View Full Version : Help with Paleo for kids

11-04-2008, 10:37 AM
I am wondering if anyone has any suggestions to help a parent get a picky 7 year old to eat a little more Paleo...

My situation is this... I am a single parent of a 4 year old and a 7 year old. I have always prepared 90% + of the food at home, not one of those parents whose idea of a grocery store is McDonalds. I have always tried to cook nutritious meals. I have started to personally eat more of a Paleo type diet... But the kids, in particular, the 7 year old, arent buying it. Hes always been a picky eater. Its doubly hard because he eats more like he wants to at Mom's, he is with her every other weekend and usually one evening during the week. Its mostly Mcdonalds and pizza and spaghetti at her house, at least from the information that I have.

Does anyone here eat a Paleo style diet in a house with kids? If so, any hints or suggestions, or maybe meal or snack ideas that you have found to be useful to get the kids eating a bit more Paleo and a little less of the cereal for breakfast, sandwiches for lunch, spaghetti for supper type of diet?



Chris Salvato
11-04-2008, 11:19 AM
Well...I don't have kids, but I have helped raise three little cousins through my life...

Getting kids to eat well is next to impossible if you allow them, in any capacity, to eat junk. Especially since at the ages of 3-8 and sometimes even in excess of 14 or so they are extremely egocentric, generally speaking. The world revolves around them and everything is personal...even you not letting them eat their favorite foods.

The easiest way is to just not have the crap in the house...then it turns into a "eat it or eat nothing" kind of situation and eventually they crack. Since their mother is feeding them crap and you have no control over that, there isn't very much you can do here, imho....they are too young to care about their health and realize/care about the damage they are potentially doing by eating garbage.

Like most people, once kids get used to eating Paleo they don't even enjoy the other crap like pizza and spaghetti and McDonalds...however, unless their mother agrees to abide by the same rules, you're kinda SOL imho...

With that said, I would take solace in the fact that eating junk has a much less dramatic effect on kids -- especially if they play a bunch of sports.

Brian Shanks
11-04-2008, 02:12 PM
I have gone down this path recently with mixed results.
This is what we do at my house.

At the beginning of the week we make up individual vegetable bags for all members in the family. My kids ages are 1, 5, 14, and 18. Your vegetable bag must devoured before the TV comes on in the evening. No veggie bag for 1 year old. 5 year old eats hers without to much trouble (we give her ranch dressing sometimes), 14 year old is the reason the TV rule came into play. 18 year old no problem.

Breakfast I make eggs usually 5 to 6 mornings out of the week. I give them at least one cereal day a week as a "treat." They also drink a fruit and spinach shake for breakfast every morning. Sometimes this is a fight with the 5 year old, but I always win :) . The 14 year old we make breakfast tacos, I know tortillas aren't paleo, but it is better then cereal.

Lunch for the kids I don't have any control as they eat at school.

Supper is 85-90 percent paleo. My wife still likes to throw in rice and corn sometimes, I try not to make to big of a deal. Desert is the hard one. My wife likes to have them in the house. I figure if they are eating good food, then a little desert isn't worth stressing over. No veggie bag, no desert.

My 5 year old's veggie bag consists of 2 cauliflowers, 2 broccoli, and 2 carrots. Sometimes we make a game of who hasn't eaten their veggie bag by supper time. Those who don't get a veggie bag and what ever veggie is being served for supper.

My grandson who lives with us (1 year old)has been raise mostly on paleo. He didn't get any of the cereal filler so far. My daughter does have some crackers she gives him once in a while, but usually he eats 2 eggs for breakfast and some shake. He still is breast fed twice a day also.

Hope I didn't give you to much info. I am actually proud of how well our family has taken to eating paleo. We still have cheat meals, like pizza once in a while, but mostly we are eating well. 200% better then 4 years ago.

For example we consume 4 lbs of spinach, 2 lbs of broccoli, 3 heads of cauliflower, and almost 90 eggs a week.

Hope that helped.


Stephen Brown
11-04-2008, 02:18 PM
Just wean them slowly and set a good example. Don't worry about what they eat at mom's, that's their time, not yours. I understand the concern, but what can you do but get an ulcer worrying? If they are otherwise active, eating McDonalds every other weekend won't hurt them. And don't preach.

I am only strict at breakfast. My kid has to eat a piece of turkey bacon, an egg and a piece of fruit. If he is still hungry, and he usually is, he can have a whole grain snack bar. And he is limited to 2 bars a day, though I am about to drop that to 1 a day.

Try to get them cooking. Maybe if they help you cook paleo dishes, they will be more inclined to eat it too. Remember though, kids tastes can't usually handle things like brussel sprouts, asparagus, etc. They are just too strong tasting. Keep it simple and fun and allow for treats.

