Challenge #2: My Kids

November 9, 2011 in Categories: , by

Print Friendly

So this would all have been easier if I had found paleolithic nutrition BEFORE motherhood.  But I didn’t.  I was close to my biggest when I got pregnant with my first daughter.  Gestational diabetes, which evolved into pre-diabetes after she was born, spurned me on to lose 100 pounds before getting pregnant with my second daughter.  But I used a type II diabetes type diet, relying on willpower to make what I thought were good food choices.  I struggled for the first year after my second daughter was born to get down to my pre-pregnancy weight.  Now, as my youngest fast approaches two years old, I am finally putting all the pieces together for myself:  paleolithic nutrition, lots of fun non-strenuous activity, and good sleep.  But my husband and kids are still firmly entrenched in a world of nutrition misinformation, a world I belonged to not that long ago. 

There are many blogs out there of families living a paleolithic lifestyle with great success (see and for inspiring examples).  Some of these families were committed to paleolithic nutrition before having children or after their children were substantially older than mine, which I think would make things easier.  AND all the blogs I have read thus far have parents united in their efforts to expel all those offensive grains, legumes and dairy products from their diets.  This is not the case for me; but, I doubt that my challenge is unique.  I am trying to transition a very stubborn family to paleolithic nutrition, mostly against their will (but for their own good, dammit!).

My oldest daughter has never liked food.  She had acid reflux as a baby that lasted well into her toddler years.  She didn’t like most of the baby foods we tried (homemade and store-bought).  Her weight percentile slowly dropped relative to her height over her first year until she reached 5th percentile for weight (but 75th percentile for height!) at her one year check-up.  We were on doctor’s orders to fatten her up fast!  We were told to make instant pudding with cream instead of milk and give it to her after every meal.  Well, it worked.  But how do you go back from that???  I have catered food for her for over four years.  Sure, we were able to wean off the high sugar content foods (and anything with preservatives or colorings), but she still doesn’t like most food.  There are no good protein sources that she eats reliably, except maybe cheese but she only eats this on top of club crackers!  She doesn’t eat vegetables and only eats three different kinds of fruit.  And here’s the thing:  most kids will eventually eat something they don’t really like if it’s the only thing offered (my youngest daughter, for example).  This child would literally starve.  She has made a profession out of ignoring her physical requirements (we used to joke that the three things she never did as a baby were eat, sleep or poop!).  My biggest challenge with my oldest is just plain old finding paleolithic foods that she likes.

My youngest daughter does like food.  I introduced foods to her in a very different way, made everything myself, introduced great variety, focused on fruits, vegetables and proteins with grains as an afterthought.  But shortly after wheat was introduced to her diet, she started suffering obstructive sleep apnea.  It took a year of tests to diagnose that she has a slightly floppy epiglottis (called a laryngomalacia) and severe acid reflux (which shocked us because she almost never spat up as a baby).  Our pediatric gastroenterologist doesn’t think a gluten-free diet would help (I actually heard him on NPR this week talking about how we should try acid reflux medicine in babies before altering the mom’s diet to treat colic!) and would like to just “wait and see if she grows out of it”.  Fortunately, our pediatrician is on board with trying a gluten-free diet, so I’m going to!  My biggest challenge with my youngest is getting through the stubborn, picky toddler phase that she is just entering.  This is even harder when my oldest is eating foods I’d rather not have in the house.

My strategy with my kids is similar to my husband.  First find great paleolithic alternatives to their staples and then phase out the neolithic foods.  For now, I won’t sweat sugar intake if it’s in the form of fruits, starchy veggies and healthy paleo baking.  And I have no intention of cutting out dairy products for the moment.  Let’s get grains and legumes out first.  My hope for my oldest daughter is that improving her nutrition will rectify her chronic constipation, help balance her energy levels (she’s always complaining about being tired), help her sleep more soundly, and clear up her eczema.  My hope for my youngest daughter is that her acid reflux and obstructive sleep apnea will completely disappear.  And of course, my biggest hope for both my girls is that they will never have the health and weight issues that I had.  Again, wish me luck!


