I am dedicating a large part of this year to working with busy moms who want to feel and look their best and stay active with their kids. A large part of being able to keep up with the kids involves meal prepping like a pro and of course, fueling your children’s bodies right! A well fed and healthy child is much more likely to have better sleep habits, better performance in school, and improved mood. This is where Paleo for kids comes in.
Nutrition for our children is such an important topic and one that is not talked about nearly enough. There are so many mixed messages as to what we should be feeding our children. From the TV commercials to what is fed in school cafeterias. It’s no wonder the messages get mixed up.
Just as I recommend a Paleo approach for my patients, I also recommend a Paleo style diet for my patient’s children. Keep reading because I am going to explain why.
Let’s start by talking about the problem with what is currently being fed to the vast majority of the kids in the United States today.
The Problem with the Way Our Kids Eat
You know those cereal commercials, or the milk ads claiming to help start your child’s day off on the right foot and support growth? Well, those same products are often packed full of sugar and artificial ingredients.
Did you know that the average children’s cereal contains an average of 2 ½ teaspoons of sugar? This means that the average child who consumes sugary cereal each day would consume approximately 1,000 teaspoons of sugar in one year! (1) That’s just coming from the cereal. This does not take into account the other sources of sugar found throughout the day such as packaged snacks, processed foods offered at school, and dessert.
Now, I know that the topic is controversial and some people feel as if children should experience sugary foods as part of their childhood. Unfortunately, these foods are highly addictive, contain toxic ingredients and can certainly lead to blood sugar imbalances, sleep disturbances, decreased performance in school, and in some cases can even lead to obesity.
While our culture is so accustomed to purchasing packaged snack options, sugary beverages, and takeout food, there are so many healthier options we can be feeding our children. Don’t worry about your kids missing the junk food! I am going to share some great tips on how to slowly transition them to a Paleo way of eating so that they don’t feel deprived. You would be surprised at how adaptable little one’s palates are and how quickly they may prefer the real food option over the processed bag of chips.
The Paleo Way for Kids
So, what makes the Paleo approach for kids such a great way to feed our kids for optimal health? A Paleo style diet is one that removes inflammatory foods and focuses on the foods that our ancestors once ate. It eliminates processed and artificial foods and keeps sugar, gluten, and dairy out of the diet. What you are left with is an incredibly nutrient dense diet to support your child’s overall health.
Let’s take a look at some of the benefits of adopting a Paleo approach for the entire family.
The Benefits of Paleo for Kids
- Fat & Iron: Kids need nutrient dense foods to grow. Children also need fat and iron for proper brain development. Fat is also needed to help build nerve tissue and help with the absorption of fat-soluble vitamins. Iron is needed for proper body function. Most packaged “kids” foods are not rich in iron or fat. A Paleo approach encourages the intake of healthy fats as well as high-quality protein to support proper brain and body development in children.
- Grain & Gluten Free: While being grain and gluten free does not automatically make a diet low-carb, it does eliminate things like processed and refined carbs that are linked to obesity and diabetes. The CDC states that obesity affects 1 in six children in the US today. (2) Diabetes and insulin resistance are also on the rise. With high processed carbohydrate intake, this number with continue to grow. However, when you follow a Paleo style diet, you encourage the consumption of foods that help to naturally balance blood sugar levels instead of spiking them.
- Low in Gut Irritating Foods: The processed and packaged foods that are made available to our children today are recipes for gut health disaster. The high sugar foods can lead to gut health imbalances, not to mention sugar addictions. A Paleo style diet eliminates many of the gut irritating foods (grains, gluten, dairy, sugar) which means your child is more likely to have an optimal functioning digestive system. This is incredibly important because gut health is at the center of overall health. We can’t be truly healthy unless we get our gut health in check.
- High in Nutritional Value: On top of all of the great healthy fats and quality proteins your child will get on a Paleo diet, there are also lots of vegetable and low sugar fruit options. This diet is a great way to pack in lots of nutrient dense foods into your child’s diet.
How to Ease Your Kids into a Paleo Diet
I have compiled a list of tips that I have found to be very helpful for parents who are looking to transition their entire family to a Paleo style diet. These tips are practical and make it easier than making a massive shift overnight. It helps to gradually introduce new foods while eliminating the processed foods from the diet.
#1 Eliminate the Easy Foods First: Start by eliminating things like take-out pizza, mac and cheese, bread, and cereal.
#2 Replace with Healthy & Tasty Alternatives: Instead of the sugary cereal, make some Paleo approved granola with some soaked nuts, grade B maple syrup, and cinnamon with a splash of almond milk. Instead of mac and cheese, make a butternut squash mac and cheese sauce poured over spaghetti squash. For dessert, make a “fat bomb” using coconut oil mixed with some raw unsweetened cocoa powder and almond butter.
#3 Choose Snacks Wisely: Snacks are where many families have difficulty. That’s because there are so many poor kids snack choices available it’s hard to truly avoid them all. Always have some unsweetened coconut yogurt around or just some coconut cream and mix that with some berries and raw honey. Another great snack option is an almond milk based smoothie with some berries, avocado, and coconut oil.
#4 Make Dinner Easy: Parents often struggle with finding a balance between making a healthy dinner and not having enough time or energy to make something nutritious. A great way to get around this is to use a crockpot to toss in some grass-fed beef, chicken, lamb, or whatever meat your family likes. Add some bone broth, veggies, herbs, and spices. A crockpot is a great way to save time on cooking but also to pack in some healthy nutrition into your family’s diet.
We have to take charge and change the way our kids eat today. Make small changes to start and before you know it you will have the whole family switched to this way of eating! Taking the step now is an excellent way to safeguard your family’s health for the future.
If you are suffering from weight gain, fatigue, hair loss and more, click here to schedule a phone call with me, so I can find out where you’ve been, where you want to get to, and how I can help you get there.
I know exactly where you are because I’ve been there myself…I remember being so tired that I could barely function. I gained 30 pounds out of nowhere and had a severe case of brain fog. I also started to get severe anxiety and panic attacks. I was driven and motivated…until I wasn’t. I didn’t know what was happening to me. All I wanted was to get my life back…
Finally, I learned about functional medicine and found a practitioner that I hoped could help me. They ran specialized tests that were far different than I had ever had before. When I got the results back, it turned out I had candida, parasites, high cortisol, the Epstein Bar Virus and many food intolerances. I also had an issue with my thyroid that no one found before because they were using the conventional medicine lab ranges which are way too broad….which I now know is one of the leading causes of hypothyroid misdiagnosis.
I went through treatment of all of these things and it completely changed my life. I immediately lost the 30 pounds I had gained plus more, I had a lot more energy, and my brain fog was gone. I felt amazing and knew that I wanted to help people find the underlying causes of their symptoms and disease.
EWG.org. (2014) Children’s Cereals: Cereals Contain Far more Sugar Than Experts Recommend.
Mandy Pagano. Keto Vangelist. Keto and Kids