How one family did the Whole 30 Challenge with a three year old and a one year old. | IntentionalByGrace.com
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How We Did the Whole 30 Challenge with Kids {plus this week’s menu plan}

Are you wanting to do the Whole 30 challenge or just change your child’s diet from sugar and processed foods to more fresh fruits and vegetables? Are you worried it will be a battle? Try these tips we discovered during our Whole 30 challenge for getting our three year old on board.

How to do the whole 30 challenge with kids. Yes, it can go well!
We are currently on Day 29 of the Whole 30 challenge. We are close to the end, and one of the most frequently asked questions during this challenge is: Did your three year old take part in the challenge too?

The answer is: Yes. Yes, he did.

Inevitably the follow up question is always: How did you manage to get your three year old to give up grains, sugar, and dairy?

The short answer is: We didn’t give him any.

And though true as this statement is, we all know what you’re really asking is: Didn’t he drive you crazy asking for cheese, lollipops, and crackers?

What did we do to get our three year old on board? How did we prepare him for the changes we were making in our diet? How did we manage the well meaning checkout clerk offering lollipops? How did we convince him to skip the popcorn at our local hardware store? How did we manage children’s church that hands out goldfish?

Here’s How We Did the Whole 30 Challenge with Kids

Talked about the challenge before we started

Before we started the Whole 30 challenge, we explained to our son that we were going to take some big steps to getting our family healthy again. We told him for 30 days we were going to stop eating cheese, lollipops, and noodles.

We talked a lot about how excited Mommy and Daddy were about getting healthy, and how we prayed it would bring glory to God as we tried to take steps to better stewardship of our health.

Then, we cleaned out the cabinets and put a few treats away to save for when we were finished with the challenge.

Prepared our child for challenging situations

We talked a lot about temptation. We explained to our three year old what temptation means and how we combat temptation (i.e., with God’s Word and through prayer). We prayed together for strength, and confessed our need for Jesus to help us learn to make the right choices with our food.

Then, we talked to our son about challenging situations he would encounter during the day.

  • If we were heading to church, we’d talk to him about the treats in the foyer and the choice he gets to make.
  • Before heading into the hardware store for a flower pot and wrench, we talked about how we would smell popcorn the entire time we were there.

We talked often about possible scenarios and the choices he could make to help prepare our child beforehand. We wanted him to be prepared so he wasn’t caught off guard.

Taught our child about food groups

The Whole 30 Challenge was a great opportunity to talk about the different food groups.

  • Is a strawberry a fruit or vegetable?
  • What food group does butter fall under?
  • What are noodles?

Teaching him the food groups helped him learn what was and wasn’t allowed during the challenge.

Taught our child how to read a food label

My three year old cannot read yet. However, as I stood in the aisle at the grocery store, I would read the labels to my son.

I pointed out where to look for a food label on a package, and we worked on identifying the letters “I-N-G-R-E-D-I-E-N-T-S” on the back.

As I read the ingredients to him, I used my finger to point to the words. This was great practice for tracking and learning that we read text from left to right.

I would read the label, and he would listen for any offending ingredients like sugar and honey. If he heard the “offending” word, he’d say, “Nope, Mama! That has sugar. Next.”

Involved our child in the decision making and overall process

As you can see, we worked to involve our son in as much of the decision-making and overall process as we possibly could.

He helped us clean out the cabinets, choose food at the store and farmer’s market, and even helped us prepare the meals.

The Whole 30 Challenge wasn’t something that happened to him, forced on him by Mommy and Daddy. We let him be a part of the journey and decision making with us along the way as often as we could.

What we experienced week-by-week with our three year old

Week 1

The first week of the challenge was spent talking a lot about what we could no longer eat. He was confused a lot, and broke down twice about not being allowed a “treat.”

At dinner he’d ask, “Where are the noodles?” We’d explain that noodles are a grain, and we can’t have noodles right now. However, the green beans were yummy and covered in sauce like noodles. We can pretend they are our noodles tonight.

When he’d request cheese for a snack, I’d explain cheese is a dairy product, and we’re taking a break from it for now. I’d hand him some macadamia nuts and explain this makes a great snack! By the way, he loves macadamia nuts.

Eventually, he’d ask, “Is this sugar?” when pointing to a vegetable or a piece of steak? He began to question his food choices as he learned the various food groups and what was and was not allowed.

