Feeding My Little Omnivores


“I have a confession…my oldest child hates eating paleo so much that I am starting to dislike mealtime.”

That’s what I posted on my Facebook page last week and the responses really blew me away. So many parents are in the same boat and it can be the most difficult thing to cope with since we are feeding them three times a day!

When I first started this Paleo journey in May 2011, I did it for entirely selfish reasons. I was sick. I was tired. I needed to change my life or my life would have swallowed me up. It wasn’t supposed to be more than 30 days but the results were so spectacular that I kept going. I pulled my husband in after a couple of months and the kids a couple months after that.

I transitioned the kids slowly and breakfast was the last switch but I’ve found that breakfast is, by far, the most difficult meal. Why? The kids are so freaking sick of eggs. Eggs, eggs, eggs…some variation of eggs, it seems, at every single breakfast! There are days that I seriously feel like picking up a couple of boxes of cereal so that I don’t have to cook a hot meal at 6:30 every morning. There are days that I think about the cereal dispensers that I so coveted while the kids were eating cereal and my mind is drawn to just how easy breakfast could be.

I convinced my oldest into Paleo by promising him bacon and steak for breakfast sometimes. Bacon and steak is old news now…even for me. Boy #2 must absolutely have his bacon crisp or he won’t eat it. The line between crisp bacon and burnt bacon isn’t a big one and, unfortunately, I have served burnt bacon before.

Lunches are getting increasingly more difficult now that boy #1 is in middle school. Their lunch break is 15 minutes and there are 4 microwaves for a school of over 700 kids which means that he isn’t eating his lunch most days! To make this work, we have bought gluten-free bread and he has started taking sandwiches. Factor in lunch time activities taking away eating time for the elementary school duo and we’ve been sending 3 kids with gluten-free sandwiches. It’s an accommodation that I don’t feel very happy about but the kids were coming home with nearly uneaten lunches every single day. I would rather my kids have a sandwich versus not eating for an 8 hour period every day.

Then there’s supper…. 7 people with 7 personalities and 7 different tastes. Every supper is becoming a battle of who hates what! I gave in a little and started cooking some rice and white potatoes once a week to give the kids a break from the usual sweet potatoes/squash/root vegetables. As excited as they were about the idea of having these foods again, the reaction to them wasn’t all fireworks and confetti. It was food. They ate it. It wasn’t amazing.

The most startling reaction to the rice/potatoes was littlest boy who is nearly 3 and had only been eating solid food for a couple of months before we switched to Paleo. He absolutely refuses to eat rice or potatoes! Put a plate of sweet potatoes or broccoli in front of him and he is thrilled but no way, no how, gag it back up if we happen to slip some into his mouth when it comes to rice or white potatoes!

Littlest boy is not necessarily adventurous when it comes to food but he loves all of the things the older boys don’t. Kale chips are a great example. Only 2 of my kids will eat it…boy #3 will eat some but little boy will take down an entire batch as a pre-supper snack!

I often get asked “What do you do when the kids go to birthday parties or a friend’s house?”. What do I do? Nothing. Do I hope that my kids make good choices when they’re away from me? Absolutely. Do I think that they do make good choices? Nope. I’m under no illusion that they eat chips, candy, spaghetti, birthday cake, ice cream, soda pop,… when they leave the house and they have absolutely no reason to hide it from me. I’m okay with that because controlling their food would absolutely swallow me whole and it would make us all miserable.

We are working on restoring harmony right now. My husband and I are both following the Squeaky Clean Paleo plan from Practical Paleo and I am making substitutions where it matters for the kids (ie. Apple Bumpkin Breakfast Bake or Autumn Spice No-oatmeal vs leftover salmon for breakfast). I’ve given up some of the control when it comes to the kids and it’s given me control over my own life again.

Oh..stay tuned for a blog post about how I’ve given myself control over my own life again!

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15 Responses to Feeding My Little Omnivores

  1. Tracy says:

    Thank you for this. My boys are 12, 7.5 and 3.5 and it’s hard. I started this Paleo thing around April 2011 just by myself but around fall 2011 we started doing it as a family. Breakfast is really hard. My kids aren’t 100% Paleo or even 80% I would guess. I send them sandwiches in their lunch, normal bread (gasp! but I do try to get better quality brands and usually get sourdough) with home made almond butter and organic or local jelly plus fruit and raw veggies, though sometimes they have baked chips etc. I am not the food police. I will give them what I can and sometimes give them other things. I know they have a very short lunch time, none of them have access to a microwave at all. The food has to be easy to eat and fast or they won’t eat it. I’m still struggling with breakfast for them and sometimes lunch but I can say we have not bought a box of cereal in probably 2 years, so that’s a start.

