Every once in a while, you run into a toddler who enthusiastically chows down on a huge dinner salad or side of ratatouille. Most parents, though, struggle to get their kids to eat more vegetables. If you’re raising a picky eater, join the club. That can be frustrating for you as a parent, but it’s not a sign that you’re doing something wrong.
Young kids, especially, are supposed to be picky. They are hard-wired to reject new foods and foods that taste bitter or otherwise “icky” to them, a phenomenon known as “neophobia.” Experts believe this is an innate survival mechanism designed to keep dangerous plants out of their mouths. Your child doesn’t know that Brussels sprouts and mustard greens aren’t trying to kill them. Although kids start to outgrow neophobia as they hit school age, most parents of older kids and teens will tell you that it’s still not easy to get them to enjoy vegetables.
So what are parents to do?
Hey folks, Board-Certified Health Coach Erin Power is here to answer your questions about how to get your kids to eat healthier. Whether you have teens in the house or are just starting your baby on solids, you’ll learn actionable tips on transitioning your family from a Standard American Diet to a Primally aligned one. Got a question you’d like to ask our health coaches? Leave it below in the comments or over in the Mark’s Daily Apple Facebook group.
“What’s the best way to transition my carb and sugar-loving teenagers to paleo? I’ve been eating this way for a while, but I think it’s finally time my kids started eating like this too.”
By the time your kids can buy their own food, it’s harder to get them to follow your food rules. That being said, my guess is you’re still the one bringing home the groceries and making the meals. Which means you’re still in charge when it comes to (the majority of) what goes in their mouths.
Is Paleo Good for Teens?
Teens can benefit from a paleo diet as much as you and I can. Even more so as teens’ nutrient needs are higher during this stage than nearly any other time of their life. Not only that, issues like acne, irritable bowel, and ADHD can be reversed and corrected through improving diet and gut health.
Babies can’t live off milk forever. Eventually they must join the rest of us in eating solid food. But how should it happen?
The baby food industry has everyone fooled. You don’t need them. There’s actually more research that goes into commercial pet food than commercial baby food. For all its faults, dog and cat kibble at least has to adhere to certain nutrient standards. Commercial baby food is just random stuff blended up with enough pear or banana to taste sweet. And I’m not saying there’s something wrong with pears or bananas or green beans or whatever else they blend up and throw in those pouches. I’m just saying it’s not enough. You can do so much better with a little thought and innovation.
It’s not as hard as people think. I mean, these are people we’re feeding. Small people, but people. If you can feed yourself, you can feed a kid. If you’re reading this blog, you’re probably feeding yourself nutrient-dense whole foods. Well, do the same thing for your baby only in smaller portions and using different textures. Because there are limitations:
I belong to a ladies’ trail running community online. These women are cool, badass humans who perform amazing feats with their bodies. Last month, someone asked the group if they ever struggle with body image. The responses were overwhelmingly affirmative. Hundreds upon hundreds of women responded, “Yes! Me. Every single day.” Only a very few said no.
It was eye-opening and also woefully unsurprising. Most adults I know struggle with body image on some level.
Those of us who are parents would love to spare our children from this emotional baggage, but how do we help our kids develop healthy body image in today’s world? We’re up against massive biological and, especially, social forces. Humans are hardwired to see — and judge — faces and bodies, looking for signs of friendliness, similarity, and fertility. Our early survival as a species depended on it.
The modern diet and beauty industries have taken these natural propensities and exploited them to the nth degree. They bombard us with messaging, both subtle and overt, telling us we must do everything in our power to be as physically attractive as possible. No amount of time or money is too much to invest in the quest for beauty and the “perfect” physique. Oh, and definitely don’t show any signs of aging. The wrinkles, gray hair, and natural softening of the body that comes with growing older? Not allowed! Obviously, if you fail to live up to the ever-changing ideal, it is 100 percent your fault.
Short of moving to the woods and disconnecting from society entirely, we can’t keep our kids from being exposed. Our best hope is to help them develop a healthy body image early. Give them a strong foundation so when they inevitably get caught up in Hurricane Diet Culture, they may waver, but they’ll stay standing.
The strategy is two-fold: First, do your best not to repeat and perpetuate the culture that creates insecurity and negative body image. Second, teach kids to trust, respect, and appreciate their bodies regardless of appearance.