Additionally, he went through a pretty quick detox the third day of the challenge. He threw up a few times and experienced loose stools for a day or two. He played normally and never missed a meal, but he asked for kombucha a lot to help “make his tummy feel better.”

After the third day, he had no other symptoms of a detox in this manner.

Note: Mommy had the same detox on Day 10 with a migraine to boot. Daddy avoided extreme detox symptoms altogether (lucky guy!).

Week 2

He began to tell others that he could not have sugar. He told the cashier that he couldn’t eat the lollipop she offered because it had sugar in it. He asked his Daddy to save it for after we were done with the 30 days. We put it in a special place for him.

He started eating salads with us regularly. He wanted what Mommy and Daddy were eating and tried everything we put on his plate without argument. He desired to try new things! This had not been the case prior to the challenge.

He even started eating bananas again – a food he had turned his nose up to for about a year.

He was tired a lot during week two, which indicated that his body was regulating itself and continuing to detox. I also suspect he was going through a growth spurt as well since his pants wouldn’t button the next week.

Week 3

At this point, he knew what we could and could not eat. He got a little weary of the whole process. The new had worn off, and he started getting a little whiny for donuts and goldfish at church.

He broke down and chose goldfish for snack at church. He told us about it at home during lunchtime.

The minute the words escaped his mouth, his little face fell. We asked him if he thought this was a wise decision or a foolish decision. He sheepishly answered, “Foolish, Daddy. It was very foolish. I’m sorry, Mommy.”

Then, we talked about what forgiveness and grace means. We told him that Mommy and Daddy struggle in the face of temptation too, and we even gave him examples from our own lives when we had given in to temptation. We told him that Mommy and Daddy need Jesus just like him, and even though we make foolish decisions, God is a merciful God who loves us very much. We recited John 3:16 together.

It was a great opportunity to present the Gospel to Samuel in a way that he could understand. I believe for the first time, he truly understood sin and showed great sorrow over it. We told him that we forgave him for making a foolish choice, and explained that God forgives us too when we ask him to forgive us.

We thanked him for telling us about the goldfish, and we all said a sweet thank you to Jesus for grace and mercy. We prayed for Jesus to help change us from the inside out so we could make wise choices that bring Him glory.

This moment made Whole 30 worth it all, in my opinion.

Update 1.5 years later: I’ve received a lot of push back about this particular conversation since this post went live. I’ve written a response here, but I also want to add some after-thoughts. When I wrote this originally, I didn’t know that we had encountered a turning point in our son’s understanding of sin, redemption, grace, and forgiveness. I hoped it was true, but a year and half later, I now know it is true.

This challenge has been a launching pad for many conversations with our little boy (who isn’t quite so little anymore, he’ll be five in a couple of weeks). He still remembers the lessons this crash course in health taught him, and he’s never once brought up the goldfish he missed out on. Instead, he remembers that dairy can make his nose bleed – something we learned from the challenge. He learned that his body doesn’t like noodles very much, and he asks for other foods when he has a choice. He still loves green beans, olives, and other foods he never would have tried before the challenge. And he asks me to read labels because he’s genuinely interested in “making his body feel good.” He’s learning boundaries and limits in a healthy way. He eats cupcakes and sour patch kids and yes, even goldfish from time to time. But he eats them knowing that they are a treat and not something he should eat all the time. They don’t nourish his body and he knows our bodies need nourishment.

Our children are capable of far more than we give them credit for. Now we’re reaping more benefits as Sam teaches his little brother through example. His brother is barely two and will eat an entire bowl of salad simply because his brother does and his brother learned to eat a salad during the Whole 30 challenge. I’m still grateful we did this challenge, and I wouldn’t change a single thing still.

Week 4

During the last week, he didn’t ask for any sugar, noodles, or other off-limit foods.

He had boundless energy!

He even started eating sauerkraut, green and black olives, and asking for more beets. He ate all range of lettuces, peppers, and meats. He rarely turned anything away saying, “I don’t like this,” which was an every meal occurrence before the Whole 30 challenge.

He tried everything with the expectation that he WOULD like it and was surprised when he didn’t like something.

The challenge is just a way of life for him now, and I’m anxious to see how he responds to being handed a lollipop in a few days.

Finally, during the challenge, he has not experienced a single nose bleed! They are gone completely, and he rarely has boogers or sinus pressure.

These were a weekly occurrence before we did the Whole 30 challenge with him. His nosebleeds was one of the main reasons we took the challenge.

