post, if you’ve started out with a baby so young, how to stay on course.

    I agree with mark, nutrition for growing kids should ideally not be compromised. I feed him a fat rich diet which I have been writing about too.

    It’s really hard though in india where it’s unheard off! I see a mountain ahead. Babies here eat rice and pulses.

    1. I’ve got a 4 year old and one year old who are basically 100% primal. It is how we eat at home. Outside of the house, I’ve been very strict about gluten and dairy, more flexible about certain other things, but still pretty nutritious real food.

      They both love their food. The old y-o was shovelling in home-made liver pate today (4 y-o not so much, but I don’t force it). I try to lead by example, making good choices that they can emulate. If we’re out socially, and there is something she wants but can’t have, I try to point out all the people, including me, who are not eating it because of the gluten in it, so she doesn’t feel alone.

      I also often have nutrition podcasts and movies playing and she listens with me. I show her the Friday success story too – that person wasn’t healthy, and now they are. We talk about why her friends are often sick. So she’s being educated; it’s never too early to start. She was arguing with me yesterday about whether vegetables have protein (i.e. are they a filling snack), and I was pleased that I have a 4 y-o that even knows what protein is!

  21. I think presentation is a HUGE thing with kids. My four year old niece drinks what my SIL calls “dragon blood”, which is just juiced green veggies sweetened with a little fruit. She gets excited to drink it and has no idea that it’s good for her.

    How do people combat the grandparent influence? I see all of my niece’s healthy eating habits go out the window when we’re with my inlaws. There’s also the times when the kids spend the night at friend’s houses… when I have my own kids I don’t want to be the weird mom who insists my kid can’t eat what their friend’s mom has made…

    Thoughts?

    1. I don’t have any kids, so take this opinion however you’d like, but I really think you shouldn’t stress over the things you can’t control. Like the sleepover thing, it’s out of your control, so don’t try to insist on anything. The best thing you can do is talk to your kids and educate them on making healthy choices, and why those choices are good for the body. I don’t typically like “if” statements, but I really think that *if* someone had explained to me as kid growing up that food is fuel, it’s there to nourish our bodies, and what we eat directly affects our energy levels and health, then I think I would have responded to that pretty well. Instead, I was just told DONT eat that, or DO eat this, with no real rhyme or reason to why it was so. I hated that.

  22. It’s a good post, but it’s always for people with kids that wasn’t primal all their life. What about people who will soon (soon as in like 4 years…) have a kid ? What should we feed him to have optimal health ? Bone broth ? Breast milk ? What, when he will be reaching a age to eat solid stuff, etc ?

    From a young primal couple

    1. When they reach and age when they start eating solids, you can just feed them softer mashier versions of everything you’re eating yourself.

      I don’t think that’s the challenge.

      The challenge is when they have been primal for the first 1-2 yrs and then step out into the world influenced by peers is when it’s going to be hard to keep up.

      Also grand parents, aunts, uncles, are going to say, why is your kid on a diet, he’s a kid he should be eating cake.

      Ofcourse the best compromise I think is to only have primal fare on hand at home. And then let them have cake or whatever when they r out at birthday parties etc.

      I don’t plan to stop my kid from everything but try and minimise it.

    2. As a ‘nana’ who has been blessed with having her one y-o grandchild living with her, I have read that breast milk/ formula provides all the nutrients needed but a child has to “learn about food”.
      My grandson has been “eating” since around 7 months but it’s really about exploring colours, textures and tastes. (They say to introduce ‘food’ when your baby starts watching you eat and when they’re trying to put things in their mouth)
      Foods he seems to gobble for 3 days in a row may suddenly be tossed on the floor the next. Thankfully mom offers a variety of fruits and veggies as well as whatever protein we’re serving (last night he scarfed nearly a whole stuffed salmon fillet) His current favorites are peas, carrots, fruit smoothies made with spinach and coconut milk, an egg yolk/coconut milk ‘pudding’ (search Maria Emmerich) and today blueberries. Bananas may be back on the list tomorrow 🙂 He also drinks up to a cup of water per day out of his sippy cup. We’ve offered bone broth – sometimes it goes down, sometimes there’s no interest. So we usually just offer what we’re eating – helps us make the best choices too 🙂

    3. Hi, I know this does not answer your question, but just want to recommend: if you’re thinking about conceiving, definitely check out the Weston A Price or who are pregnant. It’s all mostly Primal, but with a lot of specifics on what to emphasize. (This blog post from Nourished Kitchen sums it up really well: http://nourishedkitchen.com/the-teeth-tell-the-tale/ ). Hope that is helpful to you, and good luck!

      1. Woops–not sure what happened there. That should say “check out the Weston A. Price foundation, which has a slew of recommendations for couples who are about to conceive or who are pregnant.”

  23. I think it’s really important for moms to be passionate about nutrition though. It’s sad that all parents want to raise healthy children but have no idea what a healthy diet is.

    I think eating primal food at home and eating ice cream when out is a great compromise.

    I plan to make primal desserts often so my son doesn’t eat awful ingredients. So the primal cravings recipes will sure come in handy for me.

  24. My kids are 13 and 17 and they’ve been quasi-Primal since 2011 and fully Primal for a full year.

    Like many of the commenters here, we don’t have any non-primal food in the house, so if the kids want to eat, they are going to eat primal. End of story, no compromises. I promise you, they won’t starve, as long as you don’t cave in. I care too much about them to compromise their health with crappy food.

    They are old enough to know why we eat the way we do and have felt the benefits themselves. It took a while to get them here (we did a family Whole30 last year, which set the stage), but this is the way it is now. At least at home. When they are out with their friends or working, I don’t try to control what they eat, but I trust them to make good decisions and to learn from their mistakes.

  25. My daughter is 14 months and now is almost 100% primal. However, I struggled immensely with breastfeeding so she was only breastfed for 3 weeks which is something that I now feel horribly guilty about. I read the ingredients on a formula can and want to cry.

    Otherwise, people are usually amazed by what she eats. She eats broccoli, asparagus, cauliflower, brussel sprouts, mushrooms, olives, and loves onions. She also eats a very wide variety of spices. One day I gave her a fed garlic cloves that were soft from the crock pot and she gobbled those down. She even ate grassfed liver that I just couldn’t stomach. My husband has tried to give her cake on a few occasions and she has refused. I was thrilled, but I think it’s a strange texture and that is why she doesn’t want it.

    I have noticed recently that she is becoming a bit picky. She used to eat avocado and stopped. She just recently started refusing scrambled eggs.

    She was at my parents’ house for a week while my husband accompanied me on a work trip and she was refusing some of her favorites. She still ate primal while she was there, but she ate a lot of ham and more fruit and cheese than she gets at home.I think part of the issue was that my mom had a wide array of foods on the counter and she could see them. At our house all she sees is meat and vegetables. Cheese or fruit stays hidden until after she eats the main meal or unless it’s snack time. Once she came home from their house she started looking around for more food and realized that there was nothing else except what she was being given so she ate. She also tends to eat better at daycare because she knows that there are no options besides what she is given.

    She will sometimes favor the chicken over broccoli, or mushrooms over pork, but her options are meat or veggies so if she only eats one or the other at a meal I let it be. If she stops eating I tell her “all done” and take her out of her highchair. We have some non-primal food in the house because my husband is not primal, but we don’t have any chicken nuggets or fish sticks or any other “kids” food.

    Once she is older and realizes what pizza or other party food is I think I will allow her to have some on special occasions. I am glad that I introduced primal solids to her from the start. I think it would be much more difficult to primalize a kid who has been eating SAD. Also, I find the increase in pickiness to be extremely frustrating (even though she is still eating very well compared to the majority of toddlers), and I definitely sympathize with parents who have to fight that battle everyday for every meal.

    It’s also easy now because I can control her options, but sadly I know it won’t always be that way. I’m hoping that by educating her about food I can encourage her to turn down the cake in the future once she actually knows what it is.

    1. About the “pickiness:” a child learns by observing and copying what her adults do. She’s keenly aware that grown-ups make choices. So why shouldn’t she?

      Also, she’s beginning to see herself as an autonomous being. Once she knows she has options, she’ll test her independence by trying them out . The Terrible Twos (not very far away for the both of you) are all about making choices, and learning to deal with frustrations of sorting out what doesn’t work from what does.

      So encourage that independence, and avoid unnecessary conflicts! Make sure all her choices are primal, and leave it alone. She’ll eat what’s good for her no matter what.

    2. Jules, please try to let go of that “mommy guilt” for not breastfeeding your daughter longer. It’s tough, I know, I still have occasional twinges for not breastfeeding my oldest for longer (8 weeks). you made your decision based on your personal situation and the knowledge available to you at the at the time. That you know better now is irrelevant to your past situation. Earlier today, I read a blog with the following statement on it “I’m not trying to be right yesterday, I’m trying to be right today. Sometimes that means admitting that I was wrong and making the best change I can.” I found it to be a rather liberating statement when I applied it to myself.

