How to Feed Your Kids

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“Duke University psychologist Philip Costanzo, Ph.D., found that excess weight in school-age children was highly associated with the degree to which parents tried to restrain their children’s eating. Even well-meaning parents interfere with intuitive eating. When a parent tries to overrule a child’s natural eating cues, the problem gets worse, not better.”

-Evelyn Tribole; Intuitive Eating

“Research indicates that parents who restrict access to certain foods are actually more likely to have heavier kids! This fact makes sense: The kids lose their ability to self-regulate as a result of parents’ interference.


Promising a child dessert if she eats her vegetables or encouraging a child to clean his plate can also contribute to developing unhealthy eating practices.”

-Linda Bacon; Health at Every Size

My goal in this post, first and foremost, is to NOT turn it into a full-length novel. This is in no way meant to be a complete guide to approach the food issues with your kids. Obviously there are specific circumstances that call for restrictions, special diets, and other sucky things. Many of you already have kids with well-worn eating habits and a well-established dynamic between parent and child surrounding the food issue. This is more like a generalized overview on what I think are some common mistakes that good-intentioned parents are making, and where I believe the war against the modern junk food environment is won and lost.

For starters, parenting is extremely complex. Nearly all parents have good intentions going into the deal, but all find that there are many unintended consequences of their parenting techniques. Whatever parenting style you have is going to end up with both positive and negative consequences. It’s inescapable. And this obsession with being perfect parents and creating perfect kids is just as farcical as the belief in some magical perfect diet. My new saying, “the perfect diet is very unhealthy” applies to this whole general mindset surrounding perfection.

Okay, with that in mind it’s food time. What’s the best way to feed your kids?

Food is Not a Reward

First of all, you want your kid to be tuned in to his or her natural feedback mechanisms as much as possible – with a minimum of psychological interference. The most common mistake I see parents making is offering up something sweet as a reward for eating food that is nutritious. The outcome is that the kid associates ice cream, cake, cookies, and other sweet treats with “reward” and associates nutritious food with “work” and “drudgery.” The kid might love nutritious food if given the chance to believe that eating it is enjoyable. The kid might also not seek the pleasure of a treat if ice cream wasn’t given that status. But this sets up a lifelong heightened association with junk food as a reward for good behavior, and the concept of eating these foods and other “bad” things (like alcohol) as a form of entertainment becomes entrenched. This brings up our next topic…

Food is Not Entertainment

“Hey kids, who wants to go out for…. PIZZA!!!” This is ridiculous. If you want your kids to think homemade food is boring and drab and constantly be wanting to go to the nearest kid version of a crackhouse, then get really excited about going out. Neutrality surrounding all things food is the key. If you want to entertain your kids or get a rise out of them, light a fart or something. Buy a reinforced Whoopie Cushion (mine always burst like the 4th time) if that’s too much for you. In today’s world, going out to eat has easily become the #1 form of entertainment and recreation. Food is for nourishing your body and fueling it to do what actually should be your recreational activities – which should be distanced from food within reason during your kids’ developmental years. Going out to eat, cake, etc. must not “special occasions” but “unspecial” occasions.

Learn to Cook

As top 180 Kitchen fan Jenny can tell you, when you learn how to make food taste good, your kids will want to eat it, be generally disappointed in restaurant food, and cease to be slaves to Pop Tarts, root beer, and Pringles. Instead of forcing them to eat nutritious food, you’ll have to fight them for it when you get it right. They won’t sit there and play with it to antagonize you while whining for ice cream every 38 seconds. They won’t want Lucky Charms for every meal.

This is often as simple as cooking with the use of starch and fat in the right proportions – approximating the macronutrient breakdown of pizza, cheeseburgers and fries, fried nugget product, and mac n’ cheese. You are trying to compete with such foods in your home cooking, and you won’t achieve that with broccoli and steamed fish. And as many have discovered, the difference between a superbly healthy diet and a typical Western Diet is often the simple switch from the shortening and vegetable oils of modern food to coconut oil, butter, and animal fat. Such minor adjustments, collectively, would have a massive impact.

Make Eating at Home Fun

The more involved the kids are in the preparation of eating, the shopping for the food, etc. the better. I could definitely see a family ritualistically making dinner together as a team. This could be very fun, telling the kids to pick out the music (with a no-Bieber rule on hot dog night of course) or do role playing with little waitress outfits, making menus on the computer, or whatever else you can think of to get everyone involved. If it is not a routine, it will be work and a major drag to put down the video game controller to come make dinner. But if it is routine and the kids are actively learning and growing with their knowledge of food and cooking they are more likely to become well-connected to it. Of course, you have to really assess this for yourself. You don’t want it to become a chore or this concept will totally backfire.

Television

This is unfortunately not a war many will win, and this is potentially more important for overall physical, social, and psychological well-being than any other modern thing we face. Not only are there endless images showing kids having a kick ass time eating junk food, but there is an avalanche of messages designed to make us feel bad about our bodies, endless messages showing kids that dieting is cool, fun, morally just (vegetarian), and improves life, and more including the general idea that animal fat is going to kill you. Statistics show stronger correlations between hours of tv watched and childhood obesity than any other lifestyle factor – and most dietary factors as well.

I wrote up a whole soapbox schpiel about television but just deleted it all. It’s useless. In the end we all need to a get a life, and tv makes us lose interest in getting a life, so it’s a trap (studies show a “loss of volition”). Good luck with that one. If it’s of any inspiration to you, I haven’t had cable tv in my home since I was a teenager and have lived to tell about it. In fact, I owe much of my critical thinking skills and fulfilling life to this.

Never Limit Macronutrients or Calories

Putting your kid on a low-carb, low-fat, or calorie-restricted diet is the dumbest thing ever. I don’t know any severely obese individuals, or people with eating disorders that didn’t start dieting in some shape, form, or fashion at a young age. Restricted and restrained eating, especially for a young person, is very dangerous. Many kids, like myself, lose excess fat upon hitting puberty anyway – just in time because my retarded family doctor had just given me the “cut out snacks” speech for being in the very high percentiles of weight for an 11-year old. Trying to impose a diet on a young kid is like giving a 13-year old breast implants because she’s not developing quite as quickly as her friends. If you want your kids to have emotional issues with their bodies, practice the famous starve and binge approach to healthy eating, and develop life-threatening conditions from it long-term, then, by all means, put them on a diet immediately.

Never Push Certain Foods

When a strange new food gets pushed towards a young kid, that food gets pushed right back at ya. I would suggest cooking a wide variety of foods in the home from the time the kid is very young and let them develop their own curiosity about those foods at their own pace. Remember, they know better than you do what is good for them. I mean seriously, how many times have we, as adults, been totally wrong about “the healthy way to eat?” It’s best to do what you can to help the intelligence of their bodies come forward without any interference, including keeping chemically-enhanced and highly-refined and sweetened foods out of their diet until they have developed a wide variety of preferences for various real foods (like, say, until age 4).

Give Them Real Food

It’s always great to have a nice spread laid out for kids consisting of real food that tastes good. By real food I mean things that don’t contain white flour, white sugar, corn syrup, chemical flavor enhancers, or otherwise refined or packaged foods. A parent’s prime food duty is to have healthy food available to eat, with very little, if any, junk available to eat in the home. Junk foods pervert natural taste and reward centers, making wholesome food bland and uninteresting. The most important thing, as mentioned above, is that if you are going to be a food Nazi, do so for the first 3-4 years of the kid’s life before they become exposed to the outside food world. This builds a great template for good health and a more likely preference for real food.

Breast Feed Your Kids

Eat lots of wholesome food without macronutrient or calorie restriction yourself, and breastfeed your kids. Obviously the longer the better, but we all have lives to live. Infant formula is pure death as far as I’m concerned (speaking from experience) unless your own nutrition is so poor that you just can’t produce good milk (but I’ve only heard tales of this happening on a vegan or low-calorie diet).

Conclusion

Okay, that’s enough. We could obviously wear this thing out. Just remember “wide selection of real food” and “neutrality.” You want to do everything in your power to limit the psychological interference between your kids’ bodies and plates. This is because we are living in a very unique food environment. And ultimately, you want to prepare them for that food environment so that they can be balanced in their interaction with it, not seek pleasure from food when the most chemically-deigned to be pleasureful foods the world has ever known are sold on every corner, and not be farm-bound in overalls with a bad case of modernophobia either.

