Please tell me this is worth it


Montanamom

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Hi, all. I have five kids ages 3, 7, 9, 11, and 13. I'm a bit daunted with the work this whole30 demands for just my husband and me, so the thought of adding on five additional people makes me break out in a cold sweat. However, my 9-year-old has eczema and my 3-year-old, who we adopted from foster care, has issues with attention, impulsiveness, and obedience--way beyond the scope of a "normal" 3-year-old. I think she needs this most, but I'd like to hear some of your success stories so it's easier to commit through the initial hell. Also, any shortcuts for bigger families would be welcome! Thank you.

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Answers to your questions and concerns can be found in the forum, if you just peruse a little.  Take a look in the Success Stories, Whole 30 Meal Planning and and Whole30 for kids sub forums.  There have been many people in situations similar to yours and have posted some of their experiences in detail.  

 

Batch cooking on the weekend will save your sanity.  Roast up a bunch of veggies, sweet potatoes and other root vegetables at the beginning of the week.  Make large batches of chili, stews, marina/meat sauces, baked chicken, etc.

 

Good luck, it is worth it!

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I have three boys -- now 8, 10, and 13.  There are no words to explain how grateful I am that I learned the truth about those "healthy whole grains" and made the switch to Paleo over 2 years ago.  

 

I thought we ate pretty healthy.  I was wrong.  I thought we didn't eat much sugar.  Until I learned how all of those carbs turn into sugar.

 

Honestly, my kids have always been healthier than most other kids we know.  VERY few antibiotics.  VERY little acetaminophen or ibuprofen.  VERY little dairy.  We've always treated everything with rest, supplements, and whatever knowledge of nutrition I had at the time.

 

BUT -- we have dealt with some allergies, some asthma, and some moods/behavior that are... less than ideal at times.  ;)

 

Everything has been better since we switched to Paleo.  The most unexpected change was that my oldest's anxiety/nervous stomach issues just completely disappeared.  We did not see that one coming at all!  And what a blessing that has been.

 

I can tell you that for our family, this switch has been 100% worth it.  There is no turning back from it, once you see how foods that you thought were "healthy" were actually making your kids feel and act like crap.

 

It's worth the time, it's worth the effort, and I cannot think of anything that is more important for my kids to know in this life than how to take good care of themselves.  If we don't have our health -- physical, emotional, mental -- really, what do we have?

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Another thought:  Things are not very "gourmet" at my house.  Fancy recipes that require a bunch of ingredients?  Umm, no.  Not very often.

 

Keep it simple.  Meat, veggies, fat.  Occasional nuts, seeds, fruit (if you want).  Real fruit, not dried fruit.  <--That won't help anyone's mood or behavior.  Trust me.

 

At any given moment, we have leftover burgers in the fridge, because when we grill -- yes, even in the winter, we grill -- we cook up a bunch of stuff at once.  George Foreman is nice for this, too.

 

Once a week or so, we make a pot of our favorite chili.  That lasts for several days.  We also have a ground pork/veggie/marinara thing we cook up together with italian seasonings.  Not elaborate.  Easy.

 

We eat a lot of eggs.  And I mean A LOT.  Our family of five gets 12-16 dozen at a time from a local farm.  This lasts a few weeks.  Do my kids get sick of eggs?  Sure, sometimes they do.  Would they rather starve?  Nope.  ;)

 

I am not going to say that we don't ever eat for the pure enjoyment of it.  Even the entertainment factor, sometimes.  But man...  That is NOT our norm.  My kids all understand the importance of eating to fuel your life.  Our meals are simple and they do not serve to entertain.  Therefore, it really is not as time-consuming as everyone seems to make it in the beginning.  Once you have done it for awhile, it's just... what you do.

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Andria,

Can you help me by providing links to some of the success stories with kids. I find it hard to wade through all the hits I get when I do a search.

