Google+ Authentic Parenting: Raising a Paleo Child

Friday, November 18, 2011

Raising a Paleo Child

Originally posted at Give an Earthly

Image: Egan Snow on Flickr
My family has been on the paleo diet for almost two years now. The paleo diet (also primal or caveman diet) is not so much a diet as a way of life. It is basically a modernized version of the hunter-gatherer diet, renouncing grains, legumes and all processed foods. Some versions of the diet exclude dairy, but as my family has no digestive issues with dairy, we do eat a small amounts of cheese, butter and the occasional yoghurt.
The main goal is to eat food as close to nature as possible in order to retain nutrients and maintain a healthy body, though, unlike the raw foods movement, cooking is involved. It also involves a healthy amount of the right kind of activity, like our caveman ancestors would have had.
The diet is based on the idea that our bodies have not adapted to our fairly recent sedentary eating style, that of agriculture, with grains and legumes as staple foods, which only exists for about 10 000 years (depending on where you live) - which is, given man’s long evolution, a fairly short amount of time.
Proof of our failure to adapt to this regime is the high amount of gluten intolerance found today (30% of all people in the Western World are said to be gluten intolerant), lactose intolerance and the many many ‘prosperity ilnesses’.

As we’re also unschoolers, enforcing a diet upon all the people in our household is not an option. Neither do we see the paleo diet as a religion, we get to wander out of it a little if it so pleases us, and when we’re invited to people’s houses, we won’t frown upon a piece of cake. Whenever we’re on holiday, we indulge ourselves with the occasional pastry, or chocolate (we are Belgians after all), but by now, we have learned that swarming outside of the paleo diet does us more wrong than the short pleasure of munching down on non-paleo foods.
Before we lived in Congo, the rule was: no non-paleo foods at home and outside, everyone could get what they desire, we did get the odd cookie or candy for our daughter when she asked for it.
Right now, all meals are paleo, except the occasional pizza or pasta dish (about once a month) and we still have some cookies and candies available for our daughter when she wants them. Wherever possible though, I try to bake paleo cookies.

We feel it’s important for her to make her own choices concerning food, and have the occasional talk about which foods do what to our bodies. Even though cookies, some chocolate and candies are available, she rarely eats them anymore, and is happy to watch a movie while munching down on a stick of cauliflower.
As we’ve always been very relaxed about who eats what, we’ve never had any issues regarding food. My daughter is a healthy eater and in great shape. As she grows older, she might want to eat paleo only, or she might not... That will be up to her.



  1. I wish we had that option. I've just begun to discover that my son is gluten intolerant, and I just hate denying him food that he likes. But when the alternative is diarrhea, rash, screaming, and poor sleep, I have to be the bad guy and say no. It helps to keep none of the bad stuff around where he can see it, and while he is awake I don't eat any gluten either.

  2. I completely understand, SHeila. We think our daughter has a food intolerance too, but it is so hard to keep these things out, especially since other people will give them to her. Still figuring out this issue

  3. Awesome, I seem to find new paleo/primal unschoolers all the time. Been checking out your blog lately and loving it. Has lots of good reminders.

  4. I realize this is an 'old' post, but have you discovered how to deal with gluten intolerance when at parties, gatherings, etc? As an adult, I am able to say 'no' because I know what gluten does to me, but for my children, they are still learning and it is difficult to see them hurting after exposure and also difficult to NOT say, "No gluten EVER again!" out of frustration (which is not what I want them to hear, either!!).

    1. that is a very tricky one indeed (and I have to admit that I have used that sentence before too :)). I try to explain to my child over and over again why it's not a good idea to have (sugary drinks and gluten), but leave her free to choose whenever were out. Sometimes she chooses to have them anyway, and afterwards, yes, we deal with the consequences, and I remind her that it doesn't sit well with her body.
      It's a slow process, but lately I've noticed that she won't even ask, or will say that she wants to have it but won't because it's not good for her.


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