You want to serve up great homemade food that becomes favorites over the competition. You don’t want to reinforce the idea that there are forbidden foods to be strictly avoided and make food the place where they express feelings of rebellion. And finally, you want to encourage them that it’s okay to eat to fullness, that their hunger is not an enemy to be suppressed, and help them to embrace and love their natural physical appearance as much as you can. Easier said than done, but this should be light years ahead of the mind-numbing, “How can you have any pudding if you don’t eat yer meat?” Pediasure, or “watch your portions” approaches to feeding the 21st century younglings.

Obviously there are some lessons in here for us big kids as well.  My niece has a simple message she wanted to share with you guys…

How to RAISE YOUR METABOLISM.

 

92 Comments

  1. Stone, ya did good here.
    On the TV: what we do is use the magical device of the dvr, then fast forward through all commercials. You get the meat and not the sugar (ads).

    My hubby's family is SO all about food as entertainment and reward that it makes going there a minefield of 'fun' eating that ends up stressing me out totally. They are well versed in 'healthy' foods but when the grandkids/kids are there, we all have to have 'treats' and eat out almost every meal. what we really want is my Mother in law or myself to just make some good food at home and relax, no treats needed. I wish they knew this, but when they send us, yes, even when I was diagnosed with cancer and raw vegan was my dogma, lbs and lbs of CANDY, cookies etc for every holiday, I just gave up. I leave it in the house for hubs and kid to nibble on, then throw it all out after they tried it.
    Family's can be very hard to change and deal with.
    xo
    haggie

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  2. Our society unfortunately is kind of obsessed with instant gratification and pleasure at all costs. Even when it comes to someone you love you cave and just want to see them smile even if all the teeth in that smile are rotten from pleasure overdosing.

    Maybe someday our society will once again remove head from sphincter and remember that short-term gratification is meaningless and accompanied by an equal and opposite pain.

    By I do admit that a good round of gastronomic debauchery and tv-watching does get me awfully fired up to eat and live healthfully again.

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  3. We don't have "TV" in the traditional sense, we use Netflix, my kids use the play it now feature. It's not as good as no TV, but it certainly helps with the "gimmes" after watching commercials.

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  4. I mostly totally agree. However, I don't think ALL of kids' bad food habits are the result of psychology. Now that I've observed my two (very healthy) boys go through various food stages, whims, preferences, I've come to believe that for some, maybe a lot, of kids, being picky is the result of *listening* to their bodies. I believe my ten year old likes mostly starch and cheese because it's easy to digest. We've never "gone out" for pizza — never — no one else in the family is a fan. But he loves it. So I make him pizza bagels. I request that he try vegetables, and he'll eat a few, but mostly I let it go. He's gorgeous, a perfect kid. Who knows how he'll turn out, of course.

    My other kid has no interest in food. He didn't even like to NURSE. We eat grass-fed beef, home grown veggies, junk sometimes, whatever, and he'll eat a little. But if I didn't sit him down three times a day, he wouldn't eat at all. Rarely does at school. He's like a rail. I don't believe I did anything to make him this way, except leave him alone.

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  5. The biggest problem, I'm dealing with is that my kid has figured out that if he doesn't eat at home he will be given crap elsewhere: at the neighbors, at school and at the babysitters. The minute he leaves home he's suddenly "starving" and he outright asks for treats the second parents are out of sight. It's maddening that the adults in this situation don't say, "no." He has also figured out where the tiny amount of sweets we have in the house is hidden and I've started to find wrappers in the couch cusion, etc.

    We've managed to keep him away from commercials for the most part, which is good, but somehow he has discovered the existence of cinnamon toast crunch due to internet pop up ads on the cartoon network website. Sigh.

    I know that total denial of junkfood is a dead end as well. When I left home I had the opportunity to eat Lucky Charms every day in the dorms and I did. It took more than a year to finally get sick of it.

    The upside is that he does he really love veggies. If you put a plate of meat, potatoes and steamed veggies in front of him he will eat the veggies first. He also likes strong flavors like balsamic vinegar, plain yogurt and blue cheese that even as an adult I find to be a bit overwhelming.

    His father and I both come from the "you are going to sit at the table until your plate is clean" tradition and we don't really want to do that, but sometimes it feels like the only good calories he gets all day are the ones he eats when we are sitting on top of him.

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  6. Thanks for this. Mommy gonna be popping that baby boy out very soon and me's very scared. We're (well really she) gonna breastfeed but have heard all kinds of stories about milk "drying up". Everytime I see infant formula I look at the ingredients and it makes me sick to my stomach thinking about feeding my kid that.

    I'm the #2 180 kitchen fan.

    I didn't know they made reinforced whoopy cushions. Mine always burst too.

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  7. Totally johnny. Formula is 1 messed up formula indeed. You are an easy number 2 for the180 kitchen fan club.

    It's a tough situation jenny. Every kid is unique. Every situation is unique. I certainly didn't arrive at eating healthfully as a result of shunning junk food. I hate the hell out of some very questionable food. But I suspect that most health oriented people try way too hard and make food a much bigger issue than it needs to be.

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  8. Great post

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  9. Johnny "Daddy" Lawrence:
    Do not fret, you can always call Le Leche league to help you get those boobs a pumping. Or, you can use the WAP raw milk recipe for baby milk/formula. I had to buy a double pumping machine and use it every two hours, yes, not a typo, and got tons of milk to store/freeze. and today I heard on NPR that the machines are now tax deductible as a medical expense!!! Win!
    Your kid will kick everyone's ass one day, it's their destiny.
    xo

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  10. I totally relate to the parents about junk outside the home. We eat yummy, real, unprocessed foods here. But the kids are offered candy, cookies, cupcakes, etc. almost DAILY at school, church, even the nursery where I buy pastured organic eggs for crying out loud!! I don't know how to balance helping them develop a taste for real food while limiting processed foods without being a food nazi!
    My daughter got a box of candy hearts at school today, for example. She ate some there, and then asked for more when she got home. I said, "Let's have a snack first and see how you feel." She had an apple, then had a few candies and opted to throw the rest away (her idea!). Then, a few minutes later, she noticed her 5 year old brother eating… candy hearts. He said,"I got it out of the trash. I do that at school too." Seriously?! I mean, how can I crack down on that- start locking up the trash can? Love to hear any input!!

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  11. That's hilarious chanelle. I guess that's really what I was getting at. you do your best at home and then the rest is pretty much just a free for all. Ultimately it is up to them to establish their own relationship with food. You cannot keep sweet and other junk away from kids it's just not possible without being a freak. Just keep in mind that everyone here is still alive after eating a lot of junk as kids. But most of the real harm that we got ourselves into was done striving for perfection. I'm sure you're doing great. Just caring is light years ahead of many other moms.

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  12. I hesitate to weigh in on this at all, not being a parent and not planning to become one…But when I lived in HI, in a very 'back to the land' community, I was around kids a lot, most of whose parents were very into some dietary law or another. Of course, they all went for the candy/junk when they could. But It seemed like the ones who were fed the most 'wholesome,' full-spectrum food at home at least handled the junk better.

    Another thing: it seems like some kids 'come preloaded' with certain things. In his first marriage, my husband raised a biological daughter and an adopted Korean son (both of them are a few years older than me). He said that his son 'came preloaded with Kim Chi' and introduced them all to it! He was 4 months old when adopted, and allergic to almost everything: now he eats anything.

    My mom didn't do much traditional middle-eastern cooking when I was little (tho' we got it when I went to my grandma's in Israel) and I totally channeled how to cook that way, went for that kind of food from a young age… What do you think about such 'preloading'? (Too much of it toward the candy and fries, I guess…)

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  13. Your Niece is adorable btw and smart like her Uncle Mattie.

    Yes, kids will sneak food out of the trash, off the floor, out of other kid's grimy mitts. They are like addicts, always looking for their drug of choice. My mom told me that in order to teach her and her bros what NOT to do, her dad forced them to smoke an entire pack of ciggies all at once till they were so sick they were not ever interested in smoking. None of them ever did, I think he did the same with whiskey..teetotalers all of them. Perhaps a forced candy binge is in order?
    xo
    deb

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  14. Rrarf update: Week #3

    I ate a lot of mashed potatoes this week. Very tasty. Only supplement is an occasional 1g vit-C. Probably around 3,500-4,000 kcal a day.

    I still have intermittent cold hands/feet, but axillary temps are rarely below 96.5. There is no doubt that on the whole, I'm warmer than I used to be.

    I've felt pretty tired most of this week, but it's a more 'relaxed' tired, instead of a nervous tired, if that makes any sense. And let me say that relaxed-tired is way better than nervous-tired (which pretty much sucks).

    On the whole I'm seeing some differences that no other diet has produced (mainly the warmth), but still too early to say anything conclusively yet. I'm cautiously optimistic.

