I am beginning the process of transitioning to a paleo woe. My family (husband and 2 kids, ages 8 and 11) are NOT on board with this at all. I also have a very long history of eating disorders, so this new woe is sort of viewed as another one of my bizarre attempts to control my binge eating behavior.
Is anybody else going solo with paleo eating in a family of SAD eaters? How do you handle things? Advice?
asked byMaria (510)
Get FREE instant access to our Paleo For Beginners Guide & 15 FREE Recipes!
on March 19, 2010
at 06:22 PM
I transitioned to paleo a while back, however my husband has seen me move from one thing to another over the last ten years and I got so much woe from him, it was untrue, however he has calmed down and now is on the whole very patient with me as I have made some major breakthroughs regarding the health of the children, so he knows that when I roll out a new food 'idea' I have researched it and know what I am doing (sort of).
I tend to go cold turkey with things, so if bread is out, it is out, that is just the way I am......I have cut out lots and lots of things in the past, sometimes seeming to even contradict myself whilst doing it, but all I can say is stick with it and don't back down, get on and do it quietly yourself and let the others be.
Junk food in our house is absolutely out and has been for a long time now. It was a very slow transition. I followed the seven steps outlined in Kathleen DesMaison's book "Little Sugar Addicts" (you can apply it to grains and potatoes too) which was absolutely fantastic at helping me to cut out the family's junk eating successfully. I recommend you take a look at it, if this is a goal you want to work towards with your family eventually. It is not about DENIAL, it is about EDUCATION, it is about getting the children and your husband to think for themselves about the issue, after they know the facts about it.
We sit and talk about what the food is that we are eating every night, where it comes from and how it is good for our bodies, casually, lightheartedly, without raising an argument or fussing. We talk about why we like it, what could be better about it, what animal it comes from, how the animal was treated etc. I do not dictate an opinion, but the truth about Paleo/common sense eating usually has a way of coming out in the conversation, like they have worked out that meat is better for them than bread all by themselves.
I have also made sure that they see me eating lots of lard and butter; they now understand by default that good fat is essential for every part of the body and helps us to stay happy and healthy as a family. More importantly we ARE happy and healthy (and eat saturated fat!) I lost weight and gained energy and they see me bouncing around all day - that is the proof they need that their lard-eating mom is doing OK! This, of course doesn't mean to say that they want to eat paleo, they don't even know what the word means, I have never spoken to my husband about it, but they understand why I do it and why it makes sense to do it.
It is SO important not to rant about food, I have learnt my lesson now. If they want something, then they can have it, I just make a point of showing them that I wouldn't eat it, that's all - no ranting.
I believe that if you lead by example, give them enough information presented in a light-hearted and relevant way about the dangers and benefits of certain food and do not change foods too rapidly, (there is always a danger that this will look like another fad) you will be able to cope yourself far better and gradually they will understand that what you are doing is very important to you and you are STICKING to it. They will then make the connection that it must be important to them too.
Whatever happens, do not let them find you eating pastries at midnight.
All I can say is it takes time and after a while they will see for themselves because they will feel better too and be eating better than they have ever done in the past. They cannot fail to be unhappy on this diet, if you plan ahead and cook good stuff for them. I addition, the fact that you are healthy and happy and not obsessing about every detail means that eventually, they can do nothing else but go with the flow and follow suit.
on March 19, 2010
at 01:12 PM
Lead by example!
Explain why you eat this way if they ask.
Don't obsess about the details.
And make delicous paleo food.
These made my wife change gradually, and she is now almost fully paleo (she cheats more, but she feels the differences, and is changing.
on March 19, 2010
at 12:16 PM
I just finished reading the book, Switch. It prompted me to apply the change habit principles to everyday weight loss, and in particular, attempting to persuade family members over to a Paleo/Primal lifestyle. I'll post the first part of the four part series and perhaps it will lead you in a direction that would assist. I truly hope it helps.
on March 19, 2010
at 01:04 PM
Well, I don't live with my parents (I'm 28) but after being Paleo for a little while, I was explaining some of the concepts to my mother and challenged her to try giving up bread for a week. She didn't think she would be able to but was intrigued, and gave it a try.
She lost 2 pounds that week, without changing anything else - and that got her hooked. She has now lost around 6 pounds, and is eating much more strict paleo. My dad is forced to follow along because she sort of rules the kitchen, and he isn't very happy with me because of this. Hah!
on May 05, 2011
at 04:32 PM
Sigh. This is frustrating for me, and not only because of food and diet but because it's emblematic of much that is difficult in our relationship. My wife sees the results in me and likes them - but she shows zero curiosity about the diet. Instead she criticizes me just about every step along the way. From the amount of saturated fat I eat ("it can't be good for you!") to the meat I try to buy, to the effort to find organic and raw foods. She has never even tasted my home-made kefir and sauerkraut (which, I must modestly add, is amazingly good) - she's sure it'll make her sick since she's "so sensitive" to sickness.