      In the mean time, kudos to you that your daughter is being raised eating primal foods. I’m struggling to transition my 10-yr-old to something even semi-primal, because she spends more time with my husband, who is unable to work because of his health and a work related chronic injury, and he eats a deplorable example of the SAD. So do my in-laws, who my daughter also spends a lot of time with. Even worse, my teenage daughter has moved back home, and she’s now a mostly vegetarian version of the SAD. Her favorite foods are macaroni and cheese, Ramen, and PB&J on white bread… Both my oldest daughter’s biological father and I have independently introduced her to MDA, to no avail. *sigh* But, I’ve not given up on any of them yet. I just nudge here and there.

  26. My kids eat Primal most of the time. Luckily for me (and them!), I knew a lot about it before my first child was even born. My now four and two year olds went straight from breastmilk to fruits, veggies and meat. Now, they beg for green smoothies, avocados, nuts, and plain Greek yogurt. Their dream is to eat their body weight in fresh fruit on a daily basis!

    The trouble comes whenever we go out to eat. Kids menus are woefully unhealthy. I’m not going to fight them in the restaurant, but I do try to minimize the damage. Instead of a giant bowl of macaroni and cheese, I try to steer them to breaded chicken, or something a little less horrible.

    School can be difficult – kids bring cupcakes for their birthdays, and I’m not going to tell my kids they can’t partake.

    I just focus on making sure that all of the food I buy and prepare at home is healthy, so I don’t have to worry as much about what they’re eating when they’re out and about.

    1. I wanted to offer what we do in restaurants–we never order off the kids’ menu. We simply either give our kids some of our meal or order their own “adult” portion off the menu. This has been really great at keeping them more primal when eating out.

      1. We often just get a couple of sides for our 2 year old – the veggie of the day, some mashed potatoes, cottage cheese, fruit cup, and (if the restaurant serves breakfast) they’ll probably make you an egg if you ask.

      2. We do the same. We usually order an adult meal for our 1 & 3 year old daughters to share & then take home the leftovers. It’s rare to find a single vegetable choice on a kids menu besides French fries. 🙁

        A steak place near us has a nice kids menu so we ordered kid sized sirloins & steamed broccoli. The girls still decided our “adult” plates looked more appetizing so we had to share our King crab legs. Not sure we’ll go back anytime soon – three $40 dinners seems a bit hefty of a price!

  27. I so agree with so many of these posts that if it isn’t in the house, they can’t eat it! And it isn’t just the kids, either!!

    One thing we have done is institute a “Weird Vegetable of the Week” game. It adds fun, variety, and a buy-in from all involved. Once a week we wander around the produce section of the grocery store, the Asian market, or the farmer’s market and pick out a vegetable we have never tried before. Very often we haven’t got a clue what it is. If we’re lucky there will be someone else picking one out and we ask them what to do with it and what it tastes like. Almost always the other shopper is more than happy to answer our questions and give us tips.

    Sometimes we just come home and google it. There was once we didn’t even know the name of the vegetable and just googled “bumpy long green warty vegetable.” Sometimes we love them, sometimes we don’t care for them, sometimes they become part of our regular groceries. We then moved on to “Weird Meat of the Week.”

    The point here is to give everyone a real stake in what they are eating. They picked it, they researched it, they asked the questions, they helped prepare it . . .

    P.S. Did I mention that I did this to get my HUSBAND on board and it worked??? 😉

    1. That’s the best thing ever. I don’t know how easy it is to get Kangaroo in the US (I’m Australian) but if you can, definitely give it a go!! Such a delicious, lean and weird meat. And, because we don’t farm kangaroos in Australia, you know it’s grass-fed and as organic as whatever it feasted on was.

  28. My antipaleo partner feeds the kids with bread and pasta five times a day except for the weekends when I do the cooking. Any advice?

    1. Maybe batch prepare foods – hard boiled eggs, cut up cucumber, peppers, cheese (if you do dairy), burgers/meatballs, carrot sticks etc. So then it is easy for your partner to just grab the ready made foods and feed it to the kids. Wishing you the best of luck!!!! Sad that she isn’t supportive.

    2. Talk to her every day and little by little get her to agree with you ( not by arguing or making her wrong just talk about how good it is) Over time she will begin to think differently and eventually go paleo herself

  29. My children are “unfooded” and have always had the freedom to eat whatever, wherever and whenever they please. As a result their diet is significantly healthier and more primal, naturally. They listen to their bodies.

    Making the switch to primal has been pretty straightforward thanks to this approach, though they still eat crap whenever they like. Their diet is exceptional and there are no forbidden fruits that may lead them to binging/addiction in their teen/adult years.

    The long game is more important, in my opinion, than immediate perfection. It’s about living in the modern world and all that it offers. Forbidden fruits and food battles aren’t the best way to teach healthy habits.

  30. I said 100% Primal because he eats 90/10 at 2.5 years old. We have a gluten-free household and went Primal when he was 1 years old. At the grandparents we allow corn chips and sometimes out he gets hand made corn masa tortillas and some rice. Quinoa very infrequently as well.

    This kid refuses sorbet and ice cream but eats plain frozen banana ice cream. He doesn’t like any cake or bead like things- even fully primal made baked goods that I find excellent. He just doesn’t have any reference to junk food being a comfort food so it isnt’ one. No muffins, no pancakes, no cake… even at his preschool they are shocked he isn’t begging for or trying to get the other kids crackers,goldfish, etc…

    At stores when I pick up a package and flip it over and put it back he will say “has gluten in it” and knows gluten makes him sick. He is still having trouble with cow dairy too.

    His favorite treats are 90% dark chocolate, raw kale (don’t understand this one since I despise it raw), and dehydrated fruit strips. I sent the organic fruit strips to preschool and they offer him raisins while the other kids eat crackers, goldfish, and grahm crackers and chocolate chips. He doesn’t complain one bit.

    He does however have some issues with food textures- doesn’t like messy things and hates dips. I think I’m the only parent with a kid who has skipped falling in love with dips 🙁 He also seems to hate tomato and avacado which disappoints me but overall he eats such a good diet. His grandparents are shocked at the variety of veggies, fruits, and meats he eats.

  31. My husband and I eat a primal diet but his son (my step son) does not. At most meals with us he eats what we eat but when he’s with his mom (which is most of the time) or at his grandparents he gets the usual grilled cheese, pizza, hamburgers etc.

    I feel a bit of guilt because I am now pregnant and am planning to raise my son primal but I give in and let my step son eat garbage because I know it’s not my place to tell his mom what to feed him. It’s frustrating.

  32. I have 3 kids under 6. One of our strategies has been to cook a whole bunch of stuff on Sunday to have on hand for lunches, etc. This way, if one kid objects to a particular dinner, there are 3 options in the fridge to choose from. I will always eat what they don’t. Sometimes simply having the ability to choose themselves has an impact.

    Also remember – kids often object to foods not just due to taste but because of texture. My son won’t eat formed ground meat for anything (burgers, meatballs, etc) – so I just treat his like a saute.

    Do remember that at some point your kiddo is going to go to school or be around a bunch of SAD eating kids. Figure out early how to allow them to participate and not seem weird while maintaining at least an 80/20 primal diet.

  33. Eat Like a Dinosaur! (paleoparents.com)

    My kids are eating primal because they like the concept of eating like a dinosaur! The recipes are great, and they show how to get the kids involved. We haven’t had any leftovers with the meals we’ve made from this book – both kids, even the pickiest one, eat it all! I now know to double the recipes if I want leftovers!

    If you don’t have any junk in the house, they can’t eat any junk in the house. Kids might not want to eat what you put on the table, but they won’t starve. There are lots of great tips in the books for parents, like get your kids to at least try one of everything on their plate as their taste buds are ever changing and what they didn’t like last time, they might like now.

    Let your kids “cheat” when they are in someone else’s care (i.e. birthday parties).

