My Family and Treats

“Paleo Treat.” It’s been a big buzz in the paleosphere these days and I typically live in my own little bubble, ignoring the big buzzes and focusing on taking the best care of my family that I can and using what’s left of my energy dedicated to running this little blog, working on books, and helping to run EPLifeFit.  I love doing what I do.  I am extremely blessed.  I am so grateful to be healthy and strong after so many years of not being healthy and strong and I am beyond happy that my kids are healthy, strong and thriving.

First, this article is not about how to transition your family and kids to eating paleo but you can read about that by browsing through my required reading articles.

This article does address our families perspective on treats. This is how we live our lives and it works for us. We handle the treat issue by really trying to make it NOT an issue. We just don’t make a lot of treats in our house, simple as that.  Simply put, kids do not need “paleo” pancakes and “paleo” muffins to grow or to be happy.  They DO however need meat, veggies, fruit, and loads of healthy fat.  Read this article to see scientifically why paleo is extremely nutritionally beneficial for children.

Do we EVER make gluten free or nut flour based treats?  Of course, and I am extremely grateful that we can make almond flour cookies for special occasions and coconut flour cakes for birthdays and parties.  I am also glad that if we decide on a weekend to make some coconut flour pancakes, we have that as an option. I also understand that these options make the transition to eating paleo much easier for some families as it was for us, but maintaining a paleo lifestyle with a lot of added nut flour or coconut flour based food options, does not work well for us simply because if we had these options every single day, we would be right back where we were several years ago, prior to eating paleo.

Right back to battling with the kids too, “Please eat some protein and veggies and not just the “paleo” muffins.”

Right back to the insulin spikes and crashes brought on by the “naturally” sweetened “paleo” treats and the resulting grumpiness and lack of satiety.

Right back to me deciding to make “special treats” for the boys and eating most of them myself because it’s “there” and then feeling pretty awful because it’s darn hard on my digestion when I consume a lot of nut/coconut flour based “paleo” treats and because psychologically, eating a lot of sweets makes me feel pretty gosh darn depressed.

Finally, the reality is, nut based foods and coconut flour based foods are not  beneficial to good health.  They are TREATS and in our house are treated as such.  Here’s one article explaining why nuts in general should not be a staple part of your diet, and another one here that explains how eating too many nuts or nut flour based foods can actually inhibit iron absorption which I don’t like at all, being that Jaden used to struggle with anemia, which however has improved dramatically now that we eat paleo.

In conclusion, having nuts around as an occasional snack can be a lifesaver, yes, but having them around as a staple food item and especially in treat form does not work so well for us. My kids eat way more meat, veggies and healthy fats throughout the day when we don’t have the “paleo” muffins or pancakes as a daily option. I am however extremely grateful for these healthier treat options and will continue to use them now and then but you will not find my current book or my upcoming books overly filled with paleo treat options simply because treats are not a great idea for my family to have around ALL of the time, and I create my recipes accordingly. You will find the occasional pancake recipe or coconut macaroon recipe both in my books and on my blog, but that is all you will find – the occasional treat recipe because treats, in our house, are just that: occasional.

My kids are happier without loads of treats.  I am happier.  Life is easier.

So, now you know where I stand on the issue of treats and I hope this information is helpful as we all continue to learn, grow, and discover together what works best for our families and ourselves on our own personal paleo journeys.

Some of our families favorite go to treats that DO work well for our family include:

Fresh young coconuts – my kids go crazy for fresh young coconuts (and so do we)!  We buy ours from our local health food store Chico Natural Foods but you can also often find them at Asian markets.

Frozen blueberries with coconut milk

Apple slices spread with Coconut Cream Concentrate from Tropical Traditions 

Berky from Steve’s Originals 

Fruit in season

 

Comments

  1. says

    I made some almond flour muffins this past week and felt like I was right back to cravings and over-eating. I think these “treats” will be something I do very rarely and not until I reach my weight/health goals. If I do make them for my kids it will be a couple out and the rest will be frozen!

  2. Rob says

    I’ve been living Paleo since October and so far have avoided the baked treats for the reasons you mention. I fear they would lure me right back into the bad habits I so carefully broken. If high carb snackes had not been such a huge part of my “past life” I might not feel the same, but they were my biggest temptation – chips with every meal, cookies and candy through the evening, then a PB&J sandwich before bed. I feel so much better without all that junk that I don’t want to dance around with “safer” alternatives.