There is a ton of information on the forums and you will have to do some of the work yourself, sorry to say.  The best way to search the forum is to use Google and enter Whole30 and 'topic of interest.'  For example, I just typed Whole30 and family into the Google search bar and half way down the page there are several links that would apply to your questions/concerns. An example:

http://forum.whole9life.com/topic/11711-feeding-a-family-of-5-on-a-budgetneed-suggestions/

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Well Fed cookbook offers a great section on how much of everything to buy per person, how to prep a TON of food in an hour, and then easy quick meals to prep using that food and making different meals using different combinations of spices, veggies and meat. REALLY helpful. All the recipes in it are compliant but one, and outstanding to boot.

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Thanks, everyone.

Andria--I'll try the Google option. I think I'll have more success with that way of searching.

Brewer5--How long would you say it took to see a turnaround in your kids after adopting a Paleo diet? Did you start with a whole30, or just Paleo, which is slightly less strict?

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Hi MontanaMom, So glad to see your post, as I am a foster mom myself.   I'm doing my second W30 and my 20 months baby is on board with me.  This morning for breakfast he had a roasted beet some ground meat and an apple. And boy he loved it!  The only thing he "cheats" with is yogurt... as he need the probiotics I make it myself with organic milk so I feel good about it.  I do not feed him any sugars, grains or legumes, he is doing great! I have noticed he is happier, sleeps better and got rid or some respiratory problems and frequent colds...   

Ok in school they give him rice, pasta and sometimes cookies.. I cannot do anything about it... but at least at home he is eating the best and learning some good habits.  He doesn't love Brussel sprouts very much.... but he has learned to love kale and eggplant! you just have to try different options, I always have sweet potatoes and baked plantains ready when I know my meal is not kids friendly (Like artichokes)  

Anyways, best of luck and sometimes with kids you want to do it slowly... you'll see it works ;) 

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Brewer5--How long would you say it took to see a turnaround in your kids after adopting a Paleo diet? Did you start with a whole30, or just Paleo, which is slightly less strict?

 

I have not done a Whole 30 with my kids.  I've never really had a reason to.

 

When we started out, we read the book Eat Like a Dinosaur.  Everyone was on-board.  It was a family decision, not something I've "made" them do.  I said, "Let's try this for 30 days and see how everyone feels..."  

 

And we have never looked back.

 

I did make them more Paleo "treats" in the beginning.  Giving up breakfast cereals and bread was no big deal when they had pancakes and muffins to replace them.  Gradually, over time, we started making less and less of those things.  We hardly ever make baked goods now, so when we do -- it truly is a treat.

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I'm a little over halfway through and I saw improvement the first week in my daughter's constipation. We might be seeing my 8 year olds bedwetting stop, its too early to tell for sure. And my 4 year old tantrum thrower is slowly calming down. So yes its worth it.

But lets be honest, it's hard. Our food budget has exploded! And I've only got 3 (ages 4, 6, and 8). I feel like I'm in the kitchen all the time. I need a second fridge to be able to batch cook. I hope you have one.

Some things that have made it easier on the kids are to make what they ask for. But compliant. Want sushi, okay, but no rice. Peanut butter and jelly, how about banana slices with almond butter and fruit juice sweetened preserves. It eased the transition.

School has been a challenge! The first few days there were birthday parties everyday. I sent alternate treats in their backpacks (larabars, fruit leather). And my 3rd grader who is constantly given candy by his teacher is paid to bring it home and throw it away (I give him a quarter per piece.)

I say go for it. Its only 30 days. I'd like to have someone to bounce ideas off.

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I can't imagine what it will be like going through a Whole 30 with kids of those ages. They won't be able to explain what they're feeling, so it will be harder to understand for them. That said...

 

White potatoes are now allowed. Buy them by the bushel...seriously. They're much cheaper than sweet potatoes at least at my store (baking potatoes are $0.39 per pound, even the thin-skinned russet/Yukon gold ones are only $0.99 per pound vs. the sweet which are $2 or $3 per pound). Other cheap veggies at my store are carrots at $0.99 per pound and cabbage, which is just over a dollar for a whole head. A head of cabbage will feed a LOT of people!