I think there is hope for her. there’s no reason NOT to try gluten-free, if this all started after adding wheat to her diet. There are palate widening therapies which will help with the sleep apnea.
I have a picky kid too. We just do the best we can. Lots of paleo eaters still eat dairy even though it is a neolithic food. This article shows how archeologists found the time period when and where the ability to digest fresh milk was developed.,1518,723310,00.html

I love you blog:) It’s nice to have the perspective of a mom:) I also have a picky daughter and I wish she would try more vegetables. It’s a slow process. I’ve changed my diet completely over the last couple of months and I’m trying to get the kids on board too:) My daughter is a carb addict:)

I’m finding myself hiding vegetables in more and more foods (why I have so many muffin recipes!). And we bribe my oldest to eat vegetables at dinner (if she eats green vegetables every day for 100 days, then she gets a LeapPad). I’m hoping that if we just keep giving her vegetables, that eventually it won’t be a battle. 🙂 Good luck!

So I just found your blog. I’ve just gotten turned on to the idea of paleo. I have 4 kids. My oldest will try anything once and if you tell her it’s good for her health, she’s game. My 2nd (boy) will be hard. It was a challenge to get him to eat anything other than bread, crackers and bananas as a toddler and even harder to get him to try anything now. He does have issues with sleeping and had chronic ear infections as a baby and we had to get tubes. Then my littlest ones are twin boys. They have their days but one in particular has been a very picky eater. He will scream and throw food at you and has trouble sleeping at night. Hmmm…I’m starting to make the connection :). My other twin eats if it’s presented in a nice way but they play off each other. Sometimes they both eat, other times you fight with one. It’s hard. Then my dear hubby, who is 6’2″ and skinny as a bean pole. He doesn’t work out, eats whatever he wants and no poundage added. I’m getting him used to the idea of trying one thing at a time. Your blog is going to be a go to resource.! Wish me luck!!!

Good luck! Sounds like you have many of the same challenges that I have! The good news is that we’re making great progress. My husband is totally on board (although he still has some dairy). The kids are gluten-free (only a little rice, otherwise I’d say grain-free), legume-free, and of course we have no modern vegetable oils and very little sugar in our house. Our big remaining challenge is dairy. I wouldn’t worry about it too much except that my youngest is still having issues with sleep apnea which might be caused by chronic rhinitis (still don’t have a definitive diagnosis after a year and a half! arg!). Small changes definitely work for our family. I hope it works for you too! 🙂

was reading the comments…I love the idea of hiding vegetables…think I bought a book about that b4 but never carried through on my plans…blending veggies right after I blend some liver ;o)
thanks so much!!

I’m slowly getting into Paleo – for health and weight reasons, and hubby promissed to follow..slowly; I’m 56 and my daughter is almost 3o now- so when she was toddler paleo approach was nowhere in sight. she was good at eating what you give her, but suffered enormously from constipation which became huge problem; I manage to resolve it with my variation of Budvig cream (google Johanna Budwig) and made that for whole family for more than 10 years every single morning. We had no exces weight, no health problems and she had never gotten any of the usuall ear/troath/nose infections or antibiotic treatments untill she was 8 years old – and that was once, and she sayed healty and very active…For Paleo style that cream needs to be adjusted a bit, but it is nice, tasty and excelent option for kids…o, and while she was up to 7-8 my way to make her eat was just to tell her that it will make her beautifull – or later (when she become teenager) that it will keep her skin and hear beautifull – lucky me – it did!

Thanks! I found the information on the Budwig diet very interesting (sortof similar to Gerson). It really emphasizes just how important having a balanced omega-3 to omega-6 fatty acid intake is (and just how far away from that the Standard Amercian Diet has veered!). I have actually been really interested in the similarities between Gerson (and now Budwig) and paleo (although I am no where near recommending coffee enemas!) because of the focus on good fats (although I think grass-fed animal fats are good fats) and alot of antioxidants. Again, thank you!

