4 Things I Learned From Putting My Kids On A Diet

kids on a diet

I put my kids on a diet. Just kidding.

Sort of.

What I mean is that we ventured into 2020 on the Whole30 as a family. Whole30 isn’t really a diet. It’s more of a program. But does sort of resemble a diet because there are a lot of rules (just not the reduction of calories kind of diet).

In short the Whole30 rules are: No grains, gluten, dairy, soy, sugar, alcohol, legumes, or specific additives. 3-4 meals a day. No snacking. Basically all whole, natural, unprocessed foods.

Before you flip out….

This was not about making my kids lose weight! I was very vocal with them about the purpose of this venture being about getting more in tune with their bodies. As a mom, I tend to avoid weight discussions both about my own and theirs at all costs instead referring to our bodies as strong and able.

When they ask why I work out, I tell them it’s so I can keep up with them, which is actually true. I also did extensive research to ensure that this program was safe for children.

I didn’t enforce the “no snacking” for my kids because that is just not realistic since they are growing and have 3 planned snack times during their day. (Also, I don’t hate their teachers!)

Putting my kids on a diet wasn’t for me.

I completed the Whole30 a couple of years ago, and learned how certain foods affect my moods, belly, and even skin. So I already kind of knew the foods that aggravated my body. But with one child that isn’t a great sleeper, and another that is on the spectrum with LOTS of moods, I really wanted to learn, and more importantly, help them to learn how food affects their bodies and minds.


Here is what I learned:


#1: Rules are hard with kids!

Like we didn’t already know that?! In order to really give this a fair shot, we had to communicate with their schools regarding the rules. All the goldfish, graham crackers, and random wheat based snacks had to go. (I also didn’t enforce this with my three-year-old since her school provides snacks because I didn’t think she would understand the restriction and it would have a negative effect on her mood which was the point of this whole thing anyway!)

Thankfully, my boys’ teachers were super helpful, making sure to always have fresh fruit and unsweetened applesauce pouches on hand in case the kids got hungry. Also, the kids caught on quickly.


#2: There is hidden sugar in (basically) everything.

It was a little overwhelming to realize how many packaged foods have sugar. Thankfully, clean eating is super trendy so there are way more items on the market now that check all the boxes for Whole30 than when I took on this challenge before. We found several snack-like items at Costco and Trader Joe’s that worked and we even found some fun fruit leathers on Amazon and a recipe for coconut date bites which were super fun and yummy.

Making “treats” from healthy stuff was really fun for the kids! We even found a sugar-free ketchup option! And the boys learned to read labels and look for the “Added Sugars” line at the store.


#3: My kids are HUNGRY!

When all the junk food is gone, some days it felt near impossible to fill their bellies. We had to really pay attention that they were eating enough fat to sustain them, and as I mentioned before I allowed snacking.

The goal, again, was 100% not for anyone to lose any weight. It was truly about moods, upset bellies, and better sleep.


#4: Putting my kids on a diet was the best thing I have ever done for my family.

We have added a lot of things back into our diet now and are still trying to figure out all the things. But my oldest now knows that dairy upsets his stomach, so he makes really sound choices like getting sorbet at our local ice cream shop. I am also very aware how the hidden sugars impact my middle son’s impulse control. That is really important when we decide to have a random cake pop date and are more thoughtful about what comes next after said date.


Overall, eating clean with my family was been a great experience.

Would I love for us to remain on Whole30 forever? Yes. I think we would definitely see the benefit from this long-term or at least a version of it. However, I also think having a piece of cake at a birthday party is a fun part of childhood and I don’t want me kids to feel deprived.

If you feel like something is off in your family, I would encourage you to give it a try. Even my husband learned a few things in the process. And let’s be honest, more stable moods and better sleep is always a plus when you are a parent!


4 Things I Learned From Putting My Kids On A Diet PIN

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Erin is a fresh transplant to Orange County from Richmond, VA as of January 1, 2019! She and her husband, Rick, married in 2008 on the same beach where they fell in love on Virginia's Eastern Shore. They are thrilled to have settled into the Laguna Niguel area with their three wild children, ages 8, 6 and 2 and less than 5 miles from the coast. Erin works full-time as the director of a preschool, where she has the opportunity to make an impact and encourage the future of tomorrow to grow in every way, all while having fun! A self-proclaimed eternal optimist, she and her family enjoy living life and turning everything into an adventure. She loves trips to Target (alone at 8 am), iced coffee, baking, cheering for her VCU Rams, staying healthy, fresh air and introducing her kids to real music. Keep up with Erin on Instagram @therealricelife