  34. My husband and I have been eating Primal for about 3 years and have two daughters (7 and 9). Transitioning them to a complete Primal diet probably took about one year. We always ate healthy so it was just a matter of eliminating the pasta’s, bread, etc, from most meals and substituting with other ingredients, such as raw cabbage or zucchini for texture. We also made all of our own baby food so they never had a problem eating real vegetables versus that stuff in the jars on the shelf at the grocery store. Eliminating the cereal was the first step. We just stopped buying it and now on the weekends instead of munching on cereal they cut their own apple and dip it in some almond butter while watching cartoons (while mom and dad peacefully sleep). The next step was phasing out milk (too much sugar). Again, we just stopped buying it. The final food item to phase out is ketchup. They each get one bottle and it has to last 3 months (this started out as a one month plan). When they buy their next bottle, it has to last them 4 months, and so on. It’s amazing to watch them stretch that bottle of ketchup. Now instead of ketchup being the main ingredient on their plate the meat is instead…they think twice about if they really need it at dinner. For example, they now use guacamole on their burgers!
    Most people think I am crazy when I tell them our kids eat what we eat, but it is so much easier. With two working parents in the house, I don’t have the time to make separate meals every night, plus the health benefits of them eating Primal are so worth it. Their favorite meal is broiled or grilled salmon and every morning before school they have a whey protein shake with a tablespoon of extra virgin coconut oil and a little bit of fruit. My 7yr old daughter’s latest request is more sardines in her lunchbox.
    Also, knowledge is power. My husband takes them grocery shopping every Saturday so they are involved in selecting the food. Then when they get home they are involved in washing, chopping, and cutting all fruits and veggies for the entire week. They also assist in making their lunches every night. It’s rewarding to hear one of them ask me “Is that Paleo?” when we are in a grocery store or at a restaurant. The other bonus to them being fat burners is that we can be out and about as a family for about 5 hours without being armed with snacks and we don’t have to hear “I’m hungry!!!!”
    Beware though, once they are converted to the Primal eating lifestyle and you decide to treat them to an occasional ice cream cone…WHOA! They turn into monsters because they can’t handle the sugar rush. It’s an amazing metamorphosis.

    1. They like preparing the veggies and such, I am sure they would love it if you purchased an icecream maker and once in a while you could pick out fruits to put in the machine. I know I have seen recipes with coconut milk which you can find without added sugar. The fruit or stevia(if you use stevia) makes it sweet. Also there is a maker that uses frozen banannas to make the creamy part. It would be a whole new level of ‘treat’ for them to know that they don’t have to have conventional crap that makes them feel awful(sugar crash) but still they can still have a ‘conventional’ like treat.

      1. You don’t need an ice cream maker to make ice cream. Chop up bananas and then put them in a zip lock bag, in the freezer. Then when nicely frozen blitz them in the food processor! Done! Banana ice cream – add some cocoa or other fruits!

        Also I make coconut milk ice cream I just put the mix into a glass or plastic container and into the freezer it goes. Job done! It takes a wee while to defrost but our kids are very happy with the ice cream that we make at home (we also make it using thick cream too). But prefer coconut milk.

        But am loving all these ideas that everyone is talking about how to get their kids to eat more primal foods. I have forwarded this on to a friend of mine who is trying to convert their family to Primal but their youngest is a very picky eater and doesn’t eat that much food. Poor mum is pulling her hair out as to what to do as she won’t try this, that or the other.

        I have forwarded this article through to her to read but I will point out all the comments that people have made as I am sure there are some wonderful things that she could try on her darling daughter!!!

        We have been primal for 14 months and well our kids have always had foods cooked from scratch and there wasn’t an issue really for us going primal with them. The only issue we have are birthday parties but we let them eat whatever as they don’t go to them every week. So they are 98% Primal and we are pretty happy with that!!

        So love this community and this way of life!!!

        Have a great weekend everyone!!!! 😀

  35. I needed to read this today!! Really struggling with my almost 4 year old. She is mostly primal, but can’t seem to give up bread. I just quit buying it and I am hoping she will stop asking. I know I can’t control it all, and that gets really frustrating. Grandparents house, friends, and preschool are the worst. I feel like she is constantly bombarded with SAD outside of the house….hey it’s Tuesday so have a freakin cupcake!!! I have a 10 month old and I am hoping it will be easier with him. Me and husband have been primal since January and it has been awesome. Our family thinks we are crazy, but jokes on them. For someone who grew up eating cheese whiz, wonder bread, and had coke for breakfast (no lie) this has completely changed my life and health tremendously. I actually enjoy cooking and eating now. I don’t have digestive issues anymore, like i used to no matter how much oatmeal/shredded wheat i ate. lol. We joined a CSA and have our grass finished cow on order!! Grok on people!!!

  36. Each child and each family is unique. We should be careful about judging about “good” and “bad” based on what works (or doesn’t work) for us and our children. We are all doing the best we can in our own circumstances. My son has sensory integration dysfunction and one of his big triggers is food, especially the textures. He is not being picky – he will gag and throw up if the texture is off. He is also one who will not eat for days and pass out from low blood sugar if there are no choices acceptable to his extremely limited palate. Does he now psych himself out of giving new foods a chance? Absolutely. For us, I have chosen to require him to try a little taste of everything we are having for a meal, but then I respect his determination as to whether he can eat it or not, rather than fight about it (because even if I win, chances are, I will be cleaning it up!). I keep trying to introduce new and healthier choices and versions of food and eliminating unhealthy ones, but it is not an easy road.

    1. My son has this same issue. I want to reassure you that as they get older, it gets better. My son is now 10 (almost 11) and he will eat many more things that he used to. Though he still won’t touch shrimp or any shellfish because of texture. Nor will he eat lettuce or spinach for the same reason. I’ve actually had him say, “That’s not bad.” and then puke it up on his plate. Don’t give up! Add things in one at a time. Zuchinni was on his list of ‘won’t eat’ but I kept trying it different ways and finally found one he liked (sauteed with butter and herbs). I slowly got him to try it other ways and added yellow squash (they have different textures-so we introduced them one at a time).
      I know it’s frustrating because he might only eat one vegetable for 3 months. But that’s ok. At this point,we have absolutely instituted trying something at least, with the exception of things that I know will make him gag-lucky for me the list has gotten smaller over time.
      Best of luck and don’t give up.

      1. Our 7 year old is very conscious about being ‘different’. He doesn’t like to stick out and that extends to what he has for lunch at school. Any clues on how to replace the ubiquitous sandwich with Primal alternatives without creating an emotional wreck?

        1. I have 4 years of experience finding paleo alternatives for kids and it does work for us.
          I have recently opened a facebook page ,,Low carb experiences with type 1 kid” where I share recipes and tips.

  37. When my husband and I went full Paleo about 6 months ago, the kids did too. We simply removed all junk food, processed food, grains, dairy and sugar from the house and never bought it again. We got some whining at first, “I don’t like this food” and my favorite “we have nooooo food.” I had to repeat myself over and over, “We have plenty of food, you’re just choosing not to eat it.” I never forced my kids to eat certain things. If they didn’t like what was being served for dinner, they didn’t have to eat. Eventually, they realized if they were hungry they better eat and when they ate, they realized they loved trying new things. I always try to prepare 3 different veggies for dinner and let them choose at least one. One kid loves spinach but doesn’t like avocado. The other one loves kale but wont eat brussel sprouts, etc. They feel empowered by making a choice of something they like, instead of forced.

  38. Easy. We just don’t keep junk in the house. Period. If it’s not there, the kids can’t eat it. It’s really not that tough.

  39. My older two eat quite Primally, especially dinners which I prepare almost nightly. My youngest is a very picky eater. I let him eat as many apples and bananas as he wants but he doesn’t care for meat. I have tried to do homemade chicken nuggets (even put back in the SAD bag) and fish sticks but he seems to know the difference. It doesn’t help that the husband is not Primal (except the dinners I cook) and loves to buy Cheez-Its, chips, and donuts for the family. At least I have the older two who love meat and veggies (and fruit for the girl, not the boy).

  40. It’s very hard when your kids have been eating wrong for years and they are not preteens and teens. They are more resistant to change.

    I’ve been on primal for about 14 months and my husband mostly too. Initially, I forced my kids to eat eggs and bacon for breakfast and no more cereals but they became so tired of that, that I eventually gave in and bought them gluten-free cereals. They still have eggs but less often now. I tell them why those things aren’t good for them, but I can’t force them to eat things. It tends to push them further away from the good stuff. We don’t have money for healthy snacks like jerky and almond flour baked good. Coconut flour is non-existent where we live.

    I’ve tried the gluten-free route but that’s also expensive and gluten-free bread just doesn’t taste the same. So yes, I have failed my family. But if all you can afford is a good vegetable and meat meal at night and eggs for breakfast, plus full cream yoghurt for lunch, well, it’s better than what they used to eat.

    And yes, forcing a baby to eat will make them more fussy. It’s not about manners or upbringing. I forced my oldest to eat as a baby as he wasn’t growing. I later found out it was an infectious disease that was taking away his appetite. Because of that, he built up a resistance to being forced to eat certain foods. To this day, he cannot stomach any sauces on his food or soup.

    I’m hoping that one day when we can afford totally primal, tasty foods, that we can convince them otherwise.

    1. You have not failed your family. YOU TRY which is more than I can say for many parents. Plenty of places wont have the things you need and alot of people don’t have the money for healthy food. That isn’t your fault, its just that bad food is cheaper to make and the government and other big Industries make it that way. You do what you can and that is still great.

    2. Kathy, I’m with Brandi on this one! You have not failed. You are trying AND you have made some real improvements, and you have learned to deal with a tricky situation with your oldest. Chin up, mama — you’re doing good!

    3. Kathy, there’s nothing wrong with eggs for breakfast, meat and veggies for dinner and yogurt for lunch. Life is all about compromises and what works on an individual basis. That includes food. Whether you and your family are two-thirds primal or fully primal, or whatever, it shouldn’t be something that causes so much stress and anxiety.

