NRNM: Guest Post From Sarah Fragoso

In fierce opposition to the ADA’s National Nutrition Month, I’m doing my own advocacy with National REAL Nutrition Month. Throughout March, I’ll post ideas and tips for something you can do to improve your own health habits, along with stuff you can do to painlessly share what you know with the people you love. (All the posts thus far are right here, or click the “National REAL Nutrition Month” label below.)

NRNM: Guest Post From Sarah Fragoso

Sarah Fragoso is a dynamo: CrossFitter, mother, cookbook author, and YAY! my first guest blogger.

Sarah is the author of the soon-to-be-released book Everyday Paleo. I’ll be reviewing it soon, so y’all will get a sneak peek of its tasty contents, but I have it on good authority that it includes a guide for paleo beginners, info on how to get the family on board, recipes, and more. You can also find some of Sarah’s recipes on her Everyday Paleo site, along with links to her podcast and information about her seminars.

Sarah’s approach to paleo includes her whole family, so I in honor of National REAL Nutrition Month, I invited her to write about how she decided to transform her children into cave kids and how that’s been working for their family.

Dig in!

Kids Eating Real Food
By Sarah Fragoso

I remember clearly my lightbulb moment.  It was a typical week night, and I had just sat down with my husband to eat our pile of green veggies swimming prettily in a pool of subtly-seasoned coconut milk with tender chicken chunks bobbing happily between mushroom slices. Before I took my first bite I looked around at my children’s plates and felt a lump rising in my throat.

They were gobbling up their “healthy” whole grain macaroni and cheese and already asking for more without even touching their pieces of chicken and bits of veggies that accompanied their sauce covered spirals.

This was a nightly occurrence in my home and one that I did not put a whole lot of thought into before my personal paleo journey began. I began to pay more and more attention to the food I was feeding my family as I started to take more and more notice of the amazing changes that were happening with my own body.

Yes, I was looking better, but most importantly, I felt alive for the first time in years. My skin glowed, my hair was shining, and the painful and chronic swelling and inflammation in my legs had disappeared, along with my almost weekly mind-splitting headaches. My energy was back – or rather, I actually knew what it was like to have energy. I was sleeping better, was more focused, and much happier than I could ever remember being before. Yet I was feeding my children the same foods that had made me terribly ill, overweight, and depressed.

A list of little things that my kiddos had faced during their short years on this planet swam through my head while I watched them eat that fateful night: eczema, unexplainable temper tantrums, constant runny noses, and ear infections. I had the answer to my own improved health and quality of life right in my lap, but I hadn’t even realized it as the answer to improved health for my family as well.

That lump in my throat turned to tears as I realized that I could help my boys feel better, too – and it was so simple: All I had to do was feed them the same nourishing foods that I was eating.

I cleaned the house of anything that resembled processed foods and took my little brood shopping. We loaded up on coconut milk, avocados, eggs, meat, and tons of veggies. Our first paleo meal as a family was a meal we made together, and I didn’t place the focus on the lack of pasta or French bread, but instead praised my little guys for the efforts in the kitchen as together we stirred, tasted, spilled, laughed, cooked, sat down together, smiled, and ate.

It was the beginning of our journey towards health together as a family and as with any other journey there are bumps in the road… but that’s OK because we were learning, growing, and sharing together the amazing gift of solid nutrition and drastically improved health.

A few weeks down the road and that extra degree of effort that we put into changing our children’s nutrition was hugely rewarded. Goodbye eczema! Goodbye Costco runs for more tissue for those constant runny noses! Goodbye blood sugar crash-induced temper tantrums! Goodbye chronic ear infections! And HELLO! to more time spent together in the kitchen. There are a few more dishes to wash, rather then pre-packed food boxes to throw away, but I am  extremely satisfied with the trade off!

Bottom line is this: kids need proper nutrition just as much as we do, and they deserve to reap the rewards of paleo nutrition!