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  15. Matt, I just wanted to add to the low-calorie/vegan comment on breastmilk production. I have a friend who had to stop feeding her third baby (in three years) because he was failing to thrive. She has extremely low cholesterol. I asked her what she was eating, and she doesn't eat eggs, butter, and only drinks skim milk. So, I'd add low-fat to that observation.

    Nice post, especially for this omnivorous food fascist.

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  16. This post could have done without the self-congratulatory/pretentious lash at TV. I think if you're a critical thinker, it shouldn't have much if any affect on a 'fulfilling' life.

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  17. so matt, you're saying that b/c i am homeschooling my children, both will have been breastfed at least 2 years and we try to eat mostly organic around here that my parenting is "narrow, polarized, socially-dysfunctional, overly-sheltered, and perfection-minded"??

    one of the many reasons we are homeschooling is to keep our kids away from all of the crap dished out in schools. and the irony is that the gov't is trying to teach us all how we should be eating and who knows what the hell they actually teach about nutrition in school these days and then they turn around and offer candy and all kinds of treats for practically everything!! if the kid is in a school, he is learning the rewards for any good behavior model, including rewards for eating certain things.

    don't get me started on tv. that thing is the devil incarnate. my kids watch maybe a half hour show or two a week on the dvr, that is if we have time what with all of the outside time we are fortunate to be able to have since we live in SoCal. i have seriously thought about throwing the thing away, but then i know i am totally warped and at this point in my life i need it to be able to relax at night after being a parent all day. luckily or maybe b/c of the way we have parented so far, our children much prefer to play games, read, do crafts and be outside, and most importantly, they want to spend time with us.

    back to the eating and food issue at hand, with my first i was a WAPF nazi and he never had anything with actual sugar in it or anything remotely on the bad list until he was 4.5 and then he had a piece of disgusting store bought birthday cake with an inch of brightly colored frosting and i had to remove myself from the area while my husband sat with him b/c i was seriously about to lose it. i have been struggling for years now with how to keep the emotions out of the way of food. i cannot stand it when food is wasted, nor can i stand it when they just won't eat something that i have been led to believe is the end all be all. i.e. raw milk.

    but i have issues with food myself and who knows how i'll ever get over them. as of now i still have some "rules," but we pretty much eat anything and everything, including "treats." i grew up with a mother who cooked all of our meals with very few exceptions. we always had fresh and some canned and some boxed, but she always used real stuff. and she always had bread and peanut butter on the table if anyone was still hungry and the meal was gone. the only thing i wish is that she had not bought into the whole crisco fiasco. i remember scooping that slop out of the bucket so many times it kills me to think about it!

    i totally appreciate that she did that for us, but b/c i am not her i have a hard time not just resorting to eating out or a cheap easy meal a couple of times a week.

    oh one more thing: i have observed out in the parenting world that there doesn't seem to be much balance. it's either they serve the kids whatever crap they want or they are super controlling and have their kids on some vegetarian or vegan nonsense thinking that they are saving the planet and teaching morality and ecology at the same time.

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  18. My oldest was born with a problem with pasteurized dairy and anything with perservatives so I learned quickly how to cook everything from scratch using fresh food, lots of bone broths, etc. Being diagnosed with aspergers made things even harder. He struggled with this as our parents would sabotage all of our efforts. It is interesting to note that he is now a chef trying to make sure that his new wife and adopted kids are eating a fresh healthy diet. A good attitude about eating good food is key with little ones.

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  19. This post has struck a chord with me. As a child I was always that bigger child. I can remember my mother putting me on my first diet at age 7 and can remember weighing in on her bathroom scales after being on this diet for a week. Throughout childhood I could remember several attempts at diets, which got me no where, just made me feel worse and different. I can also remember being told all the time that my "eyes are bigger than my belly". Treats were always rewards for birthdays or some special occasion. I remained heavy throughout teens at around 90kg then through various dieting methods have yoyo. Down to 70kg, and now at age 30, at 173cm down to 56kg. My habits got very restrictive and combined with intense exercise, quite low to 54kg. I currently see a food psychologist who is helping me deal with my behaviour towards food, introduce foods that use to be on the "NO" list for me (especially carbs) and help me with my body image and to simply udnerstand how I got this way. I do not doubt for one minute that my childhood has not influenced who and what I am now. I should also point out that after coming of the pill last February, I have had no period for a whole year. Through medical help and 180 degrees health and I really trying hard to change my behaviours and get back to whats normal!

    I should also point out that both my brothers where as skinny as rakes throughout childhood and ate exactly what they wanted and are perfectly healthy today.

    If only my mother knew the damage that was being done.

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  20. Overall, a great and pertinent message Matt!

    But, I only have one problem with this article, and that's the proposition that food should not be entertainment (although you do clarify that eating at home should be fun). Going out for pizza sounds great and is probably one of the few times that kids get to eat as much as they want! I thought the whole message of this site is to feast and enjoy doing it. After all, wasn't the start of your current direction the moment you said "Screw it" and ate a bunch of pizza?

    But I guess what is influencing you is your continued stance against sugar and white flour. I understand your entire platform weakens if you recant this somewhat, but this article brings up the point that, if you let kids decide what to eat, they will naturally gravitate towards these foods. What to make of fructose? Even you admit that nothing beats a honey or molasses based sauce on grilled meats. And can you honestly say we should do without the "yucky" marshmallows on top of the baked yams?

    What I'm saying is that fructose seems to enhance the palatability of just about anything. And, unlike MSG, it has always been with us. If people's natural tastes were anything like they are today, people throughout history have probably gotten as many sources of fructose as they possibly could; statistics be damned. And as for refined flour or rice, kids probably gravitate towards these because of their easy digestibility, which allows them to eat more overall.

    Although, perhaps our taste for fructose is more than previous generations because of modern circumstances. Ray Peat has suggested that one benefit of sugar (fructose) is that it is turned into saturated fat by the liver, which counters the unnatural abundance of unsaturated fats flowing in our blood. Another thing he says is that sugar calms the adrenals (though I never found why he says this), which may counter the unnatural amount of stress, both physical and psychological, that kids have to face these days. Also I notice that fructose gets turned into fat (though not much– about 30% of it according to what I've read), which is fat that does not need to be digested with bile. If one's liver has trouble producing bile, this could be a reason why fructose is so attractive. (I'm also reminded of the Chinese idea that the liver is the first organ to be impaired by chronic emotional stress.) The other unique metabolites of fructose– lactic acid and uric acid– may be in demand more these days as well. Fructose itself is also able to be used for energy by tissues and organs such as the kidneys, which may be under abnormal burdens these days.

    Anyways, plain old candy, of course, is just stupid, and the subsequent crash from eating it alone should be an indication that we shouldn't do that. However, I think there is no danger from sugar as long as it is eaten with nutritious food. Soda is really nice to have with a meal. The carbonation, and perhaps phosphoric acid, helps with digestion. For some reason, the sugar is an indispensable part of it as well. (The caffeine we may be able to do without, though it's not terrible.)

    The problem, of course, with this modern society is that kids often don't even get one really substantial and nutritious meal a day. The one major problem I would also address in an article like this is the piss poor food that they get served in school lunches– not to mention the piss poor serving sizes, all the way through highschool too. Add to that being overworked, overburdened, not getting nearly enough sleep, and being emotionally distressed in general from living in a society that prepares kids to take orders and not much else. (And of course, I think all the toxins in our food supply should be a major concern.)

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  21. Very interesting read. We try very hard to make sure our 4 year old eats a balanced diet without making it a chore. Meals are typically made at home with whole foods rather than processed foods, but she also likes dessert. She is an incredibly active and physically fit little girl. We have a friend who is on a restricted organic only diet and therefore never has any processed food, but as a whole, my daughter eats in a more balanced, healthy manner even if she does eat dessert every now and then.

    My only beef with your post is the part about breast feeding. My 4 year old was a formula fed baby because I was unable to produce milk. It wasn't because my diet wasn't healthy, there were a ton of other factors. I beat myself up about it for quite some time and I hate reading posts that stigmatize mothers who aren't able to breast-feed their children for whatever reason it might be – physical or mental. We have to make a lot of decisions about our children's food, not all of them are easy. I'm over-joyed that my 4 month old is breast-fed and once she starts solids it will be true foods, not purees.

    Please remember that in the future. People make breast-feeding out as being so easy and so rewarding. For some women it isn't. For some women, it is a horrible nightmare. Their children will grow up to be just fine too.

