12

votes

paleo for overweight kids...

Answered on August 19, 2014
Created October 15, 2010 at 4:11 PM

my brother's girlfriend 12 year old is significantly overweight. several months ago while talking about weight and health with her mother she was very defensive and determined that the conventional wisdom would help her daughter drop the weight. four months later, after watching me effortlessly drop 25 lbs while at the same time getting a grim assessment of her daughter's health from her physician, she is asking me about devising a plan to get her daughter on the right track. the biggest obstacle i see in this is the school lunches and the peer pressure of a kid bringing what may seem like weird food for lunch. if you guys were asked to start an overweight, unhealthy 12 year old on a paleo diet plan, how would you go about it?

3aea514b680d01bfd7573d74517946a7

(11996)

on August 21, 2011
at 09:34 PM

Late to the party here, but I honestly wouldn't worry about LC brain fog for a few weeks, when the alternative is to be obese throughout adolescence and probably life. I only wish I'd known about LC when I was a young teenager. A few weeks of brain fog in exchange for a long-term healthy body? I know what I would've chosen at that age...

D3e84d1c744652b7447ab65877d14971

(325)

on August 21, 2011
at 09:33 PM

I was made fun of at school for having YOGURT. Kid's will make fun of anything.

D3e84d1c744652b7447ab65877d14971

(325)

on August 21, 2011
at 09:28 PM

TO be fair, I think that gender plays a fairly significant role in this. Overweight 12 year old boys and overweight 12 year old girls are treated very differently. I was also overweight and put on lots of diets at that age. I honestly think that maybe my weight would have evened out with puberty, but instead all those diets messed up my relationship with food and CAUSED me to gain even more weight. I still struggle now at the age of 22. So yeah, I agree with ohjoy.

A8d95f3744a7a0885894ee0731c9744c

(3761)

on May 17, 2011
at 03:53 PM

Yeah, I saw that! Very cool!

D1908552223e8a97b17f02a90cf795bf

(487)

on May 17, 2011
at 03:39 PM

She has a book too! Called Every Day Paleo that I have found really helpful. Even though I can go online for a lot of the information, I find comfort in a book. It is greater for a starter and talks a lot about getting kids on paleo, for health reasons first!

66e6b190e62fb3bcf42d4c60801c7bf6

(12407)

on April 27, 2011
at 01:19 AM

just saw this. i was an overweight 12 year old also(weighed 212 lbs). in retrospect, i wish the drs and nutritionists my parents shuttled me to at that age had told them the information i gave her mom. it took until i was a freshman and college and had nothing to do but study and work out to move from 330 to 220 and another 15 years to find this way of eating.

66e6b190e62fb3bcf42d4c60801c7bf6

(12407)

on April 27, 2011
at 01:16 AM

hey bree. she was doing well there for awhile but after the holidays couldn't really get back on track like she needed to. with a 12 year old you need the parent(s) to be totally on board and her mom thought that my recs were a bit extreme even though i loosened up a lot of the parameters i follow taking into account that this is a child with peer pressure issues and whatnot. she had lost a good deal of weight but has subsequently gained alot back. in my view, at least they have the information and if they get to the point where their backs are to the wall, i'd def help...

Medium avatar

(12379)

on April 26, 2011
at 10:33 PM

How are things coming along with your niece?

828429fe885f42968c0519d5b84cec40

(608)

on October 17, 2010
at 12:50 PM

no prob :) my pleasure

0961069ca7c5921f2b0b3f509eeedef7

(60)

on October 16, 2010
at 02:10 PM

GGP: even Mark talks about 'Carb Flu' it's very VERY normal for someone who has been on a SAD diet to get all fuzzy when they drop it all. I thankfully did it gradually and didn't have to worry about it.

84666a86108dee8d11cbbc85b6382083

(2399)

on October 16, 2010
at 11:01 AM

GGP: Immediately ? First two weeks were a disaster for me.