I’m praising God for this so much! He was at a point where he couldn’t rough house with his friends (or even run for long) because he was the kid always ending up with a nose bleed. I’m so grateful to see these alleviated!

So that’s how we did the Whole 30 Challenge with kids. It was challenging at times, and yes, my son “cheated.” However, it was a great lesson and time of softening in his little heart. I find that far more important than a perfect Whole 30 Challenge for him.

How one family did the Whole 30 Challenge with a three year old and a one year old. | IntentionalByGrace.com

Now, we’re in our last couple of days, and here’s our menu plan for the entire week!

We finished up just in time for a big celebration party we have coming up. My youngest turns one! I can’t believe it’s been an entire year since the beautiful birth of this little bundle of love.

We’re doing a milk and cookies theme. I can’t wait to share it with you. My oldest has had an Uno Party, Construction Theme, and Superhero Party. I love themed birthday parties!

Anyway, menu plan … here’s our menu plan.

menu plan monday_edited-1

You can see other Whole 30 menu plans here and here.

We are currently on Day 29 of the Whole 30 Challenge. We’re going to start reintroducing dairy this week to see if it’s an issue for us.

Breakfast

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Breakfasts are pretty much the same around here every day right now – egg scrambles. We scramble a big pan of eggs and throw in whatever veggies we have on hand from our weekly farmer’s market run or our vegetable garden. Throw a small bit of fruit on the side and we call it a morning.

If we want something easy, then we put together a bowl of nuts, coconut flakes, and berries.

We don’t really plan our breakfasts because it’s just eggs + veggies on hand = breakfast.

We have started to add sauerkraut to the mix a few times a week. A great fermented food to help build good gut bacteria. Yum!

Lunch

We stick to pretty simple lunches.

whole 30 lunch

Here’s some normal lunches for us:

  • Almond butter spread on celery, raisins, avocado, and fruit
  • Salmon or Tuna Patties with avocado sauce (recipe will be in 2nd edition of 20 Minute Meals!) and sweet potato fries (you’ll see these on our menu a lot!)
  • Salads loaded with whatever veggies and herbs I have in my garden topped with tuna, salmon, chicken or boiled eggs

Dinner

Monday: Hearty Spinach Beef Frittata with berries and avocado

Tuesday: Paleo Crockpot Beef Stew with Tossed Salad

{End Whole 30 Challenge}

Wednesday: Sticky Chicken in the Crockpot with sauteed green beans and sweet potato fries

Thursday: Pan-Seared Salmon with steamed veggies, avocado, and salad

Friday: Skinny Orange Chicken with broccoli and carrots

Saturday: Grilled hamburgers on lettuce “buns” with all the fixings, sweet potato fries and avocado

Sunday: Loaded Salad with Hard Boiled Eggs, Avocado and fruit

That’s our menu plan for this week!

Be sure to follow me on Instagram if you don’t already. It’s my favorite place to share what my family’s eating, especially now that I’m taking the Whole 30 Challenge.

What’s on your plate this week?

This post is linked to I’m an Organizing Junkie.

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54 Comments

  1. Wow, that’s awesome that you had your 3 year old do the whole 30 with you! I did one a few months back, but I did it by myself since my family thought I was nuts. (It is a LITTLE nuts, you have to admit 🙂 ) I LOVE the moment when he said he was foolish…. awwwwww. That’s adorable.

  2. While I commend you for following through, teaching a three year old it’s foolish because he had some goldfish is totally insane to me. It’s all about moderation and I get this was only for 30 days. But to a three year old…30 days = a lifetime. Love clean eating but also want my kids to be kids. And to teach them along the way in moderation so hopefully it sticks. But to take all treats away? Life would completely suck even as an adult. I’m sorry, I half agree with this but you lost me at telling him his decision was foolish for Goldfish. Cruel. No wonder children have eating disorders today.

    1. I think you might have misunderstood and I can certainly see why. I assure you that none of what you’re concerned about though is actually what happened. We were addressing a heart issue that he clearly understood, not addressing childishness. That’s two totally different scenarios.

      1. LeeAnn: i’m an adult, with an eating disorder, and i think what you did was awesome. and the spiritual lessons that came out were priceless. Not taking responsibility for our choices, whether we’re ‘kids’ or not, is what keeps any of us stuck. Keep on!