    • Tara says:

      That’s so awesome that you haven’t had cereal in 2 years! I love when my Dad comes to visit because he always brags me up to the kids. “Wow, your mom does such a great job of making sure you have a nice, hot meal before school every day!” “Look at how delicious this all looks!” Sometimes the kids surprise me and devour something that I don’t expect them to like. I have to take those days and revel in them because the next time I make it, they will probably all hate it. Haha!

  2. Julie says:

    Our go-to meal for the kids is hashbrowns. It’s even more of a production than eggs, but there’s a variety idea for you. I also like to make roasted vegetables, like carrots or cauliflower, and just reheat them in the mornings as a side dish.

    P.S. I know white potatoes might not be the greatest choice for everyone, but we have two teen-age boys, and sometimes I think they just need the CALORIES. At least it’s not toast and cereal.

    • Tara says:

      That’s a great idea! Thank you for the tip! I have one very active pre-teen so giving him loads carbs doesn’t bother me but I want him to not turn his nose up because there are sweet potatoes vs white potatoes sometimes. There seems to be a lot of wasted food when all of their pickiness comes into play!

  3. Maria says:

    I hear you loud and clear, Sister!! I have a 9 year old who is “sick of eating eggs all the time” for breakfast. Well, we have chickens and lots of eggs, so I bribe her with bacon on the side. My 3 year old is picky, but he loves meat, so that helps. Veggies are another matter. Hubby, well, he seems to sneak dairy and wheat every chance he gets. Ugh! It’s not easy meeting everyones picky palates!

    • Tara says:

      It really isn’t easy. And in all of that is the fact that, as moms, their tastes come first! I have found myself eating their pancakes or “special” breakfasts because by the time I’m done cooking for them, I’m just too tired to cook something for me!

  4. Muriel Wohrle says:

    I am so in this same place but dinner is the hardest at our house. I too compromised for school lunches and a couple of times a week pack a sandwich on gluten free bread. For breakfast I usually do eggs once or twice but have found some awesome muffin recipes-” Clean Eats in the Zoo”has some great ones! I also use her recipe for fluffy coconut flour pancakes. I pair the muffins or pancakes with some fruit and they usually do great with it. That way I can mix it up a little and the kids don’t get too sick of one thing. I also do this because I work part time and I find it hard to ask my babysitter to cook my kids 3 meals from scratch. So I usually bake the night before and it’s ready to go.

  5. Dana says:

    I am sooooo glad you posted this!! We are having the same issues here! Breakfast is a constant struggle and lunch, well, forget it! If my boys are at school they are eating whatever they are serving. I’ve learned to let go some just so my boys aren’t stressed about food and so they don’t feel deprived. While my husband eats eggs every morning, I can’t even stand the smell of them lately. I’m hoping you find solutions to your problems, and mine! Best of luck!

  6. Kelli says:

    The breakfast answer for us has been sausages much easier than bacon and coconut milk (full fat in the can ) smoothies. So frozen fruit , take your pick , often berries, 2 raw eggs, ( they don’t even know they are there think orange Julius ) , can of coconut milk, coconut yogurt( trying to minimize dairy) kale or spinach. And cinnamon if using berries, not if using mangos. I get the coconut milk by the case from the coop when on sale and the coconut yogurt as well. I have 4 kids, the 6 year old gets steel cut oats, I feel he does need some carbs, every kid is different, my next one gets sometimes quail eggs because they are cute, or a smoothie, or oatmeal or a hardboiled egg, and a sausage, my older 2 get th smoothie. Then there is enough left for the older 2 to have the leftover from the fridge for an after school snack. Lots of healthy protein and fat yet it is the sweet they want I the morning. But they also all love sausage in the morning.