1f70da0b737e9c6e7679a248f4228a01

on October 16, 2010
at 06:09 AM

LC brain fogs? I found the opposite to be true - everything cleared up when I cut the carbs. Recommending starches is assuming that the kid is quite active - if she's significantly overweight, it sounds like there are hormonal issues that are probably keeping her sedentary. If she likes to keep active, then go for sweet potato and pumpkin. If not, avoid. You could use nuts for energy without the blood glucose spike potential of potatoes.

0961069ca7c5921f2b0b3f509eeedef7

(60)

on October 15, 2010
at 08:20 PM

2nd, Cut the sugar, kill the grains, plus a gradual change will be much easier for a kiddo, as far as her being stigmatised for a 'weird' diet... I can vouch as a High School fattie- there is a lot more stigma for being very overweight. I don't know about the potatoes though, thats a ton of freakin' starch, if they're occasional okay.

66e6b190e62fb3bcf42d4c60801c7bf6

(12407)

on October 15, 2010
at 06:43 PM

this was a great answer. thanks.

A8d95f3744a7a0885894ee0731c9744c

(3761)

on October 15, 2010
at 06:32 PM

I would give the kids fruit. Putting a child through LC brain fogs, and even entering them into ketosis doesn't seem right. They're growing so rapidly, they will use the energy given by fruit. No big deal, IMO

66e6b190e62fb3bcf42d4c60801c7bf6

(12407)

on October 15, 2010
at 04:57 PM

you guys answers have been so helpful... keep em coming.

4b97e3bb2ee4a9588783f5d56d687da1

(22923)

on October 15, 2010
at 04:56 PM

Source: my formerly overweight, former sugarholic, 13yr old daughter

100fd85230060e754fc13394eee6d6f1

(18696)

on October 15, 2010
at 04:41 PM

I wouldn't focus on fruits for someone overweight, but I like the idea of focusing on what you can eat rather than what you can't. Why not LC for a child?

A89f9751a97c3082802dc0bcbe4e9208

(13978)

on October 15, 2010
at 04:25 PM

Great question!

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11 Answers

9
8a638ea603bd52f6f27143a665bf4a66

(125)

on October 15, 2010
at 09:12 PM

First time poster. I had to jump in and ask if the mother is eating paleo and being a good example of paleo eating? If so, then its up to the daughter to choose to emulate the mother. Everyone should butt out of the 12 year girls "weight" issue. Seems like a perfect time to make health - not weight - be the teaching tool. I hope you are just talking to the mother and not the 12 yr old. It seems too much of a boundary crossing for the brother of the mothers boyfriend to be involved with a 12 yr old girls "weight" problem.
I know you mean well and your weight loss and health are commendable. You are an example for the mother and daughter and that's important.
I may be overly sensitive to this post (obviously) but having been an overweight 12 yr old (altho looking back not really that overweight) and having adults talking about my body as if I weren't inside of it and giving me horrible SAD advice - just made me cringe when I read this question. Back to lurking :)

66e6b190e62fb3bcf42d4c60801c7bf6

(12407)

on April 27, 2011
at 01:19 AM

just saw this. i was an overweight 12 year old also(weighed 212 lbs). in retrospect, i wish the drs and nutritionists my parents shuttled me to at that age had told them the information i gave her mom. it took until i was a freshman and college and had nothing to do but study and work out to move from 330 to 220 and another 15 years to find this way of eating.

D3e84d1c744652b7447ab65877d14971

(325)

on August 21, 2011
at 09:28 PM

TO be fair, I think that gender plays a fairly significant role in this. Overweight 12 year old boys and overweight 12 year old girls are treated very differently. I was also overweight and put on lots of diets at that age. I honestly think that maybe my weight would have evened out with puberty, but instead all those diets messed up my relationship with food and CAUSED me to gain even more weight. I still struggle now at the age of 22. So yeah, I agree with ohjoy.

7
828429fe885f42968c0519d5b84cec40

(608)

on October 15, 2010
at 05:39 PM

I would say don't let perfect be the enemy of good. She is a child, surrounded by other children who eat junk.

I actually have a bit of experience with this, as my little sister had the unfortunate fate of inheriting my mother's metabolism (the rest of us can eat what we like and stay relatively thin). When she was 10 my mother put her on a modified low carb plan and it seemed to work. The good thing is that at that age it is fairly easy for kids to drop the weight.