    2. I had the same thought. My heart broke for this sweet child as I read that part 🙁

      And the thing is, you aren’t perfect either. You were just doing this as a 30 day challenge that YOU had complete control over while it was forced upon him. If someone forced you to give up all treats for 30 days and then called you foolish for giving in ONE time to something that was offered to you, I doubt you’d like it.

      It grieves me that your child is being taught that none of the good choices he made through that 30 days matters because he messed up just one time. Whatever happened to unconditional love? Yes, I understand that you so graciously forgave him for his sin against you and apparently God for having the goldfish, but it all seemed a bit harsh and impossible standards. I hope you hold yourself to those same standards, except that I’ve read enough of your blog to know that you don’t.

        1. Just read the post and wanted to address a couple of things:

          1. I found this post on pinterest searching for whole 30 stuff. It wasn’t because someone like minded shared it with me and I jumped on some band wagon. Though I can see how it is easier to brush off valid points by thinking that.

          2. I have no problem with the use of Biblical language. I do it with my own children. My problem is in extending yourself grace for your faults. The kind of “grace” that says you don’t have to try that hard because it’s all okay. And yet holding your son to an impossibly high standard where he is lectured and dressed down for making a mistake. If anything, you should have higher standards for yourself and not the opposite.

          Lastly, I hope that YOU asked him for forgiveness as well since you did not properly equip him or set him up for success. You could easily have allowed him to take a compliant snack (yes I know that snacks aren’t encouraged in the program, but a compliant one in this situation wouldn’t have been inappropriate). Asking him to sit there and have NOTHING while his friends are all having snacks is unkind to say the least.

          He is a child. He has no control over his surroundings, so he can’t possibly avoid temptations to the extent that adults can. You forced him into a situation where he would be tempted, and didn’t provide him an alternative, and then beat him up when he failed a nearly impossibly test.

          I hope that you accepted responsibility for your own foolish choices in this as well, since you seemed to take such gladness in pointing out his.

          1. Sally, we have two completely different views on what happened in this situation. So much can be lost in translation as I cannot possibly relate all of the emotions, words, and actions that took place with my child. I can’t share the live scene, the prayers we lifted to our Father in Heaven, or the sweet grace we all experienced in this situation via words on a screen. I try, but I clearly cannot explain it well for everyone.

            I can assure you that my husband and I absolutely do hold ourselves to the same standards. Are we absolutely stainless in doing so? No, of course not, as are none of us. It is the nature of man, and this is what makes the gospel so incredibly sweet, such good news! Grace that says there is a Savior who loves us, who died for us, and who reigns even now because He loves us so much. We are His children by our faith in what Jesus has done on our behalf. Grace that says we have a hope for change in our lives because when God calls us His beloved children, He doesn’t leave us where He found us. He’s with us through the power of the Holy Spirit molding, shaping, and renewing us day-by-day.

            Sometimes we mess up! Sometimes we fail to uphold the law of God. We sin. We fall short. And yet, it doesn’t change His love for us, our salvation or standing before Him. We are forgiven and free.

            So yes, when my house is messy there is grace. When I yell at my children, there is grace. When I would rather wallow in self pity rather than choose joy, there is grace. Grace doesn’t make my actions okay. Grace is unmerited favor. If I’m trying to keep a perfect house in order to gain a better standing before God, earn a badge of honor as a mother, or some other reason which I am prone to do? Yes I need to see grace! I need to remember that I do not have to earn God’s favor. It is also grace that leads me to repentance. Grace that brings me to my knees in humility as I realize my depravity, my inability, and my need for a Savior. I am not God of my life, but sometimes I sure think I am. My messy house is a reminder of my need and there is grace.

            Just as I do not have to earn salvation neither do my children. They don’t have to earn my love and acceptance either. I love them because they are mine, given to me by God to raise for His glory. I don’t presume to think that I get it right all the time. Perhaps we didn’t handle the situation perfectly. Maybe not. Yet I can say that there is grace, and I believe in our words and actions we conveyed grace to our son without negating our call to obey God and in this case Mommy and Daddy. We didn’t ask him if he ate a goldfish. We didn’t grill him when he left Sunday school. And there were other options he could have chosen in Sunday school class for the record. I didn’t see the need to go into all of that because I didn’t have the foresight to see a debate on this. He came to us. He came to us because he felt conviction in his heart that he did something he shouldn’t do. We didn’t discipline him in any way. We didn’t yell or scream or shame him. We simply asked if he thought what he did was wise or foolish. We let him answer. We didn’t answer for him. We believe God is at work in our son’s heart. We pray for it every single day that God would convict him of sin at a young age and save him. We pray our son never remembers a time when he didn’t know Jesus and walk with Him. So to brush over a moment when our son felt conviction, in our opinion, would have been to negate the work of God in his little life. Children are far more capable of big things than we give them credit for. This is one of those moments.