  7. Kelli says:

    For lunches we do beef jerky or sliced turkey or yogurt or protein drink, seaweed, sliced peppers, cherry tomatoes, coconut slices, pear slices, apple slices, dried blueberries. But basically they get to choose a protein, a fruit, and a veggie. Then according to the kid making sure it is enough calories. My little 2 often come back with a full lunch box so then sit down to eat it before homework. Usually it is a time and attention issue not a dislike issue. But that it why I try to make sure they get a full healthy fat filled and protein breakfast. My kids are not completely Paleo by any means, but I just do not purchase much dairy or bread or pasta. It is quite challenging. I am always looking for good ideas !

  8. Kelly says:

    Your post warms my heart. I don’t have a single suggestion for you because my situation is even more grim and it keeps me awake at night. It’s just nice to see that everyone who writes a paleo blog isn’t a paleo purist or takes issue with the every day struggles of kids who unfortunately weren’t started on a paleo template of nutrition as young children…if only I knew then what I know now. I deal with so much guilt and frustration daily. I, too, found paleo because I was so incredibly sick and physically broken 2 years ago with multiple autoimmune diseases. My 19 y/o daughter came on board not long after due a diagnosis of type 1 diabetes at the age of 18. (it’s made a huge difference in her blood sugar numbers and how much insulin she needs- win!). My 24 y/o daughter sees the benefits so she’s probably 80-90% paleo (and yes, is living at home so that she can pay down some of her college debt- she’s smart on so many levels). The males on the other hand: I have a husband with severe allergies and GI issues who can’t give up his pasta, bread and sugary treats even though he LOVES everything paleo! A 21 y/o son with asthma and 17 y/o with severe acne, possible gluten intolerance and behavioral issues/depression who refuse to eat whole foods and give up the grains, fast food, sugar and soda. I refuse to buy any of it but my husband will and does. We’ve become a house divided and do separate shopping and cooking to some extent and with everyone’s busy schedules rarely eat together as a family. Occasionally we will on Sundays however and I do my best to make it as healthy yet yummy as I can to show them how easy it really is. I’ve never pushed *my* food on any of them but I have refused to buy gluten and sugar laden junk food. I’ve tried to get gluten free bread but none of the men like it. It’s so hard to watch your own flesh and blood refuse to at least try to eat a healthy diet when they have clear signs of inflammation. They are all old enough (unfortunately) that I can’t force them now or will only alienate them. All I can do is lead by example and make the good stuff readily available to them. Keep doing what you do… love the blog and status updates!

  9. Louise says:

    Thank you so much for sharing this! It’s exactly how I feel after 1.5 years of feeding my kids paleo. I haven’t reached the gluten free bread stage yet, but I’m nearly there! I make sourdough sometimes, and I’m reluctant to give them much of it, but it’s oh-so-tempting. They ask for it all the time. And potatoes. And, of course, pizza, chicken nuggets, and hot dogs. Yes, I try to make paleo versions of some of those things. But boy, are they ever tired of the same old things all the time! They LOVED when we first started eating eggs & bacon for breakfast, salami and fruit for lunches, and sloppy joe’s for dinner. But no matter how many hours I spend scouring the internet for lovely new paleo recipes, they’re just tired of it. And I am too, some days. Plus, I resent the time it takes to totally overhaul our menu every couple of months!

  10. Nicole says:

    So interesting… the same day you posted this, my friend Penny posted about the same problem on her blog http://www.healthcoachpenny.com! She’s the one who introduced our family to the paleo diet and I think you’ll find her attitude refreshing. She’s taught us to try for 80/20 rather than stressing about being perfect 100% of the time (impossible with kids!). We try to teach our kids moderation and give them the knowledge to (hopefully) make good choices when they’ve left the nest. You’re being way too hard on yourself. Give yourself a huge pat on the back for the amazing love and care you’re giving your children! :)

    • Catherine says:

      Very well said, Nicole!

      I only have 3 of us to cook for, we’re likely only 80/20, and yet everyone we know is amazed -and curious – since we started this journey.

      It’s fun, challenging, and liberating! I can choose to have non-paleo food now, and know that I won’t be nauseous, inflamed or enraged! I don’t eat those things often, the SAD foods, but when I do, i know they won’t knock me off the edge of happy to guilty. I don’t feel guilty. I just accept, maybe do a quick self-assessment about how those foods make me feel, and move on. There’s always a lovey piece of chicken, or 1/2 an avocado with my names it the fridge!

      Be good to yourselves and like the previous poster, Nicole said, “Give yourself a huge pat on the back for the amazing love and care you’re giving your children! “

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