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  22. Brad Pilon said something interesting a while back. He was asked what kind of relationship should we have with food. He reply, "No relationship." That rung a bell in my head and you confirmed it with your neutrality paragraph. A lot of our problems come from making food more that it is.

    Oshioke

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  23. @Momma

    If everything goes well, we are planning on getting a double pumper. There's not much that I don't write off on my taxes so thanks to you I'll be puttin that on there too. I told my wife I wouldn't have to drive as far to get raw milk anymore. I can't wait to use my cream separator too.

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  24. This is my mom. She's sporting the Cobra Kai-do.

    http://db.tt/hEvqLzz

    Oh and I was breastfed so this is on topic.

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  25. good job Johnny L! But don't be thinking your wife will want to share either the 'liquid gold" or the boob. Did I mention that her nipples will feel like someone put a blow torch to them? Yeah, you will go through some 'get the fuck away from me" times.
    good stuff
    xo
    deb
    ps it is all worth it

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  26. michelle, I hear ya. I think our society is at a point where breastfeeding is the ideal and we don't need any more pressure about it. It usually is a last resort now, I think. Even mainstream medicine has adopted this credo. And there is a lot of pressure. I remember having nightmares before my son was born about not being able to breastfeed. I was fortunate that everything came in ok. There were times that I supplemented with formula to get through a night without waking up multiple times, or to make it through days at work when being away from the kid for 10 hours or so, meant that I just wasn't producing enough milk. These were compromises I made in order to continue to work.

    Debbie it's awesome that pumps are now deductable. A good one is really pricey. It's a really tough thing to manage at work. Finding a quiet, private place and enough time to do it is a tough thing. I remember at the time I had a note on my door that read, "trust me. You really want to knock first."

    Team Smith, I don't think Matt was bashing homeschooling so much as saying, look, these people didn't everything right and the kid was still screwed up. It's great you are homeschooling your kids and I'm jealous of your outside time.

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  27. After reading this post, I am making a more concerted effort to be food neutral and more relaxed about the junk outside the home thing. I think whenever you work really hard to instill values in your kid at a certain point you have to find a balance between letting them make their own mistakes and trying to keep them from totally going off the rails. I let my kid eat two horribly sweet pudding cups last night and midway through the second one he was like, "ewww" so I'm thinking maybe pudding cups are the way to do the whiskey/cigarette thing that Debbie was talking about.

    Reply
  28. And while I'm spamming the crap out of the comments, I should throw in that I saw Julie/Julia last night. Kind of an awesome tretise on enjoying your fuckitol if there ever was one. It's pretty chick/flicky in that the main message is empowerment of women through cooking, but the tagline should read, "more sex than you would imagine for a movie about Julia Child."

    Reply
  29. Since it seems like I'm not the only one here who isn't able to just breast feed, I'd love to hear more about alternatives. What would you recommend feeding an infant who is adopted, other than formula? I am adopting a newborn in April and I don't have a choice to do breast milk so I am stuck with formula. I don't like the idea of giving my child someone else's breast milk though I know it can be done, and in order for me to produce milk, I'd have to take a lot of hormones (plus I would still have to supplement it -neither of these are acceptable to me.)

    I would really love to hear your suggestions because I am a little freaked out by what's in formula as well.

    Reply
  30. on alt to breast milk:
    try the blog modern alternative momma or cheeseslave for WAP formulas that include real food

    Reply
  31. Great post! Sometimes I feel like such an anomaly in my generation because I'm relatively young and cook almost all of my own meals. This is probably because I live in a young urban area are where there is at least one restaurant on every corner. Of course I can say that I am in robust health, have not been sick in years and don't crave restaurant food in the slightest. My hope is that, when and if I do have children one day, that they can take the same joy in this as I do. Because the main thing about home cooked real food is: it tastes better and it makes you happier.

    Reply
  32. On Breastfeeding- I couldn't breastfeed my first boy past 5 weeks (he couldn't latch well and I was in severe pain). After that I pumped and gave him formula. One day, when he was about 9 months old, I suddenly got a big whiff of the formula as I was mixing it up and I almost barfed. Formula smells SO DISGUSTING. I threw it all away and found a source for raw milk. His health changed overnight, not that he was sickly before, but he always had the runny nose and once-a-month fevers, whatever was going around the day care… all that disappeared with raw milk.

    He is now almost 3. Mostly a very picky eater and I try so hard not to make a big deal out of things, just offer up a selection of mostly WAPF-type stuff with occasional treats. He still drinks a lot of raw milk and I think it must be a huge percentage of his calories, so I don't worry too much about the rest of it.

    Sometimes he surprises me. We often make a meal out of finger foods when my husband isn't there for dinner, and one thing I like to have is sardines. Usually he eats a few bites. One night though, he stuffed about 3 whole sardines into his mouth and then picked up the can and drank all the oil out. It was crazy. After seeing that, I definitely feel like kids can do "intuitive eating" in a way that we never could.

    Reply
  33. By the way Matt, I like your "the perfect diet is very unhealthy." I have come around to that view now too- really very recently. I just bought "The Perfect Health Diet" book. Before I had a chance to start reading it, I was reading his blog, and he's got this recipe for a huge bowl of spinach, cranberries, and globs of coconut oil heated in the microwave and mixed around. I thought, that has to be the most unpleasant thing to eat EVER. I cannot imagine eating unsweetened cranberries, not to mention with spinach. Could anyone really enjoy such a concoction? Blecch.

    Reply
  34. Excellent post with great points! I'll definitely be sharing this.

    Reply
  35. From WAPFer:

    2 cups whole raw cow's milk, preferably from pasture-fed cows
    1/4 cup homemade liquid whey (See recipe for whey, below) Note: Do NOT use powdered whey or whey from making cheese (which will cause the formula to curdle). Use only homemade whey made from yoghurt, kefir or separated raw milk.
    4 tablespoons lactose1
    1/4 teaspoon bifidobacterium infantis2
    2 or more tablespoons good quality cream (preferably not ultrapasteurized), more if you are using milk from Holstein cows
    1/2 teaspoon unflavored high-vitamin or high-vitamin fermented cod liver oil or 1 teaspoon regular cod liver oil3
    1/4 teaspoon high-vitamin butter oil (optional)1
    1 teaspoon expeller-expressed sunflower oil1
    1 teaspoon extra virgin olive oil1
    2 teaspoons coconut oil1
    2 teaspoons Frontier brand nutritional yeast flakes1
    2 teaspoons gelatin1
    1-7/8 cups filtered water
    1/4 teaspoon acerola powder1, 2

    How about a few less ingredients:

    2 gallons raw milk

    Think that would be ok?

    Reply
  36. I have 3 kids, a 24yo, 21yo, and a 13yo. When I had my first kid, we were very close to macrobiotic. The only thing I couldn't comepletely give up was eggs. We ate no sugar or white flour. I couldn't feed this kid enough food, he ate more than I at about 1.5. When I pregnant with the second one I started craving steak! After being a vegetarian for several years it freaked me out. But somehow I respected my body enough to listen and I had a steak and surprise! It did not make me sick. I had steak a few times until the craving went away. I did however struggle with anemia my entire pregnancy and hemorrhaged very badly after the birth. I continued my diet but found it very isolating and started letting other items come into our kitchen. My husband never gave up meat and once in a while would bring home steak and I remember watching my very young daughter practicaly salivating at his knee. It made me start to question my "perfect" diet. We gradually switched to more meats and cheeses in our diet, as well as more refined foods.
    Well a LOT of time has passed and things are very different than when I had my first kid. My husband and my oldest both have celiac (I thought my son had a dairy allergy for years, fed him lots of soy ugh) which has added new challenges to the way we eat.

    My youngest child has had the least amount of restrictions on what he eats, I am just not uptight about it like I once was. He is a very picky eater and we fed him everything from a very young age. However, he doesn't seem to have food hangups, he is very thin (different than the other 2)and eats lots of meats, dairy products, and some veggies too. He still loves junk food, but seems to understand that it is not great for him. Who knows what he will do when he grow up?

    I have changed the way I eat so many times, I think that I am done with that now. The biggest challenge being white flour, sugar and refined foods.

    The best way to teach your kids to eat is by example and don't be uptight-just relax. They will get exposed to so much that is not perfect, that is life.

    I have never commented before. Hi everyone.

    Kristin

    Reply
  37. JL, simple may be better, but I think they are trying to copy boob juice. Foolish Mortals!

