My Paleo Toddler loves Paleo cookies. She asks for them at every meal or whenever she is hungry. I find this hilarious, as we don’t often have treats in the house, yet these have quickly become a favorite. I acknowledge she really likes them, then I move on to what she’s being offered. A few tantrums have been thrown in the process.
Toddler’s are notoriously picky eaters. Some days they will eat everything, and others they won’t eat anything. By offering healthful options, they are sure to get the important nutrients and energy they need over the course of a day or week.
I know many parents struggle with their children’s food preferences. Either the kids are only interested in eating junk food or they don’t eat enough of something a parent thinks is important. In some cases, every meal is a battle or power struggle.
Parents are ultimately responsible for offering healthy, well balanced food choices for their kids. Kids are then able to eat what and how much of what is offered. For families who are looking to transition their kids to a Paleo lifestyle, the same rules apply.
Some families find it is best to go cold turkey. That means getting rid of all the packaged, processed, sugary, and white flour products from the house. Depending on the age of your child, you may want to have a conversation about why these foods are not healthy and you will not be eating/ buying them anymore. When your child asks for one of those foods, you can mention you don’t have them in the house and offer something else. Many kids will revolt temporarily, but they will not starve themselves.
There are a few tricks that can make things go more smoothly.
1) For those who choose to not go cold turkey, change the ratio of grains to other foods. For example, make up a thick meat and vegetable tomato sauce and add pasta as a condiment rather than the base.
2) Expand their palette by finding things that look like their favorite foods: sausage patties for cookies or grape tomatoes for grapes. Shapes, colors and textures are important to toddlers and eating is a multi-sensory experience.
3) Have a theme for the night like Mexican, play festive music, have the kids make decorations, add some new toppings for their “lettuce” tacos
4) Encourage your kids to be involved: plant a garden, take them to the market to pick out foods to try, experiment with recipes together. Most importantly, get them in the kitchen and a part of the meal prep.
5) Make meals relaxing: put the same food on their plate as you are eating and focus on enjoying the meal. Let them explore the foods at their own pace and don’t worry about them going hungry.