Thursday, March 8, 2012

"Won't somebody think of the children?!"

I've never been on for fad diets. I hate gimmicky things. I cannot understand why people spend thousands of dollars on diet pills, foods, and equipment they know they'll never use. But when Tom came to me with this idea of Going Primal. It just felt right. So we ordered the book 21 Day Total Body Transormation, and after Tom read it, I read it in one day.

 I've read about and studied food ever since I became pregnant with my first daughter (who is now 8). (My theory was/is if people know more about what's in the things they eat, they would probably make better choices.) And most fad diets just didn't make sense to the things I already knew about food and how it *should* work. Now, I'm not claiming I know a whole heck of a lot. I probably know more than the average American, but probably not much beyond that. I've always trusted my gut though, and when I finished reading Sisson's book, my gut said "Yep. This is the real deal. And it's something we should be doing." 

So we decided to take three months, really read more about it, really take our time in understanding what's involved, and developing a plan. 

There were several reasons for this: a) I'm a planner. I love to make lists. I love to check off my lists. And I *have* to know what my next step is. That's just how I am. b) It was/is a major change. And we felt we needed to be realistic about our transition. And finally c) I knew, just knew, we'd get the "are you guys for real?" question. 

We had to know our stuff, so we could combat the "I think you're crazy" line.  And boy did we get that line. A lot. 

My Dad was concerned about his grandchildren. "What is [Heather] going to feed the kids?! I just don't see how this could possibly work."  

My grandparents thoughts were that it is unsustainable, a lot like Atkins, and really not a good or fun way to live.

My sister asked "well, you're not going to get all weird, are you?" Too late. Already am.  

We had friends say "Yeah, well, it's not realistic to never eat grains."

 And we had other friends say "Sounds interesting, but I don't think it's something you could stick with for very long." 

 We got the "Won't you think of the children?!" line. And the "You're taking away the simple joys of their childhood." And most people thought the kids would lose weight, and they needed the grains in order to keep properly hydrated.

Then we had some (not all--some were very kind) vegetarians tell us how unethical we are, and how we'll die from protein overload, and how we should raise the kids differently. 

 Just to be clear, I am not making fun of anybody's concerns. Some of them are quite legitimate, some made me laugh, and some of them irked me, but criticisms are good since it make you really have to know your stuff. And it helps you think of things you may not have thought of before. 

I did the best I could to assure people we weren't going insane, we are just on a quest to be healthy. I do have to say that the most eye-opening experience of GP is how people (including myself) are so emotionally tied to food. When we would tell people about GP we were either met with surprise or ... anger. Anger surprised me. In fact, it surprised me so much, I didn't really know how to respond to it. 

Often we would get a sarcastic "Oh really, you're going to do that?" And then with a shake of the head a "well, I hope you do well, but I just would never do that."  Yeah, I know it sounds radical, but I found it puzzling people were so quick to dismiss GP without even taking five minutes to understand what it is. Without reading about it. Or without asking questions. Then I realized, people don't want to know about it. I suppose because it's a big change and most people don't enjoy change. But also, I think many people know they need to change something, but they can't allow themselves (for various reasons) to even think about it. So it stands to reason one would react with anger if they are faced with something as aggressive as GP. 

One of the first questions we would get was "Well, how are you going to eat sandwiches?"  This cracked me up. Why was that the first thing that came to mind for so many people? I suppose we are a society of sandwich eaters. A close second was "how are you going to do this with your kids?"

I knew I couldn't change the minds of those who weren't ready to hear it. So I didn't even try. And I suggest you don't waste your time on this either. I think a much better approach is for you to just start. Do your thing. And after a a few weeks or months, those who are ready to understand what you're doing will naturally begin to ask you about it. At that point, share some info, but don't ever shove it in their faces. It will backfire. 

So if you're about to GP, definitely take some time to understand the reasons behind GP and have some answers ready to some of these common questions/judgements you will get.