      I eat a pretty primal diet about 98 percent of the time, mainly because I prefer to eat that way. That doesn’t mean I won’t have a bite or two of (gasp!) birthday cake on rare occasions, or a bit of turkey stuffing with gravy at Christmas. I think it’s a bad idea to become so straitlaced about food that it dictates one’s entire existence. Life should be fun; don’t make it a drag for yourself and your loved ones.

      Incidentally, gluten-free is cheap and pretty easy if you don’t try to buy replacement foods. Just eliminate the gluten grains and stick with rice on an occasional basis. Also, yogurt will be healthier by either making it yourself or buying the plain kind and adding fresh fruit.

  41. My biggest issue is that my 1 year old spends 8 hours a day 3 days a week with her grandmother (my MIL), who likes to feed her pasta, bread, etc. She does give her a lot of fresh fruit, and gives her veggie purees, but I don’t know how to tactfully stop the bread and pasta. I don’t think she feeds her much of any protein either.

    I walk on eggshells with my MIL as it is… Anyone have some tips?

    1. Prepare the foods for her, put in tupperware. Let her know that you don’t want YOUR child eating those things, Hopefully HER son is on your side. At the very least she can be grateful not to have to do the full cooking herself. Then its up to her to be a Good MIL, a good grandmother and respect your wishes.

  42. I think we are “over the hump!” with my 3 year old… finally! He eats pretty much whatever is served to him. He makes the most horrible faces when eating certain vegetables (cabbage, carrots, etc.) but he will at least take a few bites before he is excused. He knows he won’t be able to play or go outside until he eats dinner… otherwise he’s stuck sitting at the table. We are less strict with him, though, then we are with ourselves… lots of fruits, raw dairy, even gluten free (rice) pasta at times. He has never been much of a bread eater… thankfully, but he would love to eat more dairy than we give him. It’s hard to find organic/raw though (besides milk). We make cupcakes on special occasions and even then he just licks the frosting off… doesn’t even eat the gluten-free cake part that took me forever to find the ingredients for. The key is persistance!!!

  43. My husband and I have been primal for nearly a year and a half, but our boys (3 and 5) are quasi-primal. Our stance is we try and pick our battles and then when they are older 12+ (maybe 14, I don’t know yet) they can choose their lifestyle. We hope it’s paleo/primal but it’s also their own body; I can only guide as a parent.

    First of all the boys go to daycare and the daycare does not allow outside food due to food safety laws and their own guidelines and policies, especially with allergies. The daycare follows the CW approach to food and it’s outside of my control. My boys each breakfast, lunch and a snack there 5 days a week. It’s not ideal but it’s outside of my control and it’s a battle I’m not willing to fight.

    At home we try and keep their diets as primal as we can, but we aren’t perfect. I don’t buy bread and the boys have come to accept that. They eat grass-fed hamburgers without buns and now my youngest prefers all meat without bread. Hot dogs are Applegate grass fed beef, no buns. They eat a variety of fruit and vegetables. The boys are also good about eating meat and love pork, chicken and steak which helps. They are also good breakfast eaters and love eggs, sausage and bacon.

    I do buy them cereal, but it’s organic and gluten free. Same with granola bars, organic and gluten free. They still like snacks, so I buy the Annie’s brand. Sometimes it’s gluten free, sometimes not. Really it comes down to picking the battles.

    We are far from perfect and have a lot to improve on but I know that they are far ahead of their classmates that get Cheetos, soda, and McDonald’s.

  44. Have the most primally-oriented person in the household do ALL the grocery shopping. This works for us most of the time. Sure there are treats (80/20), but if the bread or Goldfish or whatever aren’t available in the first place, it sure makes it easier! Our son (12) has wild salmon a few times per week and nice local veggies every night. He even brags about the offul dad eats at school (!). Now if I could just get my daughters’ universities on side!

  45. We learned very quickly we cannot control what they have access to in the community, but we can control what they have at home, and in their lunches. So we have resorted to Education for the eldest (10 years) and house of hard knocks for the littles (my 4 year olds will tell you that McDonalds makes them sick. Why? because they wanted it so bad we let them have some a month after going primal and it well made them sick a lesson they will never forget). So AT home the Rules are NO Gluten ever. We do not buy bread or other grain products with the odd exception such as a birthday (gluten free cup cakes), or road trip (gluten free muffins) but really we tend to take hard boiled eggs, bacon we cooked up previously, filler free sausages, Veggies, Fruit, a cutting board and knife etc. recently we even did a road trip (12 hour trip) and we stayed on track (except for those little gluten free brownies we got as a treat). instead of stopping at a restaurant we stopped at a grocery store for a ready to go Chicken and some fruit and veggie trays.

    1. I have been primal for most of the past three years. As a McDonald’s franchisee I can tell you that my kids don’t get sick from occasionally having McDonald’s. I can proudly tell anyone that there is nothing in our food that will make kids sick! At home we try to live the primal lifestyle (all of it, not just the eating), buy locally grown vegetables and fruit, etc. etc. But letting kids have McDonald’s once in a while (IF THAT’S WHAT PEOPLE CHOOSE TO DO) will not make children sick. Do we let our son have McDonald’s every night? No. Do we let him eat at any other quick service or full service restaurant? No. Do we let him have Dairy Queen all the time? No. Sorry, just had to say that.

      1. Nothing like ecoli, or bad hygeine or anything, but I believe she was refering to the fact that her children got sick after eat at mcdonalds, whether it was the MCds or not. 4 year old tummys can be sensitive to those things, like preservatives and such.

        I once got sick immediatly after eating a hamburger at a restaurant because it had a little pink in it. It wasn’t food poisoning or something like that, its just up until recently i couldn’t stand seeing pink in any meat, cooked properly or not. My brain said ‘oh hell no, that sh*t isnt staying!’

        What you said in reply came off as very defensive (she doth protest to much) and certainly rude.

        1. Not sure how I came off rude! My apologies to you, Haley if I did. That’s certainly not who I am or try to be. Not to sound defensive (again) but we have great hygiene at our (3) restaurants and spend many hours during training speaking to this (and the thorough cooking of meat). Again, not trying to sound defensive, just saying it’s about balance. Have a good night, everyone.

  46. I consider myself so lucky to have discovered primal eating before I got pregnant so that we can raise our twin girls on primal foods. We do what we can to give them the best possible start, something we never had ourselves.

    1. It was all the more painful for me to send my little Primal girl to daycare where she is being fed a SAD breakfast, lunch and snack. (I’m not allowed to send her food along.) They try to be “health conscious” but of course this means lite margarine (argh!), sweetened cream of wheat, pasta lunches (whole wheat mind you!), etc. They have a “sugar free” policy but liberally offer honey and jam. All of this to me felt like it was polluting her pristine body. God I feel like such a freak.

      1. wonderful if a few years Ill have to deal with daycares that do that sh*t, Im sorry I think that a daycare should have to feed my children, what I! choose for them. You are not a freak, you are awesome.

  47. I have been trying to implement primal foods more and more with my kids, ages 5 & 3. They love fruit, eat veggies ok, like yogurt a lot etc. we pretty much only buy organic to avoid gmo’s. My main issue is trying to find a way to replace carbs: bread, pasta, rice, corn. My 3 year old is allergic to nuts, coconut and eggs, which makes bread replacements almost impossible. Any suggestions on what we could use to substitute? Or is there a lesser evil, for example oats, rice and corn being better than wheat?

  48. Dang, when I was a kid we laid in the back of the car, rode our bikes across town, and we couldn’t leave the dinner table until we finished our dinner.

  49. The very Idea ^^ that people think that fast food doesn’t make you sick is sad. Sure maybe, like HFCS, it isn’t makeing you sick like food poisoning. It is however, making you sick, makeing everyone sick. A childs body is far more prone to the effects of this so called food, my two year old neice is 32lbs, can’t imagine what her ‘hamburger’ is doing to her. Her 4 year old sister is 62lbs and I know what its done to her. Fast food is full of the worst ‘Food’, how can anyone defend the crap. Sure its under 2 bucks but so is an apple and some cashews.(-allergies.) Yes having it once in a while is certainly and OK personal choice wise, but don’t sit there and say it doesn’t make you sick.