  3. Emily says

    What is your go-to snack? I’m on the go with two jobs and marathon training. I find myself needing a snack, so sometimes I grab some nuts. Should I be grabbing jerky instead or a fruit?

    • Dana Post says

      I can address snacks – Aren’t we all so busy and on the go these days?!?! I try to think PROTEIN, no matter what. Some go-to snacks that I grab are leftover meat from the morning or night before (think steak strips, grilled chicken, yes, even leftover bacon or sausage!) grass-fed jerky, hardboiled egg, I make yummy meat cupcakes in big batches for grab and go snacks. My husband got a Magic Bullet for Christmas so single serving coconut milk smoothies are a breeze now and I can run out the door with that single-sized mug. Of course veggies are easy accompaniments, too – I plan time each weekend or Monday to prep grab and go baggies for the week. Hope this is helpful!

      • Jen says

        Thanks Dana that helps so much! I never would have thought of a boiled egg as a snack! I will have to try that and the smoothie thing is awesome too. Sarah your site has been a life saver for me! i never would have stuck to the paleo lifestyle if it wasn’t for your website!

    • says

      Snacks are an important one for me to prepare in advance as well. I usually hard-boil eggs at the beginning of the week, and if I know I have a busy day ahead, I’ll peel a few in advance. The day I want to eat them, I chop them, sprinkle with salt, pepper, and chili powder, and pack them into a container. If they are unpeeled, I feel comfortable eating them up to maybe 4 hours out of the fridge. I also like to put together small containers of leftover roast chicken or small beef or lamb sliders. I try to make extras of meals like this when I make them for dinner, and then save 2-3 sliders or a few portions of chicken for snacks later. I also like egg cupcakes with lots of veggies in them.

  4. Amy says

    Over the holidays, our family got back in to the bad habit of nightly desserts. They’re “paleo” desserts, but sweet it sweet and my brain knows when it wants more!!

    I have been working on weaning everyone back, including myself — but it’s hard! I can really feel the addiction fighting back. I usually just try to eat something with protein and fat instead, and drink some hot tea.

    It also helps me to remember that almond flour, coconut flour, maple syrup and honey are darned expensive!! And I could be putting that money towards a nice big grass-fed roast instead.

    • Jo Tichkowsky says

      What a realistic way of thinking about Coconut flour and Almond flour-EXPENSIVE!I’m always trying to justify having a bag of Coconut flour in my cupboard however, you’re right, you can buy a decent sized roast with veggies which would feed our family at for two meals. :)

  5. amanda says

    This is a great post. When I first started Paleo we ate a ton of nuts. I found out the hard way that was a very bad idea. Also we did a lot of treats. I’m so glad those are pretty rare now too, especially since paleoish treats can be spendy to make all the time. Food isn’t really a big deal anymore since we’ve slowed way down on treats.

    • Dana Post says

      I love your quote “Food isn’t really a big deal anymore since we’ve slowed way down on treats.” Isn’t it awesome, getting full so quickly on maybe just ONE muffin that isn’t laden with sweeteners? Being truly fat adapted is a beautiful thing :) Good for you

  6. Zynster says

    I live in the tropics and my idea of a paleo treat is a beautiful piece of tropical fruit. Custard apples, mangos, chocolate sapote, fresh coconut, lychees, etc. These things are treats in a way that baked goods just can’t compete.

  7. says

    my treat cravings are almost, entirely gone but my treat mentality is not. i’m working on fully embracing and promoting (to my family and anyone else who will listen), only the foods that will help me thrive.

    EPLifeFit is a great tool that is helping me on my journey.

    ALL FOR!

  8. MTEd says

    Hey kids – if it seems too good to be true it is.

    It’s good to have paleo treats available for post-workout and for occasions when everyone else is having chocolate cake. They’re not ideal for every meal, but they’re a lot better than the alternatives.

