Guest Post, Paleo Family Eats: How I’m Transitioning My Son to Paleo

Wednesdays used to be our Guest Blogger Series day; but, there’s just so many new and wonderful Paleo and real-food bloggers out there that we’ve expanded our series. We hope you enjoy the new view points and unique content; if so, we encourage you to show these guest bloggers your support by visiting their blog and social media links at the end of this post!

Today we are joined by our friend, Rachel, of Paleo Family Eats. She shares her plan for helping her son’s Inflammatory Bowel Disease by transitioning him to paleo, a topic we are all interested in! After reading her post, visit her blog for more recipes and her story of how she lost 25 pounds and started running races!

I started my Paleo journey about 2 years ago after realizing that I have a gluten intolerance. I had been suffering for years not understanding what it was. Knowing Stacy for a few years, I asked her for some direction. She was happy to help me sort out and understand Paleo, and I have been going strong and feeling great since. I have lost about 25 lbs, have tons of energy, and have unleashed my inner athlete.

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This past December, my 8 year old son had his first flare of Inflammatory Bowel Disease. Although he was diagnosed over 6 years ago, we had not had any major issues that a little increase in medicine and a day of rest couldn’t fix. This time it was different. He could not get comfortable enough to rest. It was downright awful. He rolled around in pain for days and despite my background in Medicine, I was powerless. We increased his meds and rode it out, but it was a miserable 2 weeks. Thankfully it did stop, and although he lost a few pounds, he recovered. He still takes the same meds in addition to a number of vitamins and probiotics.

I had wanted to start to transition him to Paleo for a long time, but never took the initiative for this reason or that. The flare was a major wake up call, and I am grateful that I have the knowledge and the motivation to do something to really change his health. I have read a lot on autoimmune disease and inflammation, and I am sure that Paleo is going to be fantastic for him. So, as of January 1, we have begun the transition. The problem is that he is 8 years old. Transitioning him will take time, work, and a TON of patience. I came up with a plan, and decided to do it in a stepwise process in order to allow us to slowly get him used to eating differently. The most important thing to do first was to get rid of gluten. It has been 2 full months now, and I am incredibly happy to report that his gut is better than its ever been. His bathroom visits are normal for the first time in his life, his bloated belly has disappeared, and he is having an easier time doing his work at school. The amazing part is that he sees it too. But despite feeling better, he still misses wheat bread and bagels. So as a result, I have come up with a number of strategies to keep him on the road to Paleo. They help minimize the complaints and negative feelings towards his belly. He is a kid, and no matter how much he understands that gluten hurts his belly, he still has attachments to the foods he used to eat and I need to be receptive to that. So here’s a little list of what works for us to make it easier for him.

1. Discuss options before you get to a restaurant. We live in a small town, and know most of the local restaurant menus pretty well. I always make sure to talk to him first about the options that they will have there for him. I assume that one day I won’t have to do this but for now it helps. He is used to ordering things that he just can’t have now, so being prepared with ideas for him makes for a much more enjoyable meal.

2. Make a weekly meal plan. I usually shop on Sundays so I write my meal plan on our kitchen dry erase board. Then check the stock in the house and make a list. I pack lunch for all 3 kids so I include that as well. This way we always have something to make.

3. Involve the kids. I can’t stress this one enough. Let them contribute to planning. Have them pick fruits and veggies when you shop (our store even has little kids carts). Encourage them to help cook and bake. When they are involved its much more likely that they will be willing to try new things.

4. Add only one new food at a time. Having a new food on the plate surrounded by foods they are used to makes it less intimidating. And if that food has dip to dunk in, it’s a bonus πŸ™‚

5. Make lunches fun. My son eats at a table of his peers. They all have things in their lunch boxes he can no longer eat. Having him involved in picking what we pack for lunch is great, but every once in a while I put something unexpected that he loves in there as a special surprise. Usually it’s an almond flour baked good or an all fruit leather. I even do cheese shaped like the Millennium Falcon.