My mom was pretty strict when at home: a variety of meats, cheeses, stir frys, with salad and veggies. Most of the time the veggies were slathered in ranch, but i think its ok not start out with FULL paleo. Also popcorn, sweet potatoes, low carb bread and wraps, fruit, nuts, and breaded chicken nuggets were used sparingly or for lunch. She still drank milk.

It was not a perfect paleo or even low carb plan, but compared to the junk she was eating it was a damn good diet. She ended up losing a significant amount of weight and has managed to keep most of it off (sans 5 pounds) for the time being. She still practices low carb, but not as strictly- with lots of little cheats here and there. However I am very happy that she has the knowledge at such a young age about what proper nutrition is and how to lose weight in a smart and healthy way.

I bet that even cutting out the sugar and replacing the bread with LC wraps and bread would help. If you keep her low carb at home she could also probably be ok with eating a little junk around her friends sometimes.

I don't plan on feeding my kids sugar at any point in time and we will eat lowish carb and paleo at home, however you don't want your kid to be THAT kid- who's parents don't let him have some cake at a party. That'll do more damage than the damn cake.

For more Paleo hacks: http://paleohacks.com/questions/12307/answer#ixzz12Ryby7gg

828429fe885f42968c0519d5b84cec40

(608)

on October 17, 2010
at 12:50 PM

no prob :) my pleasure

66e6b190e62fb3bcf42d4c60801c7bf6

(12407)

on October 15, 2010
at 06:43 PM

this was a great answer. thanks.

5
62ed65f3596aa2f62fa1d58a0c09f8c3

(20807)

on October 15, 2010
at 10:52 PM

One key to success is to find paleo things the kid likes. Give the kid as many options as you can think of that are still paleo or almost paleo. YOu want the kid to look forward to that lunch. A little bit lower carb would be good but no need to go overboard. Do maybe 100 grams of carb or a bit less per day. You can make the lunch the more carby meal if that will improve compliance. A banana or a favorite fruit would be nice. Mixed fruit cut up in little pieces is more fun than a big slab of only one fruit. The colorfulness of mixed fruit adds to the experience. I love to see a small bowl of cut strawberries, a few blueberries and maybe a few slices of banana. The colors just make it look so much more attractive. You can add a bit of stevia to sweeten them up a bit. Compliance is key here so you have to make sure the kid likes the taste.

I actually make my own lunches for work and no one makes fun of my food. They are envious. I bring things like salmon in cream sauce, beef or venison stir fry, fried chicken legs fried with egg and unsweetened coconut powder and shreds, homemade cookies made with nutbutter, pecan bits and just a few dark chocolate chips, etc. Once in a while, I will beat some heavy cream with a bit of cacao and make whipped cream to put on the berries. Sometimes I will bring cold cuts or salami and cheese. High quality lunch meats wrapped around some cream cheese or other cheese can be very tasty. I bring a small cooler and add two small bottles of frozen water (not to drink, just for holding the ice) added into the cooler to keep the food cool. I refreeze the water each night and it is ready to go back in the cooler the next day.

Most kids can lose weight quickly on just a decent diet and no calorie restriction. My advice would be to see if you can find compliance on a decent sorta low carb diet based on all healthy foods and if it can do the job of fixing the weight problem. Nix the grain oils (those don't even taste good anyway so there should be no complaints!) and grains. Try that before getting all drastic with super low carb and all that. For most kids, it is just not needed and will hurt compliance. ONly if that does not work need you start looking at troubleshooting the diet further. You want to make this as fun as possible. Tell the kid, you can eat all the steak and fried chicken you want! And I'll get you some berries and cream! There may be a bit of a tantrum or moping around at first (standard kid response to giving up ANYTHING AT ALL), but kids adapt quickly and it will be much easier if the child gets to the point where he is no longer carb addicted. ONe thing for sure, everyone I have gotten to try paleo/lowcarb has said this is definitely the easiest diet of all to follow because you don't have to feel weak and hungry and you can still eat lots of really tasty foods.

