Parents, Should You Put Kids on a Paleo Diet?

by | Updated: December 4th, 2016 | Read time: 4 minutes

Every parent is a concerned parent. You worry about your child’s eating habits every day. But with the paleo diet, comes a whole host of questions surrounding its dietary restrictions, practicality and nutritional value (isn’t dairy imperative for growing bones?). Of course, you want your kids to be healthy just like you, so it serves you well to know whether this eating plan is too extreme or exactly what they need.

Paleo for Kids? Learn How to Make it Work
Pack their food for the day in an insulated, BPA-free lunch bag.


According to the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, kids ages 2-18 get most of their calories from two food groups: milk and quick breads (think cookies, cakes, pastries and pies). Their carbohydrates clearly aren’t coming from fruits, salads or even smoothies. In fact, they’re largely sipping on soft drinks. And don’t even ask about essential fatty acids. Kids get most of their fat from cheese and processed cheese-like substances.

The practical paleo

You know that boxed macaroni and cheese isn’t the healthiest dinner option, but it’s convenient. A paleo diet, on the other hand, seems so time-consuming. Luckily, there are ways to simplify the paleo diet, so it fits your busy schedule. The trick is prepping as much as you can before the week gets away from you. And get the kids involved in the prep work. From growing to picking to cooking and assembling, kids should have a hand in it all. You’ll up the success rate of them truly enjoying their food, which is a win-win for everyone!

Tips and tricks to make the paleo diet easier for your family:

  • Many fruits and veggies can be washed, cut and stored in single portions for quick, easy-to-pack snacks.
  • Prepare glass jars with salad fixings layering the components so the hardest vegetable and/or lean protein is on the bottom and leafy greens on top. Store the dressing in a separate container to be added right before you’re ready to eat.
  • Smoothies can be pre-assembled much the same way as the salads. In jars or single-serve Magic Bullet containers, add fruit, leafy greens, spices and dairy-free protein powder. In the morning, all that’s left to do is add ice/water and blend for the perfect, kid-friendly breakfast. This also works well as post-workout nutrition for the adults in the house.
  • Soups and vegetable noodles can also save you time if you make a large batch on Sunday. When stored properly in BPA-free containers, they’ll keep well through Friday.

Deficiencies are doubtful

Aside from convenience, there’s fret over the long-term safety of a real paleo approach for little ones. Even if kids feel great enjoying dairy-free alternatives, you’re likely to worry that their bones won’t develop properly in what is perceived to be a lack of sufficient calcium. And while your gluten-free child may be more energetic and healthier overall, you can’t help but think they aren’t consuming enough fiber or B vitamins.

While paleo can be presented as radical or restrictive, the current state of children’s health is much more concerning. Besides, it is the goal of a Paleolithic diet to feed the body – regardless of age – with more nutrient-rich foods. For instance, non-starchy vegetables provide eight times more fiber than whole grains, while fruits contain twice as much. Another great benefit of this eating regimen is not just an overall lower carbohydrate consumption, but a lower glycemic intake. Non-starchy fruits and vegetables tend to have low glycemic indices, which results in slow digestion and absorption in the body. That, in turn, means a lower risk of blood sugar spikes.

When it comes to essential minerals, a paleo diet provides more potassium and less sodium. As noted by, “Unprocessed, fresh foods naturally contain 5 to 10 times more potassium than sodium.” This can be great for heart health, as low potassium intake has been linked to high blood pressure.

That being said, don’t rush the paleo lifestyle. As Dr. Loren Cordain suggests, “the optimal time to begin introducing children to the paleo diet is at the time they are weaned and begin eating solid foods.” You can start by blending your own baby food with organic, grass-fed meats, fruits and vegetables. As a Huffington Post article recently explained, “families can eat a paleo diet that is varied and ensures adequate nutrition for their children.”

Still skeptical?

If you’re still worried about nutrient deficiencies, knowing the signs to look out for will be helpful. First, keep in mind that the two most common deficiencies in children who are growing normally are iron and vitamin D, according to the National Center for Biotechnology Information. Typical symptoms include weakness, fatigue, decreased immune function and abnormal respiratory function.

Other indicators that something is lacking in your children’s diet include behavioral problems, such as hyperactivity or inconsistent emotions, as well as dry skin or hair. Physical indicators, such as frequent colds and flu and dental cavities can also be a sign that something isn’t right. A complete physical with a comprehensive blood panel, such as the Spectra Cell analysis, can be instrumental in correcting any deficiencies as soon as possible. This full check-up can help ensure your kids aren’t in danger of hampering their development during the crucial formative years.

If you’re on the fence, consult with a functional medicine doctor or naturopath that you’ve done your due diligence researching and collaborate to create the best balance for your kids, your family and the health of everyone involved. When presented as the delicacy that it is, real food can prove to be just what the (functional medicine) doctor ordered!