            So no, I don’t hold my children to a standard any differently than the one I hold myself to. Our standard is God’s word and His commands. When we make foolish choices before our children, we tell them we did. We use biblical words and we repent before them and before God. Again, we don’t do that perfectly, but it is our prayer that God will convict us of our sin, help us to turn, and change us from the inside out. We pray for renewal and grace to change every single day. We pray that our lives speak to His glory and not our own, to His grace and not our works, and to His son and not ourselves.

          2. I’m sorry but where I live childhood obesity is the norm, people still beat their kids, most folks don’t have any real faith in the religion they practice, smoke in the same room and don’t buckle them up in the auto. Sure Leigh comes off a little strange to me because we are not very similar but to call her foolish is really harsh and uncalled for. She is obviously a very caring mother and that carries over to strangers as she posts from her heart about a diet viewpoint someone might need help on. On the other hand Sally, I do commend you in that you are trying to protect a child that isn’t your own. I have seen too many turn a blind eye when around an abusive situation. But perhaps Sally’s opinion in this case is just that (opinion) that is biased on her own lifestyle . Stay strong lady and let’s make the world a better place for children who are actually experiencing abuse. (and hopefully in the future with kind loving words) Peace!

  3. You told him he made a foolish decision by choosing Goldfish at church?? I’m appalled. I mean he didn’t choose the donut. And even if he HAD chosen the donut, you’re telling him that it’s a sin?! I was so sad reading that. ugh.
    What is he going to think about food as he grows up. I’m just sad about this now. I will pray for you and for your son.

    1. Yes, we told him he made a foolish choice. Before he went into the classroom, we talked about the choices offered, and he understood. I would say, not all three year olds will understand. Sam, however, fully understood the choices he was making. Therefore, yes, again, we used biblical words for when he chose to eat the goldfish. Then, we talked about grace – the grace of Jesus, the power of Jesus, and our only hope for making good choices that will bring glory to God. We got to talk about the gospel with Him and share about Mommy and Daddy’s struggles with the food challenge. Our children are far more capable of understanding foolish choices than we give them credit for (and thus understanding grace and forgiveness and hope for change as well!). Telling a child he is wrong or even using the term foolish will not ruin him for life. I argue on the contrary – using words that are true don’t belittle or confuse him. They will in the end empower him. We shouldn’t be so afraid of ruining our children’s confidence, and be more concerned with sharing the power found in believing in Jesus as Savior which is what we got to offer our child in the end because of his decision. We didn’t shame him by the use of the word foolish. We called the scene for what it was and then came alongside him as we would anyone struggling with any bad choice whether three or thirty. Our child will face far greater challenges in this life than donut or goldfish. There will be many more times in his life when both options are not good options and he will have to stand alone. He has since stood alone many more times out of his own convictions of right and wrong, foolish and wise, etc. Not just with food, but with how a friend is being treated on the playground and I could go on. But I won’t because I trust my point is made. I implore anyone else reading this to look past the surface of “calling a child foolish” and believe our hearts are for the gospel application. I can only assure you that our child walked away confident, assured, and hopeful from our conversation. Not confused about food because food was not the point. Food was simply the circumstance we got to use for a great life lesson. Thanks for your prayers!

      1. Leigh Ann, I commend you. You are an inspiration to me. I have Celiac and currently struggling with vitamin malabsorption. I found your blog by searching paleo and family. I know Paleo is one of the healthiest way for a celiac. Recently my husband and I decided we may need to switch over completely to paleo and try the whole 30 again (we made it 11 days before). However we do’t want the temptation in the house so we were completely thinking about pushing our 5 year old to eat. She is a carb girl through and through. Hates meat and vegetables. However we feel this might be the only way we get her to eat. I have read, and reread your posts. They give me hope that if I do decide to take the plunge…it will all work out.
        Thank you for your inspiration.

          1. Where was the grace? You sat him down and lectured him and made sure he understood that he was foolish and in need of forgiveness from you and God for eating a goldfish.

