Tag Archives: children

Paleo Series Part II: Paleo for the Whole Family

This is the second installment of a four-part series on the popular Paleo way of eating and lifestyle from a mama’s perspective. You can find Part I here. Although Kate is not a medical professional or nutritionist, she’ll share her thoughts and experiences of implementing Paleo in her household. 

Paleo: a simple, whole foods way of eating that focuses on meats, vegetables, fruits, and fats. It is also a lifestyle that places importance upon restful sleep, functional movement exercise, and interacting with and enjoying the outdoors.

Kale/Spinach Smoothie: A regular in our household

WARNING: Reading the following might result in improved health, more energy, and a desire to swing from a tree branch. Oh, and your kids will benefit as well! 

This morning my husband, my mother-in-law, daughter, and I shared a simple breakfast of scrambled eggs, sautéed fresh squash from the farmer’s market, and cups of coffee for the adults (no cream/sugar.) Vivi wasn’t crazy about the squash, but tasted it several times, examined the texture, and eventually decided to enjoy her eggs without. She still seemed hungry, so I quickly blended up some raw kale, frozen fruit, coconut milk, and water. She gulped down three small cups.

This meal, while simple enough, met the complex and diverse needs of all of us. The low-glycemic index of the squash and eggs satisfied my diabetic mother-in-law. My husband, who seems to be always trying to slim down and get a six-pack (I support ya, sweetie!), appreciated the low-carb aspect of the meal, but felt satiated by the coconut oil used to cook the squash. And my daughter? Well at 16 months, a meal like this is normal, tasty, and unbeknownst to her, nutritious. When we eat Paleo as a family, every meal is a home run: nutritious, tasty, and satisfying.

Paleo is a total change of lifestyle and can be tough enough for adults. So often, there might be one person in a family eating Paleo, while the rest stick to what’s familiar. I want to assure you that it doesn’t have to be this way! But inevitably, there are usually two questions floating around when you mix Paleo and kiddos:

  • What does Paleo eating look like for babies, toddlers, and older children?

Paleo eating for kids is pretty simple: if you’re eating Paleo, they can eat all the same things as you. No more cooking two meals and loading the shopping cart up with “kid-friendly” options!

Babies and toddlers will naturally gravitate toward a more veggies/fruit/fat based version and less meat. My daughter will often refuse meat for a week at a time, while devouring everything else. Paleo and baby-led weaning naturally go hand in hand: think soft pieces of fruit and vegetables, egg yolks, homemade broths, and slow-cooked meats that are easy to chew for the baby who is at least 6 months old. Don’t forget the breastmilk…your cavewoman ancestors would be proud!

Independent toddlers will relish the opportunity to eat what their parents do, rather than something else that looks and tastes totally different. Having options to choose from will allow these headstrong babes to feel in control.

Older children might be a bit more difficult to get on board if they haven’t eaten this way previously. The best thing you can do is to only keep nutritious options in your home, make Paleo meals, and don’t worry about the rest. Kids are so resilient and adaptable: give them the chance to make healthy choices, and I think you will be surprised.

  • And is Paleo eating even healthy for kids? 

Immediate answer: YES! Do you know anyone who has ever become obese/sick/diseased while eating plenty of vegetables, fruits, and high-quality meats, eggs, fats, and fish? Children thrive on this type of diet, and you may have seen something similar prescribed for kids with Autism Spectrum Disorder, the GAPS diet.  The Paleo way of eating provides such a varied, nutrient-rich diet that allows a parent to relax about food choices. No need to worry if your little one is getting enough of one nutrient or another because, most likely, they are getting them all and in ample quantities.

However, there are two big issues that concern many parents: no grains and no dairy. Aren’t kids supposed to have both for the fiber and nutrients (grains) and the calcium and vitamin D (dairy)?

The short answer is this: kids will get all of the above nutrients from a Paleo diet. Vegetables and fruit provide ample fiber (yay poop!), leafy greens and nuts take care of calcium, and vitamin D can be sourced naturally from a short play session outside (step away from the Wii, my friends.) Instead of cow’s milk, my daughter drinks plenty of water, kale/spinach shakes, and an occasional cup of straight coconut milk. I’m pretty positive (at least 99% sure) that she is not only meeting the government’s snazzy RDA (recommended daily amount) of nutrients, but blowing those old-school recommendations out of the water. But if you want scientific charts, medical studies, etc., and not the word of some random mama on the internet, you can’t do wrong with reading a little Robb Wolf.

