Women’s Only: Ashley N. Cline

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Picky Paleo Eater

  • How can nutrition during pregnancy impact your child?
  • How do you create healthy eating habits at an early age?
Ashley N. Cline, guest columnist and pregnant mother of one, returns to write candidly this week about the challenge of trying to reform her toddler’s eating habits in the midst of improving her own nutrition. As adults, it is hard enough to make good eating choices, so how do you convince a two-year-old that a piece of fruit is tastier than that bowl of ice cream?

Before my Paleo and Crossfit adventures, I was not a healthy person. I was naturally slim, which led me to believe I was healthy. Boy, did I have a lot to learn. When pregnant with my son, I indulged. Really indulged. I took very literally that I was now eating for two and pampered my taste buds with anything my little heart desired.

My over-indulgence led to a 52-pound weight gain during my pregnancy and a struggle with gestational diabetes. Those two symptoms of course shortly resolved after giving birth, but the worst outcome of all was the eating habits I passed on to my son, who is now two-and-a-half. Granted, we continued with our not-so-healthy eating habits the first couple years of his life, but now we find ourselves struggling to get him to eat anything healthy at all.

I’ve created a junk food-enthused toddler – and I feel horrible about it.

When we started our Paleo endeavor (about 7 months ago), I put the whole family through the ringer, cold turkey. For Sergio (my significant other) and me, this wasn’t too difficult because we had gradually been making small lifestyle changes anyway. As long as I didn’t have to give up meat, I was happy. For my son, however, this change in diet did NOT go over smoothly – at all! You would think – if he is hungry enough – he will eat. Not true. In fact, he would live for a day or two eating only the snacks he had at school.

Slowly but surely, I have been replacing all his favorite processed treats with healthier alternatives – leaning more towards all-natural, organic and yes, even whole wheat options.
Naturally, this broke my heart to see him not eat…so I continued to “spoil” him with the processed foods I knew he would eat. After beating myself up about the difficult transition and getting tired of chasing him around the house just to shove a bite of veggies into his mouth, it finally dawned on me that I am doing this all wrong. Baby steps.

Slowly but surely, I have been replacing all his favorite processed treats with healthier alternatives – leaning more towards all-natural, organic and yes, even whole wheat options. Even though some of these options are not “Paleo-approved,” I still feel that they are a step in the right direction. We are making progress: I have noticed he does enjoy his veggies more and will happily eat a scrambled egg. His sweet tooth is still a force to be reckoned with (but honestly, mine is too). Our biggest challenge is meat/poultry because he does not eat any. (I tease his vegetarian Aunts for rubbing off on him.) I have experimented with creative Paleo recipes too – which cannot quite fool a picky toddler’s taste buds.

I’d like to open up this discussion in hopes of collecting tips and advice from other parents who went through my struggles. What are you doing to create healthy eating habits at an early age? Please help!

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