Real Kid Moments

Note From Sarah: Here’s the latest from Dana, our Director of Operations, and Paleo Mom Warrior!  Warrior, you say?  Yep! Read this article. I love Dana’s commitment to health and joy for her family, even when it’s not easy! Be inspired!

Here at Everyday Paleo, one of my duties and greatest joys is reading emails.  A frequent concern is how to get the kids on board and keep the kids on board.  I’m going to only speak from my own experience since May 1, 2011.  It is not always easy. It does not evoke smiles at every meal and squeals of delight over every new concoction I put on the table.  But ya know what it DOES do? It gives me great peace all the way to my core, knowing I’m providing the most healthful foundation possible for my family. It’s a huge sense of “I’m doing something right!”

So here are some funny, real moments: I will just list a few of them, otherwise this would turn out to be a novel of epic proportions. My son, Garrett is 11 years old and Aidan is 9 years old.

* Garrett yelling at me in front of the crowded baseball field concession stand last year, “I Want a Burger and I WANT THE BUN! You won’t let me have it with the bun!!”  (Everyone hears, stares, laughs… I keep walking to the car. )  He was fed delicious leftover meatballs when we got home.

*Both boys in unison, “It’s NOT Pizza if there’s no crust!”  So then I spend the next two weeks, making 4 different paleo pizza crusts (I kid you not… 4 recipes)  Guess what? They’re still not completely satisfied because, well… it’s never going to be Pizza Hut.

* Aidan having a fit in a restaurant because I said no to him having pop, after he just had a week at summer camp with pop every day.  “Oh Great! Now we have to go back to Paleo again!”  (I walked to our table and let him sit alone, tired, pouty in the restaurant foyer for a few minutes. He got hungry and thirsty and decided to join us.)

These are the same boys that I overhear on school field trips or when their friends are over, proudly explaining our Paleo life and/or showing off their signed copy of Paleo Pals Jimmy and The Carrot Rocket Ship.  These are the same boys that enjoy our trips to the local farm, visiting with the chickens, picking out the eggs and produce for the week.

But these frustrating moments are real. My friendship with Sarah has helped immensely over this past year. She reminds me to ignore them, don’t react or engage, and keep spinning each new experience in a positive, loving light.  I have definitely had times where that felt impossible, but it DOES work!  Remember screaming 2 year old tantrums? Did you engage or did you ignore the fit and it stopped ?

In countless emails, we are asked, “What do I do when my kids and I battle? They won’t eat any of that stuff in your book! I’m so tempted to just give up!”  I FEEL YOU. For the record, my kids only eat 1 – 2 things out of Everyday Paleo‘s School Lunch Ideas.  They are not fans of eggs, salmon or even sweet potatoes.  They are still Paleo!  They just see many of the same foods over and over… And I finally realized there is nothing wrong with that!

I don’t know about you, but when I battle with my kids, I inevitably cool down and ask myself “What really happened here? What matters?”  All of this got me reflecting on my overall parenting values. As a partnership, what do my husband and I most want to pass on to our boys?

When they don’t want to visit with a certain boring aunt, uncle, grandma or grandpa… ? Guess what? We still spend that time with family, hear their stories, and nurture those relationships.

When they don’t want to bathe, brush teeth, go to bed, do chores, save their money… ? We still lovingly enforce these things because we believe strongly in good hygiene, a solid work ethic, and financial responsibility.

Sometimes they want to participate in church and sometimes they don’t.  We all still go. My family believes in faith and establishing a solid spiritual foundation.

How about when they don’t want you to turn off the TV and electronics? We limit both because we feel it’s best for their brains and bodies.

Solid convictions are solid convictions.  Giving up Paleo living is not an option. Are these battles enough to send me into a downward spiral of re-introducing grains, processed foods, sugars, poor sleep habits and an overly hectic schedule again. No Way! I am passionately holding on to my convictions, which are based in scientific data about how our human bodies work. I will not allow these battles to diminish the health of my loved ones. I have experienced first-hand, for over a year now, how much better my kids behave and thrive: Significantly less sick days, fewer fits and fights, increased physical activity, better performance at school and sports, improved moods and more Joy! What parent doesn’t want to improve the odds for their kids, that they will experience less disease and cancer risk, and instead, they will experience more physical health and fewer limitations in their lifetimes? Our perspective as a family has shifted completely to being more positive and adventurous overall and I am unwilling to give that up!