            There is no grace in that. And as I said, I’ve read many of your posts about grace for yourself through messy houses, eating habits at other times, and different things like that so it seems as if you hold your 3 year old son to an impossibly high standard that you, yourself aren’t willing to meet. This is utterly ridiculous!

    2. My goodness everyone is missing the point and looking for a reason to be critical and negative. She didn’t tell her son anything. He simply verbalized the difference in his own choice. He wasnt disciplined. That is an amazing lesson to teach your child. Im so encouraged that you are training your child in the way he should go. We’ll done momma. That is huge. He was able to verbalize right from wrong. You gave him the expectations and lovingly taught him grace when he realized he did not obey. Yes it’s a small thing but such a powerful lesson. I’m so proud of you. And please know that you do not have to defend yourself. You gave stated your case. There will always be people who seek to tear you apart. The word tells us that. Jesus is enough. He will defend you. I think some people are projecting their own feelings from their childhood. Sad for them. Pray for those who persecute you. I think you really get it..and you are teaching your child wisdom. Great job.

      1. Thank you for your comment! I so agree! My family will be starting Whole 30 tomorrow. I know it won’t be easy at first, but we need control on what we eat. There are so many ads on kids programs, buses, magazines, billboards, etc on unhealthy foods. It’s out of control. I too will need GRACE through this all.

  4. I love that your son ended up having such an open mind about new food and feeling so open to try any and all things. As a mom of 4, I know that is hard!

    For me personally, I work very hard to not transfer or give any food issues to my children. It made me cringe and worry to hear food being related to as a sin to a child. These sort of things live with people forever and sadly, do many times become eating disorders or lifelong struggles with how we view food and shame. It feels like creating a heaviness and guilt, where none are necessary or healthy.

    1. The food was not the issue. His eating goldfish because it was goldfish was not the sin. The sin was in that he disobeyed Mommy and Daddy deliberately. He was fully prepared before heading into class (alternative snack, prayer, conversation, etc.). I’ve addressed this a couple of times in the comments here. It’s so hard to convey that what he ate wasn’t as much the issue as the heart behind it when he ate. I believe that so many of our food struggles are a matter of heart, and I think that by getting to the root of this is what we were doing. Not whether he should ever eat goldfish. You’re welcome to read my follow up post: https://intentionalbygrace.com/did-you-really-tell-your-three-year-old-he-made-a-foolish-choice/ There was no shaming taking place. There was grace and truth, but I know that’s really hard to convey via writing. I’ve tried. 🙂

    2. Completely agree! I think the effort to teach healthy choices is great. But without meaning to, you can easily create feelings of guilt. Leading a 3 year old to feel that choosing to eat goldfish is “foolish” and needs forgiveness and grace is A LOT for them to process. You want to lead by example but don’t expect perfection or you will create major control issues, and potential negative relationship with food. I think your intentions are good, but a hard line with food is just not appropriate with children. Present them with healthy food at home, model healthy eating, but allow them to partake in snacks at school and parties of their own choosing without guilt. It’s about balance. Over discussing diet and debriefing about their food choices should simply not be done.

  5. Congratulations for your commitment and success in encouraging your child to eat healthy! I especially love that your most favorite part of the whole 30 was praying together as a family for strength. Your son had a cheat, you acknowledged it and he moved on and loved eating healthy food, whats not to love? I’m surprised by some of the negative comments, big business markets “frankenfood” to our kids and people think if it’s on the shelves its ok to eat. Meanwhile, we all know someone who has been touched or killed by cancer. You gave your son a gift and by the sound of it he must be happier not having nosebleeds and other health ailments. Bravo mom and dad!! It’s not easy raising kids but you sound like your doing a great job!

      1. I am getting ready to start the whole30 and I have 2 small children who love chicken nuggets and french fries. I pray that I have the perseverance, strength, and discipline I need for myself and my children! I appreciate you teaching your child about grace at such a young age. I should have started sooner! Keep up the good work! And happy birthday to your other “little.” 🙂

  6. I loved this post! I am so sorry you had to defend yourself. I’m not a religious person and even I COMPLETELY understood the message you and your husband were conveying to your son. We too have done the same with our children. Our choice in food is a lifestyle. We EDUCATE our children and teach them to read labels. They know what we are and aren’t allowed to have, so yes when they eat something we say DO NOT EAT that is disobeying. Now we don’t have issues like this since they’re older and refuse to have chemical/junk food. Just wanted to say good job momma and keep fighting the good fight!