  50. My kid loves meat but anything ‘green’ would be only his soccer club T shirt. Mother eats like a catterpillar !

  51. The two most powerful tools a parent has in the realm of nutrition are a) the example we set and b) the food we make available. I have been primal for over 2 years and have never felt better, but have transitioned the boys more slowly. I now buy no gluten-containing products/flours/etc., and most everything is either homemade or very minimally processed. What I’m learning is that as they get older (they are 10 and 14 now) they make the connection between what they eat and how they feel. Eating “clean” most of the time means that when they do have the occasional fast food with friends, they feel like crap for a long time. This, in my mine, is the most powerful tool for anyone looking to make significant lifestyle changes, and it’s lovely to watch it unfold. They also know they no longer take daily allergy and asthma meds…amazing! It’s a work in progress, but with patience and preserverance, the right attitude, and the adults around them practicing what they preach, they will learn. I never force feed, and if they don’t feel like eating breakfast or dinner, I let it go. It’s working…so far. 🙂

  52. Hi I have only just gone paleo and I am really struggling with my teenagers . They are 15 and 16 . Really hard to try and change their diet in one hit so I am trying to change a bit at a time any suggestions would be great

    1. First, take care of yourself and don’t have junk in the house for them to eat.
      Figure out a way to make Paleo food they will enjoy. Get them to read the books or watch some videos on it. Being teens they may be more inclined to take advice from others rather than mom.

  53. We are working on a more traditional/primal diet for the whole family. I succeeded in eliminating breakfast cereal completely, as well as crackers. Granola bars still make it into the house because my husband likes them. I haven’t found a paleo granola bar recipe he likes yet. We do home-made corn tortillas sometimes too, and taco shells. I very much doubt I will ever be able to eliminate those completely; it’s too much of my husband’s culture. What helped me the most with planning meals for the was following The Paleo Mama on facebook. Overall, I feel like we are doing okay. The kids like scrambled eggs or omelets for breakfast. There is usually left over roast or meat from the night before for lunches, or I’ve made my own fish or chicken nuggets when I’m on top of everything. I’m so behind right now. I feel like I can’t take the time to plan, even though it would help be more on top of everything. The hardest part is making dinners that appeal to my children, my husband and myself.

  54. I think that Mark would agree that a healthy adult will eat intuitively. But many of us can’t, right? We’ve lost that ability that we’re just now trying to get back the Primal way. Letting kids develop their own intuition about how to feed themselves will go a long way to ensure that they don’t grow up with food issues. Every parent that has a difficult or picky eater needs to read Ellyn Satter’s works or go straight to the FeedingDoctor’s site. Every kid’s motor skills develop at different rates and some might have trouble with certain foods in their mouths. We need to have a little compassion for their little growing bodies! Just like understanding that bedwetters are not messing up because they’re lazy; they’re constipated! Simple answers, hard to implement. Go find the Feeding Doctor!

  55. I don’t have children of my own, but I asked my mum. She never knew about Primal back then, but she says that she never put up with any fussiness about food. We ate what she gave us or we didn’t eat, and it worked. The closest thing I can remember to pickiness was my sister’s aversion to the smell of hot parmesan, or they way I would try to keep my foods from touching each other. 🙂 Good times.

  56. One of the things that’s been really important to me is to genuinely listen to my child. My 5 year old is going through a picky phase and after a month or so of struggling with him about it, we sat and talked about what foods he did like and what foods he didn’t. Turns out he actually liked plenty of healthy primal goodies, like plain meats, uncooked veggies, fruit & cheese cubes. But what he didn’t like was any sauces or seasonings, and nearly any cooked veggies or soup. When I started serving him a side of raw carrots or bell pepper with every meal, we made a lot more headway with a lot less struggle… and once he took a few bites of one thing on his plate it made it more likely that he’d be try a few bites of something else (not always, but more often). He’s not strict paleo by any means, but he likes and is willing to eat many paleo & primal foods. It’s more important to me that his palate includes healthy foods than that it’s picture perfect.

  57. I guess I’m fortunate to have started this journey 4.5 years ago and now have a 2.5 year old son who eats very well. He eats meats, fish dipped in his own dish of butter, all sorts of raw or cooked veggies, fruit, yogurt, cheese, nuts–he’s got favorites but has a varied palate. He’s also not offered bread at home or when we go out, so he doesn’t expect to get it. He does enjoy sweets but he seems to know that he has to eat what he’s offered first and that No Means No and whining doesn’t work.

    As a juxtaposition, I’ll mention that I watch my 2 year old nephew 3 days a week. I’ve been watching him since before he was on solids, but since his parents let HIM dictate what he wants to eat (mostly sweet stuff, very little meat) he’s become increasingly resistant to the meat and non-fruit items I try to feed him. It’s a source of frustration when my nephew flat-out refuses to eat delicious food and would rather not eat anything than something non-sweet. It’s getting harder and harder as he’s getting older.

    Parental influence is everything, in my opinion, but since I’m not his parent I can only keep trying and hope he’ll take some hints from my son who is making all the yummy noises in the highchair next to him:)

  58. I am lucky in that my husband and I started eating Primal about a year before my daughter was born. Now that she’s 19 months old, people are amazed at the food she will eat and asks for – kale, carrots are here favorite, broccoli, peppers, “beast” aka beef, eggs and the list could go on and on. Literally the only thing she absolutely will not eat is green beans, go figure. Oh, and she is known as the “bacon girl” at our local farm store because as soon as we walk in, she starts saying, “bacon, bacon, bacon”.
    I always say, she doesn’t know any different so she likes good, healthy food. I’ll be interested to see the difference in food preferences in our second child due in September. Hopefully, she will love all the primal, real foods our older daughter does!

  59. I have found that the surest way to sabotage my own efforts is to tell the kids “just try one bite”. They usually take this to mean that this is an awful thing and that I don’t expect them to like it and the y automatically go into “bargaining” mode, “well if I taste it then I get ice cream, right?”. What does often work for me is to get excited myself, “Hey, check out this awesome thing, you will love it!” And really mean it.

  60. My son is NOT Primal. I’ve tried but it’s my own fault. When I was pregnant I ate copious amounts of doughnuts cause that’s what I craved and I should not have listened to THAT craving. Although doughnuts DO have a lot of fat too. I paid for the high sugar/fat combo with some readings my doc didn’t like in a person my age.

    I also have been lax about making my son sit down when we sit to eat so now I have to deal with the screaming. My husband has NO patience for such behavior and only gets angry.

    When my son was a baby he’d eat every veggie that Gerber made. Now oddly enough he’ll eat some veggies RAW but not cooked. He is SO WEIRD.

    He wont’ eat meat, not bacon even. He’ll eat deli turkey sometimes, cheese, milk (organic cream top), yogurt. So I cram that down him to make up for the no meat. I think I’ve given him too much line. OH yes and breakfast sausage but ONLY Jones brand.

    My other problem is I live with my parents, who are not even CLOSE to being Primal, they think I’m freaking nuts and even more nuts for trying to ‘restrict’ bread and gluten from my son and my son begs for the ‘goodies’ and they give it to him despite my irritation. It’s incredibly frustrating.

    The boy won’t eat eggs and if he eats chicken nuggets they have to be from BK. SO ANNOYING. The only other way to sneak eggs into him is the flourless pancakes or oatless oatmeal. So tiresome.

    Don’t get me started on my hubby who despite me makin’ so many good Primal dishes still deigns to raid the plate of pastries in the break room and bring them home to me no matter how many times I scream “YOU AREN’T BEING NICE TO ME.”

    I mean c’mon people, do they just NOT GET IT? I want to eat a certain way, I want my kid to eat a certain way. Absolutely no respect! Weird looks and complete disrespect for what I desire. Can’t control hubby but he could at least be more considerate.

    Think I need to just have a talk with my parents to try and not give him ‘treats’, but I feel bad because my Dad and him have their morning ritual with Life cereal and lots of cut up fruit. I tell you, it’s hard to be Primal in a non Primal world, and it’s harder to get your kids to be. 🙁

    1. Kate, that sounds sooo frustrating. Just a thought for you to consider…Have you tried getting your son just gluten-free first? Like switching out the Life cereal for gluten-free Chex, buying some gluten-free bread/treats with as few crappy ingredients as possible, etc. It might help with the tension with the grandparents if they can give him junk food that is a bit less junky? I have celiac, so to me gluten is the first, most important thing to reduce/get rid of, if at all possible. And this might sound weird, but on the chicken nugget front, it may be worth trying to get some BK containers and putting your own chicken nuggets in them on the sly. I read a study some time back that kids given French fries, I think it was, ate the ones in McDonald’s packaging and loved them and either rejected or didn’t eat as many as the SAME fries packaged differently.

    2. Incidentally, the raw veggies only, not cooked veggies isn’t all that weird. My son is the same way. He’s got a decently wide variety of raw veggies he’ll eat (carrots, bell pepper, cucumber, snow peas, sometimes cauliflower), but cooked? No way. Except roasted kale and baked potatoes he won’t even touch a cooked veggie with his fork.

  61. Both kids are picky. My eight year old basically will not eat protein(meat, cheese, yogurt, eggs, hummus, beans, hates bacon…) and will go without eating rather than eat something he doesn’t like. He has been known to throw up when required to eat something. His little brother is also quite picky. It’s actually quite freeing to me, since I’ve never bothered to plan meals around their preferences – they can eat dinner or not. I pretty much leave it alone.

    On the other hand, I cook everything from scratch and can count on one hand the processed foods we keep in the house (sprouted grain bread, Joe’s O’s, ketchup, 85% chocolate and yes, Goldfish). So they’re not exactly eating a SAD diet, though they do have grains and sugar, and we eat out once a week.