    Reply
  38. Melissa-

    Apologies for the pretention. I have very strong feelings about tv because with it in my life I am depressed, I don't write, I don't cook, I don't read, I don't feel good about myself, and my life is aimless. I can't even turn it off to go to sleep when I'm tired. And I was a retarded loser until I dated a girl in high school whose family didn't have cable. I had never seen such a thing or even conceptualized of what it must be like to live without a television. It changed my life completely to one that was fulfilling and chock full of thoughts originated in my head instead of originated from a glowing box.

    Team Smith-

    Ha ha! Yes, hardcore parenting of any kind has a very high tendency to backfire. I'm not saying it will, but kids have a funny way of forcing parents to have more balanced thinking. Only time will tell how they respond to the modern food environment when they are adults, and each child responds differently. For example, the Lexus kid's brother I mentioned is a holistic health practitioner now.

    Reply
  39. Johnny – I would keep it simple. That strange concoction is way overkill, especially with that huge load of cod liver oil. Goat's milk with a little added lactose is probably all you need. The main difference between human milk and other milks is that it has a lot more carbohydrate. Human milk is like 6:1 carbs to protein and cow's milk is like 1.5:1. This is obviously strong evidence that the optimal human diet is ZERO CARB, lol!

    Nice mom pic by the way. I'm officially growing my hair out so that I can get that doo going for my WAPF talk.

    Kristin-

    Welcome and great comment!

    On breastfeeding –

    You should re-read what I wrote. I wasn't dogging on moms that don't breastfeed, just pointing out that, if the mom's health is good, mother's milk is best. When mom's health isn't right, mother's milk ain't so hot.

    Tierney -

    Gee I don't know. Sounds scrumptious.

    Jared -

    As you know I'm willing to believe that there may be some advantages to fructose even if my own personal experience with myself and others I know personally doesn't match up.

    Regardless of any fructo-debating, I still strongly feel that kids should have unfettered access to it. Just reading Geneen Roth and she points out a story in which a young kid was put on a diet by mom and still gaining weight. Mom was freaked out, but was asked what the kid's favorite food was, which was M&M's. She was instructed to fill a pillowcase with M&M's and give it to her daughter while also completely abandoning the diet. She ate practically nothing but M&M's for 8 days in descending amounts and then forgot the pillowcase after that and proceeded to lose 6 pounds over the next couple of months.

    Roth lost a lot of weight in similar fashion too, and she started by eating whatever she wanted just like Jon Gabriel did. She would go to restaurants with friends and they would order salads and she would order a brownie fudge sundae.

    This is how most people will create food neutrality successfully.

    My niece Abby in the photo above ate nothing but Halloween candy for 2 days after Halloween. A couple of weeks later my sister found her candy stash only half eaten and forgotten about.

    I think the greatest gift to give to children is for them to have no desire to eat stuff like that in a world in which they are surrounded by it. That's the only suitable defense in this modern food environment I think, which is what this post was all about. Many cases will require pillowcases.

    Alison-

    That's really the right attitude. Just make it enjoyable. Not entertainment per se, but enjoyable. And when they eat mostly good stuff at home they'll be able to feel how sick modern junk food splurges make them feel while everyone else's kids think it's normal to be sick all the time, have all of their teeth rot, and have frequent irrational emotional outbursts.

    Reply
  40. "Sometimes he surprises me. We often make a meal out of finger foods when my husband isn't there for dinner, and one thing I like to have is sardines. Usually he eats a few bites. One night though, he stuffed about 3 whole sardines into his mouth and then picked up the can and drank all the oil out. It was crazy. After seeing that, I definitely feel like kids can do "intuitive eating" in a way that we never could."

    I have a similar tales of "intuitive eating" wackiness. My kid has on a couple of occasions eaten an entire large bowl of salad (like salad for three adults) and then lifted up the bowl and drunk the oil and vinegar dressing. Once when he was really small he ate an entire tub of sour cream. The sour cream incident happened after his pediatrician recommended we switch from full fat milk, to low fat. I assume he was just making up his fat intake there. He will also choose stuff like fresh berries over cookies and other sweets. Whenever I buy berries, I just buy an extra pint for him to eat in the car on the way home from the store, since otherwise I would never even get berries into the house.

    On the downside a few weeks back he ate an entire bar or BT McElrath chocolate–about $6 worth– in one sitting. I know his weird little binges are growth spurt related and it's very encouraging that he goes through phases of eating everything that's not nailed down. Of course there are times that I know the only thing he ate all day was a handful of goldfish crackers and a peanut butter and jelly sandwich.

    Reply
  41. @Tierney

    "he's got this recipe for a huge bowl of spinach, cranberries, and globs of coconut oil heated in the microwave and mixed around. I thought, that has to be the most unpleasant thing to eat EVER. I cannot imagine eating unsweetened cranberries, not to mention with spinach. Could anyone really enjoy such a concoction? Blecch."

    Interesting thing is that when you're starving, you find yourself able to eat just about anything. At the height of my eating disorder, I'd eat things like the entire apple (meaning core included), pounds of steamed brussels sprouts with no seasoning in one seating, oatmeal with soysauce poured on, chicken bones, almond milk with plain cocoa powder and no added sweetener, and assorted other weird things. Some of the concoctions I make even now I find palatable where other people likely wouldn't, just because I "trained" myself to eat just about anything (not really a good thing).

    Reply
  42. To be fair, the Jaminet spinach, cranberries and coconut oil "recipe" is part of an intermittent fasting protocol. Avoiding protein and carbs but eating fat and fiber. If you actually read the book the concept is explained, but it's probably not something most Duck Fiets people would be interested in…

    Reply
  43. Matt, your pillowcase theory dovetails nicely with my grandpa's smokin' and drinkin' shed technique. Yes, he had them do it in a small shed, cannot imagine how they would ever want to smoke or drink after that torture.

    I will pass on the cranberry spinach melee. :)

    Jenny to the N, I love your son. He is just my kind of kid.
    I bought this ridiculous fruitilcous gum the kind in big squares and my daughter will chew like five of them at a time. Yeah, she's looking for that flavor driven high no doubt. I only wish she would drink salad dressing!

    Reply
  44. Gazelle,
    actually I bought the book because I wanted to explore intermittent fasting. I am still looking forward to reading it- I haven't had time to start it yet. I'm not sure I could ever add that recipe into my fast though lol. Although Orange Sarah I think has it beat with the soysauce over oatmeal!!!

    Do you do the intermittent fasting and how do you like it?

    Reply
  45. " I have very strong feelings about tv because with it in my life I am depressed, I don't write, I don't cook, I don't read, I don't feel good about myself, and my life is aimless."

    Well that explains a lot about me.

    "Human milk is like 6:1 carbs to protein and cow's milk is like 1.5:1. This is obviously strong evidence that the optimal human diet is ZERO CARB, lol!"

    I've always wondered what the macro breakdown of breast milk is. I've heard that the fats in it are the saturated variety. Where did you get this info? I want something I can show my uppity, lawyer, wannabe hippie, wine drinking, saturated fat is bad, cousin and my tater hating, anything faster than 3mph is cardio, low carb best friend.

    To go along with your doo you can borrow my tee shirt that looks like this.

    http://db.tt/fmauyEs

    Reply
  46. JL,

    Here's a link with nutrition data re: breast milk.

    The fat is roughly 45/40/15 saturated/monounsaturated/polyunsaturated. Interestingly, the Omega 6:3 ratio is about 8:1.

    That's not too far off of beef's fat profile. Maybe that's why beef fat tastes so good.

    http://nutritiondata.self.com/facts/dairy-and-egg-products/95/2

    Reply
  47. @Tierney,

    IF can be effective for fat loss/insulin sensitivity, etc. but I can't really do it anymore. It can be triggering for those with a history of eating disorders.

    IMO, IF is easiest to do with just eating nothing (drinking water, tea, etc.) until your "window". Messing with spinach/cranberry salads just complicates it.

    I've read some interesting stuff about protein restriction out there, which I think the Jaminets touch on.

    They also talk about the composition of human breast milk in the book, and the PHD closely adheres to that macro ratio.

    http://perfecthealthdiet.com/?p=196

    Reply
  48. Totally OT, but I had to say…

    Kurt Harris apparently has gone from an interesting paleo blogger to a self-important a*****e giving his views on religion and taking pot shots at Matt.

    Sad.

    Reply
  49. Thanks zogby. Don't you love what they wrote about it:

    "The good: This food is low in Sodium. It is also a good source of Vitamin C.

    The bad: This food is high in Saturated Fat, and a large portion of the calories in this food come from sugars."

    Shew, thank goodness for the Vit C and low sodium, cancels out the bad sat fat and sugars.

    Oh and I've got a beef with you Matty, you said

    "…..human diet is ZERO CARB, lol!"

    lol? When did you start this? You've never been an lol'er, you've always been a haha'er.

    Reply
  50. Johnny-

    At my core I'm an LMAO-er. I do throw in an occasional lol just to assimilate myself with other people that spend way too much time on the internet like myself.

    I'll give that t-shirt some serious consideration. A T-shirt of some kind will certainly be my attire, it just remains to be seen what t-shirt that will be.

    Zogby-

    I wonder if the composition of that breast milk in terms of polyunsaturated fat content and 6:3 ratios is normal or if it has been altered by modern nutrition. I highly suspect that latter. What I'd give to see studies done on human breast milk composition on various diets and the resulting health of kids. Cow's milk is similar in terms of saturated and monounsaturated but it's not that high in polyunsaturates and the 6:3 ratio is much closer to 1:1.

    If the 6:3 ratio of breast milk is a direct reflection of the 6:3 ratio of the mother's tissues, then this would really point to the transgenerational cumulative effects of excess omega 6 and AA consumption – explaining, in part, this…

    http://wholehealthsource.blogspot.com/2010/04/do-seed-oils-cause-multi-generational.html

    Oops, nevermind – that answers the question about how the composition of breast milk has changed in terms of polyunsaturated fat content. Perhaps moms shouldn't breastfeed but just give their kids goat milk with some added lactose after all!

    Reply
  51. On Kurt Harris-

    Sorry to hear that. Last article of his I read a couple of weeks ago was pretty outstanding, talking about the fundamental differences between starch and fructose for example, and saying there's nothing wrong with starch at all.

    Reply
  52. In regards to Harris I think this is the quote from his blog he classed as rubbish http://goo.gl/QEjo6

    "Eating well beyond satiety – even though you are getting fat and feel like shit, you have been told by someone that this will "heal" your metabolism"

    Anyway this is an awesome post and something I think a load of people will find hugely helpful. Looking forward to hearing your seminar call tuesday, sure to be interesting!

    Reply
  53. Yeah overall not a bad article . Also gotta give credit for his car analogy. We love those. But he should rephrase it to say eating a little bit beyond satiety , gaining fat, and feeling great. That would be a better representation of what people Most often actually experience. Then of course there are the people who have lost dozens of pounds even over 100 pounds.

    Reply
  54. Kids will eat real food, and anybody that says otherwise isn't doing it right.

    Both of my young kids will eat any real food we give them. In fact, they will gobble up food that I think is unappetizing: fruit smoothie with wayyyy too much "green superfood powder" in it (tastes like hay), cod liver oil, unsweetened oatmeal with blueberries and ground flax seeds (it might sound good, but it's not).

    And when other kids eat at our house, they gobble up food that their parents claim they will not touch.

    I have a friend that gives her 1 year old daughter oatmeal for breakfast, and she sweetens it with honey. She asked my wife what our 1 year old eats for breakfast, and we said plain oatmeal with blueberries and ground flax seeds. She was shocked: "you don't put sweetener in it?" My wife responded "Have you ever tried giving her plain oatmeal?" Of course, her friend hadn't even tried that; she just assumed that kids would only eat oatmeal if it was sweet.

    Not so bad, you say? Well recently, at a family reunion, I saw a relative giving his 8 month old baby a brownie. A mother effing BROWNIE. The sad thing is, most people won't be shocked at this.

    When you start your kids off like that, you are setting them up for failure.

    Reply
  55. obsolete you have some good points. My daughter has been known to eat cow's stomach and chicken feet.. all at other people's houses. Recently she had three hours of fun with her Uncle cutting up a lamb carcass. If it's fun and other (non parents) are doing it, they will eat/try way more than they will at our loving insistence.

    The most alarming thing I have every seen fed a child was a baby bottle full of good old Coke. I have a picture of my stepkid with one.. yeah great parenting by her mother on that one. She also had such bad bottle rot (wonder why??) that she had to literally get her baby teeth drilled down to nubs by the age of three. fun times.

    Reply
  56. I think one of the keys is getting kids to eat stuff that tastes good before mental interference comes in to pre-decide that something is yucky.

    My niece for example gobbled up chicken skin and butter right off the plate as a kid, but her big sister was old enough to be disgusted by that. A girl I dated many years ago used to sneak in the kitchen as a toddler and eat raw ground beef.

    This video is near and dear to my heart, filmed only a few miles away from where my niece wrote "Eat the Food" on that chalkboard…

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Jq7t03_MDHo&feature=player_embedded

    Reply
  57. I was brought up on the SADest diet (ever) but now I am a 180 convert and doing better than I could imagine. So even if kids do grow up on the worst crap possible (like me) I just wanted to put it out there that it is not the end of the world. Of course, now that I am informed, I hope to raise my kids on the best nutrition possible. I just don’t want to go all anal over it though—there is seriously a fine line between being healthy and a being harebrained lunatic. I met a parent who refuses to put her son in school in fear of him being fed “bad food”. She watches him like a hawk, and he seriously has no social life. It’s sad to see someone’s entire life inhibited like that—and pathetic. But anyways Matt, I am really glad you addressed this. It is so frustrating to see how kids are already being restricted in their diet the moment they learn to talk.

    Another thing I think you should address is our body’s largest organ: the skin. Everything that is put on our skin is absorbed directly into our body (except in larger amounts than if ingested since it is not filtered by the liver). I think this needs to be addressed, because what you eat is only half the equation of what goes into our body. The other half comes in through our skin. (like chlorine and fluoride in tap water)

    Check this website out for more scary info:

    http://www.silkywater.com/skin.htm

    Reply
  58. Anonymous that was a poetic comment. Music to my freakin ears. I was raised on soy formula and all kinds of crap had my teeth fall out my appendix removed my tonsils removed…

    And it didn't take much more than a minor tweak in diet for my health to totally rebound. I haven't been to a doctor or dentist in 10 years. Tyson gay is a world class athlete that eats at mcdonalds and eats ice cream on the weekends.

    There is simply no need for perfection, and attempts at dietary perfection in today's modern society are extremists missing the big picture… not just with health but more importantly with life as a whole.

    Reply
  59. I agree with anonymous, esp on the 'what we put ON our bodies". I am saturated with coconut oil right now, soaks right in and gives my skin a lovely glow. On my face I use Tropical Traditions Baby Silk cream, made with coconut oil, palm oil and other good stuff.

    Think of all the chemicals we pile on our kids from birth, butt cream, lotions, sunscreen etc etc..cannot be a good thing.

    Here is a sampling of some of what I ate growing up:
    cream of wheat chocolate flavor
    milk
    all boxed cereals, full of sugar, then added MORE sugar on top from the always full sugar bowl
    More milk
    grilled american yellow cheese slices on white bread with margaine
    mac and cheese
    spray cheese
    wheat thins and triscuits.
    more bread
    peanut butter
    campbells tomato soup made with, yes, more milk
    saltine crackers
    bbq'd meats that my dad always burned and tasted of lighter fluid
    watermelon and some other fruits
    potato chips
    cheeze its
    Carnations "instant breakfast" basically, chocolate milk
    ice cream
    bologna
    cake, cookies, candy, all we could stuff in our maws

    You get the picture. It's a miracle I am still alive and not surprising I have cancer, now is it?
    xo
    hagalicous

    Reply
  60. I don't put anything on my skin. I do you get hit with a fair amount of chlorine in the shower. Once upon a time I had a shower filter. My skin is probably my best feature. Very soft moist and young looking which is amazing considering that I've spent years living in tropical places without using a drop of sun screen ever. Definitely some 180 degree skin care advice coming for me. On sunny days i try to spend 2 hours out in the sun in the middle of the day with no sunscreen haha.

    Reply
  61. Johnny Lawrence:

    Heh! I also like the box on the nutrition data page that says human milk is "-119: Moderately Inflammatory". It gets a 2 star out of 5 for "optimum health". Doh! But then again, maybe they're right, as Matt suggested by the theory that the fat profile of breast milk has been altered by modern diets.

    Matt:

    Interesting link! The 4th graph on that link certainly supports the idea that a natural O6:3 ratio might be closer to 2:1 or 1:1.

    Anonymous:

    I would never discourage someone from avoiding chemicals on their skin. But I went through a phase of doing that (natural detergents/soaps/shampoos, all while avoiding fluoridated water, processed food, etc), and none of it made any difference to me. And yet (so far) eating more *has* made a big difference. Perhaps the effects take too long and I didn't give it enough time. But I suspect that a healthy body is able to defend itself pretty well from a lot of what we throw at it. It's kind of the Ray Peat philosophy that if your body has energy to spare, it's good at cleaning itself up.