5
0dc1d63c3d5975f5115f535c6a90c9dd

(2283)

on October 15, 2010
at 04:33 PM

I would make the focus be on fruits, veggies, and meats/dairy (if they want dairy). I would also try to focus on what she can add into her diet, instead of what needs to be cut. The biggest thing I would do is cut the sugar. I would not go low carb. Not for a kid. Let her eat potatoes. Also, trying to make foods she already likes, in a paleo manner, will help.

84666a86108dee8d11cbbc85b6382083

(2399)

on October 16, 2010
at 11:01 AM

GGP: Immediately ? First two weeks were a disaster for me.

0961069ca7c5921f2b0b3f509eeedef7

(60)

on October 15, 2010
at 08:20 PM

2nd, Cut the sugar, kill the grains, plus a gradual change will be much easier for a kiddo, as far as her being stigmatised for a 'weird' diet... I can vouch as a High School fattie- there is a lot more stigma for being very overweight. I don't know about the potatoes though, thats a ton of freakin' starch, if they're occasional okay.

1f70da0b737e9c6e7679a248f4228a01

on October 16, 2010
at 06:09 AM

LC brain fogs? I found the opposite to be true - everything cleared up when I cut the carbs. Recommending starches is assuming that the kid is quite active - if she's significantly overweight, it sounds like there are hormonal issues that are probably keeping her sedentary. If she likes to keep active, then go for sweet potato and pumpkin. If not, avoid. You could use nuts for energy without the blood glucose spike potential of potatoes.

A8d95f3744a7a0885894ee0731c9744c

(3761)

on October 15, 2010
at 06:32 PM

I would give the kids fruit. Putting a child through LC brain fogs, and even entering them into ketosis doesn't seem right. They're growing so rapidly, they will use the energy given by fruit. No big deal, IMO

0961069ca7c5921f2b0b3f509eeedef7

(60)

on October 16, 2010
at 02:10 PM

GGP: even Mark talks about 'Carb Flu' it's very VERY normal for someone who has been on a SAD diet to get all fuzzy when they drop it all. I thankfully did it gradually and didn't have to worry about it.

100fd85230060e754fc13394eee6d6f1

(18696)

on October 15, 2010
at 04:41 PM

I wouldn't focus on fruits for someone overweight, but I like the idea of focusing on what you can eat rather than what you can't. Why not LC for a child?

3aea514b680d01bfd7573d74517946a7

(11996)

on August 21, 2011
at 09:34 PM

Late to the party here, but I honestly wouldn't worry about LC brain fog for a few weeks, when the alternative is to be obese throughout adolescence and probably life. I only wish I'd known about LC when I was a young teenager. A few weeks of brain fog in exchange for a long-term healthy body? I know what I would've chosen at that age...

3
A8d95f3744a7a0885894ee0731c9744c

(3761)

on October 15, 2010
at 06:33 PM

I've directed my sister (she has 4 kiddos) to: everydaypaleo.com

It's a great site. The author has children she is raising on a paleo-diet.

My recommendations: Plenty of fruits (to curve the sweet tooth), nut butters,veggies with fun dips, and meats the kids like!

A8d95f3744a7a0885894ee0731c9744c

(3761)

on May 17, 2011
at 03:53 PM

Yeah, I saw that! Very cool!

D1908552223e8a97b17f02a90cf795bf

(487)

on May 17, 2011
at 03:39 PM

She has a book too! Called Every Day Paleo that I have found really helpful. Even though I can go online for a lot of the information, I find comfort in a book. It is greater for a starter and talks a lot about getting kids on paleo, for health reasons first!

3
4b97e3bb2ee4a9588783f5d56d687da1

on October 15, 2010
at 04:55 PM

Packed Leftovers. Meat , veggies. Good quantities. The kids make fun of someone picking apart school lunch, or the kid bringing salads and tofurkey

They don't bother the one with the steak, they're just jealous.

Make sure portions are large enough that kid won't be tempted to cheat.

4b97e3bb2ee4a9588783f5d56d687da1

(22923)

on October 15, 2010
at 04:56 PM

Source: my formerly overweight, former sugarholic, 13yr old daughter

3
D30ff86ad2c1f3b43b99aed213bcf461

on October 15, 2010
at 04:40 PM

Allow the girl to pick out her own lunchbox and then browse lunch ideas online. Show her some blogs featuring Bento box packed lunches (mine does) or other primal packed lunches and ask what looks good.