    PS -this is the first time I’ve ever written on a blog. 🙂

  7. I just read this and wanted you to know that I don’t think you did anything wrong. Your job as a parent is to teach your child to make good choices. All of these people who are saying it was ridiculous of you to expect a child to go through 30 days of eating foods that make him healthy are the people who’s kids are spoiled. I highly doubt your child will end up with an eating disorder. Those other commenters though? Their kids will be overweight and unhappy but so emotionally attached to food that they can’t lose the weight. That sounds like disordered eating to me.

  8. Hi, I have a question about a recipe from your meal plan. For the Skinny Orange Chicken Recipe, did you just omit the 3 TBS of honey/maple sugar? Was it good?? If so, I’ll make it for dinner this week. I’m the only one on Whole30 in my family of 4, so I’m trying to make recipes we’ll all enjoy. Stumbled upon this post today from a Pinterest search and absolutely love it! I hope you don’t feel discouraged by the negative comments. I’ll never understand people who feel like they can talk to other human beings that way – it’s just contentious and wrong. Also, your explanation was clearly about the concept of obedience and being in tune with your child’s needs rather than fishies=foolish. Thank you so much for sharing your experiences.

    1. I wish I could answer your question. It’s been over a year since I tried that recipe, and I cannot recall what I did or if I liked it. I’m sure I did omit it, of course, but I can’t remember if it was all that great or not.

      Thanks for your encouragement. It’s always good to hear you’re not the worst mom ever. 🙂 Good luck with your Whole 30. We thoroughly enjoyed the challenge!

  9. Curious if you had your kiddos drinking milk before you did this and how you addressed that? Still debating on if and to what extent I want my 2-year old to participate with my husband and I on this challenge and she has milk for breakfast and dinner… religiously. Looks forward to it. 🙂
    Thanks for sharing!

    1. This was one thing we did not take away from our boys. We drink raw milk and felt like it was too essential for them to take it away. However, if we didn’t drink raw milk and were drinking more conventional milk, I would have eliminated it and worked on incorporating other probiotic drinks into their daily diet. 🙂

  10. I can’t believe all the negative feedback. I trust you were loving in talking with your son about wise versus foolish choices. Your story inspired me to expect more out of my 3 year old and dive into talks about grace and sin.
    Shake it off sister.

  11. Wow! I wish I could do something like this with my family someday. I must say, reading the part where you’re son ate the ‘goldfish’ did break my heart and initially I felt quite sorry for him! But reading your response to some of the comments really has inspired me 🙂 And I hope to convey the gospel to my children in this way! Thanks

  12. This is wonderful! I see this post is old but I just ran across your site. I have done two whole 30’s back to back. I wanted to get healthy because I had gained some weight, lots of aches and pains, especially inflammation and had a continual brain fog. Since then I have lost 14lbs by sticking to the whole 30 100% and I feel amazing. I am continuing but have added a few paleo foods, but no chocolate or anything with coconut flour, etc.. I have two younger boys that really eat poorly and I have wondered how I could get them to eat more healthy and even try a whole 30. My 12 year old is the worst and hates fruits and vegetables so it is a huge struggle, and always has been. Seeing that your 3-year old did such a great job gives me a little more confidence that I can get my boys eating healthier. It might be a little harder with 2 older kids who often graze and are sugar addicts. lol! Thanks for the post!

  13. Love this!! I am doing Whole30 now and my 2 year-old is taking part except she LOVES yogurt and we decided to keep this in her diet. Everything else she is doing super good with. She asks for broccoli!

  14. Love your post! I refuse to read negative comments because in today’s society “gold fish” are a standard. It is really sad! I am reading Wheat Belly by cardiologist Dr. William Davis now. Unbelievable. That is how I found whole 30. Basically I was searching ways to find recipes! My kids have always eaten this way. We TEACH them what is healthy. We need to be the parents, just like you did. I ask my kids all the time if a certain food item was a good choice. I love your biblical input, I will start using that. We need to teach them young. Just today I had to practically yell at my kids to stop eating raw cabbage before supper or they wouldn’t eat their meal. That can and should be the normal! We just do not see it that often unfortunately. Good for you and keep up the great work at being a loving mom who teaches your kids about health. Fabulous post!