Most of her information seems to come from the aether - friends ("protein stresses your kidneys!"), magazines, her hairdresser ("her niece's babysitter tried a cucumber diet and she lost 10 lbs! I want to try that!"). She has zero curiosity about the principles behind paleo (or just low-carb) - pretty much scoffs at any ideas I try to introduce. Reading a book like "Why We Get Fat" would never happen.
I promise, I'm not trying to push this on her at ALL. If I complain about all the sugary drinks in the fridge it's about the waste and cost of buying so many, drinking a little bit then letting them ferment in the fridge. Once I let them accumulate - we had perhaps 15-20 half-filled Odwalla and Vitamin Water bottles all getting puffed before I broke down and tossed them. I cringe a little at buying rice - rice! - in little preflavored packages.
Perhaps my style is irritating - I tend to be the Mad Scientist. I like to experiment with things in general, and a diet needs to satisfy my inner geek - I need to have my imagination engaged for me to stick with anything, and there must be real science involved (paleo does both beautifully). Honestly, it seems lot of her criticism isn't about some particular diet but about ME...
I'm not a big cook (though I do cook for my daughter and me 99% of the time - mostly SAD for her but I do tweak her meals when I can get away with it), but I'd cook more if everything I made didn't elicit some kind of criticism about meat not cooked enough or overcooked or veggies not right or whatever. Her leaving the table with "stomach cramps" might be real - but it's just SO predictable...
There is so much more I'd like to do - some around paleo - that I'd really appreciate her support and better her involvement. I'd like to go to the Farmer's Market on some weekends and enjoy the day and some new vegetable, instead of to brunch at an expensive cafe. I'd like to visit an organic farm in Sonoma. Hey I'd like to learn how to butcher meat! But until some things change - significantly - I'm just going to stick with my own little meals and reading books and sites like Paleohacks :-)
I do confess to a certain envy reading others' comments, like "my wife and I..." or "she was resistant but got interested..." or even "we do separate meals but we laugh about it"...
on March 25, 2010
at 02:13 AM
The #1 most common response I get is "all things in moderation."
But if we're going to allow carbs, why not cigarettes and cocaine?
All things in moderation!
on March 19, 2010
at 04:54 PM
I'm Paleo but my girlfriend is not. It actually seems to be really bothering me lately when I just had a healthy day of exercise and good clean food and then I go to her house and she's eating Girlscout cookies and laying around on the couch. She has good genes so she is still thin but it still gets to me. Also she has some skin issues that she takes medicine for that I know Paleo would clean up but she is so far refusing any attempts on my part to bring her over to "the light side." She is also Asian American and I'm White so I think she regrets my telling her that "grain is poisen," her response is always "I'm Asian, Im going to eat alot of rice." haha. It's the lack of activity that gets me more than anything.
on March 19, 2010
at 12:56 PM
Since I'm the oldest, and single, son in my family, I may have had an easier time transitioning myself to the primal lifestyle. However, family is family, and their health is just as important as mine, so I can empathize to some extent.
The best way to go about it is simple, level-headed statement of proof. That sugar is bad for you. That starches, too, are the cause of rampant insulin spikes that can lead to heart problems, obesity, etc. That there are studies that have shown the inflammatory effects of certain enzymes in grains, industrially-produced milk, and legumes. Accepting that you'd like to simply eat healthier by eating more meat, fruits, and vegetables shouldn't be hard to swallow. Then you say "I'm going to try this. I cannot see the harm in eating whole foods in this manner, so there is no danger to my health. Please support me".
When dealing with skeptics, don't mention becoming a caveman, our Palaeolithic ancestors, or any of the other marketing parts of the diet. The marketing can look a little kooky, at times.
Best you can do. In time, and after you've shown proof in yourself that life is good going paleo, they can gradually come over to your way of eating, too.
on May 05, 2011
at 06:31 PM
I'm on the paleo diet and am the main cook, but my wife isn't on it, and isn't the least bit interested. And she has a completely non-Paleo diet if there ever was one. She eats lots of processed carbs (Eggos for breakfast, bread or pasta with lunch and dinner, 2 scoops of sugar in her coffee, a coke or two a day, etc). She eats a LOT of vegetables, greens with almost every meal, and could happily live on starch and vegetables with the occasional meat or fat.
She is perfectly healthy and happy, fit and slightly underweight (5'8" 120#), the same weight she was in college (after 2 kids), Yoga instructor, good muscle tone, rarely gets sick, etc. She is a complete anathema to the Paleo diet. If I ate this diet, I would suffer greatly, but there is no question that it works for her.