Kids on a Paleo diet are healthy, happy, don’t experience sugar-induced mood swings, and will typically sleep pretty soundly. If the warm and fuzzy image of your kids growing lean and strong on whole, nutrient-dense foods and plenty of play outside has you clamoring for more info, take a gander at these oh-so-helpful resources:

Books

  • Family-friendly recipes, “games” (OK, exercises) for the whole family, and great information: Everyday Paleo by Sarah Fragoso
  • Looking for the science behind all this? (I’m with ya, sister…or brother.) Then look no further than biochemist, research nerd Robb Wolf’s book The Paleo Solution

Blogroll

Who doesn’t love a good blog? (Ahem, TOBB.) Feast your eyes on these great internet writers:

And please, by all means, shoot your questions my way, and I’ll do my best to either answer them or point you in the right direction. Now go whip up a spinach smoothie, and get with it!

When Kate is not sharing a coconut-kale smoothie with her little one or planning/throwing together a Paleo meal, she enjoys writing about women’s issues, endlessly (virtually) redesigning her place a la Pinterest, and chatting with friends over coffee. 

The U.S. and Children: Blessing or Burden?

Whether or not you are a parent, have you ever thought or said (or heard someone else say) any of the following?

  • “Children should be seen, not heard.”
  • “Why can’t they control their kids?” OR “I’m so glad my kids aren’t like that!”
  • “I wish my kids would just behave.”

Sometimes these phrases slip so easily off the tongue that it’s scary. Or maybe it’s not you. Perhaps you hear these things when out in public or from a well-meaning family member, friend, or co-worker. Either way, it sometimes seems that U.S. cultural norms, which often dictate the collective view of childhood, say that children are a big pain in the rear. And so I wanted to tackle some of these ideas, namely the phrases above, in the hopes of dismantling the viewpoint of children as a burden rather than a blessing.

“Children should be seen, not heard”

This particular phrase is old-fashioned at best, irrelevant and damaging at worst. We, as a country, have moved well beyond the Victorian age which spawned this phrase. So why do some people still toss this time-bomb around? Perhaps it’s a desire for the “old days when kids behaved and respected adults” or simply an idea that children are bothersome or annoying. Either way, the underlining message of this is disturbing. Childhood is a rambunctious, playful time of curiosity. A silent child is a child that is probably not exploring, learning, or growing. I hate to think of the ways someone might “train” a child to meet this ideal.

“Why can’t they control their kids?” OR “I’m so glad my kids aren’t like that!”

Our culture is obsessed with control. We work long hours to control our bank accounts. We obsess over food and exercise to control our weight and body image. We are in control of every aspect of our children’s plans, whether it be play dates, sports to excel at, or classes to master. And many of the things we “control” are a subconscious attempt to control the opinions of others so that they think more highly of our families and ourselves. So when we place a judgment call on another child or family, we’re essentially pointing out their lack of control. The reality is that everyone parents differently, and we all have bad days. But I like to think of kids as inherently good (and who make occasional mistakes), rather than labeling kids today as: “______” (fill in the blank: lazy, silly,manipulative, stupid, disobedient, willful, etc.). And let’s hope we’re never on the OTHER SIDE of the equation where someone is judging us as our toddler has a meltdown in Aisle 9.

I wish my kids would just behave”

What does it mean to “behave?” Obviously every parent has a different idea of what constitutes “good” and “bad” behavior. But what if we move beyond viewing children as alternating between two polar opposites, defined by us or (gulp, even more frighteningly) society? Sometimes I think the desire for absolute control of everything has a negative (and often unintended) outcome on our children. When I decide my child is doing something bad, is it because she is truly doing something dangerous to herself or others OR is it because what she’s doing doesn’t fit in with my plans? Am I asking my child to do something that she is developmentally unable to do? Children are not little adults, and we must not treat them so. Having some flexibility while parenting and being realistic with expectations will make it less likely the above phrase will slip out of your mouth or someone’s else’s.

