Feeding Your Kids (and Family) AIP

AIP Kids - Teddy Bear on a Wooden Bench

While I’m not a parent, I can appreciate that feeding your kids AIP could be quite a challenge, especially since they’re likely already accustomed to the brightly colored, artificially flavored, sugar laden main-stream foods like Kraft Dinner, frozen pizzas and Fruit Loops! Heck – you might even have a challenge feeding your “big” kids (aka teens and husbands) an AIP diet for the same reasons!

Unfortunately there’s no plan in place for guaranteed success – it’s going to take some trial and error to make the transition, but the good news is that I can share some suggestions!

Shhh … No One Needs to Know!

My top tip – NO ONE NEEDS TO KNOW IT’S AIP! Before you started on the AIP, did you feel it necessary to tell your family about all the ingredients you put in the meal you were presenting?

I find as soon as you put a label on anything out of the ordinary you will meet with resistance.

I see this with my extended family all the time!  If you tell them something’s gluten free or AIP they simply decline. If they were to eat it without knowing, they’d probably never realize it was anything “special” – and trust me, I’ve tested this theory! Just remember, it’s not AIP Food … it’s just food!

Nutrient Density & Food Familiarity

Granted, there are some things that you’re likely to have a little more trouble with, (yes, I’m talking about liver and offal), but again, you don’t have to tell your family everything! You’re allowed to hide “gross” foods from your kids, and even yourself, in order to ensure you’re eating a more nutrient dense diet. You’ll find many recipes in the AIP Recipe Collection Facebook page that are named “hidden veggie” or “hidden liver” or something similar. What we’re talking about here is called “food familiarity,” and there’s actual science behind it (Dr. Ballantyne talks about this in her Therapeutic Approach Masterclass)! Familiar flavors and textures in dishes we’re used to eating work in our favor as we incorporate small amounts of “less popular” foods. Things like a hidden liver meatloaf, meat balls or burgers are a great starting point as we transition to healthier choices on the AIP.

Here’s a little fun-fact: Did you know that liver is a flavor enhancer?!

If you’re having trouble incorporating liver in your diet, try this starter recipe from Dr. Ballantyne – 50/50/50 Burgers – she says her girls even ASK for these burgers, and I personally love them for breakfast – they’re even delicious cold! Or, try my Blueberry TigerNut Muffins with Hidden Liver – I eat them almost every day – you’d never know there was liver in them!

Another important note is that different kinds of liver have different flavor profiles, and butchering processes/practices effect the taste of meat, as do different breeds of cattle, pork, chicken and so on … so you might have to try a few different kinds before you find something you really enjoy.

Positive Association

Another trick to getting your family on board as you transition to your new AIP diet is the use of positive association.
As an adult, we start liking and enjoying healthier foods when we feel the positive results – it’s hard not to enjoy something if it makes us feel better and it gives us more energy!
For kids, it’s going to be a little different – they won’t necessarily realize that food can make them feel better, though some of them are pretty in-tune to their bodies (my nephew knows that pasta sauce makes him feel yucky, so tomatoes are likely not his friend). Your best approach is to ensure mealtime enjoyable – avoid making it all about the new food you “have to eat” – no one ever enjoys being forced to eat something. Obviously there may be some bargaining that takes place to get your kiddos to at least try those new foods that you can’t disguise, but try to keep it up-beat. Make sure meal times are relaxed and try to stay focused on the positive things going on in their life and yours. Use it as a time for communication and kindness – learn about what happened during their day, keep them distracted to a degree, and talk about something fun you can do together after your meal. Positive social dynamics at mealtime will help attach positive association food and it will get easier.

Get the Family on Board

While Dr. Amy Myers’ AIP diet varies slightly from that of Dr. Ballantyne, she offers some good advice in this article that you might want to check out –6  Tips for Getting Your Family on Board With the AIP.I also recommend these  articles from Autoimmune Wellness – How to Inspire Health in Your Home & Getting Your Child On Board With Dietary Changes
I also highly recommend you listen to the Autoimmune Simplified episode called Autoimmune Nutrition & Families, where Dr. Alison Danby (the doctor that helped me on my road to wellness) speaks with Nutritionist Vanessa Bond about dealing with autoimmune disease and family nutrition – her daughter has a very rare autoimmune condition and the advice offered in the podcast is truly exceptional. Included below is a link to Vanessa’s Facebook Group called “The Autoimmune Family” – don’t miss it.

Pregnancy, Breastfeeding, Babies & Kids

Since I frequently get questions in our Facebook Group for “kid-friendly” AIP meals, I understand that getting enough nutrients into them can be tricky, I’ve compiled this additional list of resources that I hope will help save you some frustrations.

NOTE:  NOT all of the information below is specifically about AIP, but it is about Paleo (of which the AIP is a modified version as you know). Use caution when determining what foods to include/exclude where this is discussed and above all, consult a professional healthcare practitioner. 

Facebook Group – The Autoimmune Family with Vanessa Bond

Facebook Support Group – AIP in Pregnancy & Breastfeeding

Paleo Leap – Cave Babies: Raising Happy, Healthy Paleo Kids
This article has some links to other web-pages and some specific information about nutrients.

Robb Wolf – Feeding Kids Paleo
Includes a FREE Guide Book if you sign up for his newsletter when you land on his page.

Mark’s Daily Apple – Raising Your Kids on Primal Foods (Plus Mealtime Strategies for Picky Eaters)

Grazed & Enthused – Real Food Baby: How We Introduced Solids

Looking for Kid-Friendly AIP Recipes & Conveniences?

Familiarity is a kid’s best friend – so try to keep it as “normal” as possible.

The first option that comes to mind when I think about convenience food for kids and toddlers is Serenity Kids – click to find out why I’m so excited about these products (plus get a discount).

I also recommend that you try using the search function over in our Facebook Group – try searching “kid friendly” “snack” “brown bag” or the particular dish you’re looking for … like “mac n cheese” or “shepherd’s pie” or “veggie poppers” or “nuggets” or even “baby food” if you’ve got a toddler!

Check out our Food Sourcing page where you’ll find links to my Categorized AIP Amazon Storefronts for Canada, UK and USA. I also have a specific AIP Amazon.com Storefront Section for AIP & Paleo Kids.  You’ll probably find my AIP Snack Guide handy and be sure to check out Paleo On The Go – they even carry an AIP version of Pop Tarts and Pizza Pops! 

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