Have you decided that you want to eat a Paleolithic diet but your family isn’t convinced? That’s how I started. I ate Paleo for two full months before I tried to make any changes to my family’s meals and snacks. I wanted to know how I would feel eating Paleo, address my own health issues, read more about it. I wanted to be convinced that it was the right way to eat before starting the monumental task of transitioning my family.
So, how do you follow a Paleo diet in a household where other family members are eating neolithic foods? How do you prepare a meal that satisfies both your needs and the needs of your family? There are definitely some tricks, but I’ll be up front: if you’re going to eat Paleo but have tempting neolithic foods in your fridge or pantry, you will need more discipline than the person who throws out all of the “bad stuff” before embarking on this journey. But here are some tricks to help you:
Have healthy Paleo snacks and treats around at all times. Sometimes watching your kids or spouse eat something that you know you love but that you also know is not good for you can be overwhelming. If you are tired or stressed, you might not have enough discipline to abstain from eating whatever tempting food your family is enjoying. So have something Paleo that you love available instead. If your family is eating cookies, have some Paleo cookies around (you can keep them in the freezer so you aren’t overeating them the rest of the time). You can make chocolate frozen “yogurt” or or vanilla ice “cream” (see all my recipes for frozen treats). If you need something salty, you can make Paleo club crackers, kale chips, or have some lightly salted nuts. If it’s the smell of bread you love, make some Paleo bread (again you can slice it and then keep it in the freezer for “emergencies”). You can enjoy some 85% or higher dark chocolate (Trader Joe’s Dark Chocolate Lovers Chocolate Bar is good, and I’ve heard that these amazing things about Domori 100% Dark Chocolate Bars and Bernard Castelain Chocolat Noir Extreme 85%). Obviously, it’s better to just not eat whatever tempting “bad food” is in front of you, but if you’re going to give in, you can still keep it Paleo.
Make the neolithic part of your family’s meal easy to swap out for something Paleo for yourself. For example, if you’re having pasta for supper, make the sauce (from my Paleo pasta recipe) Paleo-friendly. You can pour it over conventional noodles for your family but use a Paleo noodle substitute for yourself (great substitutes are roasted spaghetti squash, sautéed zucchini cut into strips, braised shredded cabbage, steamed broccoli slaw, or Kelp Noodles, now available with Amazon Subscribe & Save). Similarly, you can make cauliflower rice for yourself for a rice dish, you can make mashed cauliflower instead of mashed potatoes, and you can use Paleo bread instead of wheat bread. I also like to make several veggie side dishes for my meals, both for the variety and to make sure there’s something my picky children will eat, but also because it’s more satisfying if I’m avoiding eating something that my family is enjoying (although these days that something is usually rice for a cheat for my family or Paleo bread).
Make some of your family meals Paleo. Probably a lot of the meals you are cooking can be easily adapted to use Paleo ingredients, without your family even noticing. Switch to Arrowroot Powder as a thickener. Switch to Almond Flour for breading and baking. Switch to Tamari Soy Sauce or Coconut Aminos instead of regular soy sauce. Use Almond Milk or Coconut Milk instead of cow’s milk in your recipes. Cook with Coconut Oil instead of vegetable oils. Use Almond Butter instead of peanut butter. Maybe as time passes, you can start making more meals completely Paleo. Maybe you can get your family on board without them even noticing!
It may take a bit of thought initially and some experimenting to figure out how to make this work for both you and your family. But it’s definitely doable. And chances are that once your family sees the improvement to your health, they’ll want to join you!