Children On a Grain & Dairy Free Diet (Paleo)

8:24 AM Posted by Jo Pedranti

 We have been on a grain/dairy/legume/sugar free diet for a while now. When I explain that we are grain free, the biggest concern for many seems to be how they would survive without the grains. Perhaps it was easier for us since we didn't eat that much grains or  processed food before excluding them.

Not a big change

I served cooked lunch prior to going grain free so we didn't rely on sandwiches for lunch which made the transition smoother.  I just needed to replace the pasta or potatoes with more veggies, meat and make sure that we eat plenty of fat. My children already ate fruits, veggies, cut up meat, nuts, shakes and smoothies  for snack even though some bread, waffles,  and crackers were served from time to time.  Dinner isn't that complicated either since I always kept it simple and never made a lot of  casseroles and gratins. I always liked to make stews and I can still make them grain free. I just have to make sure that I include enough protein, vegetables and fat since we don't eat rice or noodles. 

Breakfast was the hardest

The hardest part to get used to was  breakfast but it didn't take long to get into the routines. We have always enjoyed a protein shake first thing in the morning so we didn't start the day with grains.  Once the breakfast shake had settled I used to make them some oatmeal, other hot cereal, and on weekends I sometimes made pancakes. It definitely takes more time to prep breakfast than it did before but my children don't ask for snacks between breakfast and lunch anymore. They last hours on a sturdy breakfast of eggs, chicken, leftover steak, plenty of fat and some fresh fruit or vegetables. I try to make enough meat at dinner time so that I have some leftover for breakfast and for my husband's lunch salad.
Grain & Dairy Free Breakfasts

Some of the benefits so far

The first thing I noticed was that my children are more calm and focused. They also last longer between the meals so less snacks are required. Their moods are more stabilized and especially my daughter doesn't get irritated anymore. My oldest son's teenage acne disappeared, he used to keep it under control with natural things but the acne disappeared once he was grain/dairy free. He has always been fit and muscular, but his body is way more toned now then before. It has changed in a way that his coaches noticed and made comments about his muscles. He is also stronger and can lift heavier than before. Gone are all the excess fluid in the body. I have also noticed a decrease in his facial tissue and I can't wait to see where this leads to.
When a Child is Different

The biggest change

The biggest change has been in my youngest son. Alex is a totally different child since he went grain & Dairy free. We ate a good diet before cutting out the grains,  but I had no idea that I would see such a change in him. He is better at concentrating than before, but the amazing thing is the glow in his eyes when he talks about school and that he shows a greater interest in learning. He reads more and is more active in learning. It used to take hours for him to finish up his school work but now it only takes half the time. He scores 100% on his tests and keeps pushing to learn more. There are no more sighs when I say it is time for school. I never realized that grains affected him in that way since he was just like many other kids before. Most children are not crazy about school, and day dreaming or taking time finishing up assignments are not unusual. He wasn't a trouble kid at all. I'm so glad that I decided to go Paleo so that I would see this change.

I asked Alex to tell me how he felt being on Paleo and he answered me: I have a lot more energy and I can run faster. I get a lot better scores on tests,  I'm smarter and I can get school done faster.

Alex has not only changed mentally. His sister and brother are very athletic and in good shape but Alex never had the energy to keep up with them. He always got tired first and quit the game before his siblings. His sister and brother could be playing football outside while Alex was sitting on the porch watching them. He gave up too easily when it came to moving around. Since starting on Paleo his hair has grown incredibly fast and he has also become taller. He goes outside and runs laps around the house on his own initiative. Alex is incredibly proud that he has so much more energy now. Mind you, this is a child that has been eating a good wholesome diet before going Paleo. The only dairy he ate before the change was a tiny bit milk with his hot cereal, so I believe it is the removal of the grains that contributes to the most changes. Alex is very excited that he has as much stamina as his siblings, and all of a sudden it is fun to play sports or run around in the backyard.