The BEST “Mommy Revenge” tonight?  Watching them devour a delicious Paleo meal of beef and broccoli and even ask for seconds! Hooray!

For more help with kiddos, check out Everyday Paleo and the Sarah’s latest book soon to be released the Everyday Paleo Family Cookbook!!




  1. Terri says

    Thank you for sharing this email. My family is on the first week of eating Paleo. Three of the five of us love it. The younger two children are having an adjustment. Last night we made two recipes from the Everyday Paleo Book. Two of them protested. After me not reacting to their protest , and them realizing there would be no other options, they eventually ate some of it. I keep telling myself baby steps.

  2. says

    My daughter always tries to order her burgers “with the bun” when we’re out. Sometimes I let her, sometimes I don’t. At the end of the day I find she usually doesn’t eat it anyway. She just wants her say… and then sometimes we’ll be at home and she’ll say, “remember when we used to have buns mommy….” so nostalgic about it at her 5 years of age. It cracks me up:)

  3. Jennifer says

    Yes, thank you. My kids do OK. Would they prefer a giant plate of spaghetti vs. spaghetti squash? Absolutely! (In fact, my daughter–age 8–makes herself gag when presented with spaghetti squash or sweet potatoes.)

    Last night it was my husband who turned on me. He is insisting that I purchase bread, because it is easier for him to slap some almond butter on it and call it breakfast, and easier for him to make traditional sandwiches instead of just putting meat in the kids’ PlanetBoxes.

    Ay yi yi! What’s a wife and mother to do?

  4. Cristi says

    Thanks for sharing!! I am fortunate and most of the time my 5 yr old twins eat what I make but we are about to start kindergarten and I am so worried about food arguments and sticking to what is right!

    • Dana says

      YOU CAN DO IT, Believe me! If I can, anybody can! And it’s so rewarding when the whining goes away and they notice their own bodies, how they feel, and start making good choices on their own… The battles will diminish, but only after you start and press through :) Press on with hope and joy, not fear and dread!

  5. eema gray says

    Great to see this! I just recommended this blog to a mother whose toddler son is struggling with hypoglycemia AND I just had a conversation with my own 4 year old about why it’s important for him to not eat cheese and bread.

  6. says

    Wonderful post! As a typical American kid growing up I would not have been able to ever entirely resist the lure of junk food. Adherence for children most of the time is better than a perfect I could not expect of myself at that age.

  7. Jennifer says

    Thanks for this encouragement….I just began my paleo lifestyle a few weeks ago and am getting ready to get serious with the kids (3 and 6). One naturally eats paleo-like the other eats all grains, processed food, dairy and sugar, sugar, sugar!

  8. Whitney says

    Another “Thank you!” from me! This article is just the extra boost I need to keep on keepin’ on with Paleo for my whole family. I’ve been on this journey myself for 2 years but just recently laid the ax down on the rest of the household. All the junk is out with the exception of natural peanut butter and a loaf of bread – both belong to DH and he’s having a hard time letting those go.

    I’m so glad to hear that my kids aren’t the only ones whining and complaining and limiting themselves to just a few select foods. A dear older friend once told me that if they can take their dinner plate from the table to the kitchen they’ve gotten enough to eat – ha! So I’m trying not to worry too much about them not eating a wide variety right now. And I’m trying also to learn how not to be bothered by the complaints and whining. It gets easier though as I see the benefits of this lifestyle staring to show in them. Our toughest challenge is when we’re out and they are faced with all the “junk” that’s out there. That’s when you really have to steel yourself against the tidal wave of “but WWWHHHYYY’s!”