The more control she has within paleo/primal parameters, the better, especially at 12!

3
0193cbe104533dd7490f2f95fc951237

on October 15, 2010
at 04:33 PM

I don't think bringing some sort of meat, be it cooked ground beef, diced ham, or chicken breast to school is a weird food at lunch. Then some fresh fruit and pecans/walnuts/seed doesn't seem odd either. I take that to lunch with me at work everyday. Worst case scenario, if that's all the kid has to eat they probably will as long as you give them enough variety. And once in awhile they might sneak a crappy carb or something from one of their friends. That's being a kid IMO. If it's only lunch, the rest of her meals can be decent anyway and the whole family should really go Paleo to support her and help themselves. My $.02

2
Da397846a2cfad231a1122126bb6eda7

(227)

on October 15, 2010
at 04:41 PM

The key is to make the food not look or sound weird, I suppose.

Paleo meatloaf slices shouldn't be hard to make or to pack.

Fruits like berries, apples, peaches, oranges. etc are pretty standard looking, and do provide a sweets fix.

You might try using silicone cupcake cups to bake individual portions of quiche containing bits of meats & veggies. You can call it 'baked eggs' or 'muffin' or 'pie' if the word quiche is too strange. They can be made either sweet or savory, and lend a lot of taste variety in a standard sort of shape.

Deli sliced meats can be rolled up around yummy fillings (egg salad, ham salad, veggies, etc) like small meaty wraps.

Raw or lightly cooked veggies like broccoli or carrots can be packed with a yummy paleo dip.

Soups & stews can be bone-broth based and look really normal in a thermos.

You might also consider allowing the occasional lunch box sandwich made with some innocuous looking bread, for school lunches only, so that she doesn't have to feel like a total oddball at school.

2
0c0c5c65612425e497b7231c21516943

(1354)

on October 15, 2010
at 04:32 PM

My kids are not overweight, but I have recently gone Paleo and they have too (slightly modified - avoiding most grains and def avoiding gluten). I have been pretty sneaky about it, but they do not complain. I think that when labeling our diets, it creates criticism. Examples of what my kids take for lunch are:

Applegate pepperoni Leftover paleo chili Leftover Meat Celery with sun butter or other nut butter tart apples Nutiva Hemp Bars Carrots Cherry Tomatoes Homemade beef jerky Nuts Seeds Low sugar fruits (sparingly for overweight child) Trail Mix (made with nuts/seeds, small amount of organic popcorn)

Hope this helps!

1
7255a87872b75e6f691d84dca769b87e

on August 21, 2011
at 08:48 PM

My thirteen year old cousin brings cheese wrapped in lunch meat to school because she doesn't like bread. Nobody gives her a hard time about it. Whenever I brought my "sandwiches" to school - sweet potatoes stuffed with almond butter - the main response was "that looks tasty, can I have some?" Unless you send the kid to school with a cow heart stuffed with tripe, she's not going to be made fun of. I agree that the parent needs to go completely paleo for this to work. She's going to watch her mother for ideas on how to live her own life (no matter how much a preteen might say she hates her parents), so unless the mother is eating salad and meat, the kid won't touch salad and meat. I don't think there's need for conscious calorie or carb restriction. The family should just eat paleo with the macronutrient ratios they feel they need. I don't think anyone's mentioned exercise. I hate to cite conventional wisdom, but if you get a kid to go out and play, they'll drop weight pretty easily. Many kids and adults as well have given up playing: something natural, animal, and hella paleolithic. If she's 12, she's probably reached the weight spurt stage of life and might just be waiting on her height spurt to bring her back into a healthy weight range. Of course, that doesn't excuse a SAD, but even paleo kids are subject to puberty. Nobody can escape that mess. Anything else to mention? Overweight kids are a hard subject

D3e84d1c744652b7447ab65877d14971

(325)

on August 21, 2011
at 09:33 PM

I was made fun of at school for having YOGURT. Kid's will make fun of anything.

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