  9. says

    Great article! We just started trying to make things like pizza dough and cake with the almond meal and coconut flour. I don’t think it will give us any cravings to go back to regular chocolate cake though because it tastes nothing like real chocolate cake. haha! Your suggestions for snacks at the end of the article are perfect – thank you for those! And I didn’t realise that about nuts — not being a regular food. Our youngest just loves the nuts like nobody’s business and I like them too but I will definitely aim for providing more veggie and meat snacks for them through the day. Glad I read your article :)

  10. Nancy says

    Great blog Sarah! I just wanted to throw out there that if you really struggle with the sugar crave, and you’re trying to kick it, replace all the sweets in your house with fruit and keep it handy all the time. At the beginning I still ate tons of sugar (2-5 servings of fruit a day!), but I’ve been able to cut back to one serving a day or less over the course of a year. Also, I’m really excited to report that since I got pregnant I have yet to really crave anything sweet that isn’t fruit!

  11. says

    I rarely bake as well, mostly because I’m pretty awful at it! But also because when I do I always without a doubt end up stuffed and sick feeling (no matter how paleo or ‘healthy’ the treats are). I stick to cooking meals so I can nourish myself and feel energized and full after.

  12. Katherine says

    I agree with this 100%. It is easier, and better, for me if I don’t travel down this road often, and I’m coming to the conclusion that maybe I shouldn’t travel it at all. Not only do I suffer physically and psychologically, but it detracts from how I feel about eating primally, which is perfect and wholesome if I don’t go down this road. When I do, and one things leads to another, it can quickly lead back to old unhealthy habits. I have also found that nuts/nut products, when eaten regularly, are problematic for me, so I try and eat them more sparingly, such as emergency snacks, etc.

  13. Amy says

    This was a really great article. I like and agree with your reasoning for keeping the treats (especially the nut-laden ones) to a minimum. I have fruit & some type of coconut most nights and that is the extent of my “treats”.

    On another note, I’m curious how old your kids are. I’ve been sugar & flour free for almost 10 years, but only grain free (paleo) for 1. My reasons for eliminating sugar & flour had more to do with a food addiction than about optimum nutrition and therefore, I didn’t push my kids into changing their eating. (They were 5 & 7 at the time.) Additionally my husband didn’t get on board with this way of eating until about 2 years ago when my kids were 13 & 15, so I was really the only one in my house eating that way. Today, any mention of changing their food doesn’t go over very well. They are not interested in eating the way we do, and although it bothers/worries me, I also don’t feel up to the fight. The oldest will be 18 in August, and so I feel like he is just going to have to find his own way – and they both, of course, have the example of their parents. But I still wish I could get them on the paleo train! :-)

    • Carol says

      My husband and I started eating a Paleo diet almost a year ago when our daughter was a senior in high school and our son was a sophomore in college. I kept a few non-Paleo things in the pantry for them (my natural mothering guilt complex), but they pretty much ate what we did and supplemented with junk food when they went out with friends or when my son was away at school. We never made a big deal or forced dietary choices on them, largely because they were older. I think the situation would have been different if we started this when they were much younger. So, imagine what a pleasant surprise it was when my son came home for winter break and announced he wanted to eat a Paleo diet. We spent the next month working on his shopping and cooking skills and I still do a weekly menu for him just to help him stay on track. I also got him several Paleo cookbooks (including Everyday Paleo!) and reference materials for Christmas. My daughter also announced that in the fall, when she has her own place and doesn’t have to rely on dorm food, she wants to eat a Paleo diet as well. My advice with older kids is set a good example but let them take the lead. I guess this summer I’ll have to order a whole lot more grassfed beef!

    • Dana Post says

      Hi Amy, Sarah’s kids are 16, 8 and 4 (okay, I’m pretty sure :) She got them “on the train” nice and early, except for her oldest, and of course that transition was more challenging. My boys are almost 11 and 8 and I just transitioned them this year… about 7-8 months ago. It certainly didn’t go over well at first, but it DID start some great conversations. I couldn’t have done it without a united front with my husband. (isn’t it great to have him WITH you now?!?!) Personally, I’d say just keep having some meaningful conversations around yummy delicious Paleo meals you are cooking. Continue to be a positive example. You and your husband continue to share how much better your personally feel, look and perform. Encourage the kids to think about how they feel after they eat certain things. (was your stomach upset? Did you break out? Were you running to the bathroom all the time?) The good news is, they’re old enough to make the connection more quickly and to be more self-aware of their body’s reactions to things, don’t you think? You are doing a great job just by living your own convictions!

