Tag Archives: Parenting

Paleo Parenting | The Paleo Diet

If you read enough books on the topic of Paleo parenting, information starts to contradict itself. Many Paleo parents, myself included, find the abundance of opinions and theories overwhelming, leading to more confusion than assistance. Quantitative studies suggest present-day child rearing methods are opposed to our genetic wiring, and could be responsible for affecting a child’s development.1

For these reasons, instead of relying on the latest Paleo parenting bestseller, I chose to tap into my own primal intuition as the main driver to figure out the best way to parent my child. At times, I even imagined how would I handle this situation if I lived in a cave. For example, I wouldn’t need to let my child “cry it out” at night because I wouldn’t want to attract predators to the cave. I discovered that I innately have all the tools necessary to help her survive, I am in fact the best expert on my own child, as most likely you are on your own child too.

CREATE A STRONG BOND

The intensity of the mother-child relationship seen among the !Kung and other hunter-gatherer societies support the role of attachment in parenting.2 Attachment can be easily fostered during infancy, with long periods of skin-to-skin contact, which also encourages the mother’s body to respond with an increased production of breast milk. It also extends to keeping the child feeling safe, which translates into responding to his requests for food, dry diapers, and physical comfort creates security and strengthens the bond between child and caregiver.3

FIND YOUR TRIBE

It truly does take a village to raise children. Fewer people choose to stay in their hometowns, compared to generations past.  Therefore, the innate structure of the family network isn’t available to help with nurturing young families. Seek out a strong community of support, through parenting groups and community organizations. Even modern Listservs operate as a means to connect parents in order to share resources and offer reinforcement that you aren’t alone in your parenting journey. This means can be especially reassuring if you are looking to connect with families choosing to follow the Paleo diet.

SLOW DOWN THE PACE

The next time you dine out at a family-friendly restaurant, take a look around and you’ll notice very few children (or parents for that matter) aren’t using technology instead of being present at the table. Not only is it important to create time to connect face to face with one another,4 but also it’s ok to be bored.5 Boredom inspires creativity,6 and provides for much needed sensory deprivation in our modern, technology driven society.7

Even if you children are past infancy, it’s never to late to become a Paleo minded parent. There are numerous ways to return to a simpler, more focused relationship with your child, such as going for a walk together, working collaboratively to make a Paleo dinner, or sitting outside in front of a fire watching the stars. Each stage of development offers a new set of challenges, however you have all the tools you need to be an effective Paleo parent.

REFERENCES

[1] Konner, Melvin. “Hunter-gatherer infancy and childhood.” Hunter-gatherer childhoods: Evolutionary, developmental and cultural perspectives (2005).

[2] Bowlby, John. A secure base: Clinical applications of attachment theory. Vol. 393. Taylor & Francis, 2005.

[3] Hewlett, BARRY S., and SHANE J. MacFarlan. “Fathers’ roles in hunter-gatherer and other small-scale cultures.” The role of the father in child development (2010): 413-434.

[4] Mestdag, Inge, and Jessie Vandeweyer. “Where has family time gone? In search of joint family activities and the role of the family meal in 1966 and 1999.” Journal of Family History 30.3 (2005): 304-323.

[5] Conrad, Peter. “It’s boring: notes on the meanings of boredom in everyday life.”Qualitative Sociology 20.4 (1997): 465-475.

[6] Schubert, Daniel S. “Creativity and coping with boredom.” Psychiatric Annals(1978).

[7] Suedfeld, Peter. “The Benefits of Boredom: Sensory Deprivation Reconsidered: The effects of a monotonous environment are not always negative; sometimes sensory deprivation has high utility.” American Scientist (1975): 60-69.

Junk Food | The Paleo Diet

When it comes to raising school aged children, many health conscious parents are dismayed with the choices their older children make when it comes to snacks and eating out. Kids are bombarded on a daily basis with advertisements glamorizing fast food, junk food, cereals, and dairy products, to name just a few. We want our children to live active and healthy lives, participating in sports and social events on a regular basis.