I just found your blog and I love it. Even though my kids are much older, when they were preschoolers I wanted them to eat healthy and to get them to do so I had two tricks that always worked. The first one was to have them help me plant a garden. I used seeds and seedlings so the kids didn’t have to wait so long to see the food growing. They have so much pride in eating what they grew. The second trick is to have the little ones help prepare the meal. Have them do the fun part. My five year old loves to pour things into the bowl or pan and stir, like dressings or veggies. They also love to watch the food processor slice and grate things and put things in the blender and watch that make solids into liquid. This has been the best way to spend time teaching and getting my kids to eat real food.

OK. So I have a 9 year old and 7 year old at home. I have just switched to paleo eating and feel great. My daughter is a carb addict (me too before switching) and will literally starve if she doesn’t get food she likes. I tried going cold turkey with the kids figuring that once they get hungry they will eat. Not so with my daughter. Sounds like your oldest. She has asthma, allergies and ADHD. I think this diet will help her. Do you have any recommendations for me? Thanks!

It has been a very slow process with my oldest. A combination of firm rules, but also some accommodation, letting her eat a fair bit of fruit and homemade larabars and homemade paleo bread, not having foods in the house that I don’t want her to eat, patience, encouragement, and tough love. 🙂

Just found your blog and love it. I’m looking forward to reading more. Just wanted to let you know that the everydaypaleo link doesn’t work because it looks like there is a typo in the link. Thanks for the good info!

I just found your blog, and my son sounds like your oldest daughter. I’m sure you have addressed it in later posts, but can you direct me to what you found that she would eat paleo-wise? I took him off of gluten and eggs from ages 2-3. He’s still off of eggs, due to an allergy. He has always had texture issues, and it took forever to get him on solid foods. He will starve before eating vegetables, and now he is rejecting a lot of meats. He only eats a couple of fruits. I’m at a loss. I think a paleolithic diet would benefit my family very much. My daughter is much more accepting of new things, but I have no idea what to do about my son. Thanks in advance!

Oh my soul! I can’t tell you how thankful I am that your site popped up on google! Thank you…My daughter is exactly like your daughter!! Same weight issues, acid reflux, constipation and utter pickiness! (which makes any meal time, especially dinner, make me want to pull every strand of my hair straight out of my head!) Thank you for all you share and everything you’ve said. I even read through the AIM which I should follow (since I have crazy systemic lupus) but won’t be mentally willing to follow that strictly, I’m sure. I am just starting the paleo transition for my family and I am scared, scared, scared…but I’ve already gone shopping and I told me kids (8 and 6) that this is what we’re doing. But, I know how hard it will be and I was so encouraged reading how to took certain things out at a time and replaced what you could with things you knew they liked. I’m praying this works here. Thank you so much!!!

your loving dedication for your children wil be rewarded .
maybe not in the way you would like it to , but it will !

My 8 month old granddaughter has severe acid reflux, however, has recently been weaned off of the medicine. Now she’s getting very picky about eating most foods. My daughter makes most of her baby food, hasn’t yet introduced meats. Her formula is dairy free. Any suggestions you can advise now that she’s just starting to refuse most solids? Thank you.

I’m so glad I found you’re blog; for the first time there is a mom out there that has the same issues I do! Kids that don’t eat well and a mom that is not perfect in every way, and is willing to say “hey world I am trying something and my kids don’t eat everything I put in front of them.” I started the Paleo life style April 1st. So far I have been able to cut out all gluten and sugar. This month (JUNE) is dairy. This is going to be the hard one. I put cheese on everything! My youngest child will eat anything if there is cheese on it. any ideas for a easy dairy cut?

There really isn’t a great cheese substitute. Many people use nutritional yeast for a cheesy flavor, if it’s tolerated well. You may also find that you/your family tolerates goat dairy better than other types. – Christina, Sarah’s assistant

Thankyou for sharing your journey. It’s encouraging to know that other mom’s are in this too. I also have an oldest who is very picky. And we have been through a lot with her, as she had good sensitivities for years. Her leaky gut was healed before I when heard of paleo. But, now she’s on a regular diet and had gotten pickier.