  15. Wow! Inspired by your article. Starting whole 30 for the third time. Not yet have I made it through 30 days, but am truly committed this round. I love that you have taught the value of healthy eating and relying on Jesus for strength at such a young age. My boys are 5 and 8. I am totally inspired to be a better mom and get the junk out of our house!

  16. Hi Leigh Ann,
    Thank you for sharing your experience. I decided to include our children on our Whole30 journey after reading your post and I am so glad we did! We are learning so much about teamwork, discipline, and sharing in each other’s joy and challenges.
    We are on day 19 (woohoo) and feeling great. I was wondering, how did you reintroduce foods to your older son? Did you follow the fast track, slow track, or kind of did your own thing? My daughter will be ending her Whole30 two days earlier because of a birthday party. I want to be planful with her reintroduction to off limit foods but I also know that she is looking forward to birthday goodies.

  17. Hi! First time blog commenter here. ? I know your post is “old” but stumbled upon it via haunting Pinterest for starting Whole 30. I LOVE it! What a superbly written post! And I’m very impressed with how you handled such trivial backlash (I mean, really a mountain out of a mole hill mess!) with such grace! I’m super encouraged to get my family (all my guys -husband, 8 yr old, 3 yr old, and 20 month old!) started on a much healthier journey for our lives! THANK YOU!!!

  18. Oh. My. Goodness!!! Thank you so much for sharing your whole 30 journey as a family with us. My family is launching in to our whole 30 experience on Monday. My daughter will be 3 next month and would pretty much live off of macaroni and cheese if we’d let her. My husband told me last week that he wanted out daughter to do the whole 30 with us. I instantly felt anxiety. She tends to be a picky eater and it’s a fight to have her eat veggies right now. Reading your words brought so much hope to my heart and I love how you tied sharing the gospel and being obedient to God in this. Such great teachable moments you had.
    Quick testimony, I shared with our daughter last sunday, that our family was going to start eating more fruits and vegetables because we wanted to honor God with our bodies. I shared with her that mommy and daddy had not set a good example of stewarding our bodies in a healthy way. Later that night, when I was getting ready to comb her hair before bed, we sat in our bedroom and turned on the TV to watch a show before bed. We have a smart TV and were looking up a show to watch on youtube. Daniel Tiger (we never watch that show) was the first recommended show and it was about eating more vegetables. The show had a theme song that stated “you gotta try new foods cuz they might just taste good.” What a provision from God. Every time she refuses a healthy food now, I sing that song to her and she bends a little and at least tries the food! 🙂
    Thank you again for sharing your story. I have hope now that our family can truly be successful. :-()

  19. Hi. I subscribed to you! I am a christian and by the doctors orders we are starting Whole30 on January 1st for my son with ADHD. My first question is : I see you ate olives while on the diet. Don’t they contain sullfites? My son is very anxious about this diet and he loves olives. Thanks!

    Leah

  20. When Christmas time comes around, we put our wrapped presents under the tree and tell our kids that we need to wait until Christmas morning to open them. Every day they look at them and ask “can we open them now?” As parents, Christian or not, the concept of waiting 30 days to open a present is completely accepted. My 1.5 year old daughter tried to open one early, and I sat her down and explained we had to wait until Christmas morning. I guess you could say I forced her to do Christmas my way…or you could look at it as an instance in life where an event is finite and defined. I think it’s healthy for kids to experience that there are some things in life that need to be done a certain way for a certain amount of time. Whether it be Christmas, a diet, or some other challenge in our life, we do our kids a disservice by thinking they aren’t capable. I think it would be different if the idea of what you were going to do as a family wasn’t communicated with the children, or if the kids weren’t included in the process of it. But to say that the child should be able to cheat solely on the basis that he’s a child and the task is too difficult is just setting the child up for future failure and entitlement issues that our future generations are becoming more plagued with. If more parents were able to grasp that concept, we just might raise a future generation of society that will raise the levels of expectation instead of accepting the plate of mediocrity that they are so often handed in life.

    1. I wasn’t upset by the goldfish concept at all, but I’m worried about my own kids’ health and response to switching to a healthier diet. Your comment gave me a different perspective-thank you!

  21. Wow! Thank you for sharing this! It is good to help children be aware to eat healthy at a young age. Start them young because the food that they are eating now matters so much as they grow. If they eat crap food at an early age, if the unhealthy benefits doesn’t show now, it will when they’re old. It’s good that you are explaining it to the child and most of all – you’re all in it together having fun doing it.