    So I just keep on cooking, talking, showing, being the example……hopefully it will sink in one day for them. :) In the meantime, I may invest in earplugs – ha!

    • Dana says

      Good for you, Whitney! I should have mentioned that these “moments” are SO MUCH LESS than they used to be! And my boys are making their own connections when they do eat junk… “Ewwwww, now I have a tummy ache or headache.” I just encourage you to help them be self-aware and help them make those connections… calmly and conversationally. It’s amazing some of the cool things they notice over time and how empowered they feel to be able to eat anything in the house, any time they want! Press On and thanks for the kind words!

      • Whitney says

        You’re so right! Just today at the grocery store my 6 yo dd was ewwwing and yukking at all the candy (I’m silently screaming “SCORE!” inside my head). “That’s just gross!” she kept saying. I know deep down she would probably love to eat some but I think she is becoming more aware of how the things she puts in her body affect her and what the definition of healthy choices really means. Now if only my 8 yo and 3 yo boys would get the same sorta thinking going on………

  9. Miki says

    That brought a tear to my eye. I always get choked up when I hear about parents trying to do their best for their children. All of these small decisions have such a monumental impact. Thanks for sharing.

  10. JamieW says

    Love this post!!! My kids are in their first week of Paleo and doing overall pretty well.

    We haven’t ventured out to a restaurant yet but I’d love “kid friendly” ordering suggestions?

    • Sarah says

      Bunless burgers with sweet potato fries, BBQ chicken, fajitas, if your kids like Thai food, lots of great curry or stir fry options, or chicken satay (my kids LOVE meat on a stick!!), steak and veggies, chicken breast sliced up and a baked potato or sweet potato, salad bar, etc. Hope that helps!!

  11. says

    Great post. I am about to lead a group of moms/grandmas through a crash course about healthy eating and then launching them into a 30-Day Paleo Challenge. I will point out what you said:

    “When they don’t want to bathe, brush teeth, go to bed, do chores, save their money… ? We still lovingly enforce these things because we believe strongly in good hygiene, a solid work ethic, and financial responsibility.”

    Well said.

  12. Tam says

    Thanks for the motivation to keep going! We are 2 months in to the paleo lifestyle and there has been some speed bumps. My 6 year old recently publicly accused me of not giving her enough to eat in her school lunch. Well honey, there is heaps of food in there, it is just what you want in there! The funniest thing is the kids literally begging for weetbix, as if it were a delicacy!

  13. Clayre T says

    Your so right. We have made a few “concessions” because the 9 year old child in our household is only with us part time. When he comes for his week he says OH NO, Not the Paleo stuff again! We smile and walk on. He is welcome to his feelings but they are not welcome at our table. He has learned (after leaving the table until he can change his attitude a few times) to eat what is for dinner. If it is something completely new 9 bites (his age) are required to be considered “EATING HIS DINNER”. He surprised me last night by asking for seconds on Pizzachinni. As I have learned, little success is the best!!!

  14. says

    I have the same experiences. I’m the cook in the house and slowly introduced Paleo into our meals. Eventually the kids started to notice how they felt better and slept better and the complaints fell off. We do Paleo 80% of the time, if not more. Hang in there, it’ll take. Great analogies, by the way, with kids not wanting to go to church sometimes, but the family goes anyway; not wanting to turn off the tv, but they must..etc. As the parent, we have to make the tough decisions on behalf of the family because the kids aren’t mature enough to see the value in those decisions yet. Great post!

  15. says

    Thanks so much! I needed this today! We’ve all been struggling lately as we try to adjust our lives and our way of thinking. Last night my 10-year-old cried when I told him that this was the way he needed to eat for the rest of his life (he has encopresis and we think dairy might be the source of all his troubles, but we’re still waiting on tests). Somehow I feel like they are mourning their “old” way of life and I’m fighting hard to make the transition as seamless and easy to swallow as possible. It’s nice to know I’m not standing on the battlefield alone here. 😉

  16. Beth says

    No only are we Paleo, but we homeschool too! (We are “wacky” across the board!) :-)
    The other day, we were studying a book called, “Archeologists Dig for Clues.” When we came across the Paleo-Indian Era, my 6 year old son pointed to the drawing and asked, “Were they gluten-free too?” Opened up a great conversation! I love those moments!

