Thursday, June 02, 2011

Paleo Parenting Is Not Always Paleo Purist

Paleo seems to have hit the tipping point, it's exploding all over the internet. I love all of the Paleo blogs, #Paleo twitter feeds, and informative articles online these days. Great recipes abound and there is plenty of support and information out there. If I get bored or need some food inspiration, it's easy to find a new recipe or the some great articles on nutrition from an evolutionary standpoint.

But, most of the Paleo folks are twenty-to-thirty-something year olds who only have themselves to worry about. Going Paleo is simple, right? You get some meat and some veggies, cook it up or make a Big Ass Salad. Some fruit for dessert and you're good to go. But what if your husband doesn't want to eat that way, and what if your kids eat something completely different? Changing the way your family eats isn't always as simple as just wishing it were so. Even if you feel like they should eat differently, they actually might have a mind of their own. And I'm here to tell you that making three separate dinners is a real PITA when you're a busy mom.

My kiddos are now 11 and 14. They're no longer malleable toddlers who eat what mom says they should. And they're often out and about without me these days, clearly what they eat is no longer 100% in my control. So trying to entice them to eat more paleo has been about finding ways to cook something similar to what they normally might be eating, but in a new way. Fortunately, my kids are pretty game to try my culinary experiments (steamed cauliflower as a pasta substitute went over surprisingly well). And fortunately, they grew up eating a lot of veggies and fruits. It doesn't hurt that they're allergic to cow's milk, which means they've never really eaten most processed food.

Unfortunately, I was a vegetarian when they were little, which meant that they pretty much got indoctrinated with the Veggie philosophies and it took me awhile to first explain and then help them understand why I all of  a sudden felt that eating animals was A-OK (it helps that we buy local humanely-raised meat).

Sometimes, a Paleo meal that satisfies everybody ends up being a Mostly Paleo meal. For instance, we decided yesterday that in honor of the crappy wintertime rainy and sleety cold weather we've been having, we would just pretend it was actually June (instead of the February that got shipped here on accident) and have a summertime meal. Asa wanted Sloppy Joes, corn on the cob, and watermelon. Yum!

Since both the kids are eating gluten-free right now (hey, it's a step in the right direction), we decided to forgo the buns and just have the Sloppy Joe hamburger stuff in a bowl (we couldn't decide if that was the Sloppy or the Joe). Mixing up some local grass-fed hamburger with organic tomato paste (no sugar added) onion, garlic,  paprika, Bragg's amino acids, cumin, and chili powder with a bit of honey for that sweet Sloppy Joe-like flavor came out pretty darned good if I do say so myself. We thumped a bunch of watermelons at the store 'til we found one we liked (I know that's not a local fruit this time of year, but we splurged).

That left corn on the cob. Gasp! It's not Paleo. I could've said no, we're not eating that. Or I could've gotten some for the kids and not eaten any myself. But they would've been disappointed, this I know. It would've ruined the fun little fake-summertime atmosphere we had going. So what did I do? Ate the darned corn on the cob of course! With lots of yummy organic butter, and some cool pink sea salt and multi-colored ground peppercorns. And it was delish. Sometimes the things you do for your heart and your head and your mood and your family are more important than what you do for your stomach. Of course, if I was eating the standard American diet of All Corn All The Time my health would suffer. But on an early June night with some giggling kids and the rain crashing down outside our windows? Well it was just about perfect.


ann said...

I have been wondering about this. My kids are 3 and 4 and I can "make" them eat paleo-ish. I'm trying, but not fighting it too much. It does start to feel "short order cookish"

The Toth McCarry Family said...

You do control what goes in the pantry and on the table, and making small concessions like fresh, organic non-GMO corn is exactly what kids need to feel so they're not being "confined" by Paleo rules.

Hopefully if it's there in the house, they'll start to realize they feel better Shawn they're eating Paleo (at home) and start to make better nutritional choices for themselves. It works for my little ones and it worked for Sarah Fragoso's teenager too.

Afterall, all teens don't want acne!


Robin said...

Well, like I said my kids make pretty darned good food choices. They've grown up with an organic garden and raising their own chickens, drinking raw goat's milk. But giving up all grains and legumes is a big step, especially for kids who have friends and social circles that eat "normal" food. I don't make that decision for them, they do. Having grown up with eating disorders, I have pretty strong feelings about coercion and eating, so I won't be forcing them to eat paleo. However, they can do make great food choices all the time. My kids are the ones in the supermarket begging for the broccoli to go with our grass-fed local 1/4 beef in our freezer.