Along with these life experiences comes healthy and not-so-healthy food adventures. When our boys were growing up they were very active with team sports. Every weekend we enjoyed cheering them on in soccer, football, baseball, hockey, lacrosse, cross country, swimming, and track. I will never forget our oldest son’s first soccer game when he was just 6 years old. Parents of the players were each assigned a game during the season to bring snacks for the boys after the game. After running up and down the soccer field and working up a healthy appetite, the kids were presented with a large box of sugary doughnuts for their post-game “treat.”

We were a bit taken aback that anyone would think that this was a good idea, but more astounded with the message to young children that this is an appropriate food to eat any time, let alone after exercising. When it was our turn to bring the post-game snacks, we brought fresh strawberries and grapes for the kids to enjoy. These healthy snacks were met with just as much enthusiasm and were devoured by the hungry athletes.

Before our children are able to drive themselves around, we had quite a bit of control over the foods we provide, both inside and outside of our home. The key to raising children to live healthy and active lives is not so much in controlling their food choices as it is in educating them about the importance of making their own positive lifestyle decisions. Throughout their growing up years, our sons were learning about the Paleo Diet and the importance of good nutrition. Children learn by example, so we educated them as to why were eating certain foods and why non-Paleo foods are detrimental to their health, consistently gave them the information they would need as teens and young adults when making personal choices.

It is important in all aspects of life to allow our kids to make choices and experience the consequences, good or bad. This is especially true with nutritional decisions. Now that two of our kids are living on their own, and our youngest is in high school, we are thrilled to see that they enjoy an active and healthy lifestyle that includes eating mostly Paleo foods.

So, what can you do? Give your children the information and include Paleo meals on your menu. Teach your children to cook and prepare meals so that they will be able to care for their nutritional needs when they are no longer living under your roof. Bring your children to the grocery store and show them how to pick out organic produce and meats. Walk down the cereal aisle and let them read the ingredients, discussing the health implications for eating sugar, grains, and dairy. Model healthy attitudes, refraining from presenting food as a reward or punishment. Most importantly, allow them to make their own choices. There will be times when you will cringe at the foods they choose, but remember that you have established a strong foundation. Once your child experiences the after effects of downing a greasy hamburger, french fries, and soda, the probability of them returning to healthful habits is high.

Stay the course! Your mature, adult children will one day appreciate your efforts and pass them on to future generations.

All the Best,

Lorrie Cordain, M.Ed., Co-Author of The Paleo Diet Cookbook

Paleo Parenting | The Paleo Diet

Being a new parent is really hard. There is very little time for yourself, and most likely, that time is spent washing bottles and baby clothes, or taking a beloved five minute shower. When my son was born it seemed like I would never again find the time to cook and eat my once healthy Paleo meals. It was frustrating in the beginning finding time to eat, let alone prepare a meal. As a parent of a newborn, the idea of three leisurely meals a day became a joke, and the idea of going through a drive-through window, or sitting down with the baby and a bag of chips became all the more tempting. Yet, I knew that eating well would give me the energy to conquer the long, sleepless nights, and sometimes longer days. In fact, the one thing I’ve learned in this journey is that taking the small amount of time you do have, to prepare healthy meals, is completely worth your time, and has long lasting beneficial effects.

When it came to preparing food, I kept it very simple. I chose a few meals I knew would be satisfying, and I would continuously repeat those meals. Satisfaction aside, I needed meals I could eat with one hand, often over my newborn’s little head. Yes, I hear you, repeating the same foods sounds boring, and it often was lackluster. But, most of the time, I was just happy to have something in my stomach!

Limited time and a hectic schedule are no excuse to eat whatever you want. And, to be honest, the few times I did get overtired and reach for the donuts or muffins, I woke up the next morning feeling miserable and barely able to get through the day. I knew a slippery slope was quick to happen if I continued down this path. So, I used a food delivery service, allowing me to easily order my groceries from my phone. No excuses, healthy options, and the promise I would feel my best putting good in my body.