It may take a while to get used to

It can take a while to get used to not eating grains and sugar since they are addictive. The first days were a little bit hard since my children's  bodies were still used to eating carbs even if they were the so called "healthy kinds". I increased the fat and the protein and after a few days they were fine. Once in a while my children come up with some outrageous request like I wish we could order a pizza, which we didn't do before going Paleo. We still keep Saturdays as our treat day like we always have.  Fortunately there are many things we can buy or make to keep Saturdays special without killing ourselves slowly by eating bad stuff.
Getting Started On the Paleo Diet

 Try  30 day grain free

Alex had the opportunity to try some pasta while visiting someone and he took a couple of bites only. He told me that pasta makes him feel bad and he doesn't want to eat it again. He knew himself that he didn't feel good eating it. One reason that experts like Robb Wolff says to try it for 30 days is so that it cleanses out from the body. You may feel fine eating the grains for now, but try to re-introduce it again after 30 days to see how you feel. Many times we assume we are supposed to feel the way we do because we don't know any other way.  I've read somewhere that it takes 15 days for the body to recover after being exposed to gluten, but that you can recover fairly quickly if eating sugar as a special treat once in a while.
Is Paleo Beneficial for Autoimmune Diseases?

Parties and stuff

Will I forbid my children to eat grains and sugar at parties? We haven't faced that situation yet but I also know that it is not healthy to be overly strict either. At the same time I know how damaging the food is for my children. I may make something better to bring and share with everyone, or I may be more tolerant. I am mostly concerned with my boys since my youngest obviously is feeling so much better on the new diet, and my oldest has a facial tumor.  It is pretty hard when you learn that it takes 15 days for the body to recover after being exposed to grains.

I know one thing for sure, it is important to educate my children why we don't eat the way most people do. They need to understand why and what harm various foods can do to their bodies. I always bring water and my own snacks when we go places,  there are very few places to buy healthy snacks whether you're on a grain free diet or not.

Thanks for visiting!  Please stop by my new blog, The Paleo Lifestyle, where I am adding new information about grain,dairy, legume, and sugar free diet.

Johanna is an aromatherapist and she is passionate about educating people about health, essential oils, real food, natural remedies, and nutrition so they make healthier choices in their lives. 
Follow Johanna on twitter and facebook for more health tips and information.

This post is linked to:
Real Food Wednesday hosted by Kelly the Kitchen Kop
Primal Cave Friday hosted by Primal Toad 
Fight Back Friday hosted by the Food Renegade

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  1. Laurie said...

    Jo - second to last paragraph. I think you've got a "do" where you wanted a "does'.

    I've been working to reduce our grain intake, but I just don't know if I could tackle grain free. This post makes me want to try, but the winters are so long here that I'd be hard pressed to keep quality local veggies filling the table.

    I see you've been remodeling, too. Pretty photos. :-)

  2. Jill said...

    Hi Johanna,
    I read your article with interest as I am a nutritionist/chiropractor and recommend to many people to get off the grain wagon and see how you feel. Congratulations on your success. I have myself and my son off dairy and grains (with follow the SCD/GAPS diet) and I have been amazed at how smart he has gotten! It must be all the cholesterol in the eggs!

  3. Jo's Health Corner/ said...

    Thanks Laurie,
    I think I have to pay you soon for being my editor.LOL

    You know Laurie, I have come across studies that showed that frozen vegetables have the same or even more nutrients than fresh. I'll bet it is due to being frozen as soon as being picked and not loosing vital nutrients being picked un-ripened and transported long ways. Bone broths are very filling and you can add suitable cold country veggies to it. I like to keep frozen spinach in the freezer for when I am low on fresh veggies. I mix it with chicken, onions, and garlic.

    Thanks for the nice words about the design. I felt like I needed a look that wasn't too feminine..

  4. Jo's Health Corner/ said...

    Thanks Jill,
    It is amazing how the children can change as soon as grains are removed.

    Thanks for visiting my blog!

  5. Paleo Autoimmune Recipes said...

    I have to second what Jo said about the frozen vegetables being a worthy alternative to fresh. I have read that countless times too.