Last year, an article in the New York Times described “The Relentlessness of Modern Parenting.” That word struck me at the time and has stuck with me ever since. Speaking as a mom of two, the expectations and pressures weighing on parents can indeed feel relentless.
It’s not enough to keep our children clothed and fed, get them to school, and take the occasional family vacation. Parents today should provide optimal nutrition from birth and ensure that kids have the best educational opportunities. We’re told to enroll them in sports, extracurriculars, and tutoring to give them a competitive edge for college, then we’re obliged to volunteer as assistant coach, snack mom, and classroom parent. By the way, you’re already saving money for college, right?
Don’t forget, we’re also in charge of arranging playdates, monitoring screen time, and searching Pinterest for unique birthday party ideas and fun hijinks for the Elf on the Shelf.
No wonder parents are succumbing to burnout.
Hi, everyone, Lindsay here. As a parent of school-aged kids, the upcoming school year is front and center in my mind. Like you, I’m trying to figure out how to make distance learning work for my family. Before starting today’s post, I want to acknowledge that everyone’s situation is different. Family structures, finances, support systems, living arrangements, access to technology, and employment all affect how we’ll approach this upcoming school year. Not to mention, our kids have unique needs, strengths, and challenges.
There is no one-size-fits-all solution. A lot of parents are facing tough dilemmas. Their school districts’ solutions simply aren’t workable for them for various reasons, sometimes reflecting larger societal issues. While I’m going to offer some simple, concrete steps and encouragement, I also don’t want to minimize the challenges that some people are facing. I’d love for other parents/caregivers to join the discussion in the comments and let us know how you’re juggling everything.
The new school year is almost upon us, and I’m sure I’m not the only parent who feels like my head has been spinning for five months. After being thrown into distance learning in March, school districts are still scrambling to figure out what’s happening this fall. Teachers and parents are rightfully worried about how to balance seemingly un-balanceable interests: educating our kids, supporting working parents, making sure all kids have equal learning opportunities (always an issue), maintaining kids’ socioemotional wellbeing, and allowing schools to stay funded, all while protecting the health and safety of students, their families, teachers, and staff.
Parents, right off the bat, let me say that there is no right way to be feeling about the current situation. Relief, anxiety, excitement, dread are all normal. We’re all figuring this out as we go along and doing the best we can. Virtual high-five! This is not a homeschooling post per se. This is about the importance of play as learning, and letting our kids play to restore some balance we don’t always manage in our typical over-scheduled lives. Here’s the good news if you’re stressed about making sure your kids are still learning why they are at home: they are. I recently attended a workshop with a local homeschool coordinator. The biggest thing I took away was a reminder that all play is learning. Why Kids Need to Play Play is how kids learn about the world. Theoretical and Applied Playworker Bob Hughes (awesome title!) lists 16 different types of play that are central to physical, mental, emotional, and social development. By manipulating objects and trying things out (“I wonder what will happen if I give the dog a haircut?”), using their imaginations to role play different scenarios, and moving and challenging their bodies, kids play to learn: How their bodies work Laws of physics Laws of nature How to interact with other people, and the consequences of breaking social norms How to follow rules, and the consequences of breaking those, too Play builds neural connections and motor skills. Through play, kids get to act out adulting (as in playing house), tap into their creativity, and discover their passions. Importance of Play Play is not optional. There is a reason that it’s Primal Blueprint Law #7 and Mark has written about it frequently here. (I’ll put some links at the bottom.) Yet, we all know that kids don’t play today like they used to for a variety of reasons. If this time at home offers one thing, it’s time for playing. This means getting free play, movement time, social time, music and arts time, and family time—checking a bunch of Primal boxes. I’m not just talking about the kids, by the way. I’m talking about the adults in your house too. How much do YOU play in your normal life? I’m guessing not enough. A lot of the ideas here are fun for the whole family. Play to Learn: Indoor and Outdoor Activities for Kids For obvious reasons, I’m not listing things that involve going to parks or other public places. If you can still go for bike rides or kick the soccer ball around outside, great! You can do these inside or in your yard if you have one. I also didn’t list too many options that might necessitate shopping for materials. Pick the ideas that work for you given the ages of your kids, what stuff you already have at home, and how much space you have. Before You Begin… If you’re like us, you have a stash of art supplies, board games, boxes of legos … Continue reading “Learning Through Play: 101 Ways To Keep Young Minds Occupied At Home”