11-04-2008, 04:35 PM
Thanks for all the replies. Since it is my 7 year old son who is the biggest problem, I will concentrate on him. I am NOT really worried about what he eats at mom's from a nutritional standpoint... she is a registered dietitian, so even though shes more of a food pyramid person than paleo, she is generally feeding reasonably healthy food, its not all candy and sweets and crap. The problem it causes is that if he gets his favorites, like spaghetti and pizza and tacos there, he expects them to be on the menu at my house, and is not happy about not getting that type of food all the time. And im not trying to get the kid to be 100% paleo. Just more than he is now, basically to point him towards better eating habits for later in life and to make my life easier... its hard enough to cook for myself, let alone cook one thing for me, and another for him.

But I guess the bigger problem is that what I LIKE, is not palatable to him, and I can kind of understand that, as I would probably not have liked it as a kid either. My "menu" is fairly limited, and is limited by the types of things I can cook and refrigerate on Sunday afternoon to eat during the week. I make things like 7 or 8 salads from baby spinach and onions and walnuts, and store them in individual containers in the fridge, so I can just add some chicken and olive oil and eat... A couple of times a week, maybe on Sunday then again on Wed or Thur, I cook up a big supply of chicken breasts or Salmon to eat with the salads. I also cook veggie/meat combos, like strips of sirloin and maybe a little italian sausage for flavor, with a whole bunch of yellow, orange, and red bell peppers, some sliced portabello mushrooms, some garlic cloves, etc (cooked all together for 40 min in olive oil that is good, good, good)... or maybe pork loin and zuchini and squash... whatever I make i make enough of to serve for 3-4 meals. Between the salads and the meat/veggie dishes, thats the vast majority of what i eat.

I suppose a better way to present my question, is for those of you with kids, what types of meals/foods/recipies have you found that are fairly easy to fix (I fix my food ahead because i just plain dont have much time) but are more palatable to a kid? Can anyone give me an example of a supper that their kids really like that would fit a rough paleo outline? What kinds of snacks (besides just raw veggies) do the kids ask for, etc. I mean I know all kids are different, but we all know that some foods are very rare for kids to like, some are universally liked, etc.


Chris Salvato
11-04-2008, 06:48 PM
Well, I guess, after thinking about it, some other options come to like.

Really, the trick will be finding paleo foods that are healthy that he enjoys without him even knowing he is eating healthy.

A good idea you might want to explore is making him chicken and instead of serving him "veggies" serve him a fruit smoothie. When he's not looking, throw a bit of oatmeal, raw egg and spinach in the smoothie...cover the taste with cinnamon and unsweetened cocoa. If you use frozen fruit and not much liquid, the result is a really thick icey/ice-cream-ish smoothie. He will think he is eating dessert for dinner and u win by getting him to eat paleo.

Another idea for you are things that are bite sized...kids love bite sized crap. Chicken chunks with fruit pieces. Beef chunks with broccolli cheddar (i know, cheese isn't paleo but its not bad compared to other crap...and it makes kids eat healthy stuff)

Tacos without the shell and heavy on the tomatoes, lettuce, olives, etc. Let him make the plate for himself.

If you don't mind dairy, u can serve him chocolate milk -- but give him chocolate milk with home made syrup with no sugar added. I used to make choc syrup by mixing cocoa with water and just bringing it to a boil and thicken -- add some honey to carve some of the bitterness and its good in milk. Making the syrup takes under 10 minutes.

Fruit with nut butters is also a good snack that most kids will find sweet. A bit lacking on the protein but its a step in the right direction.

Another option I would have you do is make a menu for your kid. Take note of what fruits, veggies, beans, meats and nuts he enjoys and keep a list. Within a few weeks or months, you should have a solid list of what he enjoys and you can get creative with the stuff on the list.

Just some suggestions, i hope they work out in some capacity :)

Stephen Brown
11-05-2008, 08:01 AM
My kid (5 year old boy) gets all he wants of apples, unsweetened organic apple sauce, bananas, and he loves almonds and cashews. Thats pretty much it for his snacks, though he eats a lot of this stuff. I'm going to start keeping jerky around too, I hope he likes that.

I mentioned earlier the 2 snack bars a day. I told my wife this morning that I think we should make that one a day and she was cool with that.

With things like tacos and spaghetti, the wife and I just eat meat sauce over steamed vegetables and are beginning to give him less and less pasta, and usually only one shell and no chips. With stir fry, we just cut out the rice, or if we get delivery, we just throw away the rice. He notices that we don't eat shells, pasta and rice, and asks about it. It is definitely rubbing off on him over time.

He likes cooked zucchini, squash and mushrooms, as they typically just taste like whatever they are cooked in, and the texture is ok if not overcooked.

He still gets his Amy's organic pizza and mac&cheese a couple times a week. I'm letting him have those two because they really make him happy.