  62. One day at a time, even one meal at a time for my child. One of the favourite meals is a what we call a “snacky plate”. It’s vegetable sticks and fruit etc cut up with some meat or fish. It’s colourful, easy to make and eat and primal. Also, we ask (never force or beg) our daughter to try new foods, even if she doesn’t like it this time, she might the next, or the next, or the next time after that.

  63. I try to encourage my 4 year old to eat healthy (paleo/primal) but it is difficult when her father does not! I am working on him but he believes in ‘everything in moderation’.
    I realise that we are her most important role models but its hard to make this work when her dad eats bread etc and I do not.

  64. It’s great to read all the comments. Eating healthy is not difficult it’s just happens to be way too easy to eat poorly. We are a blended family… 52 year old man (Primal), 46 year old woman (Primal). Two girls aged 21 and 19. Two boys aged 19 and 15. A beautiful 4 1/2 year old granddaughter. It’s chaos when it comes to food, especially with most of the kids now young adults.. it’s tough. We run the gamut of nutrition. There is one who does not eat vegetables or fruit! We have one who eats mainly processed, low fat, sugar laden junk. Another one is quite interested in what she is eating, so it is kinda fun The oldest boy is doing very well for the most part, eating well and exercising. He’s buff! Other boy is sedentary, if he had a beard he would be a poster child for a nursing home, either slouched in a chair or propped up in bed playing PS3 or I-phone apps! It’s certainly not genetics. It’s lifestyle choices. The little princess is doing pretty good, bacon is a favorite! No processed food, at least when she is here (6 out of 7 days). It’s easier when dealing with a young child. My partner and I have pretty much got it dialed in nutrionally and have never felt better (18 months now). Inroads are being made. Influence is possible. We just keep forging ahead and try to stay focused on what’s important. Grok on!

  65. Our Kids Eat Primal 🙂

    Breakfast they have either ice-cream or pancakes or cake

    Lunch they have chicken and veg or fish or similar or fruit or eggs or pizza or lasagna, egg salad,

    Dinner what ever we cook which is mainly primal within 80% and may include the above luch items or soups.

    I do make one concession, I make 3 day fermented sourdough bread 1 loaf once a week and they can have that with butter and so on.

    So what is ice-cream ? Drip dried Kefir from raw milk with egg yolk , half banana and cream.
    So what is pancakes ? 3 Eggs, 2 tablespoons of coconut flour fried in lard and butter and a lick of molasses on top
    So what is cake ? 10 eggs, 250g of almond meal, 80g of dried prunes, 250g of butter. Generally no sweet spread on it, but its great with a dollop of cream.
    What is pizza ? base 4 eggs and coconut flour salt and oil, topping is meat some veg and cheese.
    What is Lasagna ? Sweet potato base, ground beef and cheese and topped with egg and kefir cheese to bake the top nice.
    What is egg salad? 10 hard boiled eggs 200g of home made mayo, onion and grated carrot with 100g of shredded ham

    Bread is with butter and with Kefir cheese or eggs.

    Still a war to get them to eat many night , but even when we fail at least they eat the back up food like cake so they are primal and don’t even know.

    1. Just want to clarify that Kefir cheese is just drip-dried kefir that resembles cottage or farm cheese in consistency with all the pro-biotics .

  66. My sons (15 and 12) are 1 week primal 50% the week after they are primal 10%, the week after they are primal 50%……..up and down! I continue to teach them to eat primal as long as they eat primal to 80%!!
    Thank you Mark

  67. The “forbidden fruit” part reminded me of when I was a kid and invited to a birthday celebration for my uncle. The adults were served prawns and the kids were served hot dogs (because most of us didn’t eat anything but pancakes and hot dogs) at another table. Guess what I did then? I stole my mums plate of prawns and ate them all. I have loved prawns ever since.

  68. I have very little problem with food at home, my kids are only 3 and 1 so they don’t remember the old days of whole grains. We always offer them primal choices at home and they are glad to eat them or not to eat them and I hope that as they get older this continues. The problem is when they are with friends. Their friends are constantly stuffing their faces with you know what and it is very tempting to a small child who doesn’t even know what health is. And saying that they have to be different than everyone else is too difficult for me and keeping them locked up at home is not ideal either. Everyone knows how we eat but they think we are crazy.extremists or that it sounds ok but too difficult to inflict on their family. I just hope that they grow up not too damaged and make the right choices later on when they are more aware.

  69. I never realized that some daycares restrict the food that can be brought in. Our daycare is peanut free, but otherwise we bring our own food. They offer snacks (goldfish, fruit in sugary syrup, etc.), but we are free to provide our own snacks. I would imagine there would have to be a way to get around any restrictions for medical or religious reasons otherwise the school would have to prepare separate meals for the children and ensure no cross contamination. For example, if a child had celiac disease he would have to eat gluten free. Or if a child was kosher I doubt he could eat much of the school food either.

    Has anyone with the daycare food restrictions inquired about medical or religious exceptions?

    1. Our day care restricts brought-in food for numerous reasons.
      Homemade food cannot be brought in. They need all food to have ingredient labels for allergies. Plus they run a commercial kitchen that is subject to state food preparation standards. Commercially made and packaged foods are done under the same conditions. From what I understand this is more for allergies. Our daycare is 100% nut and peanut free. So any birthday treat needs to be something purchased with the labels in tact, like Larabars for example.

      Our daycare accommodates allergies and religious preferences to the best of their abilities. Children can have soy milk (:P) if they have a dairy allergy. There is rarely pork on the menu for halal students. Our daycare is not gluten free and doesn’t offer that accommodation, so I assume if a child had celiacs disease that parent would have to find a private in home provider.

      Food aside, our daycare has all state licensed teachers, has the highest state safety and health awards, and focuses on academics and community service, virtues, etc. So it really is finding what fits for each family and fills as many needs as possible.

      I’ve quickly learned as a parent that there is no such thing as perfection and you just have to do your best every day.

  70. One great tip is to let them play with the food at early age. Try to let them choose vegetables and fruits at the supermarket. Children want to eat food that the recognize and have experience with.

  71. My boys are great at eating new foods most of the time. The key to their dislike is always texture. Guacamole? Must be pureed smooth. NO LUMPS! Salsa? Must be more like spaghetti sauce. But they love ground beef of any kind, so tacos, sloppy joes and spaghetti sauce are a monthly must on our menu. They don’t know about the hidden ingredients like extra pureed vegetables yet, but we do try to be transparent at the table if they ask. Honesty has worked on more than occasion.

  72. My husband and I have only been primal for a month. Our kids (age 8 and 10) diet is still mostly conventional. Both have been picky eaters who gladly refuse to eat rather than try something new for all their lives. Luckily though they’ve always liked vegetables and fruit and neither likes carbonated soft drinks. So what we’ve done is make gradual changes in their diets. Dinner time is the main change, where we usually serve them similar versions of primal fare we are having. They don’t like sauces or spices, so their meat is served plain. Breakfast has changed somewhat for them too – we eat mostly eggs, fruit, and yogurt and they usually have the fruit too and occasionally the eggs, but still eat cereal or toast some days. Lunch is still SAD – PB&J or bagels with fruit and nuts. They are gradually becoming more interested in the primal diet. My son “invented” primal ice cream – banana, milk, and ice in the blender, then freeze it. For them I think this is the best approach – very gradual and letting them have input into what they are eating.

  73. I make ONE meal. We have 5 kids. I cannot be making a multitude of different items for them. I will take suggestions and try to put this into the meal rotation. I try to make at least 2-3 veggie sides plus the main meal. If the kids complain they don’t eat. We send them away from the table and tell them they are not invited back until they apologize for the comment. Once at the table they can eat or not, but when they finally get hungry enough they MUST eat the meal they refused to eat. before any other food is given. no exceptions. We do not waste food. I have had some of the kids hold out 24-48 hrs out of stubbornness, but then they always eat what was served. Some may think it is harsh, but it works. They will be thankful for the food we have or be hungry. their decision.

    1. Unfortunately, there are kids out there who will starve themselves than eat. Also it is ultimately the parents decision for how long to withhold food before caving. This raises the question…how long of not eating is too long?

      I have read many stories where power struggles went too far. I read a story on another website about a young boy who went almost a week without eating. The boy became so lethargic…he laid down on the couch and then couldn’t get back up. A couple tried serving their three year old toddler daughter the same food over and over again until she ate it. Did that little girl cave? Nope…that little girl starved for nearly three days. It got to the point where she was refusing to come to the table at mealtimes!

      This last story really takes the cake. Another couple had a three year old daughter and she kept refusing to eat what they served. However, the couple just kept serving the food, assuming that the child would break and eat. The parents kept withholding food, and it backfired bigtime. The little girl died of malnutrition. Yes, those parents starved their child to death! Now, those parents are in prison for murder.

