Ever had this conversation with your toddlers?
“What do you want for dinner tonight?” says me.
“Meat,” say oompa and loompa.
OK. Sounds good to me.
I take out the fresh grass fed sirloin, marinate it in grass fed ghee and Himalayan pink salt, grill it on low until it’s tender and juicy. I set the table with toddler friendly plates and have on the side garlic seasoned, mashed garden grown potatoes.
Food ready, I call the kids to the table.
Oompa the older sees the food and says, “I want pasta.”
Loompa the younger echoes, “Pasta!”
“No,” I say, “meat. You asked for meat.”
Oompa says, “No. I want pasta and sprinkle cheese.”
Loompa chants, “Pasta! Pasta!”
And with each chant of pasta the inner paleo in me withers. I think that’s why part of my mind is in an alternate reality.
Personally, I struggle with feeding my kids what I consider healthy food and keeping my sanity. The two struggles are often intertwined. I mean, kids test our sanity, right? That’s their job in life.
In the past three years I’ve become hyper-aware of what is in the food I am eating. Through excessive research I’ve found that a diet abundant in healthy fats (grass fed butter, pasture raised animals, oils high in saturated fat) and protein from pasture raised animals, but low in carbohydrates and devoid of refined sugars is the best diet for me. Excessive carbohydrates, even so-called healthy grains, are a non-starter. Instead, when I do eat carbohydrates I gravitate towards sweet potatoes and rice.
The results? I haven’t been in this great of shape since I was twenty-two and training for Air Force ROTC boot camp.
I follow the paleo diet in a loose fashion in that I eat dairy and grains from time to time. The big changes to my diet have been the virtual elimination of refined sugars and a daily carbohydrate intake under 75 grams a day.
What is the paleo diet? Robb Wolf explains it best.
The Paleo diet is the healthiest way you can eat because it is the ONLY nutritional approach that works with your genetics to help you stay lean, strong and energetic! Research in biology, biochemistry, ophthalmology, dermatology and many other disciplines indicate it is our modern diet, full of refined foods, trans fats and sugar, that is at the root of degenerative diseases such as obesity, cancer, diabetes, heart disease, Parkinson’s, Alzheimer’s, depression and infertility. – Robb Wolf
I follow more of a paleo template. Every person is different. Therefore what works for me won’t necessarily work for you (or oompa and loompa).
If you are interested in reading more about the paleo diet outside of Robb Wolf check out nutritionist, Chris Kresser’s site, fitness author, Marc Sisson, and the Weston A. Price Foundation.
What does my paleo approach have to do with oompa and loompa, you might ask?
Well, I’d like my children to eat the best diet possible. I’m open to any diet for my children as long as it’s devoid of refined sugar and processed food. Even grains, but a grain centered diet takes effort and preparation. You should neutralize the anti-nutrients in grains by soaking and sprouting them. Then they can be used for cooking.
Do you think I am at a point in my life where I can hand make pasta from sprouted grains?
But my children love boxed pasta. I can’t soak boxed pasta. By then the grains are beyond help. It’s like trying to reanimate a desiccated corpse.
One could argue that, as a paleo parent, I shouldn’t have pasta around, but here’s the rub. Pasta is easy. Certain foods that give me a small internal cringe are easy. I’m looking at you, cheerios.
When you have three kids easy and fast are essential. That’s why I try to win small battles now.
So, instead of simple whole grain pasta we have Einkorn pasta.
If you aren’t familiar with einkorn wheat you should read this article on the Tropical Traditions site. The short of it is that the dwarf wheat we eat today is about as far removed from the native wheat of the wild as we are from chimpanzees. The dwarf wheat has been found to produce a higher insulin response, and it has a higher amount of gluten protein .
So, instead of plain butter, we eat grass fed Kerrygold butter.
Instead of vegetable oil we use rendered pork fat from local, pasture raised pigs.
Instead of flour we use nut flours.
Compared to the standard American diet I feel that my children eat quite well, but I would like to do more, feel even better about what they are eating. I read many paleo parenting websites, Paleo Parents, The Paleo Mama, Nom, Nom Paleo, to name a few, and honestly I don’t know how they have time to prepare all of the wonderful meals they detail on their blogs and in their cookbooks–yes, cookbooks! (Eat Like a Dinosaur being a favorite).
They have idyllic breakfasts, wonderful lunches in cute containers, and dinners that have more in common with a Norman Rockwell painting than with reality.
In my world half the time my wife and I are lucky to get something on the table that isn’t take out or take ‘n bake pizza.
We’ve gotten better, but there just isn’t time to be as good with the food as I’d like us to be. The food I feed my kids is important, and is a work in progress, but I’ve come to the realization that there are other parts of life on which I should focus.
Is it better to spend the time I have after work playing with my kids or spending an inordinate amount of time on a meal I found on a paleo website? The answer is obvious, but coming to grips with the answer was difficult for me.
Care to share your experiences feeding your children?