As a parent, my mind is constantly wondering how I can influence the health of my child. The foundations of lifelong health and habits begin in childhood. We have a responsibility to our children to distill healthy habits into our children. Because of the changes many adults experience when they switch to the Paleo diet, a common question is whether or not the Paleo lifestyle is safe for kids?
Children have specific nutritional needs. The formation of their body and mind is directly related to their nutrition. Therefore, we as parents must actively introduce our children to nutrient-dense food sources. Although it may seem that a strict Paleo diet may be the best choice for a growing body and mind, there are several essential considerations that must be taken into account.
Of course, before altering your child’s diet, you should always discuss these changes with your pediatrician.
The Paleo Diet for Kids – Is It Safe?
The most common question I’m asked from parents is whether or not the Paleo diet is appropriate for their kids. Because of the recent influx of studies highlighting the health benefits of the Paleo lifestyle, many parents are interested in delivering these benefits to their kids. However, the majority of studies are performed on adults. There is very little data supporting the use of the Paleo diet on children.
Recently, a recipe book titled Bubba Yum Yum: The Paleo Way For New Mums, Babies and Toddlers was released to much chagrin from the medical community. Touted as the “go-to” source for kid-safe Paleo recipes, upon further investigation, several recipes were noted as being dangerous. Most notably, the DIY baby formula.
Kid-Friendly Paleo Diet - Wholesome Nutrition for the Whole Family
To understand how to prepare Paleo foods for your child, you must understand the basic principles of the Paleo lifestyle. The fundamental concept of the Paleo diet is fairly straightforward. Essentially, the goal is to eat foods similar to the types of food our Paleolithic ancestors consumed.
To cultivate a kid-healthy Paleo lifestyle, keep the following elements in mind:
- Cut refined sugar from your diet. All sugars are derived from fresh fruit.
- Eliminate processed foods. By avoiding processed foods, you’re eliminating various additives, chemicals and preservatives known to cause harm to the human body.
- Avoid grains and legumes. These common foods are found in a wide array of culinary products. Although they’re touted as holding beneficial qualities for human health, the majority of grains and legumes are void of nutritional value.
- Lean proteins for the win. Meats, eggs and seafood make regular appearances in most Paleo recipes. These protein sources fuel your child’s growing mind and body for optimum health.
- Fruits and vegetable consumption. Nutrient-dense foods are essential for growing children and thriving adults. The Paleo diet calls upon the high nutritional profile of these organic food sources to support our entire body.
Paleo Babies – Is It Too Soon?
I’ve met many parents who wish to feed their infant formula that aligns with the Paleo lifestyle. During the first year of a child’s life, the bulk of nutrition should come from breast milk, if possible. Breastfeeding is imperative to deliver essential nutrients to support their rapidly developing brain, immune system and body.
So, what does a mother do if she’s unable to breastfeed or wishes to stop breastfeeding at a certain date? Generally, baby formula doesn’t meet the guidelines for the Paleo diet. While it’s tempting to create a homemade, Paleo-friendly, baby formula, this practice is filled with potential and real dangers. Avoid potentially harmful consequences, and speak with your pediatrician to discover the healthiest alternatives and options for your baby.
Health Starts at Home – Paleo Lifestyle for All Ages
As we’ve discussed, due to the varied nutritional needs of children, a traditional Paleo diet may not be appropriate. However, that doesn’t mean the fundamental principles can’t be followed. Avoiding processed foods and consuming a diet rich in organic, wholesome foods is beneficial for children of all ages.
What are your opinions about the Paleo diet for children? Let us know in the comments, and don’t forget to share this intriguing article with your friends and family!