In my effort to help special needs families adopt Paleo, I try to balance between posts on helpful tips and strategies, small doses of inspiration and encouragement, and plenty of personal stories that let you know you’re not alone. It’s all done to spell out my message of Please Do This For Your Child in a way that seems positive and possible. (See the story I shared today at RobbWolf.com)
So today I’ve summarized 4 key concepts that we’ve learned on our Paleo journey. While they may be specific to our experience, I’m hoping they’ll help you find the focus and inspiration it takes to lead your family on this tremendous journey toward better health.
1. Put Yourself First. You’re not going to hear this much in our culture. Modern parenthood seems more about striving for some level of perfection and performance from our kids, rather than matching the needs of our children with what we have available to give. Ignoring my own needs and giving every last ounce of myself to my kids only made me sick and tired. It took learning what my body and mind needed and redefining health for myself to really open doors to a new level of connection with my family.
I may be the first to say this, but I firmly believe that taking care of yourself and getting your health in order should be the first step on your Paleo journey. Take the lead and be a role model of good health for your kids. Let them see you taking care of yourself and feel free to think outside the box here. Give yourself what you need for a healthier you on a regular basis: better sleep, cleaner food, time with friends, a glass of red wine, appropriate exercise. Only you can define your needs and make them happen.
Okay, enough with my infomercial-like health and wellness speak. Once you have yourself in check, it’s time to think deeply about your kid(s).
2. Know your kids. I try to keep my recommendations for working with special needs kids pretty general, because any kid’s needs are special and specific. Parents know their kids best and when it comes to making a big change with their diet, my only advice would be: learn what works to make progress and stay consistent. I think you will be pleasantly surprised in what you will learn about your kids as your travel on a life-changing journey together.
I believe strongly in the Favorite Food Technique and also have some ideas on the recommendations and advice page. In addition, I would love to hear successes around adopting Paleo that your family has experienced.
3. Commit to plan and prep. A fast paced lifestyle of high stress and processed foods is what got us into this situation in the first place. Our Paleo journey included learning how to slow down, plan our meals, and value the food we put into our bodies. I can safely say that for our family this is the hardest, but most crucial part of the Paleo lifestyle. It takes a conscious effort to keep up with two busy kids and still find time to plan, shop for, and prepare home cooked meals made with Real Food. I keep myself motivated to stay on track by writing posts like these: Preparation and What’s for Dinner?. Hopefully, they’ll help keep you motivated, too.
4. Set goals while practicing self-forgiveness Launching into a Paleo lifestyle may seem daunting at best, but I often tell friends and family members who are considering Paleo to set small, reachable goals. Starting with one meal at a time (even if it’s the same meal a few times a week) makes Paleo living seem possible. If you fall off of the Paleo wagon for whatever reason, only you know what to tell yourself to get back on track. After two years on this amazing journey, I can tell you that treating failure as a learning experience helps create motivation for more success down the road. Treat any non-Paleo meals/days/weeks as an opportunity to witness the changes your body experiences. Use the information you learn to do what it takes to help your and your family “look, feel, and perform” at your best. (quotation borrowed from Robb Wolf)
If you are leading your family on this journey, it’s certainly not an easy task. Be kind to yourself and do the best you can. Any steps away from a lifestyle of high stress and a Standard American Diet are steps in the right direction. Keep up the good work!