I too set out to cater to my kids. And sometimes I feel like a failure for not finding more “healthy” things that they WANT. And it feels crazier that I am now eating paleo, yet my while family eats ask the things i don’t… In spades.

Anyway. Thankyou for sharing YOUR story. I l forward to hearing more tips as you with your way through this crazy parenting thing!

Thank you for your transparency. It is encouraging. I relate to so much to what you share. My daughter is celiac and allergic to corn. Both my husband and I have gut issues. I know we need to eat paleo but have the hardest time implementing and staying with it. I try to eat mostly paleo but find myself making 3 different menus–1 for me, 1 for my husband and 1 for our daughter. My husband has greatly improved his diet but resists eliminating grains and sugar. He enjoys treating our daughter to sweets that she can have since so many foods are off limits for her. She already has a hard time with not being able to eat the foods other kids do. Ugh! I know we will find our way through. I really appreciate a blog where a mother like yourself shares such great info and recepies and also shares the journey to get the whole fam on board. Bless you,

Mary B

my youngest son is 3 months and has just been diagnosed with laryngomalacia and severe acid reflux or GERDS, i’m so happy that there is hope that eating paleo will help!! thank you!!!

Thank you for your website. I appreciate that you are a biochemist/research scientist and have applied your skills to this subject. My youngest child is now 15 and I did not have any of the health issues for my children that you and the other moms are dealing with. I have health issues and that is why I am on your website. I have always tried to feed my family healthy: little to no sugar, fruits/veggies at every meal, whole grains because they were supposed to be so healthy, “yard” eggs, etc. I had one particularly picky eater who later had a terrible time learning to read (connection?). My sister made fun of me because when he was little I would put 1 or 2 green beans (or whatever other veggie we were having) on his plate and was extremely firm that he had to eat it. Her point of view was, “why bother? That is not enough for any significant nutrition.” So I explained that it had nothing to do with nutrition but everything to do with training his palate to like veggies when he gets older. I think it was worth because he willingly ate more than 2 as he got older and even though as an adult veggies are still not his favorite thing he does eat them and he knows that he should eat them for a balanced diet. And yes there are some that he refuses to this day. And if you make casserloles or spaghetti (I know, not Paleo) the veggies need to be chopped very fine or puréed or he doesn’t like it. I wish I had known more about hiding veggies in meals back then! I am learning now and incorporating a lot more sneakiness into meal prep for our family with 2 children still at home. Thank you!

I’m surprised no one mentioned zinc deficiency. This is known to cause poor appetite and pickiness. No promises it will fix any given case, but worth a try!

Great discussion! My younger daughter has the similar low weight issues, so I need to feed her just to get weight on. My older is on paleo because she sees many of her symptoms disappeared. She’s entering teen years and happy to stay away from problem foods just to have energy to be with her friends and not to have constant digestive issues. My concern for her is that the paleo foods are high in purines and she has hereditary microscopic hematuria ( meaning her body doesn’t deal effectively with uric acid) and at one point she was told to be on low purine diet. How the paleo diet and low purine diet can work together?

I have a slightly different question. My 28 months old daughter has always been Paleo as I was, my husband loves Paleo food and fully supports her being Paleo, he doesn’t always eat Paleo though. The whole family on both sides is supportive of her being Paleo. She gained weight consistently and thankfully she’s always been a very healthy and happy baby / toddler. We tell her that she eats very healthy and she knows she eats healthy. She gets a good variety of food and we cook everything from scratch for her.
My worry is about when she goes to school – I don’t know if it will be possible for her to take a lunchbox and if doing so will make her feel like an outsider? Does anyone have any advice on how to help her to carry on eating healthy? I really don’t want her to eat all that rubbish other children eat! We found her a nursery where all the children take a lunch box, and they encourage healthy eating (although aren’t Paleo…)
Are there any Paleo mothers out there that faced this problem, and how did you overcome it? Thanks in advance!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *