Following the AIP diet can be tough for anyone but the AIP Diet for kids definitely carries its own challenges. This post was inspired by parents contacting me asking how they can adjust it to their kids so let’s see what we can figure out together. The purpose of this Auto-Immune Protocol is really to eliminate anything that could possibly cause inflammation but how do you do this when your child is a picky eater or is used to certain foods?
The AIP Diet for Kids is Possible.
First let me say I don’t have kids but my entire family is difficult and stubborn in the best way so I have a lot of practice and theories about how to adjust accordingly. I can only imagine from a parent’s point of view what a child with an auto-immune issue must feel like and how dire it can feel to heal your own child. In the past few weeks I’ve spoken to a lot of parents and my heart and knowledge goes out to you all. I hope this post will help aid your family in trying a new healing modality, the AIP diet for kids, and ultimately give you and your child peace of mind and body.
Getting your child on the AIP Diet starts with communication. How little or how much is up to the parent but more can always lead to a better healing process because it involves the child in it’s own healing. As I said in previous posts I was raised on Homeopathic medicine which really taught me I was responsible and capable for my own healing.
The AIP Diet for Kids Starts with Communication.
With certain auto-immune issues the physical manifestation is more obvious than the internal. If your child has Alopecia like I do then chances are they know their hair is falling out and something is up with their bodies. Children are incredibly perceptive and if internally something is off they will know, so talking to them about what is going on will help the overall dietary healing process.
Be honest with them about their bodies.
The script can start something like this: “Child” as you can see or feel there is something going on with your body. It’s a little out of whack. It doesn’t feel good I bet. “I-Parent” have discovered something we can try to see if we can help your body heal. We may not get the perfect results but I bet we can make you feel a bit better and teach your body to help itself again.
*Kids are natural teachers so definitely involve them.
*I’m not a psychologist so I would think (in my opinion) it is good to not get anyone’s hopes up and talk about trying things as opposed to getting results. Even though many many people see favorable results I would think that’s just a better strategy.
Who is setting the rules?
I talked to my holistic Mother a lot about this recently and how to modify the AIP diet for kids. Her opinion was very direct, much like her:) She wants to know who is setting the rules in the house, you or your child? This comes from a woman who raised us to make our own choices, have our own opinions, and follow our intuition. We were basically feral children.
This doesn’t mean you are forcing food on them or having them go to bed hungry but rather there is a certain authority when dealing with a health related issue. You as the parent are the caretaker and when their own bodies aren’t able to fully care for themselves, it is up to you as said parent to intervene.
Let your child know they may have to make some adjustments so they can get better….
Let them be emotional.
…But also, let your child have their moods. Your child may be mirroring what is actually happening inside their body. They may be angry, irritable, sad, or suddenly more difficult than they ever were. Let them be…for a time.
Make a mood corner or take a mood walk. When your kid starts feeling off which is totally understandable, take a mood walk in nature. Open up a space that is just for them to have their moods and know those emotions are being heard. Make a mood corner that is NOT a timeout but a place of calming cozy items that your kido can feel comforted.
By gently showing them how to take control of their feelings and moods, you’re helping them understand how we (parent and child) are going to be taking care of their bodies.
The AIP Diet for Kids CAN be FUN.
I work in Marketing so the word “gamify” is thrown round quite a bit. Did you know adding a game or fun aspect to things causes people to engage and “buy into it” more? You know who LOVES games?…your kids.
Make them the quarterback of their own team.
Healing is as much a solo endeavor as it is a team effort. You, parent are the coach but you can make them the quarterback. They are responsible for winning the game, playing out strategies, and ensuring victory. The AIP health translation of that is talk to your kids about what foods they CAN eat, let them pick out his favorite vegetables, talk to them about the kinds of AIP meals he would like to eat. Involve them enough that they have some responsibility and ownership in their own healing.
Make Foods Fun!
