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Best tips & tricks for starting W30 with kids?


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After having my first successful run with Whole30 in January, I have encouraged my family to try it with me starting the day after Mother's Day! DH is finally onboard and ready to commit. DS is willing to give it a go, but a little scared, especially the thought of having to commit to 30 days (he did a 7 day sugar/gluten cleanse when I started my W30 in Jan). My main reason for pursuing this with my family is to alleviate some symptoms I've noticed in my son's health (low energy, weight gain, moodiness, mild gluten allergy, dairy intolerance, not hungry in the a.m., adult-sized appetite). 


Aside from the usual advice about reading the Whole9 literature about Kids doing the program, I would love some general tips and tricks from those of you that have had success with Kids' Whole30 or are in the process right now. :D

Is there a mantra that helped you guide your kids through the program?

A kid-friendly recipe website you couldn't live without?

Did you modify the program at all for your kids?

How did you explain the program to your kids to motivate and educate them?

How did you manage slip ups?

Any other words of wisdom to help with a 9 year old?


Any advice you can offer is greatly appreciated!!

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I definitely recommend the Paleo Parents website - they have 3 Paleo boys so they've found a lot of stuff out that you can learn from. That said, I currently only have a 3 month old so I can't give you any personal advice.

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We're doing whole 30 for my husband and I wasn't about to have much non-compliant food around (he will eat it no matter how hard I hide it. he can't not eat the cookie, or only eat 1 cookie, he will eat all the cookies).


I thought about what I wanted my preteen to get out of whole 30 and went from there. I wanted to see how sugar affected my preteen. Also, the pediatrician wanted me to up her protein because she's under weight (she loves rice and noodles so taking them away would hopefully force her to eat more protein instead of feeding her carnation instant breakfast like she recommended.)


I also thought about what rules apply to her and what don't. I know some people won't agree with me, but I need to do what works for my kid (and I will change things if I need to). I'm not going hardcore on her, because she's 12 and I want her to have a healthy relationship with food.  I've already gotten crap from a couple of other parents about us doing this even when I explain a) this is not a diet and B) we're helping daddy because the doctor said he must lose weight. I do let her have dairy. However, it's hands off for hubby and I. Everything else she eats is complaint, though I let her go SWYPO occasionally. She wanted cookies so I told her she could bake them herself using ingredients in the house. She found a paelo recipe using coconut flour and date sugar and made them herself.  Also, while I only make her compliant lunches, I don't police what she eats at school. I'm not going to tell her she can't have the birthday cupcake, but we've talked about only having one cupcake and not three. Also, I point out how it affects her moods and she's starting to notice how sugar makes her feel. 


Before we started we talked about it and our goals. Like Daddy needs to lose weight and we want daddy to be healthy so we're doing this together and how we could all stand eat healthier anyhow. (somehow dessert after breakfast got to be okay in our house, and it's not, so we all have habits to work on). She's a good sport about it, though she's not shy about saying "I want a pasty" or "I want froyo". Once I might have gotten annoyed and told her to ask so-and-so's mom (who thinks I'm a bad mom for taking away the sugar and cereal) to take her to froyo. This ended in laughter.


We did have a major slip up and just started over, but it was because Daddy slipped up and he wanted to start over and we talked about it as a family first.


Mostly we're eating the same food as usual, only I'm using compliant ingredients and subbing more veggies for rice or noodles. We have tried caulirice (not a hit) and zoodles (a hit). Nom Nom Paelo does have some great recipes.


Basically, I pick and chose my battles and know what my goals are for her (and that she's onboard with said goals) and focus on that.


But this is just what works for us. She's a preteen girl so the situation's a little different. Good luck!

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  • 3 weeks later...

Following this post, starting on june 1st, my daughter is 9 and has shown mild gluten intolerance symptoms, sugar is a main issue. We had cleaned up our eating since december, but the past month has been off the wagon. Interested in any encouragement, suggestions, etc anyone has in this post.

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Just updating on our progress:

We've allowed some swypo foods, like banana/egg pancakes (I call them 'banana flaps') but mainly good clean eating. He's been eating smaller portions and snacking less. The hardest has been twice being offered birthday treats in class and having to turn them down. :(  I think my strategy next time he's in that situation, will be to have him help me make a swypo treat so he doesn't feel entirely deprived.


He has been a bit of a drama queen regarding treats like chocolate and bread, but hasn't been hungry enough to just eat a piece of fruit, so he's survived. In fact, I think anytime a craving hits, I will suggest we make a swypo treat. 1) it will distract him for the time it takes for the craving to pass 2) empower him to feel like he is in control of the food he eats 3) teach him that delicious treats don't always have to come from a package and can be made from real foods.


Although I'm really hoping he'll hold off until the end, I have given him permission to stop anytime after 14 days. I tell ya, those first 10 days or so were rough for him! He considered quitting after day 14, but it helps that my husband has been doing it as well and was going to keep going. The hardest has been when we go out to a restaurant, which my husband loves to do on the weekends. I'd recommend keeping those to a minimum if possible, especially with kids! We are on day 20 now, and the last week or so has been pretty calm (boring, but calm). I'm hoping this last week will be even better. The last few days will be a busy one for my son, so he may get to 30 and not even realize it came and went. 