    • Dana Post says

      Hi Amy, Sarah’s kids are 16, 8 and 4 (okay, I’m pretty sure She got them “on the train” nice and early, except for her oldest, and of course that transition was more challenging. My boys are almost 11 and 8 and I just transitioned them this year… about 7-8 months ago. It certainly didn’t go over well at first, but it DID start some great conversations. I couldn’t have done it without a united front with my husband. (isn’t it great to have him WITH you now?!?!) Personally, I’d say just keep having some meaningful conversations around yummy delicious Paleo meals you are cooking. Continue to be a positive example. You and your husband continue to share how much better your personally feel, look and perform. Encourage the kids to think about how they feel after they eat certain things. (was your stomach upset? Did you break out? Were you running to the bathroom all the time?) The good news is, they’re old enough to make the connection more quickly and to be more self-aware of their body’s reactions to things, don’t you think? You are doing a great job just by living your own convictions!

  14. Kerri O says

    Thank you for this! I think I tend to have these around a little too much. Pretty sure it’s why my weight loss has stalled.

  15. says

    And I might I add, if you’re on a budget, making treats simply may not be wise. I can spend a small fortune trying to buy Paleo-worthy “treat” ingredients. And, as Sarah suggested, my children then prefer the treats over the staple foods (which are still tasty but not nearly as yummy as a “treat”).

  16. says

    This post is very timely for me! Before I went paleo, when I started cooking for myself, I realized that I couldn’t make cookies or other treats because just having them in the house would lead me to give into cravings and eat them all. I’ve been mostly primal, moving slowly towards totally paleo, since October. Recently I’ve gotten busy at work and have had a fair amount of carb-heavy and “treat”-heavy meals and snacks. I usually rationalize them as occasional, comfort-food indulgences, but then I looked back and realized that I had paleo pancakes 2-3 times in the last week. Not healthy or okay! Just because they’re gluten free doesn’t mean they should become a meal staple. I’m glad to read your perspective as someone with kids who pretty much react the same way I do when I have treats (haha).

  17. Amy says

    How do you handle school and extracurricular activities? It seems like every activity that my 7 year old attends, she is given cookies, candy, and lemonade! When she was in preschool, I sent her own snack each day. The teachers were very unsupportive. Now she feels left out at clubs when everyone else gets a cookie and lemonade. Any suggestions?

    • Dana Post says

      This is so hard. And this may be a less-than-perfect answer, but it’s what I did for my 3rd grader and 5th grader this year. I spoke to their teachers very kindly, explaining that we are off of gluten and grains completely, so these types of treats will give my kids tummy aches. I asked if maybe an occasional Jolly Rancher or a few skittles could replace graham crackers or cookies or Goldfish (which are nevers in my book) The teachers were respectful, as were their club leaders. But they get busy with the swarms of kids too and can’t be expected to monitor all that my boys put in their mouths. SO – I keep “having the conversation” with my boys – asking them to have a very small portion or just even to THINK FIRST and ask themselves “Am I hungry right now? How will this make me feel?” The older they get, they are more used to our Paleo lifestyle,and I notice them starting to make some healthier choices on their own. I just have to remember not to flip out when they DO eat a birthday cupcake :) I’ve worked on me, no more flipping out, and funny thing… Now they like conversations with me again and its making a huge difference. Good luck to you!

    • Dana Post says

      HA! Ya know what I did today? Arrived 10 minutes early to pick them up from L’ego club. They were just finishing cleaning up and DID NOT STAY FOR THE SNACK AT THE END (bags of chips and juice boxes) We came home and they ate salami and tangelos instead :) Another idea – swoop them outta there early :) Best of luck to you!

  18. jcp says

    Perfect timing. I’m working so hard to reprogram my family’s idea in regards to treats. I recently read a quote that states: “Don’t reward yourself with a treat, you are NOT a dog.” A treat can mean so many things. I explain to my kids that a special treat should be viewed as an outing that we do together as a family – like sledding, a walk, a simple craft etc. A treat does not always have to be about food. But I also don’t make a big deal out of it when they do get a “treat” – whether it be at school, a birthday party, or from Nana….it’s part of life. Don’t dwell on it, move on.