 

One more thing. Parenting is an intuitive thing, and we all have ideas of how we would like to raise our children. But our society’s viewpoint of children as a burden can affect even the best intentions. View children as the challenging but lovable blessing that they are, and I truly believe that intuitive, go with the flow parenting will follow.

 

 

Kate is the mom to 16 month old Vivi, her firecracker of a daughter who inspires her everyday to be a better parent. When they’re not practicing how to nicely pet the dogs or playing with “Baby,” Kate tries to catch a few minutes for a cup of coffee and some reading. After all, a relaxed (and caffeinated) mama is a happy mama.

Prowling for a Pediatrician

A good pediatrician is hard to find. Wait–let me to rephrase that: An open-minded, measured, respectful and empowering pediatrician is hard to find.

My son was born in the hospital at which I worked at that time, and I was incredibly fortunate to work in an environment that gave me direct insight into the community-based pediatrics scene. Over time I was able to winnow the catalog of available pediatricians to those I suspected could fill my apparently very tall order, and I was fortunate again when I was able to get into my first-choice pediatrician’s office.  Later I would realize just how lucky I truly was.

She was warm and gentle towards my baby. She was supportive of breastfeeding, and as I struggled discouragingly with a nipple shield, she offered bolstering words. She encouraged babywearing. She spoke to my husband and me in respectful and empathetic tones, always conveying a vibe of appreciation for our concerns.  She was patient with my many questions, provided answers based on recent research, and articulated these answers in a way that didn’t undermine me or my parenting preferences.

We didn’t always agree. When I came to her with a copy of Dr. Sears’ The Vaccine Book in hand and posed questions about vaccines, she didn’t overreact or patronize. She did respectfully articulate her perspective on specific vaccines and her objections to some of Dr. Sears’ assertions. She many not have whole-heartedly agreed with my approach, but she was receptive to exploring my expectations with me. Together we constructed a staggered and delayed immunization schedule.

Within the year my husband’s new employment moved us out of state to a small community, and I had limited leads on pediatrician candidates. My first choice pediatrician in the new town was no longer accepting new patients, and I was instead shuffled into the patient list of one of her partners. I  cannot overstate what a very poor fit this turned out to be.

Our new pediatrician admonished me for night nursing. She explicitly (and erroneously) instructed me to discontinue this practice because it promoted tooth decay. She asked if my son was sleeping through the night in his crib, and when I told her that he had never slept through the night, her eyebrows hiked in an overt expression of surprise. I didn’t bother sharing about our bedsharing experience.

When I tried to discuss my preference to delay the chicken pox vaccine, she immediately launched into a fear-mongering tale about a child who endured a lengthy hospitalization due to chicken pox. There was no discussion, only belittling and bullying. I could have articulated thoughtful, measured intelligent explanations for all of my parenting preferences, but it felt pointless. I left the office in tears.

My husband recently accepted a new position within his company, necessitating another move to a new, bigger, more diverse city. With relief, I am on the prowl for a pediatrician again. I was stoked to find an Attachment Parenting group in my new hometown, and I’ve inquired there about pediatrician suggestions. I am hopeful that we’ll find one who, at the very least, respects the way attached families roll, and at the absolute best, embraces and celebrates it as much as I do.

What has been your pediatrician experience? How did you find your pediatrician? How have you handled disagreement with your pediatrician?

Rhianna lives in St. Louis with her equally adorable husband and 16 month old son. This past holiday she sent their former pediatrician a holiday card and scribbled in a post script that their latest pediatrician seriously sucked in comparison. She nominates Dr. James McKenna to be the new McDreamy.

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Did you know The Other Baby Book: A Natural Approach to Baby’s First Year is now for sale? Are you interested in learning more about gentle, mom and baby-friendly practices that foster a joyful, connected relationship? Want to introduce a pregnant friend to natural parenting? Check out our website or head over to Amazon to grab your copy today!
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Wordless Wednesday: Reflection

Sometimes it just takes some time by the water to reflect and relax- whatever our age.

As the mom of two young kiddos, Jennifer is often searching for time to reflect-  and the ocean always provides it.  Yes, because of the calming effects of the water, but mostly because it is a limitless open space for said children.