      These stories really bring up a crucial question. How long of keeping an uneaten meal and then reserving it is too long? I understand that parents should at least try to teach children the values of not wasting food. But really, should you make it into a power struggle that ends with your child becoming so lethargic that they cannot move?

  74. We have always operated on the thesis:
    There are very few children that volontarily starve themselves to death before eating broccoli (or whatever). They will not wither down and die if they don´t eat what´s for dinner tonight. You either eat the food in front of you or not. Chances are that they will have worked up a healthy appetite by the next time food is set on the table and will be far less fussy then.

    That is, after all, how the other 90% or so of the worlds children get to grow up and close to 100% if we look back in time. 🙂 The choice is usually not “This food or something else you like better and you get if you nag/scream/behave deplorably.” but rather “This food or no food.”

    Of course we never cooked meals we knew they would hate just to be mean but we were fairly strict in not offering alternatives, or snacks.
    It´s worked fine. They are still alive and healthy.

  75. At home, my 4yo eats mostly primal- with raw milk, cheese and sourdough bread (I had to compromise. when she is at friends houses she begs for Mac and cheese and PB&J. I cannot control what she eats out of the house, and I would go crazy trying to. She has recently started saying “we had macaroni and cheese, but don’t worry, mom, it had peas and carrots in it.” At least she is beginning to recognize what she should be eating;)

  76. I simply never had sweets in the house as a regular thing. I think sugar on a regular basis pollutes your taste buds. My child had a good appetite for vegetables at an early age. When we went grocery shopping, we went down the produce aisle first. I’d weigh out a half pound of green beans and he would munch on those while we shopped. He liked a wedge of raw cabbage, would eat bell peppers whole like you’d eat an apple, and loved raw asparagus. When he was sick, he asked for V8. I’d like to say it was because I was a great parent, but I wasn’t. When I told my kid he could eat what was on the table or cook his own dinner, he learned to cook at 8 years. Seriously, he took a cooking project in 4-H. He could make biscuits from scratch better than I could. Once, after he’d been at a friend’s house, he came home asking for Goldfish crackers. I said, “I don’t buy crap like that, if you want it you’ll need to buy it yourself.” He saved his money and did that, ate the whole box the first day. Over the years, his friends would give him a box for his birthday or Christmas. I guess my philosophy right from the beginning was that a kid is free to make his own decisions, but if I don’t agree, I’m not going to subsidize it.

  77. Thankfully my son was never much of a picky eater. What ever I put in front of him , he would eat it. Since going primal almost two years ago, I cook the same thing for both of us to eat. I think I would find it frustrating to cook different meals. Everybody eats the same thing. So if one person is allergic to something, nobody eats it. I know at school he occasionally drinks a Gatorade or eats pizza, but even at 15, he notices that his body feels different when he eats junk.

  78. This article really was a great read. I have two small children 2 and 4 who eat 50/50. What I loved most about this article was the comments! This sounds terrible but it’s so nice to hear that I’m not the only one struggling with their kids.

  79. My kids get to choose whatever they want for their birthday dinner. My daughter turned five in March, and when I asked her, “What would you like for your birthday dinner? Choose anything you like!” Her response was, “Braised ox tails, sweet potatoes and roasted brussel sprouts…..(followed by a very long) SLUUURRRRRP!”

    Now that’s my definition of a picky primal eater. 🙂 But I guess I’m a picky mama, too. I would choose that meal over pizza any day!

  80. I make mostly primal foods and my kids eat the stuff they like and don’t eat what they don’t like, but i keep serving those foods anyway and sometimes a few weeks later they eat it up as though they never not liked it. my son likes chicken and salmon, so i make it a lot. Like mark said, they tend to feel more satisfied eating familiar foods they like, so if that means he eats chicken or salmon for every meal 3 days in a row, so be it. i also took him out to buy his own smoothie cup with a straw and he loves throwing foods in our blender to make his own smoothie. We also make it a color game…something red, something blue, something green, white yogurt, ect. My son has a handful of primal foods he likes and while we always encourage him to try the other foods we make, i am very happy that what he does eat is nutritious. If he doesnt want to eat dinner, i dont force him, but that is also because sometimes I dont want to eat dinner either. I think its normal and since the snacks in our house are fruits, veggies, and nuts, and there are always leftovers from dinner, if he gets hungry later, he knows where to find something and I know it is healthy. Eating is a natural normal part of our daily lives. Dont turn it into a daily battle or punishment, just go with the flow. Oh, and it helps to keep your kids active and busy playing…really builds up their appetite and makes them desire food more so they want to eat and rebuild those energy levels. 🙂

  81. As a mother to 2 teenagers and where my husband and both children all have Autism and thus sensory/texture issues with all sorts of foods. This has been an ongoing issue we have worked on for years. I used a rather scientific method when they were little and explained that their taste buds and likes and dislikes change over the course of their entire lives. It takes over 30 different times of trying something to know for sure you do not like it. For example I told them I do not like cauliflower, I keep trying it hoping I will like it better in the future and try it different ways but I just do not care for it. We approached that with everything.

    Also we have been eliminating foods and switching to more real food gradually for years as my knowledge increased. We eliminated all dairy except organic milk and limited that when they were younger due to ear infections. 5 years ago I went completely dairy free and my children went mostly dairy free except the occasional pizza. Then I tested positive for Celiac’s disease about 3 years ago as did my daughter. My son has the skin version of it which still affects the intestines. Now I have been mostly primal for the last year and my children are mostly primal with some addition of beans, peanut butter, rice and tortillas as they are hungry all the time as teenagers and honestly feeding them completely primal they are not yet interested. They do love my primal meals and will eat them with me but need more carbohydrates than I fix for myself. They tolerate potatoes well and both like sweet potatoes too. So mostly it is easy with my kids. Honestly the most difficult person right now is my husband who eats a more traditionally SAD, he eats some of what we eat but has such severe texture and taste issues I don’t know if he is capable of changing his diet too much further.

  82. When I was a kid, I hated carrots. They drove me nuts, with their flavor and texture. And then, suddenly, when I turned 6, I decided they were fatabulously delicious and I devoured enough that I’m surprised I didn’t turn orange.

    Also, re: letting the kids roam… has anyone ever noticed that the less ‘developed’ toddlers/young kids in the world often roam around chewing random food at feeding time? The adults are usually all sitting (or crouching) near plates, but the 3-6 year olds are wandering, visiting different family members while they chew on whatever they’ve gotten their sticky fingers on. Can’t help but think there’s nothing wrong with letting the kids wander around a dinner table. They’ll grow out of it, and I don’t personally believe in restraining natural instinct like that.

    Wow, I sure wish my family had discovered paleo/primal eating when I was a kid. I had brain fog like no other, no ambition for much more than watching tv, and by my early teens I was having severe gut issues that lead me to the bathroom 5-6 times a day. Considering how awesome primal is to me, I feel like I was cheated out of my prime development here.

    1. Er– I meant, in the less ‘developed’ countries, toddlers/young kids…

      Not less developed kids.

  83. I think we need to have some compassion for children who are raised on junk food, and then suddenly are thrust into the world of healthy eating. Junk food is a drug. They are addicted. You need to be gentle. It’s one thing if you start your child on healthy food- then I think zero tolerance can work. But for a child who is addicted to junk food, you need to go slow and be patient. If you’ve been serving Mac n Cheese for 8 years, and overnight you switch them to salad and steak, they will probably experience withdrawal symptoms. Do you really want your kids to have to go through low carb flu?

    My daughter was, for better or worse, born with many food allergies, so she has never ever been able to eat “normal” food. We’ve been gluten and junk free since she was born. Because of her circumstances, she is a great eater and rarely complains about anything, despite having an extremely limited diet compared to your average person. When I list her allergies (dairy, eggs, soy, nuts, coconut, gluten) most people say “OH MY GOD, what do you eat???” to which we always reply “Meat, fruit, and vegetables. What else is there?”

  84. I so wish people would stop with all the judgment.

    I have four children (two grown, two teenagers). My first, second, and fourth child each have a few foods they dislike, as do my husband and I, but will eat whatever happens to be for dinner. My third child dislikes almost everything healthy and wants nothing but white flour, cheese, chicken nuggets, etc., and even those only in tiny quantities. He has serious issues with food texture, especially.

    Given a choice between “this or nothing,” the choice will ALWAYS be nothing. This is why, at nearly 15 years old, he barely weighs 70 pounds. His height is not even ON the growth chart, and he is underweight even for that height. He has been going to a pediatric endocrinologist since he was 4 years old for his growth issues, as well as other doctors for Tourette’s and being on the autism spectrum.

    I feed him whatever I can get him to eat. When those things are primal, they’re primal. When they’re not, they’re not. I challenge any of these commenters who think just being strict about food will fix everything to watch his/her 70 pound 15-year-old son starve himself without realizing that lousy food is at least SOME food.