  19. says

    I feel the same way. There are a few paleo “treats” that we both like, but I try to only make them once or twice a week so they are treats and not everyday staples. We both love creamed paleo cereal, but I know there are much healthier breakfast options so I try to save it as a special weekend treat.

  20. says

    This is a great post and very timely since a lot of people are getting ready to end their New Year challenges…(Whole 30, Paleo Solution, 21 Day Sugar Detox). I save “paleo treats” for special occasions like birthdays or holidays…but I travel for a living so I occasionally pack some high protein pumpkin muffins along with egg cupcakes, they can be very convenient at times. My kiddos are all grown up so I will have to say it makes it easier to not feel like I “have” to have them around.

  21. Sara Baker says

    Hi Sarah!! Thanks so much for this post! I have been following your blog for few months now and LOVE it!! I am a “on-again, off-again” paleo journey and am ready to make the switch of being always on!! This post spoke directly to me-when I fist started the paleo journey, I made your apple muffins all of the time!!! I would justify it by telling myself they were “healthy”, which yes, they are, but as you mentioned, in moderation.

    Here nor there, I just wanted to say thank you for always writing really thoughtful posts- they make this journey a lot easier :-)

  22. Sarah Bea says

    I’ve seen the fresh young coconuts in the store but have never tried one. What are they like and how do you eat them?

    • Lisa says

      They are great…most stores will crack them open for you if you ask. you drink the water stright from the coconut..YUM so delich and refreshing….you will find the meat in the young coconut much creamier and delicate than the brown coconuts. It is great for smoothies or to whip into a coconut cream…..

  23. says

    My absolute FAVORITE treat is a recipe from your book. The Berry Good Cobbler. It’s delicious and absolutely just that. A treat. I usually just have tea and a handful of blueberries at night if I’m craving a snack. Great post, as usual. Thanks Sarah.

  24. Shannon says

    Before I went paleo, I did a low-carb diabetic diet and my dr. gave me a great piece of advice: If you shouldn’t eat it, don’t eat it in any form. He was talking about low-fat cookies, pastries, etc, but I think it applies to paleo, too. It’s been my mantra. I’ve known for a long time I don’t have the self control to keep that stuff in the house, and it helps to have treats be something we do outside the home. Sometimes my older son complains we don’t bake cookies like his friends do, but he admits science experiments are more fun. My mom tied food treats to rewards for all kinds of things, and it’s been a hard habit for me to break, but one I made an effort to avoid with my sons.

  25. Melissa says

    Love the post. I’ve been trying to get my husband on the Paleo wagon, so we’ve had some treats to try to keep him feeling less deprived. We had some Paleo “muffins” last week that were horribly delicious. Every cheat you can imagine. They were basically cookies in a muffin tin. I had to be very clear with him that although they were technically Paleo approved, they were definitely NOT a healthy or weight-loss friendly food…and wouldn’t be happening again for a good while. Meanwhile, I’m trying to break his 5+ fruits a day regimen. He’s having great success so far (he’s 2 weeks into 30 day strict paleo)…he’s reluctant to admit his success, though…probably for fear of relapse. Our treat cut down is coming along, though! :)

  26. Sharon C says

    Quick question- I’ve been paleo a couple of years now and just found your site. I haven’t really heard about avoiding nuts. Where can I read about why to avoid nuts? What about their proteins and healthy fats?

  27. lara says

    I love this posts and your books and fell the same way. My issue is just what to giv them at morning tea and afternoon tea as even though my kids eat MOSTLY meat, fruit and vegis they still need something at this time of and are not keen on eating any more meat or eggs.. They would eat fruit until the cows come home but I am worried about the fructose in too much fruit and it really does not fill them up.

  28. lara says

    love this posts and your books and feel the same way. My issue is just what to give them at morning tea and afternoon tea as even though my kids eat MOSTLY meat, fruit and vegis they still need something at this time of day and are not keen on eating any more meat or eggs.. They would eat fruit until the cows come home but I am worried about the fructose in too much fruit and it really does not fill them up. When it is not meal time what do you give to your children if they are hungry. When their friends come over for afternoon tea etc what do you give them?

    Thank you so much for your wonderful advice

Leave a Reply

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

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>