    Really, there are so many people convinced that carbs/grains/nuts/dairy/fluoride/whatever cause them problems, and who knows, maybe they're right. But perhaps some of it is because their body is just too run down to handle it well.

    Sure — it's not so simple. And it all comes back to what exactly it is that makes us have energy to spare, which is not yet definitely known.

    Reply
  62. Awesome post. Thanks for this.

    My mom cooked very good meals but my dad did the whole candy thing, like his dad did. Bringing home tons of stuff like Twinkies. For a while I was eating massive amounts of pepperoni and hot dogs and skim milk. I think I was on antipsychotics and an antidepressant around that time for a couple years. No wonder I got so messed up!

    But about my dad bringing home a lot of sweets and treats and all that good stuff: maybe it negatively affected my health, but in a way, I'm really grateful for it.

    I did binge on sugar a lot, never had a real weight problem and have been skinny/thin most of my life, but have had tremendous psychological problems…

    …and that said, the psychological problems have been the worst. Having horrible health is horrible. I think it's just as horrible to have poor health but to be barely a teenager and want to commit suicide. I was there for years and still struggle with that to this day, and that said…

    (and yes, when I say "that said," I'm getting to the point this time — I promise!)

    …the psychological benefits of just EATING THE FOOD outweigh it all. My memories of my dad then become beautiful instead of tainted by some kind of neurotic health thing, like it was messing up my teeth, this and that..I have a lot of metal fillings, my gums are receding, and overall I'm usually very off-kilter…but you know what, I really do love my dad, and those are all really great memories to me.

    I was out by the fire pit with my dad and my friend's dad the other night. Had to dig it out because there's literally like a mountain of snow piled up and frozen over everywhere (I live in CT).

    Had a beer with them and had a LOT of laughs. How's this:

    Friend's dad: "You know, my house isn't made out the usual stuff like spruce or pine; it really holds up well – it's quality stuff – Douglas fir."

    My dad: "My house is made out of Douglas fir too."

    Friend's dad: "…well, fuck you."

    I burst out laughing at that and my dad followed right after. That is easily one of the best nights I've ever had.

    I would go NOWHERE bringing any of this up. Try telling a couple battle scarred old men that you're messed up because your dad gave you Twinkies and cookies and you drank pasteurized skim milk and you won't find any mercy.

    You would find it from me, but you know what I mean XD

    Anyway, for 2 years or so I think I avoided all sweets — I refused a birthday a cake both years. I don't regret doing that because I learned from it.

    And what I learned is that I like enjoying life :D I'm a very serious person but being able to just let go and have a good time is great. My idea of a good time happens to be maybe a little tame for my age, talking about prostate problems and flabby skin with two guys well over twice my age, but hey. Whatever peels your banana.

    I really thank you a lot for your work. This place and your books have become like a safe haven to me, where I can geek out all I want and yet not get obsessive and neurotic about everything. It's a good feeling.

    There are a lot of people I see posting on here who are suffering a whole lot. I think it's safe to say we've all had our fair share of problems if we'd come to a place like this in the first place, with so much interest in healing and recovery.

    I'm glad to know you all, even though it's only from far away. I propose that we make a 180 Club treehouse. For some reason that's making me think of Honey I Shrunk the Kids.

    On second thought, those Twinkies might've done more damage than I accounted for.

    Thanks again :)

    Reply
  63. re Kurt Harris- I don't find him to be a very interesting or entertaining writer. He is probably very jealous of Matt in that regard. Frankly I cannot respect PaNu since he closed the comments down. The comments were the most interesting part. Why would he do that, unless it's that he doesn't like to hear anything critical about his ideas?

    Somehow he has always come across to me as self-important and pompous. That reading list he posted pretty much confirmed that.

    -anon #2

    Reply
  64. Matt I love your article, hits the nail on the head!!
    I have shared it with all my friends, though we have a circle of families that pretty much do all the things you suggest…lovely to have a supportive network of kids and parents! We live on the Gold Coast in Australia but all have no TV, do extended breastfeeding, let the kids choose intuitively what to eat with the REAL foods in the house – lots of variety with whats in season and lots of wild food hunts in our local areas…growing things in their own little gardens…sprouts and fairy gardens in pots.. and i run workshops titled "REAL (raw) FOOD FOR KIDS" every couple of months…sharing with the mainstream much of what you have shared here!
    Love the work, thanks for sharing :)
    Smiles and light
    Rah :)
    http://www.sproutingsmiles.com

    Reply
  65. Ok, someone mentioned skin. Let's stay here for a while. I've been waiting for this topic to come up so I could legally be "on topic". I've worked as a telephone man: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UexxG4RntfU&feature=youtube_gdata_player

    for 10 years. I'm always outside in the friggin weather. I just friggin love it. Got sun burned every day for first 5 years, then bathed in sunscreen for the next 5. Per the notorious M.S. I covered up last summer with a wide brimmed hat and all (I'm called the rice picker). My face has been thru hell. Starting about October it starts getting dry and flaky. This winter I have tried using coconut oil (which made it worse), washing it really good every day, not washing it. What I eat has no effect that I can tell. I think it's a totally different issue than just having dry skin in general because my sandpaper elbows n knees cleared up when my temps got up. My face will get a lot better during the summer though. I guess it has a lot to do with the climate as well (Southeastern U.S., as in SEC, as in college football domination, as in back2back Heisman and National Chmpionships).

    Anyone have these issues with a lot of sun exposure and skin problems?

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  66. Johnny: Coconut oil, made your skin worse? What about eating lots of it? If I eat a bit of it every day AND put it on my skin it is like a 1-2 punch for dry skin. Right now, I'm trying to cut down on hot baths and showers, especially in the winter. Yeah, taking cold showers in the winter is tons of fun! It does seem to help with the itchy dry skin I get in winter.

    Reply
  67. Rah – Thanks, sounds cool. Buy me a plane ticket to Australia and I'll do a big write up for ya :)

    Jib-

    You are pretty much getting exactly what I intend people to get out of my site. It was refreshing to hear somebody really getting it. I too don't have a shower filter anymore or sweat about "the small stuff."

    Johnny-

    For what it's worth, I know there is a lot of anti-PUFA hype when it comes to skin, but I have noted on many occasions that eating sugar makes my skin several times more sensitive than it would otherwise be. If I eat a lot of fruit, juice, or sugar and then go out into the sun I get pink and get burned, red, cracked lips. Some might say this is because sugar flushes PUFA out through the skin. I'm not totally convinced.

    I am convinced of SEC dominion, which has pretty much gotten out of hand the last couple of years. Maybe I should start watching college football again eh Johnny Boy?

    BTW my middle initial is F. If you are going to give me a gangsta name you might as well throw the f in the there. The letters m and f together always sounds more gangsta.

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  68. Jenny I am another one who can't put coconut oil on my skin, it just does not soak in. Sits there eventually leading to clogged pores.

    And no I am not trying to put a whole bucket on my face.

    Speaking of feeding kids, the little buddy decided to puck up all his sweat potato last night. Considered revoking his miniature man card, but just couldn't considering he kicks my ass when it comes to caloric intake to body weight ratio.

    Reply
  69. Nip,

    Yes! That was something else I forgot to mention was that it seems like hot showers do make it worse. I thought about maybe the chlorine in the water might have something to do with it. It's normally ok in the morning time but after a shower I always have to put something on it. One day I had to take two showers and I looked like a karma chameleon. Normally it's just around my mouth and below my eyes.

    Notorious M.F.S.,

    I've wondered if it does have something to do with my body flushing all the bad out through my skin some way. I've never ate really clean for more than a week. I'm screwed if it takes longer than that to get it out.

    Reply
  70. Yes, getting water on your skin dries it out just like licking your lips causes your lips to get more chapped.

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  71. So, my skin problem that is really bugging me right now is that my skin is kind of crepey. Especially on the backs of my hands. I'm only 36 but my hands look at least 20 years older. It is not the top layer of skin that is the problem; I never have peeling or flaking skin. It is like the layer underneath that just can't hang on to moisture. I have never found a lotion that makes a difference even in the short-term. I just ordered some hyaluronic acid supplement to try. Any other ideas, I am open to anything at the moment :)

    Reply
  72. Tierney, are you getting enough fats ie: saturated fats in your diet? I used fitday.com to see what my ratios of all the macro nutrients are and to make sure I got a good chunk of my intake in fats, mainly grass fed beef or coconut oil. It may help!