 

Veggie ideas that will be lower prep for you and your kids:

 

~ cabbage-based stir fry: shredded cabbage, onion, garlic, frozen veggies or shredded whatever else was cheap that week fresh. Stir fry sauce recipes are all over the recipe forum. I did this tonight with 1/4 head cabbage, 1 onion, a random shallot I had lying around, 2 cloves garlic, and half a bag of frozen veggies.

 

~ roasted whole carrots: I peel my carrots, but some people don't even do that. Fill up a 9x13 dish with them. Season with salt/pepper, put pats/chunks of ghee all over them, cover with foil, and bake at 350 for 35-ish minutes.

 

~ brussel sprout slaw: only if you can find coconut aminos, http://nomnompaleo.com/post/66793339868/warm-brussels-sprouts-slaw-with-asian-citrus-dressing. It was skeptical husband approved.

 

~ Frozen veggies can be your saving grace when you are ready to shoot people for being hungry. I've found all kinds of options that are compliant in the freezer section, including a cauli/carrot/broccoli mix, stir fry mix, fajita mix, and most of the single-veggie bag types.

 

Ground beef, whole chickens/turkeys, and eggs will be your easiest cheap protein sources. Kalua pork (http://nomnompaleo.com/post/10031990774/slow-cooker-kalua-pig) will feed you for a while and you can make a lot of different things with it as your base. Think of meals as meat + veggies...not recipes.

 

Good luck!

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I have been doing it with my 3 kids and it has gone pretty well. It is not a huge shift for them. We really only had to cut out any treats they had during the week and bread and yogurt. I am surprised at how much they eat without bread. It is a lot of work and I find batch cooking doesn't really work as when you are cooking for 5 you need the whole batch to feed everyone. We have eaten a lot of roast veggies and it doesn't seem to matter how many I cook they all get eaten. The croc pot has been used a lot when I know I'll be pushed for time around dinner.

To be honest I have not really noticed any changes in them (today is day 24) but as I said it wasn't a huge shift in diet for them. I had hoped my nearly 6 year old might have calmed down a bit but she is still having her difficult moments.

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Thanks for the suggestions, MrsStick. I love the roasted carrot idea, and several of the others too. I agree with Whole30inQ, though, that batch cooking can be a joke. We barbecued about a bajillion chicken thighs yesterday and they're almost gone already.

Here's what I've decided to do: I'm going to dispense with grains, dairy, etc., but make some Palo muffins and pancakes and things to make it more bearable for everyone. I'm trying to work to bring my stress levels down, not compound them, and I think a strict Whole30 for five homeschooled kids would push me over the edge! (I can't even send them off to school for the "kill all things" week!) I plan to start this week and I'll post again in a couple weeks with an update. Meanwhile, keep the advice coming!

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Oh, one other thing to add - you can roast carrots ahead and freeze them in foil packets. When you need them, throw them straight from the freezer into the oven until they're warmed back up (apparently thawing will turn them into mush). I am trying this tonight for the first time with my crockpot ginger peach chicken.

 

Use your crockpot! It's your friend!

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Yeah, batch cooking is called dinner in this house. Homeschooling? Sounds like time for nutrition and cooking lessons for the older kids. You can do this and without paleo muffins. Believe it or not, my kids havent complained, school has been the only issue. Though there's been a few requests for pancakes.

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  • 3 weeks later...

Quick update...my kids are now almost three weeks into this eating plan...more Paleo than strict Whole30, but still a huge step for us. Four out of five are doing really well. The older four say it's really not that bad, and they are willing to try what I cook, but my three-year-old is having a hard time. I've been perusing all the posts on feeding toddlers, but when your toddler eats sporadically, at best, and gags at the sight of meat, it's a bit hard to get protein in her. So...I'll keep plugging along with her. Thanks for all the great suggestions which gave me the courage to start this.

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Toddlers do go through picky stages. I found that my kids would eat just about anything dipped in ranch dressing, and if there were two options for dipping, they would eat even more. Now you will want to make your own sauce, but it is not too hard. Or, buy a favorite sauce just for the toddler, just to get through this stage.

We always served our kids what we were eating, and now they eat everything.

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