  17. MichelleB says

    What perfect timing for this post. Coming to a close on week 4 of Paleo living. We started because my son has been diagnosed with Juvenile Arthritis and I refuse to poison him with nasty meds as the first course of action. Yesterday was really rough and emotional. So many points you touched on sounded like a moment from our lives exactly. This journey has been a roller coaster ride fraught with emotions. In the end I know it will be worth it and I relax in the feelings of satisfaction at the end of a meal (eaten or not) knowing I provided only real, healthy food to nourish my family. Thank you for sharing a bit of your journey, it was a welcome comfort.

  18. Paula mcCadden says

    My 23 yr old hockey player son has insisted on eating Paleo all summer. Although I have not been a die hard of eating it myself I could not really help it since I agreed to cook his meals. I am surprised at how much better I feel eating this way. He has had 2 hip surgeries this summer and I honestly think this diet has helped with the added stress of that. One morning I quickly ate half a bagel in a hurry and within an hour had a stomach ache. Gluten sensitive ? probably. I wish I had known more about this diet some years ago when all my children were young!!

  19. Maryanne says

    Any tips for younger toddlers/preschoolers who don’t really understand the calm explanations? My son just turned 3, and is extremely picky. At that age, they don’t really understand the “it’s better for you” reasoning. They only know that they’re hungry, and you’re not feeding them something they like. I’m not averse to having him skip a meal if he’s being stubborn, but it literally happens ALL THE TIME. I feel like he skips more meals than he eats – not good, obviously. Any thoughts?

    • Beth says

      Try leaving out some food that won’t go bad like carrot sticks, nuts, or a paleo muffin. Your son will eat when he’s finally hungry.
      We weren’t Paleo when I was little, but I was the same kind of extremely picky, stubborn eater. The pediatrician’s advice to my mother was to leave the food out and allow me to eat when I got hungry. He said children won’t actually starve themselves. (I made it to adulthood.) Maybe it will work for you too.
      Good luck!

  20. Shannon says

    MaryAnne, my kids are super picky and mostly paleo. I decided I’d rather they eat the same thing over and over than give into the processed foods. So, my 7-year-old has had a Trader j
    Joe’s turkey burger served on a bun he demands but then never eats, at least once a day for the last three weeks. My 3-year-old has had a scrambled egg with organic cheese for breakfast nearly every day for the last TWO YEARS. When they like something, I make a big batch and freeze it in single servings. I stress “eating the veggie rainbow” and avoiding junk, but was driving myself crazy trying to get them to eat exactly what I eat. I think it helps, too, for them to watch you. They don’t think anything of eating brats with no bun or meatballs with no pasta. We’ve been at this about 2 years, and it’s much better now than. a year ago.

  21. Shannon says

    Oh, someone asked about restaurants. We live in the Midwest, and breakfast places are great–eggs, bacon, sausage, fruit, veggie omlettes, easy! It takes some trial and error, but checking menus online before you go can really help.

  22. Michelle C says

    Love the post! I have been following paleo for 3 months. I am slowly trying to get my husband and 2 kids to follow (5 years old and 2 years old). My kids love sandwiches; which paleo bread is the best for taste and texture? What are some good lunch ideas for my son who will have to bring vegetarian lunch to school since it’s held in a synagogue. Any ideas to slowly change their eating will be helpful. Thanks!

  23. Aimee says

    I must say, I feel incredibly lucky that I have such a wonderful partner who introduced me to the Paleo way of life. We eat Paleo regularly with the occasional addition of goat cheese in our Greek salad, or rice with a sushi treat night. We eat OUR version of Paleo and we’re doing great! We don’t have kids (yet) but we both agree that we when we do start our family we’ll do so Paleo style. Hearing family stories is incredibly encouraging and shows that this way of life IS possible for everyone! Thanks to EVERYONE for sharing!

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