    Reply
  73. Johnny, it's not just the chlorine, but I think a the heat that is really doing it. I've been doing a cold rinse at the end of my shower or bath and that really helps. It shuts the pores which have been opened from the heat, and prevents them from losing moisture all day. Or that's the theory. My hairdresser told me about it and she has amazing hair and skin. She is 60 and she has the face and hair of a 30 year old. She also takes her pets to psychics, though, so grain of salt, of course. But I've been doing it and I no longer have to bathe in coconut oil just to get through a Minnesota winter day.

    Reply
  74. grass-fed momma,
    I think so? I eat a lot of grass-fed beef and usually cook with coconut oil. I drink maybe a quart of raw milk per day too. But I never track or count anything so maybe I get less than I think. I should use fitday sometimes.

    Also with the coconut oil on the skin, I have found that it makes my skin FEEL amazing and soft, but it doesn't help it look any better. After using it for a while, it will make me break out. Right now I am testing the Derma E line. I have high hopes :)

    Reply
  75. @Jenny:
    That's interesting. Now that I think about it, my skin isn't as dry anymore now that I've made it my mission to shower with water that's as cold as I can stand. Didn't really make the connection until now, but that seems to be the only reasonable explanation.

    Reply
  76. Tierney, unless you've been in fat drought for ages, you are probably getting plenty of saturated fat. The milk diet gave me the best skin of my life, so probably you are on the right track by drinking a ton of the moo juice.

    Reply
  77. Hey Madmuhh, I'm just going to pretend that you have some wacky Three's Company type reason for taking cold showers. Enjoy the benefits to your skin as well.

    Reply
  78. What's with everybody taking cold showers? I've been doing it too. It seems to improve my cold tolerance for the rest of the day.

    Reply
  79. I always try to do a cold rinse when I get a shower (which isn't as often as I'd like, as we don't have running water up here): my ND explained that leaving the shower hot, your pores are all open and then you lose all your heat when you go out. As shocking as a cold plunge is, when it's 10 degrees out, I want my pores not to be wide open!

    Reply
  80. I used to have chapped lips and dry skin all the time. The corners of my mouth would get pretty bad sometimes. I haven't noticed that problem for so long, I almost forgot about it. I don't use lotion or anything on my skin. In terms of diet, I get plenty of cream and butter and coconut oil, but I also don't restrict sugar. It's hard to say what causes bad skin. Maybe it's a flushing out process, or maybe it's related to nutrient quality. I mostly eat foods that are highly appetizing to me. I've noticed that most American fare (pizza, etc.) is not that appealing. I would have some problems with acne and what not whenever I'd have too much peanut butter or chocolate, but that was back when I started HED. Now that doesn't even seem to happen.

    (Yeah, that's right… It's Valentine's Day and I got nothing to do.)

    Reply
  81. Hi Jenny,

    "My mom told me that in order to teach her and her bros what NOT to do, her dad forced them to smoke an entire pack of ciggies all at once till they were so sick they were not ever interested in smoking. None of them ever did"

    Funny – only last night someone was telling me that her mother did the same thing with her and her sister when she was young (she's in her 60's now, FWIW). Both children started smoking regularly in their early teens, though.

    Ian2.

    Reply
  82. Well Ian2, I guess it does not work on everyone. Peer pressure in teen years is a bitch. If the person you mention is in their 60's, that was before it was glaringly obvious that smoking kills you, slowly but surely. IMO, saw it happen to my dad.
    Maybe kids now don't need the shed treatment, they can just see what happens with smokers in their later years and knock that shit off. One can dream. :)

    Reply
  83. I kick on the cold at the end of a shower too!! It really does make me feel better all day!!

    troy

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  84. Debbie,

    Yeah, my mother is basically incapacitated due to emphysema. Smoker for 50 years.

    Then again, my grandfather smoked for about 80 years and lived until he was 96 years old.

    I wonder how much the fact that phosphate fertilisers started to be used in earnest on tobacco (as well as everything else) in the 1930's (or whenever it was) has to do with the increase in apparent smoking-related illnesses and deaths. That stuff's basically radioactive and apparently contains a lot of polonium-210, which is most toxic when burned.

    Also, with my mother, she hardly ate real food in any significant amounts as an adult. Certainly not much saturated fat at all. I think that has a lot to do with it, too.

    Michael at Nutrition And Physical Regeneration posted something on cigarettes , questioning their demonized status. Personally, I do wonder if they're flat-out "bad", or whether it's other things we do or don't do that seems to make smoking unhealthy.

    That said, I find it probably the most disgusting thing on the face of the earth, and have no intentions of ever taking it up, even if it isn't such an issue. Probably too much info, but I've turned down a few sexual advances from people who I found really attractive, just because the other person was a smoker. My ego just wanted to say that…

    Ian2.

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  85. William Dufty in Sugar Blues suggests that sugar used in curing tobacco is what makes it so unhealthy, and that traditional native American tobacco didn't have the same health issues.

    Reply
  86. Cold showers are awesome! The first few seconds are definitly not that confortable, but after that it feels totally refreshing.

    Also it's supposed to make you more heat tolerant, possibly increase your testosterone levels, improve your immune system and increase blood/chi flow.

    I hope those are enough reasons for my weird behaviour.

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  87. Good article Matt. I was one of those kids put on diet after diet as a child and the result is a fat adult with severe food obsessions. I do see going out to eat as entertainment, this is something I need to work on, even though we only dine out about 1-2 times a month, maybe. My Mom always kept me away from fast food, restaurant food, or any type of junk food (unless it was low fat/fat free.) I was 16 years old the first time I ate McDonalds…and when I did start, I HAD to eat it like everyday, it was a complete addiction. If I brought something home, I had to sneak it past my Mom in my purse or backpack or she would flip out. Still to this day, when I go back home to visit, if me and my sis go out to lunch or something, she goes crazy on us. Of course, this stems from her food obsessions because she was an overweight child/young adult too. I feel my husband is very much like my Mom and I feel that even with him, if I want to eat something he doesn't approve of, that I have to sneak around and eat it and I'm like terrified of getting caught while I'm doing it, and I even go to the dumpster to get rid of the wrapper or something. I really wish I didn't have to feel like this, even as an adult.
    My son, I feel is going to be the same as me even though I am trying so hard to not do what my Mom did to us, my husband is a lot like her. I am trying to do right for him though, but he is 4 (in April) and 44 pounds; should I be worried? I'm really not. He has always been in the 95th percentile and is growing very steadily. He is considered overweight according to the charts. Nobody would ever look at him and say he was fat, but maybe just a solid kid. He is very happy, healthy, and active, rarely sick, never had any antibiotics/meds. He learns very well and quickly and has a great memory. So should I be worried that he is a few pounds more than most kids his age? I just don't see it as a problem, but at the same time, I don't want him to be fat like me. It is a miserable life and I want him to be happy always.

    It is hard being a parent!

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  88. Hey vida good to hear from you. It's a great example of what not to do as a parent. As you know from experience there is absolutely no point in worrying about your sons weight and it could be counterproductive if you do. I too spent most of my childhood in the 90th percentile of weight. Just feed him well… good quality foods. Try to make sure that food plays much less of a role in his life than it has played in yours.

    Reply
  89. Matt,

    I know this is a massive thread revival, but I’m currently a little lost with our 2 year old boy. He has a GREAT appetite and is full of life and fun, but he has had very loose bowels for months now. The GP just calls it toddler diarrhoea and says he’ll grow out of it. :-S I’ve had him on a restricted diet believing it was the best thing for him (no gluten, grains, dairy, sugar) as any grains leads to a real fermented BM, but now I just don’t know. I’ve got my own serious crappy issues around food (12 years of the kind of story you hear all the time brought on by “cleansing” from PVFS, which it has never cured) and my wife really fears me turning Noah into me. Since I found you a week ago I’ve been reading like crazy and I think you speak a lot of sense.

    Any advice you can give me for Noah would be greatly appreciated.

    Reply
  90. Your use of the R word when referring to your doctor was unnecessary. There are many other words in our language that you can choose from. It is a very hurtful word to use. I hope in the future you will consider using something else.

    Reply
  91. I would like to start serving my kids homemade ice cream, etc. We currently eat pretty healthy and WAP – lots of good fats, etc. I am guilty of making my daughter eat her dinner before dessert… But if she knows she will get dessert whether she eats her dinner or not she’s not going to eat it… So I’m not sure how to introduce ice cream and other healthy treats if it’s not some type of reward… I guess that’s my hard wiring… I suppose I can offer it for breakfast, snacks, etc and just do away with the whole “dessert” concept…? Thanks!

    Reply

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