Turn My Children Into Cave Children, or Not?
Persuading my kids to eat healthy is no easy task. Could the caveman diet-Paleo Diet-be the answer?
The habit or need for eating hasn't changed for human beings since the beginning of time, but what has changed is what our food has become. There is gluten-free this and that, no fructose corn syrup this, low fat that, no fat, full fat, no soy, only soy, low sugar, and sugar free. What is safe and healthy, and what isn't? What does your body really need and what does it not need? Do foods really affect behavior and allergies? I have no idea. I don't have time to study and research every last changing opinion or scientific nutrition fact. Maybe if we go back in time to the basics of food we can get some answers.
This year my husband and I did a Paleo Challenge for our health. It’s not a diet but a change in eating lifestyle. You basically eat like a caveman. It sounded awful and completely unreasonable. We completed the 30 day challenge, felt amazing, and lost at least 10 lbs and had a 5 percent drop in our body fat composition. It’s a very difficult feeling to put into words. We felt very "clean" and healthy.
The Paleo Challenge goal is eliminating processed foods and anything that early man didn't eat. NO dairy, soy, sugar (other than natural fruits), grains, or legumes. I know that sounds absolutely God awful, but we got creative with recipes and seasonings, and learned to read food labels, and we're hooked.
I'm not a huge fan of cooking. I can do it, but I just don't enjoy it. So, having to make sure that sugar, soy and fructose and other "non Paleo" ingredients weren't in things when I was planning a meal was very eye opening. Sugar is a main ingredient in most things. I was blown away.
I try to feed my kids healthy. With Ethan, my oldest, I was overly anal about letting him have pudding or Jell-O. Usually his dessert was applesauce. I forget when he started becoming such a picky eater, but I catered to it. Weeks of mac and cheese, hotdogs and oranges, chicken nuggets and tater tots, pizza, cereal bars, peanut butter and jelly, Capri Suns, and fruit snacks became my child’s staples. He boycotted anything green or not covered in cheese. As a parent you want your kids to eat so you tend to serve what you know they will eat. (Well, at least in my house that’s how it goes). We have the boys try new things every week. I re-introduce things that I hope they will eventually like. Sometimes we have success, but it’s usually another lesson on how to spit food out discreetly and not comment on just how much you don't like it.
Quinn, my two-year-old, will usually eat one meal a day. I remind myself what our pediatrician said: when they are hungry they will eat; keep offering food, but know that they will not starve themselves.
Given our kids eating history, my husband and I are on the fence about bringing them into our Paleo world. I mean, they are so cave-like as it is that it should be a fairly easy transformation. They are already filthy little beings that would LOVE to run around in nature peeing on every tree, throwing rocks and hitting things with sticks. They have the primal scream down to a science...oh, and their climbing skills are off the charts.
The transformation would mean eliminating, oh, probably 97 percent of the kids' normal foods. Not 100 percent Paleo, but we would definitely like to stay 80 to 90 percent. I don't have a problem with that other than the additional fighting, complaining, whining and crying that will be added to our normal daily dose. I would love for them to feel as clean and healthy as my husband and I do. Not that they have gassy belly’s, joint pain, sleep issues, skin breakouts or really any other noticeable ailments that brought on by non Paleo foods, but it might help their health in other ways. I value my children’s health. I want the best nutrition for them, but I also want them to enjoy the culinary pleasures in being a kid: peanut butter and jelly, cheese puffs, oatmeal cream pies, pop tarts, Jell-O, popsicles, pizza, fruit snacks, gummy bears, pixie stix, lollipops and the list goes on.
The word "moderation" comes to mind. It's got to be the most overused word that parents hear. I was introduced to it when pregnant. Everything was okay if it was in "moderation." Following childbirth, I heard it from the pediatrician. Moderation, moderation, moderation. Can I get my kids to eat healthy and eat crap in "moderation" or will they eat crap and then eat healthy in "moderation"? There is always a dilemma in my house. I guess its evolution!
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