Whole30 may seem daunting for one person, let alone for a family! While it may be a struggle to get kiddos on board with all the rules that go along with it, doing a Whole30 with kids is doable–and totally worth it.
Kids Are Just Little Adults
If you’re thinking about doing a Whole30–and if you’re reading this, chances is you are–you probably are aware that there’s some food in your life that makes you feel less than awesome.
Our kids eat the same foods we do…except they don’t have the same awareness that these potentially problematic foods are the things making them cranky. If we have the power to buy them the sugary cereals that make them sugar crash a couple hours later, we certainly have the ability to opt for eggs and sauteed greens for breakfast instead!
With some close observation of the outcomes of this dietary shift and discussion of these changes with your little ones, Whole30 can be extremely beneficial to kids.
Concerns About Your Kid Whole30-ing? You’re Not Alone
Parents have a wide range of concerns about switching their children’s diets so dramatically. How will this change their behavior? My kid is super picky–will they even eat if I take away their cheese and crackers? Will they get enough calcium without dairy? How will we survive their sugar withdrawals?
Deep breaths. This transition may be easier than you think!
Many parents who do a Whole30 with their kids report a positive change in behavior, fewer allergies, reduced rashes/eczema, and better attention spans. Children are pretty adaptable…you’d be surprised at how willing they may be to swapping out their fruit snacks for some real fruit.
As for calcium–not to mention all the other micronutrients you might be worried about–chances are switching from a diet of fortified grains and dairy to real, nutrient-dense foods will actually increase their vitamin and mineral intake.
Dark leafy greens like collards and spinach, almonds, and bone broth are an amazing source of calcium along with other essential micros!
A Few Different Approaches to Kids & Whole30
Feeling empowered to change your family’s lifestyle…but not sure where to start? Whole9 Life outlines a couple of different ways to tackle Whole30, kids and all.
The “All Or Nothing” Approach
While this is the most extreme way of going about overhauling your family’s food choices, it can be very effective in certain situations. This is the clean-out-the-cupboards take on starting Whole30–one day there’s pasta for dinner, the next it’s sweet potatoes, roast chicken and broccoli.
This can be a tough one at first…kids that are going through sugar withdrawals and desperately miss their dessert can be very vocal about it. But, if you’re patient and willing enough to get through the initial shock of it all, the hard part only lasts about ten days or so.
This approach is great for:
- Seasoned Whole30 parents who’ve navigated these changes before for themselves
- Parents who are comfortable telling their kids “no” to every plead for a non-compliant food during the initial stages
- Parents with kids who have severe allergies, asthma, celiac disease, or other issue that is potentially mediated with nutrition
The “We’re Out” Approach
This approach is a little more gradual; instead of removing all the non-compliant foods and immediately replacing them with leafy greens and heirloom carrots, you simply run through all the unhealthy foods you’ve stocked and do not replace them again.
This way of going about a Whole30 overhaul is less confrontational, but just as effective. Some kids respond better to things happening a bit at a time, rather than all the foods they love being taken away at once.
This is great for:
- Parents who are doing a Whole30 themselves for the first time
- When you have foods in your pantry that you don’t want to waste, but are not really donateable
- Kids that are a little slower to come around to big changes
The “One Step At a Time” Approach
This is the simplest approach with the least stress and confrontation attached. This way just removes one specific problem food at a time while keeping the majority of your family’s diet consistent.
Eventually as more foods are removed and replaced with more healthful alternatives, family members are more open to this change and are given time to adjust.
This is best for:
- Divided families or families with teenage children who are not all on board and can provide replace their noncompliant favorites if they are no longer offered.
- Families with kids who have medical concerns that dictate being very cautious with dietary changes (i.e. type 1 diabetes).
- Parents who have kids that are old enough to make their own food choices and provide their own non-compliant food if they want to.
Let’s Get Cooking!
Ready to take the next step? Making Whole30 food kid-friendly is not nearly as scary as it seems–many recipes are extremely adaptable to feed whole families and can even be packable for school lunches!
Lucky for us, there are some amazing resources out there:
- Nom Nom Paleo did a series of posts featuring an entire week of lunchbox-friendly meals
- Paleo Running Momma rounded up 30 recipes that make great packed lunches, and
- Our Paleo Life posted an awesome collection of paleo kids’ lunches.
These all can serve as…great inspiration for what to pack your kiddos for school!
Still feel a little lost? Whole30 posted an entire Good Food Kids FAQ to address many of the questions parents have about including their children in their Whole30 adventure.
Have questions that aren’t listed? Have you had success getting your kids on board with Whole30? We want to hear about your experience! Post a comment and tell us all about it.