    Love this post. What she is telling you is true. Like anything worth having it takes some effort and yes going Paleo takes some effort but the benefits outweigh it all and will continue to surprise you.

  6. Jo's Health Corner/ said...

    Thanks Paleo!
    Paleo takes some efforts but the benefits outweigh it for sure.

  7. Paleo Autoimmune Recipes said...

    Blogger is back up and now we have to repost comments! I liked this post. The more people talk about the reality of how this diet impacts us all the more people will start to think about what they eat. Paleo is like Freakonomics where the conventional wisdom is so wrong so is SAD.

  8. Jo's Health Corner/ said...

    Thanks Paleo!
    You're right, the more we talk about it the more people will think about what they eat.

    I can't believe Blogger lost the comments to this post...Have a great weekend!

  9. Laura said...

    It seems the real food community grows stronger ever day. More and more people are realizing the truth about food and it's effects on us, especially children. Great post.

  10. CJ said...

    Excellent post! I'm sure your kids appreciate you now but when they grow up and have kids of their own they will truly realize just how much you loved them and cared for them; what a great Mom! I am new to Paleo - about three weeks in. I too drank protein smoothies prior to Paleo. Have you found a decent tasting sugar-free, dairy-free and grain-free protein to use in smoothies? I believe whey is dairy so would that be considered unacceptable? Any suggestions regarding smoothies would be greatly appreciated. Thank you. CJ

  11. Jo's Health Corner/ said...

    Hi CJ,
    I've heard people into Paleo use egg white protein powder. You can find it un-flavored and un-sweetened in health food stores.

  12. CJ said...

    Thank you for the egg white protein recommendation. I found a product made by NOW called Eggwhite Protein - it contains nothing but powdered egg whites. I tried 1 tablespoon (equivalent to 1 egg white) in a smoothie and it was undetectable. Smoothies sound much more appetizing to me in the morning and they save me time. I ordered the product through this online company
    All the best,

  13. bharatbook said...

    Pretty good post. I hope you create more in the future..
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  14. Tessa Domestic Diva said...

    Thank you for sharing your experience on Allergy Free Wednesdays. I have taken the dairy and gluten out of my kids diets, and my oldest can focus so much more now, but it is still not perfect. Maybe the next step will be grains...healing the gut is probably key!

  15. Jo's Health Corner/ said...

    Hi Tessa,
    Healing the gut is very important and should not be forgotten..

  16. MCA said...

    This is fantastic! We are already mostly dairy-free because of allergies, but not grain. We don't eat tons of it though because my husband has a wheat allergy. I should try a 30-day challenge, particularly with my son to see how his focus changes.

    Thanks for sharing this at Allergy-Free Wednesdays. Great information!

  17. Jo's Health Corner/ said...

    You're welcome MCA. I'm glad I found your the link up. Let me know how you do on your 30 day challenge.

  18. Jordan Wildman said...

    Jo, thanks so much. My 14 month old boy has so many food allergies/sensitivities. We have been dairy free for his whole nlife (still BFing) and we recently took him to an AAT (advanced allergy therapeutics) practicioner and he saw the followig allergies/sensitivities:
    corn, grains (not rice though), wheat, protein, acid, soy, sugar, nuts, chicken, Vitamin B and C. We have treated the acid and the proteins so far. I don't know how to cook for this as he only has 7 teeth (no molars) and with a 3 year old (no dairy) and a husband (who would gladly eat the garbage can over a grain/wheat/dairy free diet!! Any, would be helpful!

  19. Jo's Health Corner/ said...

    Hi Jordan,
    I'm sorry to hear about your son's allergies.This is indeed very challenging when a little child has so many allergies. It reminds me of my dog, she was allergic to almost everything..We focused on healing her gut..Did anyone mention leaky gut to you?

    How did you treat the acids and proteins so far? Does it mean your boy can eat some meat now? If so, crockpot meals can be made very nutritious especially if made with meat and bones..They are also easy to eat since the meat and veggies are so tender.

  20. Lucy Finley said...

    This article is very interesting about Diets and hope so the coming one will also be beneficial for us.