6. Take it slow. This is probably the most important. Remember that change takes time. School age kids in particular have established their eating habits. Just as adults can have a hard time adjusting to Paleo, kids can too. Taking it slow and keeping a positive association with food is key.

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Sometimes you just need something warm. Its in single digits here most days lately, and that makes me want comfort food. One of our favorite things to eat has always been chili. But since going Paleo, my definition of chili has changed. It used to be chock full of beans, limited in veggies, and had added sugar. Well, not anymore. This chili packs a nutritional punch with lots of veggies, grass fed protein, healthy fats, and zero added sugar. The fire roasted tomatoes really kick up the flavor. Even our most picky kid tester tried and liked this (ok, so I did have to pick the spinach out, but I still say it’s a win!)




  • 2 lbs grass fed beef (we buy ours in bulk from US Wellness Meats)
  • 1 medium onion (or half a large one), diced
  • 1 red, orange, or yellow pepper, diced
  • 1 cup baby carrots, sliced into small discs
  • 5 handfuls baby spinach (about 5 oz)
  • 1 large can of crushed fire roasted tomatoes
  • 1 large can of diced fire roasted tomatoes–drain out liquid
  • 1 large can of diced tomatoes–drain out liquid
  • 2 Tbsp of oil or fat for saute (I use grass fed ghee)
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • 1 tsp onion powder
  • 2 Tbsp cumin
  • 2 Tbsp chili powder
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • avocado
  • fresh cilantro


  1. In a large skillet on low to medium heat, melt the ghee and add the onion. SautΓ© until translucent. Add the grass fed beef and brown (grass fed beef is much better browned at a lower temp).
  2. Meanwhile, melt the other 1 Tbsp of ghee in a large stockpot and add the peppers and carrots. SautΓ© over medium heat while the beef is browning.
  3. Once the veggies are softened a bit (5-8 minutes or so), add the crushed tomatoes, and both cans of diced tomatoes.
  4. Add spinach.
  5. Drain meat (if you prefer a less oily chili). To the meat, add 1 Tbsp of cumin, 1 Tbsp chili powder, garlic powder, onion powder, lightly salt and pepper.
  6. Add the meat to the stockpot and stir to incorporate.
  7. Put the remaining spices in the stockpot and bring the heat up until bubbling. Turn heat down and simmer 30-45 minutes.
  8. Top with avocado and fresh cilantro.


profileRachel is a 36 year old mother of three boys. She has a B.S. in Nutrition and is a Physician Assistant. Because of a love for cooking (and eating!) she will be sharing recipes, tips, and ideas on her blog at www.paleofamilyeats.com


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  • Kat

    Awesome article! Way to go Rachel!!

  • I’m curious as to what your son is doing to that sweet potato,what kind of kitchen tool is that??

  • Carolinagirl

    What a great story, I really hope this transition will go smoothly for your son and that it continues to help!

    As for the spinach, I chop mine in my food processor before throwing it in sauces and soups, the kids think they are eating herbs and spices since it is much smaller! I prefer it chopped finely, too, it’s more enjoyable than eating a wilted, soggy leaf. Hope that helps!

  • A very smart approach, and a very cool mum!

  • Definitely going to try it!!

  • valjean

    Rachel, that is s great story and I’m proud of you and your family for making a transition to health …eat like a caveman! Tell the little ones it gets better everyday in everyway!!!

  • T

    when a person has gluten intolerance does it just involve the stomach or can their be mood issues, anxiety, spacey overwhelmed feelings, not being steady on your feet, of shaking or flushing after eating and so on?

    • absolutely! we talk about this a lot on our site and podcast – it’s VERY common

  • Melissa

    I have struggled sith transitionig my son and step daughter (as well as myself) completely over to paleo, reading that your sons bathroom habits are regular and his bloated belly is gone motivates me, mostly because I know the gluten is affecting my son in that way. Thanks for the article! I like to add zucchini to my chili as well, even butternut squash or sweet potato. And shredding veggies with a cheese grater or grinding up in a food processor is my way of hiding the veg, now my 4 year old will eat diced veg in eggs or other foods.