It was pretty easy for Deann and I to make the change to a more “Cave-Man’ like style of eating. The more research we do, both inside and outside the Paleo circle, the more it makes sense what we’re doing. One of the biggest obstacles we’ve had to face in this new way of life, are the kids. How to get them to buy into what we’re trying to do? Well, it’s not easy. Not by a long shot. If you’re starting your children with a paleo life right from the beginning, it’s a lot easier than to try to do it when they’re older, since they will know little else.
As most of you all know, we are the parents of Twins. Right now, our 7 year old’s know more than most kids about food. What’s considered healthy, and what’s considered CRAP (poor Carbs, Refined sugars, Artificial sweeteners and colors, and Processed foods). The problem is, they are already addicted to the CRAP foods such as Pizza, burgers, cereals, milk, pop, etc). In fact, if you sit back and watch what you’re children watch on TV, it’s pretty easy to understand why. Nearly every commercial is dedicated to telling kids that CRAP is good, and that they want it. Billions if not trillions of dollars is spent on advertising, and it’s hard to watch a commercial as a kid and not become swept up in the moment. If your kids happen to be grocery shopping with Mommy or Daddy, you’re doomed. They pepper you with sayings such as “Mommy Mommy, can we have this box of a food like substance that was made in a lab? We really want it, cause it will make us zombies, and make us fat, and give us Type II Diabetes when we get older”. With enough maneuvering, Mommy and Daddy might give in, and the box of artificial food like sustanence is put into the cart. Score 1 for the big evil.
So, what can you do to combat it? You can use statements such as, “Eat this or else!”, or “If you don’t eat this, go to bed”…or perhaps if you’re like me you’ve tried “How in the world could you not like this? It’s fish eyes, beef tongue, and liver served in a brine made from the spleen of a 3 headed baboon” – I am ashamed to admit, I have used all 3. Do they work? Ummm, as shocking as it might be to hear – NO, it does not. There really aren’t any magic words, or foods to make. What we have found that works is a more practical approach. Every Sunday, we spend the day doing our chores around the house. Kids are learning to sweep, and dust, take out the trash and any other job that Mommy and Daddy dislike…just like all other parents…RIGHT? But we also spend the day meal planning, grocery shopping, baking, cooking, and of course, BBQ’ing (Mmm, burnt foody goodness). We started this some time ago, and allow the kids to pick out a few healthy things that they would like to have. Fruit generally is what they want. They select Apples, and Pears, and other yummy fruits. Our son likes to pick veggies, such as peppers and cucumbers. But they also like to pick hazelnuts, almonds, and dates. But yes, they also still pick the gray food like substance box that they’ve come to love. We ask them if this is something that we ALL can have? Since Daddy is a Diabetic, the chances of anything coming from a box being chosen is slim. But we do occationally let them get away with a hotdog, or ground beef to make burgers, and maybe some chocolate (dark, 70%+). Kids still need to be kids right?
So, when we get home, everyone participates in the process. Mommy is in charge of putting the food into the fridge. Daddy is responsible to pre-sort the food. Daughter passes things from Daddy to Mommy. While boy-child takes things from Daddy that are freezer bound, places them inside, and also handles all the grocery bags (both the ones we accumlate, and the bags we take to the store), and puts them away. Nice, clean and efficient.
When everything that is needing to be put away, has been – then we start getting ready for the prep work. Now, we don’t buy 34 days worth of food in a single trip. We don’t live in Alaska anymore, and we can hit the grocery store more than once per month (thank goodness!!) We tend to buy maybe 3-4 days worth. Keeps things nice and fresh. The veggies are processed (cutting up peppers, cauliflower is cut, etc). Daughter and Mommy tend to handle this part. Meanwhile Daddy and Son are busy prepping meat. It’s decided in advance what we’re cooking for the week, which makes things easy. We prepare things such as the marinades, and sauces in advance, and get the meat into the as soon as possible to swim in their happy bath. We are prepping steaks, chickens, turkey, Ham, and anything else that’s required. Sometimes this means that Daddy and Son are up at the crack of dawn to get the BBQ ready for Pork Shoulder – a 10-12 hour love fest on the que. But that only happens every now and then.
Then we start to cook, bake, BBQ, what ever needs to be. BBQ’s get turned on, fired up, and primed. Steaks, turkey, chickens etc are all done according to their prescribed fashion. Beef on high heat, chickens rotisserie-style…you get the picture. Mommy and Daughter also take care of a lot of the baking. Such as Mommy’s Energy bars she makes with Dates, almonds, some dried fruit (think of a Lara Bar, only without the ingredients that your tongue gets sprained saying), waffles (yes, waffles without flour…neat concept), and what ever else she decides to make or experiment with. The kids for the most part seem to love doing this, and it gets them involved. Seeing, and participating in the making of their breakfasts, lunches, dinners and snacks, makes dealing with the sudden change in their diet a lot better and more manageable.
What do the kids think? Well, they will tell you that they don’t like everything that we “make” them eat (insert crack of whip sound here). Daughter is not too keen on sweet potatoes, and son doesn’t like all parts of a steak (odd kids they are), but we manage. It’s all about experimenting, and introducing new things regularly. But most important – Mommy and Daddy are NOT short order cooks. If they don’t like something on their plate, they don’t have to eat it, but they must try it. Hey, i’ll be honest, not all kids like the same foods all the time. Last week Daughter loved cucumbers, this week she can’t stand them. I look at it this way. Try and if you like, great. If you don’t, Daddy has lunch tomorrow.
Have we noticed changes in them since we made this change? Absolutely. Before, daughter was always complaining about her tummy (not enough fibre), and neither kid slept particularly well. Both kids are now sleeping over 10 hours (for the first time since they last visited their mommy’s boob many years ago), their marks have gone up, their able to focus better, and longer. They are happier…playing more…and who would have ever thought this – they would rather go outside and run around and play, than be stuck inside playing that Xbox, or watching some poorly produced kid show on TV. Daughter seems to have color in her face, and son is actually appears to be showing signs of his Aspbergers less and less. He still has his moments when he will rock back and forth, and hum, play with his hands, but he’s a lot more engaging recently, and has an incredible imagination that we’d always thought he had. Tonight he actually created his very own comic strip – “Captain Underpants and the Hairy Potty” (Harry Potter). He spent 3 hours creating it, and I have to admit that I am very impressed. Just 2 months ago, he wouldn’t have been able to sit there for 3 minutes, let alone 3 hours.
In summary. Get the kids involved, have fun. Make up goofy names for certain foods “Monster Brains” for mashed sweet potatoes for instance. Allow them to make decisions about what they will eat. Allow them to engage in the food making process. Starting now will lead them down the path to a health life, where they will look in the mirror and say “Hello, Health Me”.
Kids new favorite breakfast in the post Captain Crunchy Pants era is Bacon, Leeks, and Eggs – Sunny side up. Trust me..AWESOME!! For dinner, Paleo Pho. We’ll post a recipe once we’re happy with it (it uses Bone Broth so you know it has to be good!). They love to add the “Crunchies” (Bean Sprouts) to their bowl, and watch the meat cook in their bowl. AWESOME!