For dinners we do a Jack Sprat kind of thing, usually cook a trinity of meat, starch and veg, I will have maybe 2 portions of meat and 1 of veg, she'll have <= 1/2 portion of meat, 2x portion of starch and veg, and the kids eat some mix of these.
I feel very strongly that the Paleo diet is best for me. However it is plainly obvious that her diet is good for her. This is a constant topic of conversation in our household, since we eat totally different diets. We also talk about it with friends and family.
We also require totally different kinds of exercise, I need intense cardio (i.e. running, biking, competitive sports), she needs calmer stuff like walking, yoga, meditation. You could say that I'm the hunter and she's the gatherer.
I do have a Paleo-friendly explanation for this though. The Paleo theory says that humans have only be agrarian for ~10,000 years. Well it stands to reason that some humans on the earth have been agrarian for longer than others, and after 350-400 generations have evolved to be ok with this kind of diet. One interesting factoid that we discovered was that she has an extra loop of small intestines compared to the average person, something that some other people in her family also have. An evolutionary adaptation perhaps?
We have two kids, and one of them is like each of us. My son (age 8) eats a very varied diet including meat, fat, organ meets, raw fish, pretty much anything I put in front of him. My daughter (age 6) is more like my wife and it is very hard to get her to eat anything but starches and fruit, though once a week or so she pigs out on some kind of meat or fat. Both kids just had their checkups and are perfectly healthy and near the center of the bell curve on height/weight, no allergies, no issues, perfect eyes, etc.
Trying to force the paleo diet on this crowd would be a disaster, so we each do something that works for us. My son probably eats more processed foods than he needs to, but his level of activity is very high and it all gets burned off. That is about the only change I would make.
This is an interesting and somewhat confusing experience for me, and does go to demonstrate that the Paleo diet simply isn't for everyone. With a few billion people on the planet, I don't think there's any way that one diet works for everyone.
on May 05, 2011
at 06:14 PM
Reading through these messages I am so thankful for my husband. After separate attempts - he believed we needed to cut out sugar and I thought we needed to do away with carbs - neither agreeing at the same time with the other, we failed time after time over the past 12 yrs years. When I just happened upon a blog post mentioning paleo and showed it to him (never thinking he'd agree) we started whole9 30 day challenge a few days later and have never looked back. In just 4 short months SO MUCH has changed in our lives for the better.
For those fighting the good fight with your loved ones,... keep it up!
on March 29, 2010
at 07:38 PM
I eat mostly paleo and I'm the primary cook. We can't afford the pastured eggs or organic meats and produce, though I don't eat grains or legumes. A lot of that sort of thing is difficult to find here; that makes it expensive. My wife tends to eat whatever I cook, so if I don't make a starch with supper, she's ok with it. The kids are a different matter. My oldest and youngest are very picky and pretty much only eat grain-based foods. My middle one is willing to try new things and often likes what I make. We're working on it, though. Our new rule is eat what I make or be hungry. I work full-time and both my wife and I are full-time students, so there is not enough time in the day to make three different meals every day for dinner.
on March 29, 2010
at 04:38 PM
I mostly eat raw ground beef with added beef fat, eggs and bacon in the morning, some canned sardines and sometimes even lamb, steak and green vegetables. I put no effort in the preparations. I just throw everything on the plate, eat it immediately and put it away. So it's basically everyday the same procedure, so i think for outstanding persons this is very unappealing and boring and even disgusting (beef fat, liver)
If i'd make food, that looks like the ones on MDA, then my parents may be more interested. But this is to much effort and i don't care about them. There is no possibility, that a kid can "educate" his parents.
on March 20, 2010
at 06:43 AM
The deciding factor for my husband, I think, was seeing photos of Mark Sisson's body at age 55 on his website-- my husband has been trying to develop muscle definition and bulk for several years now. He had slimmed down a bit, but still a little flabby around the middle. Since going Paleo only 2 months ago, for the first time he is starting to get a 6-pack!
So, if your husband wants to have a six pack...
I hope he decides to go along with you, it's great to have a husband's support! And it will help convince the kids to do it, too.
on March 19, 2010
at 10:22 PM
My wife knows and understands my diet. She generally eats what I eat (sometimes with an addition or two), but eats what she wants when away (lunch @ work or out with friends). It's nice if your family is benefitting fully from paleo, but they each have the right to their own choices, for better or worse. She's not undermining me in any way, which is the most important thing. And she's definitely doing better than whe otherwise would.
on March 19, 2010
at 01:13 PM
I made the change to paleo about a month and a half ago. My wife did not and still has not.
My change decision was sudden and has caused her some frustration (I won't eat many of things she used to cook).
