These days, both parents and kids are experimenting with paleo and vegan lifestyles, but are diets like these safe for kids?
Pop-Tarts, Goldfish, peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, Honey Nut Cheerios, and Lunchables. Unfortunately, these foods are anything but real. So when debating whether paleo or vegan diets are safe for kids, it simply comes down to the fact that eating real food is always best.
Three Benefits of Paleo Diets for Kids
One: Just Like Mom’s Milk
The “perfect food” (mother’s milk) contains a complete nutritional profile of carbohydrates, fats, proteins, and probiotics. The paleo diet? It emphasizes the same exact nutrients—making it the perfect transition for the growing little humans.
Two: “Kid Friendly” Versions
Think your little one has to give up french fries, pizza, or donuts? Nope. There is a paleo-friendly version for them all—within the context of moderation, of course. (Expert Tip: Check out the local startup Guiltless Goodies, found at HEB, Central Market, and People’s Pharmacy)
Three: Sustainably Raised Meats
The claim “meat causes cancer” should be, “bad meat causes cancer.” Certain brands of frozen chicken are completely different from the pastured chicken from the cold case at Whole Foods or the local farmer’s market. Contrary to popular belief, the paleo protein philosophy is aimed at encouraging adherents to consume local, sustainably-sourced, grass-fed, wild-caught and pastured-raised meats and seafood. Meats, poultry, and fish provide your kids with a complete amino acid profile, essential to their growing and developing bodies and brains.
Note: If the organic options are not in the budget for every meal, no sweat. On the totem pole of paleo importance, after organic meats buy the natural versions of leaner cuts of meats or the fattier cuts of organic cuts of meats—often the same price as the natural versions.*The fat of animal meats is primarily where any toxins are stored in non-organic (unhealthy) animals).
Three Benefits of Vegan Diets for Kids
Traditional vegan-based diets are built upon a colorful plate of vegetables galore, and more vegetables for kids is never a bad thing. Though it can take kids an average of 17 times to try a new food and actually like it, and vegetables may be one of those.
Two: Avoid Processed and Packaged foods, Sugars, and Additives
If you are introducing a vegan diet as it should be (i.e. based on real foods), the vegan way doesn’t include processed and packaged foods, sugars, and additives are not included—similar to paleo. Again, contrary to popular belief, cleverly marketed vegan cheddar bunnies, cocoa puffs, and fruit gummies are not technically real vegan foods. Proceed with caution.
Feeding your kids a sustainable, real food, diet gives them a fast-track education—saving them years of learning the hard way. Certainly, us older folks ate Frosted Flakes and still managed to succeed, but perhaps not without some health consequences along the way.
Which is best?
Just like a plant needs three primary nutrients: clean water, rich soil, and sunshine, human beings need three primary macronutrients to thrive: proteins, fats, and carbohydrates.
For kids, no diets are necessary (besides allergy limitations). Theoretically, one could take the benefits of both the paleo and vegan diets, and combine them. Your child is a growing human and needs nutrient-dense, whole food nutrition. No need to put a dietary label on it—just feed them real food.