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  • 1 month later...
  • 2 years later...
  • 1 month later...
On 7/7/2016 at 5:12 PM, Deimile said:

How is this even possible with kids eating at school???

I realize we're late to the punch on answering here, but I wanted to second @Lissa Kristine's note about packing a lunch.

Anytime there's an allergy, it's best to pack a lunch yourself so you make sure there's nothing in there that they shouldn't have... the same concept would apply with dietary restrictions for any other reason. My 9yo is picky enough (food texture issues) and intolerant to dairy, so we've had to send a lunch with her always... my 14yo usually eats at school, but will take a lunch on any day when there's not an option on the menu that she knows she likes. Since my 14yo actually likes school lunches (and their menu isn't as horrid as some I've seen), I decided not to try to limit their diets further until summer... when it's all under my control.

I've started talking with them already about how my "experiment" has been going, and have told them that I want to do a similar food test with them over the summer. The 9yo has some experience with this kind of thing because we had to completely remove dairy and are now in the middle of trying to reintro certain things to see if she tolerates them... and I'm framing the whole idea around the fact that I want us to be able to find the best possible way for each of us to eat, and that won't necessarily look the same for all of us (and that just because I can't tolerate a specific food doesn't mean I won't sometimes cook it for them, if they process it just fine).

What I'm not going to do is call my experiment with the kids a "Whole30", mostly because I really don't see us following all the rules to the strictest degree, and I'd rather not cause any confusion with them or anyone else about what it is we're doing. It's a "food experiment", not a diet, and the purpose is to find out if anything we're eating makes us "less healthy" when we eat it. I may also ease them in, not eliminate everything all at once, in hopes that the detox period(s) might be easier to handle (for all of us).

My husband has expressed an interest in doing Whole30 this year, too, so I suggested summer would be a great time for us to do a round together and have the girls involved in the best way that I can. I think it will be much easier for my girls to accept being limited when they see us both following the same restrictions. The one to have the hardest time will probably be my 9yo, though, because we're also limited by her textural issues... I see lots of homemade sausage patties and much mashing of potatoes, sweet potatoes, and winter squash in my future because of her! :)

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  • 10 months later...

I first heard about Whole 30 from my chiropractor in early fall 2019, but had never heard of anyone I knew who had done it, so it just kept rolling around in my head for a while and then one day I saw something about it again and decided to order the Whole 30 book on Amazon. When it came, I read Part 1 and was instantly overwhelmed by the idea - there was NO WAY I was going to be able to go 30 days without ANY sugar, cheese or wine, LOL! But I kept finding myself coming back to the book and reading on, and when I FINALLY got past the "scary" bits and started looking at the shopping lists, meal templates and recipes, I realized that I already ate a lot of that kind of food - I just wasn't reading labels for ingredients or consciously avoiding sugar, dairy, etc. That made it all feel more approachable. I decided in early November that I was going to do Whole 30, and initially thought maybe I'd do it in December, but we had a LOT of various gatherings and dinners and I knew I'd be setting myself up to fail if I launched 12/1, so I set 1/2/20 as my start date. 

My husband has done similar programs in the past but has also eaten poorly this year and so when I mentioned this program to him, he was on board to do it with me (although he may not adhere to it 100% as I am), and then I also talked to my kids - 16 and 8 - about it, just to tell them what I'll be doing and why. I asked if they wanted to participate with me but they said no - and I understand that because MY first reaction was NO, too! But as the weeks ticked down to 1/2/20, and they saw me reading the book and making notes, they asked more questions about it and we've talked more about why it's a good thing. When I made dinner last night - the coconut-curry chicken and cauliflower rice - my kids kept coming into the kitchen to see what I was making and comment on how great it smelled and looked, and we all ended up eating it - and they loved it! We spent our dinner hour talking about what was in it and I read them some other recipes from the book that I'll be making, and I think they are realizing that there's room for this in their lives, too - I just may need to give them a bit more time to get fully on board with it. And that's fine because my hope is to go 90 days on this program, so if they pick it up 100% in Feb or Mar, that's still better than nothing. 

I'm especially glad my 16-year old son is showing interest: he loves to cook and is on his school's competitive culinary team and organizes friends' dinners with his group of buddies where they all get together to cook a meal, so he's always looking for good new recipes. If he can help encourage a healthier approach to eating among his teammates/peers, then he's making a difference in others' health and wellness, too. And I love that my 8-year old daughter is seeing all of this interest in cooking and healthy eating as she grows up, and she has been starting to help prep food in the kitchen with us, too. She's a master at peeling garlic cloves and mincing them up with her kids' chef knife.  

Anyway, my point is that a good way to get your kids involved is to talk with them about the program and about the "why" behind the elimination of certain food items, and have them help pick recipes and prepare them - the more invested they are in the various aspects of the program, the more buy-in they are likely to experience. Even if my kids don't go all in on this with me, I'm happy to make them more aware of what's IN their meals so they can make better choices going forward. 

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