    1. Your third child sounds like I was when I was a child, and like many children with Asperger’s, autism and other disorders that fit these symptoms. I demanded “beige foods” with certain textures, and my parents complied. I wish I could have told my parents then what I know now–“Please don’t feed me a ‘beige, soft/uniform-texture, diet,’ even if you think it’s somehow being kind to me or helping me, because it’s not. It’s the opposite. It’s this very diet that is causing me to be this way. Please put up with my tantrums in the short run so that we both can benefit in the longer run. Please be strong for me, because I’m too sick and young and unknowing to be strong about this myself. I’m not going to starve to death and it’s not the end of the world. Thanks.”

      I don’t think in the slightest think “that being strict about food will fix everything,” but I do know that my parents’ caving into my demands for the sort of foods you report was part of my own undoing. How I wish they had stood firm against my demands. If only I could go back in time to tell them.

      1. And despite my parents’ giving in to my demands because they were afraid I would be too thin, I ended up emaciated anyway, so it didn’t help even in the way they thought it would.

  85. Definitely tried 2 of your suggestions with great affect with my kids…

    I made my own version of ketchup. they wouldn’t go near it until I told them it was my special sauce and they couldn’t have any…

    surprisingly it disappeared quite quickly! 😉

  86. I am so grateful to have discovered this way of life before my kids were too old. It has been very easy to transition them to primal eating, however it does take a lot of work and I had to experiment a lot. Now I know what to have on hand at all times (hard boiled eggs, certain raw veggies and dip, deli meat, avocados, almond butter) in case I run out of time to cook or whatever. If I am having trouble getting them to eat something I will lay out the meal picnic-style on a blanket or arrange the food into a “face” on their plates. It’s amazing how these tricks can get a child over the hump of trying a new food or eating a food they don’t love.

  87. My son is almost 21 months. Still nurses frequently and eats mostly primal. He did not start solids until almost 7 months-he wasn’t interested, the kid loves the boob–but when he did eat solids it was fruits, veggies, and meats from the get go. We did baby led weaning and he never had cereal, oatmeal, or any other grains. He didn’t have any grains at really until he was well over a year old. The result–he doesn’t like chips, cookies, crackers, muffins, anything like that. He straight turns his nose up at it. He devours anything green, prefers fish and steak to anything. He eats dried green beans, homemade yogurt, raisins, cherry tomatoes, and carrot & beet “chips” as snacks I love it and am so happy we decided to go the route we did, contrary to what pediatricians and baby nutrition guidelines say we should do. We will be doing the same with our second child, due in Dec.

  88. Wow some of you people have absolutely crazy mealtimes. Over complicating something that doesn’t need to be a power struggle. Some of the stories sound like kid nightmares!

    Kids don’t care what its healthy. They will never see it your way unless you are gifted with a precocious child.

    My mother was a health nut and a terrible cook. She tried to get me to drink bitter herbal formulas and other questionable “health” concoctions. It was absolutely disgusting. I was her guinea pig and and she wouldn’t drink it herself, it was “for my health!”. I was punished by being made to sit at the table until I drank it. I often chose to be grounded rather than eat that junk. I would find ways to throw it out when she wasn’t looking. It damaged my trust in her and I still don’t like the woman.

    I was a picky eater and still am. I have many allergies and intolerances. If my mother hadn’t been such a terrible cook and less punitive I might have been more open to trying new things and eating healthier. I didn’t like vegetables until I was an adult because my mom didn’t know how to cook them properly!

    My cousins had a mother who made them clean their plates, no matter how full they were. They often looked ill and got stomach aches. Don’t be that person, it did them no good.

    Find something your kid likes that is healthy, and just make that. Make it WELL! When they get bored of eating the same thing all the time, they will want to branch out and try something else. That’s when you get them. Encourage exploration, don’t punish their fears. Positive reinforcement goes miles further than holding a knife to their throats (I think someone actually mentioned that they would threaten to kill the dog).

  89. It takes approximately 17 attempts with a new food before a child is comfortable with it, so if you’re having issues and you’ve only tried it at 5 meals, there is your problem. Persistence is key, don’t be forceful, just persistent, and try to involve them in the cooking process and they are much more likely to enjoy what they’re eating!

  90. Oh my goodness, this topic has so much frustration attached to it for some and I totally understand! My older daughter (now 14) was a real carnivore as a youngster, also loved potatoes, rice etc. but would not touch vegetables. After years and years of trying we finally when she got to the age of 9 told herthat she was eating a portion of veg at each meal whether she liked it ot not and we didn’t want to hear any more about it and that was that.

    We went primal last year (our diet before that was mostly whole foods cooked from scratch so it was really just about taking out the bread and vegetable oils and sugar, we weren’t even too bad on the sugar). Neither myself nor my husband were overweight and my husband was losing too much weight even with added fats so we added back in some potatoes and a little bit of rice with curries etc. My older daughter was pretty much eating what we were, although wouldn’t eat things like zucchini noodles or swede and carrot mash, so I would give her rice noodles and some frozen potato rosti things I managed to find that weren’t full of junk and were made with palm oil. However we found out she was going to the shop every day after school and filling up with doughnuts etc.! She was a little chunky to start with and I had wondered why she hadn’t lost any weight! With a bit of education she’s now on the right track.

    My younger daughter (aged 4) is another story altogether. She was breastfed for quite a long time and when I started her on solids I would just give her what we were eating and just chew it up for her first (how primal is that!?!). I had great ideas of how that would get her used to all different tastes and that she wouldn’t be picky then at all, ha!

    She will happily eat veg, not all veg, but happy with the ones she likes, loves rice and potatoes (though only roast or in fries, home cooked in beef dripping of course) but trying to get any form of protein down her has been fun! She loved cheese as a baby, fish, ribs, roast chicken, nuts but then went off the lot!

    I just try and do my best with her and have managed to coax her back to eating roast meats. Breakfast and lunch is a challenge though, she won’t eat the meals at school and I don’t think I’d want her to anyway so, as she won’t eat much protein options I do give her sandwiches but do make them with real sourdough bread and make sure they’re very nutrient rich fillings, she usually has smoked salmon a couple of times a week, liver pate a couple of times a week and maybe ham on the other day along with some berries and cucumber every day.

    Her snacks are live greek yogurt, although I admit I do get the ones with sweetened fruit compote, fruit, little cocktail sausages, those little round cheeses (called babybel here). The one thing I can’t get her off is her cheese oatcakes that she loves but I reason that at least they’re made with some cheese and palm oil to offset the oats. Hopefully when she’s a bit older I can do an education job on her like her sister and get her all the way there!

  91. I’m new to primal (and not yet fully converted) but I have been gluten-free for over a year. I have been converting my 2 boys (10&7) to gluten-free for the past 6+ months but can’t convince my hubby at all (he is a bread/carb junkie but that’s another issue). We are also partly dairy free (except for cheese & grass-fed butter) My question is: how do you counter-act the information that they get at school regarding nutrition? My oldest has been arguing that they have been told that “whole-grains are healthier.” Any advice? But please do NOT suggest home-schooling as that is not an option.

  92. My 3.5 year old has grown up paleo. He does get rice and a few corn chips and organic gummies once in a while that have tapioca. I”ll say he is the only kid I know that prefers kale to potato. Actually he hates potato chips. He has had bad chocolate and prefers 80 percent and higher dark chocolate.

    He doesn’t like dips, sauces, or anything to be mixed or mushy. So even though he has an amazing diet we still struggle. I sometimes feel like he doesn’t get enough and then I see his friend eating all grains and sugar. Hell my kid doesn’t like sweet things. He doesnt’ like honey, or sugar and won’t touch a paleo pancake and most paleo cookies unless they are super thin and cracker crisp.

    Kid are odd. I’m glad mine is paleo but he still has odd quirks about his foods.

  93. Love this. We have 5 kids. and they ALL eat Mostly Primal. We stick to NO GLUTEN EVER. And we do have a stash of little lollipops for those special moments. but we go with what they love they like potatoes, so they get potatoes, they love burgers (so they get homemade burgers with hidden things, no buns but lots of veggie toppings), they love apples so we buy lots of apples. they love Caesar salad so we skip croutons. we bring gluten free goodies to parties, and every now and then we make a gluten free pasta dish or salad these are considered treats too. sometimes they complain but after about 6 months their bodies adjusted completely and now even if they eat conventional food they get actually get sick. their little bodies say no. and though we thought they were healthy before they were active etc. we look at pictures from a year or two ago and you can see the pre primal bloated tummies and faces, and now they all have flat tummies and healthy glowing faces

  94. Overheard at the Dr Office “if it’s not a Cheeto Cheesie he just won’t eat it”. yikes

    My son who is 90% paleo with a little yogurt and rice is off the charts in height and weight for his age but the Dr just smiles and says what a beautiful healthy boy he is.

    I’d like to let his genes fully express his true potential for height and strength.

  95. The part of planting the forbidden fruit made me laugh out loud. Love it, I’ll be using this advice to help some of my clients! thank you! And ttys ?