When I cook for us it's easy, I make something delicious and paleo. When she cooks it's tougher and sometimes we end up just making something for ourselves.
It's hard for me to bite my tongue watching her eat or drink something that I now know is horrible for her, but I'm trying very hard not to tell her what to do. That approach simply won't work and will cause more frustration for her.
I'm hoping that in time, the daily evidence of how much benefit I'm getting from paleo will convince her to make her own decision to change. She's got a sugar addiction... it's going to be tough. :(
on March 19, 2010
at 12:04 PM
For the moment, as the family's primary cook, I handle things by cooking stuff that meets my needs and not worrying about my spouse's decidedly non-paleo snack habits. My kids don't eat strictly paleo but they eat better than 98% of American kids -- pastured eggs for breakfast every morning sure beats cereal! -- and for right now, that's fine.
on May 05, 2011
at 05:23 PM
My kids and husband need to make changes in their eating just as much as I do so since I am the one who does all the shopping, cooking and cleaning around here they are doomed to eat what I give them! Wa ha ha ha ha!
My daughter is 11 and she is the only one really freaking out. How can she lived with out grains?!?!?!?! You would think I had taken away oxygen from her, ha ha! I have tried to explain that her exzema might go away but she said she does not care. I told her give it a year or so and she might change her mind about that.
My only concern is making this work long term money wise. THat has always been the down fall of any healthy eating plan I introduce.
on May 03, 2010
at 11:37 AM
I'm finding it very frustrating to handle both my way of eating and my boyfriend. He eats an incredibly SAD diet if I'm not the one cooking. So I cook - a lot.
I find it particularly difficult when he knows what I do and don't want to eat, yet still asks if I want to share a family-size block of milk chocolate - and then gets hurts when I politely decline. I've been eating like him every now and again to avoid the constant questioning and guilt trips, but no more. I just spent all of last night vomiting after a day of eating crap. Now, it may have been psychomatic or totally unrelated to the food, but I thought that surely that would be the point where he would understand that I can't eat like he does. Yet after my beautifully cooked paleo meal tonight, he still asked if I wanted to share a block of milk chocolate! Argh! Cavewoman need club! Beat sense into boyfriend! ;)
Seriously though, it's frustrating and I'm just waiting for the day he actually understands. Until then I'm just going to have to withstand the guilt trips.
on March 26, 2010
at 10:04 PM
My boyfriend isn't eating paleo because he is trying to gain weight. I convinced him to add starchy carbs to his diet because he is rail thin with a super fast metabolism, which he is willing to destroy for a fuller body. He fully supports my quacky eating ways because I am so much healthier. However, visiting my parents is like visiting harsh skeptics. I learned my lesson to never talk about food with them. Now they make comments every time I eat a vegetable ("oh wow you are sooooo healthy!", their version of sarcasm). They are hopeless. However, I am hoping that I will be the example soon enough. I just bite the bullet when I visit them. Some advice...just make your own food. That's what I do. I eat what my SAD mother makes sometimes out of courtesy, but she cooks so rarely that I just eat my own stuff. Your call, if you have a husband and kids, just explain to them that you are going to be healthy.
on March 24, 2010
at 09:23 PM
I'm the only one doing it 'properly' but I do all the cooking so they have to follow to some extent. My husband is ok with cutting out the carbs with his evening meal and he enjoys the bacon, eggs, salmon, black pudding, etc he now gets for breakfast. He has a small baguette for lunch but that's about the only 'grains' most days. His downfall is every 2 or 3 weeks he takes his motorbike on track days and tends to eat pies and pasties and drinks sugar laden sports drinks. Still, he has lost inches off his belly and probably weight but he never weighs himself. My daughter is 15 and resolutely NOT paleo - she is making a point of it. However, although she eats cereal for breakfast and sandwiches for lunch (on the plus side - she now makes them herself!) she does eat what I give her for the evening meal and as this is the age when girls have a tendency to go veggie I'm glad to say she still tucks into the meat with relish so hopefully she'll graduate towards more paleo food when she stops 'rebelling'. (Let's face it - teenage rebellion could be far worse than a cheese sandwich!). My son tried to go fully paleo for a couple of weeks to get rid of his acne. It got better but not as much as he wanted and he struggled to eat enough so he has added in a few carbs like rice but on the whole he's going for it.
on March 19, 2010
at 02:55 PM
It's just my wife and I, and I'm the lone Paleo goer.
She understands what I'm doing, and sees the benefits as I've gotten healthier, but as she puts it, she'd have a hard time giving up some of her comfort foods, i.e. mashed potatoes. And I don't begrudge her that, because this isn't for everybody.
She benefits in that (a) I cook more at home, and (b) I cook way healthier than I was. So she gets to reap that in. Eventually she might come around and join in on the Paleo dining, but to each his (or her) own.