Chris Salvato
11-05-2008, 08:47 AM
Regarding chips/taco shells: You can get organic chips/shells where the only ingredients are corn, oil and lime...which is paleo enough for me.

Regarding Jerky: You can make your own VERY cheaply without any nitrates. The jerky you find in stores is LOADED with nitrates. Turkey jerky in a dehydrator with some olive oil and spices is really tasty, healthy and paleo.

Derek Simonds
11-05-2008, 10:49 AM
My kids are an 8 year old boy and 6 year old girl. They don't have a perfect paleo diet but I consider myself truly lucky in regards to what they do eat.

Your situation is significantly different due to the ex wife factor. Having to deal with the emotional aspects of food is very challenging.

There is a lot of good advice in the posts above. The things that I have done over the last couple of years that have contributed to where we are now are pretty basic.

1) Meat and Salad is easiest place to start. Even just lettuce (any kind or spinach) with any kind of grilled meat is simple and usually palatable to any child I have fed.

2) I agree with whoever posted above about dip. Man kids love to dip. We use some super small bowls to allow the kids to dip their meat or veggies in olive oil, ranch, ketchup stuff like that. They do not get to put salad dressing on their salads and actually prefer it that way now.

3) Another great point was finger food size. We cut everything up and the kids love it. For whatever reason this appeals to them. I have talked about how we eat like cavemen and at dinner I will joke about using our fingers. Now obviously a well rounded child will have excellent table manners and know their salad fork from their entre fork but we ain't there yet. :D

4) Nuts and seeds seem to also appeal to children. We use sunflower seeds on our salads and both of my children ask for sunflower seeds with their dinners.

5) Breakfast is critical. If you can get them on a good program for the morning it just makes the rest of the meals easier. Eggs, fruit and oatmeal for us are the key ingredients. My son loves an egg, turkey broccoli scramble (the eggs aren't really scrambled but we crack them over the broccoli and leave the yolk whole) where we throw it all in a pan and cook the eggs right over the top of them.

6) My wife involves both children in creating the menu and shopping for the week. I involve both of them in cooking when I am home. Monday night my wife had an FMSTA meeting and the kids and I were home alone. Delaney got all the ingredients out of the fridge, I seasoned, Jr was responsible for watching the food on the stove and then I grilled. We had sauteed spinach, steamed broccoli chicken breasts and something else I have forgotten. They both made happy plates.

7) I don't ever fight over food with the kids. If I cook something they don't won't I ask them to try it and if they don't like it I won't make them eat it or even get frustrated with them. What I do though is make sure they understand that we eat together as a family and all participate in deciding what we are going to eat. This way we don't get into the well I am hungry thing after refusing to eat whatever it is they don't like. I have let them go to bed hungry before. Not mean not madly just as a matter of fact. (please don't report me :rolleyes: )

8) Compromise. If the overall diet is pretty good and you are having a hard time with specific foods that your children are requesting, limit the intake and make it a give and take. I will let them have garlic bread with some of their meals as long as the majority of the food they eat is paleo. My kids love garlic bread! I think they got that from my wife.

9) Realize that as active as your kids are, BTW is this William that we are talking about, their diet can probably stand to be significantly more wide open then ours. My wife and I are mainly focused on what you said earlier, creating healthy eating habits that will go with them for a lifetime. BTW my son would sell me down the river for dessert just so you know and my brother in law loves to exploit it. He knows how healthy we eat and he is always saying Jr go ahead have two or three pieces of cake.

10) Watch what the kids are drinking. It amazes people to no end when we go somewhere and our kids ask for water with their meals. I like the chocolate milk idea brought up above as well.

If you want to talk about it you can email or pm me to ask more specific questions or even talk with the kids. Hope this helps.

11-06-2008, 09:44 AM
yes it is William we are talking about. And he just snatched 17kg last night, and had 18kg locked overhead, but it was just a little forward and came down! Sorry, have to brag a little, im proud of the little bugger.

Lots of good ideas here. I do appreciate them! It is just plain hard to get kids to eat right with advertising and TV etc... Its hard to work against the Billions spent peddling crappy food to them...

Derek Simonds
11-06-2008, 09:51 AM
That is awesome on the snatch. Tell him the Simonds clan said way to go. I couldn't remember his name yesterday and I googled "pendlay william bar" to check if that was correct and the video of my son's first workout with the bar was at the top of the google search.

We actually have a thread here where all of us proud parents just keep piling stuff up.

Chris Salvato
12-03-2008, 05:03 PM
Hey I was using stumble today and came across this:

Raised the idea for me that putting food into cool shapes makes it way more fun to eat -- my mom used to write my name in pancakes when I was a kid and I liked that a bunch...just uh...make it more healthy than pancakes :P