Paleo Parenting | The Paleo Diet

Weston Howell post Paleo lunch. Source: Olivia Howell

As a mother, my son’s nutrition took on added importance. When it came time to start my son on solid foods, I discovered something wonderful: I had serendipitously chosen a Paleo pediatrician! She bucked the trend of starting a baby on oatmeal or rice, and we chose sweet potato instead.

People think it’s crazy that I’m not giving him “traditional baby foods,” but I actually find it so much easier! His food could not be more simple to prep. If I’m eating a sweet potato, I’ll mash him some, with coconut milk and cinnamon. I’ll make a thick fruit smoothie of blueberries, bananas, and coconut milk, and freeze portions in non-bleached cupcake cups. When I make a pot of chicken soup with carrots, onions, parsnips, and fresh chicken, I simply blend some for him and freeze it for dinner.

Families often buy special foods for their kids, babies, toddlers, and even teenagers. My son eats what we eat, just a little more mashed up. If I’m on-the-go, I toss an avocado or banana in my bag to mash up for later. We all know food is best shared and having a Paleo baby means we can enjoy it together! Sometimes I’ll just whip up a giant batch of coconut milk-sweet potatoes, and we will eat out of the same bowl.

I’m not going to lie, finding time to prepare food isn’t easy. However, if I’m going to find time for anything in life, it is to make sure that I’m leading a lifestyle which will enable me to feel my best, and be the best parent I can be.

Children learn by example. When you commit and steer clear of the “traditional” baby (and adult) foods your kiddos will follow suit. I’m not wavering when it comes to my health, and especially the health of my child.

Always,

Olivia

Olivia Howell is a new mom living with her son, Weston, and husband on Long Island. When she’s not blogging about parenthood, she is teaching middle school Latin and Ancient History. She is also a quilter, Paleo cook, and loves rearranging her living room on Saturday nights.

@OliviaofLovely
lovelyatyourside.blogspot.com

Paleo Babies | The Paleo Diet

If you’re a young couple raising your first kiddos Paleo, you may be asking what can I introduce and when? Trust us, you’re not alone. Many parents find it difficult to keep their kids eating healthy Paleo foods from infancy to the time they move out! So, let’s address these questions starting at the beginning.

If you are just setting out on the parenting journey, you are fortunate to be able to introduce foods your baby will love right from the start. At about 4 to 6 months solid foods are introduced and the most common of these in a household following a Standard American Diet (SAD) is cereal. A better approach is to start your Paleo babies off with fresh, organic fruits and veggies that you have pureed in a food processor or blender.

Introduce one at a time allowing your baby to become accustomed to them. When our children were at this stage of development, we found it best to steam extra veggies for dinner and then puree the leftovers and refrigerate for our children’s meals. It was a very simple process with little labor involved and the health benefits were well worth the effort!

Once your child is able to eat meats, you can do the same. Just be sure that you puree to a consistency that eliminates a choking hazard. If time is an issue and you prefer to buy baby food at your grocery store, there are many healthy, organic products to choose from. Be sure to carefully read the labels and avoid any non-Paleo additives.

Typically, mothers who are breastfeeding their infants continue to do so well beyond the introduction of solid foods. Whenever the baby is fully weaned, there is no need to feed your child milk or milk-based products. Remember, we are not meant to ingest the milk of other animals and the same Paleo principals that apply to adults, apply to children. Water is always appropriate to serve with meals. If you want to give your baby something a little more interesting and with more nutrients, try purchasing a fruit and veggie juicer. Our little ones drank lots of carrot juice as well as other freshly juiced fruits and veggies on a regular basis. We recommend that you buy organic produce to ensure that your child gets the cleanest nutrients possible.

From the minute your child is born, you embark on a nutritional journey that builds the foundation for a lifetime of health and wellness. With childhood obesity having become an epidemic, it is encouraging to see an upward trend in awareness and action on the part of new parents. As we make conscientious and healthy decisions for our children on a daily basis, we are helping to reverse the obesity epidemic for future generations. Next we will address the challenges of raising teenagers and young adults in a not-so-Paleo world.

All the Best,

Lorrie Cordain, M.Ed., Co-Author of The Paleo Diet Cookbook

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