It would be really nice if we all lived in a perfect world, but we don’t… well, I don’t. I have four kids, ages ranging from 14 to 8 (two of which I inherited through marriage which in and of itself presents a whole different challenge). They are used to eating in a more traditional way. I wouldn’t say that I have it all figured out when it comes to getting my family to eat paleo, but I definitely have some experience at trying!
There are two different “battles” to be fought. One is with the kids; the other with the significant other (SO). In my experience, the SO tends to be the tough one… too many years of prior experience in the eating department.
When it comes to kids, they can be difficult to get to eat anything healthy. I started by just removing the grain at dinner and replacing with a fruit (cantaloupe or berries seemed to work the best). Common meals for us are grilled meat with a dry rub, broccoli or green beans, and fruit. From there, I switched out their cereal for homemade oatmeal (sweetened with coconut palm sugar- which has a low GI effect- and cinnamon), and then we gradually changed that to eating eggs and bacon in the morning. [As a side note, it was amazing to see the difference in both their energy level and ability to focus when starting out the day with something that didn't affect their blood sugar]. Do they eat 100% paleo? Only in my dreams. They still have pizza, chips, string cheese, etc… and the inevitable candy and sweets when they’re out with friends and other family, but I figure anything I can do on my end is better than nothing at all. And most importantly, when they get older, they’ll have some training on all the different ways they can choose to eat.
Now, with my SO it was a totally different story… still is. He still insists that eating junk food is easier on his system and doesn’t cause him any problems. Because there was a lot of “resistance” to what I wanted to eat, I chose to go a different route. I just stated that this was what I was going to eat, and he could eat what he wanted. At this point, he still eats what he wants at least 50% of the time, but he now thoroughly enjoys my paleo dinners that are grain free… the same meals that seemed boring to him before.
It’s a process. It can take a long time. And I think that’s okay. I think that if I had tried to force my kids to switch cold turkey, they would have just found ways to gorge themselves on skittles and Doritos anytime I wasn’t around. This way, I’m teaching them about different kinds of foods, and teaching them about choices for when they become adults and have to make these choices on their own. As far as the SO, it’s the same thing. If I had forced it on him, he wouldn’t appreciate the paleo meals he chooses to eat and would likely harbor resentment that I made him give up things he didn’t want to. This way, he gets to decide whether or not to give them up.
I would love to hear how other primal eaters have dealt with a family full of traditional foodies!