Does this mean that all the fun food has to leave the kitchen right along with the spaghettiOs? Not necessarily. We as parents simply do not give our kids enough credit as to what they will eat when only offered healthy options.

The number one tip to success when transitioning your family to a healthier way of eating is to get them involved in the kitchen. When a child is able to help create a meal and is praised and encouraged for his or her efforts, you’ll be amazed at what they will eat. It might be a process… it might be scary… you might want to throw in the towel… but if you approach this journey as a family and put the emphasis on fun and adventure, you will be successful, one step at a time.

Furthermore, statistics do not lie. Our kids not only need and deserve quality nutrition – their lives literally depend on it. For the first time in history, experts are anticipating the likelihood that our children will NOT outlive us due to obesity and other nutrition-related disease. To make things even scarier, one out of three children are likely to be diagnosed with Type II diabetes before they are even old enough to drive a car.

The good news is that as parents we are armed with the necessary tools to reverse this trend. But without our guidance, nothing will change. Here are some tips to help you start your own family journey to good health:

  • To be proactive and take that first step, arm yourself with resources like all the amazing and supportive paleo blogs that are literally at your fingertips.
  • Team up with other parents for support and encouragement. 
  • Read through the required reading blogs on my website for more tips and ideas to get the kids on board. 

Most importantly, be proud of taking that first step to give your kids the best gift possible: the gift of a healthy beginning that is sure to carry them through life. Life, after all, is about thriving and not just simply surviving.

Here are some kid-approved recipes from Sarah’s site:
Fun Burgers
Salsa Dancing Chicken

Fun Burgers – Who needs a bun?!

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  • ashley thiel says:

    I love this and it is all sooo true!! Thank you to your guest for posting!

  • Jo's Health Corner says:

    Great post! We started our health journey several years ago. The first we noticed was how much better the children behaved, less arguing with each other, and how much healthier they became..We been doing the Paleo Diet for a while now and love it..

  • Heather says:

    That post almost brought tears to my eyes. Sarah, can you pinpoint any one particular food that might have been the cause of the eczema? My son has eczema and I'm trying to get to the root of it through diet. If only I had been Paleo before I had him!

  • Sarah Fragoso says:

    Hi Heather! Anything that contains gluten or dairy both seem to make his skin break out again, but especially the gluten! Please let me know how things go and best of luck to you!!

  • Anonymous says:

    I love your blog, Melissa (just made your chili yesterday – pure awesomeness – and, yes, I let it simmer the full 2 hrs). I really admire and respect Sarah, and I am so happy to see her on your site. As a wife and mother (ages 4 and 9), I find Sarah very relatable. The info on her site is invaluable – I cannot wait for her book to come out!! And, yes, folks, you really can get your kids to eat real food. It is not nearly as difficult as everyone convinces themselves it's going to be. I promise!
    From Laura B, Napa, CA

  • Renee says:

    I went sugar/flour free two years ago on March 22! I have lost 100 pounds and transformed my life. I sounded just like Sarah, overweight, depressed and in really poor health. Last July I did my first 30 day challenge and have never looked back! It has taken time for me to get my whole family on board. I think I now have been doing it for so long that I don't want anyone to be eating non-paleo. Since I've started using recipes from Sarah's website meals have been super easy and everyone is enjoying them. I have a 15 year old daughter with excema and I've really been talking to her about how the foods she eats can cause the breakouts. It's not easy getting all the junk out of the house, but that now is my goal and with the inspiration from Sarah and others we're on our way!

  • Marcos Torres says:

    woah i want one of those burgers….now didnt even realize the buns were missing.

  • Marcos Torres says:

    I tried them today wow that was good and way filling didn't need excess bread. good post.

  • Emma says:

    Sarah, you are an inspiration! I am lucky enough to have started my little girl on Paleo from the very beginning of her life. She is now approaching her 2nd birthday and has NEVER been sick, this is not just me bragging about my daughters abundance of health but a testament to the power of REAL food – keep up the good work!