The Monkey House Project

Hey Hey We're The Monkeys! And People Say We Monkey Around... 

Here we come, walkin' down the street. 
we get the funniest looks from ev'ry one we meet. 

Hey, hey, we're the Monkees and people say we monkey around. 
But we're too busy singing to put anybody down. 

We go wherever we want to, do what we like to do, 
we don't have time to get restless, there's always something new. 

Hey, hey, we're the Monkees and people say we monkey around. 
But we're too busy singing to put anybody down. 

We're just tryin' to be friendly, come and watch us sing and play, 
we're the young generation and we've got something to say.
I lovingly refer to our home as The Monkey House.  That should tell you a little bit about the crazy chaos we live in!  So, it was easy to come up with the name of our new Project....

The Monkey House Project: Go Primal

As many of you know, I adore the Whole30.  So, little surprise that I want to have my whole family go Paleo / Primal / JERF (Just Eat Real Food).  The Kiddo Manifesto on Whole9 gives a great philosophy on why to feed your kids Real Food.  I bought the book 'Eat Like A Dinosaur' by The Paleo Parents to help me accomplish the switch from SAD (Standard American Diet... although as we live in England, would it be the SED?!) to JERF for my 4 kiddos.  I was planning on going cold turkey at the start of the summer, but realized that we still had a lot of SAD food in our house and my kids were going to be away quite a lot.  So, I decided to use the "I'm Sorry We're Out" method!  Join us or just follow along as we make the switch.

The Project Background

I adopted my four step-children in October 2012 and had been their mum for a total of three and a half years when I decided to switch them to Primal/Paleo.  Prior to that their mum died after a lifetime of health issues.  As such, even when she was home she wasn't overly active.  When I came onto the scene the kids didn't have very many boundaries or effective discipline.  All four were dealing with grief, one had minor Autistic Spectrum Disorder, and another had ADHD and Oppositional Defiance Disorder.  And their nutrition??? Well, it was pretty much non-existent... When I first moved into the home they used to take "milkshakes" (flavoured milk) or juice to bed nightly.  They ate sugared cereals with even more sugar dumped on top in the mornings.  For lunch they had a sandwich with processed lunch meat and margarine, crisps (chips), string cheese, a piece of fruit and biscuits (cookies).  Snacktime included more biscuits and squash (fruit juice from liquid concentrate). Dinner was some type of frozen food such as pizza, chicken nuggets, meat pie and/or something from a tin like baked beans, ready made sauce, hot dogs, etc.  This was mostly accompanied by chips (fries) that were deep fried in sunflower oil.  Vegetables rarely made it onto the plate.  After dinner there were more biscuits prior to bedtime.

Over those first three and a half years I slowly moved the children towards healthier options (they only have water in their water bottles at night!), although they were still definitely consuming a SAD diet.  Breakfast was either toast or non-sugared cereals.  If they wanted a bit of sugar on the top of the cereal they could have a half-teaspoon of xylitol, fruit sugar or stevia - whatever I had at the time.  Lunch was transitioned to a sandwich on wholegrain bread (still with processed lunch meat and margarine), a piece of fruit and a vegetable.  Snack was usually a chocolate chip granola bar and a piece of fruit.  They rarely got squash and instead had water (which they weren't overly thrilled with).  Dinner went back and forth from homemade meals like casseroles and soups to plain foods like chicken breasts to the ready-made processed food like fish fingers.  It really depended on how I was feeling health-wise.  They did always have a pile of steamed or boiled veg.  Chips were still on the menu, but they were cooked in an Acti-fry (a frier that does not use oil, just heat).  If they didn't have chips then they had brown rice or mashed potatoes (the real thing, not from a box!) as a side. Here's an example of dinners during that time:

The Project Design

As I mentioned above, I'll began employing the "I'm sorry, we're out" method to switch over from SAD to JERF for my kids.  This basically meant that starting in August 2013 I didn't buy anymore SAD food and, as we ran out of things, I only bought REAL FOOD!  As we began making JERF meals I had the kids help me shop at local farm shops, high street butchers, farmer's markets and (sometimes) help me cook. We also began trying out other things to become more Primal, such as homemade deodorant, toothpaste and shampoo (although none of those have really worked out...yet).   

The Project Participants

Annie (right): Our tomboy daughter was 12 and had just finished her first year of secondary school when we started the Project in August 2013.  Annie has been diagnosed with mild ASD, but hasn't needed any treatment for it - we just notice little things here and there.  She loves to play football (soccer) and most other sports, although as she ventures into her teens we're seeing more of the girlie-girl coming out along with a decidedly teenage attitude!

Alex (second from right): Alex was 11 and just graduated from primary school when the Project began. He is fearless in everything he does! He plays football as often as possible and likes the goalie position.  He has ADHD that he is on medication for and ODD.  We have tried him on a casein/gluten/sugar free diet in the past and his behaviour did improve marginally.  We're hoping that eating like a dinosaur will help even more! Alex was diagnosed with several allergies as a child, but he seems to have outgrown any outward symptoms of these (what's going on in the inside could be another story and contributing to his other problems). 

Lucy (second from left): Our 9 year-old (at the beginning) girlie-girl drama queen.  She'll be on Broadway or the West End someday!  Lucy is the only one of our children who doesn't like sports (she takes after me!).  She gets growing pains quite badly in her legs and she goes through phases where she gets a bit pudgy (nothing to be concerned about, but definitely something for her to watch as she grows up). 

Sam (left): Sam is a Cheeky Monkey.  Enough said!  Actually, Sam has a lot of anger and behaviour issues that he didn't seem to be outgrowing at almost 7 (August 2013).  These haven't changed yet.  He also has eczema, gets chapped lips after eating tomato sauce (pizza, pasta, etc) and gets dark circles under his eyes, which I understand can be caused by food allergies.  For the last few months he hasn't been eating much lunch as he says that he's been feeling sick and his tummy hurts at lunchtime.

The Project

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