The funnest food in the world is the purple sweet potato. What kid does not want to eat a purple potato?! Make food a learning experience and pick a new exotic AIP approved fruit or vegetable to try. There are thankfully a million AIP cookies, muffins, gummy recipes they can eat without a hitch. I do think AIP for kids can be just as “easy” as the Auto-Immune Protocol for adults. Involve them in the kitchen and let them be an AIP mini chef!
Do what you can.
I am not going to sit here as a non parent without an auto-immune child and tell you cut everything and become a food tyrant. Who are you, me!? You’re already doing a great job, I promise you so if you can’t do everything, then do what you can. There a few things to think about when starting the AIP Diet with your child:
Where do you live?
If you are outside the US, your food is prepared way differently from ours. Bread may have less preservatives, soy or corn (yes they put corn in bread people read the labels…). Dairy products or meat may be grassfed already. Fruit and vegetables may already be organic and local. Labelling “organic” is a huge fee for farmers and doesn’t always mean what you think it means.
Kid won’t give up a certain food?
Who’s the tyrant now!? It’s okay parent, but try to limit it as much as you can okay. No need to feed them bread and cheese at every meal and for snacks. Maybe they get bread for dinner and an organic mozzarella string cheese for snack. Balance.
Make the swap.
If you have a child that LOVES peanut butter cutting that can be the beginning of a miserable battle. Unfortunately peanut butter is a definite no-no on the AIP diet for kids, as most of us have different levels of allergies for peanut butter without knowing and it’s just not a friend to our digestive areas.
Is your kid losing it over no PBJ? Switch to Almond butter which is nutritionally better and all around less inflammatory. Find your self no sugar/preservative added jam, and go ahead and find a recipe for AIP bread.
Go grassfed when you can, check labels for preservatives and junk, and try to go with the healthier organic or natural versions of their favorite foods. Thankfully you can either buy healthier versions in health food stores now or make them yourself.
The AIP Diet for Kids is Still the AIP Diet.
If you are looking at a way to modify the AIP diet for kids, the most important thing to implement in your child’s auto-immune healing is NO NIGHTSHADES. If you are trying to bring down inflammation you cannot eat inflammatory triggers. Your child’s body needs to calm itself and during this anti-inflammatory process nightshades are a definite no-no.
Nightshades to eliminate during the AIP Diet include:
- Potatoes (sweet potatoes are okay)
- Peppers – chilis, sweet, spicy, paprika, cayenne, etc. etc.
- Tomatoes – If you MUST eat tomatoes (remove the seeds, skins and stew them- no uncooked tomatoes please)
- Goji berries
- Ground cherries
- Pepino melons
Remember, a Kid On the AIP Diet Is Still a Kid.
This is actually good news for you, parent, for the following reasons:
Kids are not as self identified with food as adults.
If you tell an adult their diet doesn’t involve pizza for a short while- they lose their shit. Never mind that the diet can turn them into a supermodel, they aren’t giving up pizza…F%$# you diet. Kids are a bit more flexible.
Kids eat the same stuff!
This as a non parent I know is true because #babysitting. Kids pretty much eat the same few foods over and over because they are basic, like me. If your kid LOVES sweet potatoes- you go ahead and find every AIP sweet potato recipe you can and make a million variations of sweet potatoes. Your kid is a fan of meatballs? Make meatballs twice a week and sneak in some shredded zucchini.
Kids are Smart AF Nowadays.
I keep talking to kids that I KNOW are smarter than me and I instantly hate them. They are more self aware, more connected to something bigger than them, and they have the internet so they actually know stuff. Use those freaky kid smarts to your advantage and tell them why this nutrient dense diet is important for them.
The AIP diet for kids is a process, as is healing, as is healing your child. Do some research and find some recipes to bring to the table to get them excited about ahead of time before just jumping in and saying guess what, you can eat spinach and avocado only forever. Check out Sarah Ballantyne’s tips for getting your kids on board.
Pinterest is huge for AIP kid friendly recipes so you’re in luck that there is a huge resource out there already. Don’t worry about being the perfect AIP parent, you’ll learn as you go, just like you did when you had kids;0
Good luck parents!