1) How will you eat sandwiches?  a: We won't. We'll eat steak! (somehow eating steak sounds a lot better than "well, we'll always have lettuce wraps!")

2) How will your kids react to this?  
 a: They won't enjoy it at first, and they'll miss some foods. But I'm responsible for their well being until they are old enough to make their own choices. And I am confident this is something that will benefit them for years to come. 

3) You're not going to go all weird, are you? 
 a: well, yes, I am, but I am sure that going a little outside of the box will mean a longer and healthier life. . . but, don't worry! I am still going to have birthday cake. (Red velvet cheesecake to be exact.)

4) It's not realistic to give up grains.  
a: It's will definitely be a challenge in the beginning, but your body and your taste buds will adjust and get to the point where grain is not the first thing you will reach for. Also, how realistic is it to be overweight, tired, and take a whole list of medications just to be able to get going in the morning? That's what is waiting for almost all of us by the time we reach middle age.  

5) So, you're basically doing Atkins. It's another fad.  
 a: It's not Atkins. I don't do any carb counting. I don't cut out vegetables (except for maybe corn and peas). I make a concerted effort to eat clean food; no antibiotic treatments, no mass amounts of hormones, no crowded living conditions, etc. We want to focus on foods locally grown. And with Atkins there is a whole aisle at the grocery store filled with candies, chocolates, and the other processed foods which are filled with things your body doesn't know what to do with. 

6) Well, I could never do it. 
a: I thought the same, but then I realized I can no longer be tired, sick, and overall unhealthy. Let me know if you're ever interested, I can give you some reading material. 

well, that's all for now, because I'm pretty tired and I have to go to the gym in the morning. Blah.  

Do you have question/comments I should add to the list?


  1. I think it's best not to tell people until you're a few weeks into the change. By then when you discuss it you say you have changed the way you eat and you are feeling much better and are losing weight as a side benefit. How can people knock that? I have gotten positive or at least interested responses. We explain that we eat natural unprocessed foods such as meat, vegetables, eggs, fruit and we don't eat all the bad carbs that are empty calories that turn into sugar in your body and are stored as fat. It's also hard for people to argue with that. We even talked to a bunch of nurses one day (most of whom were over weight) and they were not negative. They asked questions and were interested. I think if you are excited and enthusiastic when you discuss this, and are not at all timid or apologetic, it helps ward off the negative responses.

    I mentioned a book the other day, Deep Nutrition. Check the reviews via Amazon. It will teach people so much about how the body works and how food affects us. It shows that the way people have been eating for the last couple generations is NOT normal or healthy. It may now be common but that does not make it good for us! Other cultures around the world for hundreds and thousands of years have been eating meat, fish, vegetables, lots of natural fats and little sugar and have far less cavities and heart disease etc. Cultures like the Inuit (Eskimos) lived on mostly fat for generations and have healthy children. They didn't need brownies and sandwiches or Frosted Flakes and Sunny Delight to be healthy!!! When you read this book you come away more certain than ever that you are giving your children good health now, and healthy genes to pass on to THEIR children.


    1. Good points! I think very many people it would be difficult to tell family, at the very least, that they have GP *after* the fact, since many family gather for various occasions, and that usually centers around food. So probably in that case, they would have to give the fam a heads-up. But you make a good point about telling friends and aquaintances. Way to go on the nurses! I dislike talking to any healthcare "professionals" about food, since they never listen and always assume I'm an idiot.

      In fact, about three years ago I had a sudden attack of ... something--still don't know what-- in my intestinal area. I went to the doctor, but first I had to talk to a nurse. She asked about my diet and I told her it was vegetables, meat, nuts and whole grains. Do you know what she told me? "Well, those things can cause diverticulitis, so it's a bad idea to eat them. It's a better idea to take benefiber and get your fiber that way." Whaaaaa??

      I will definitely look into the book you mention. Right now I'm still trying to get through Wheat Belly. I love to read, but I rarely find time for it anymore. I think it may have to do with blogging. haha

      Frosted Flakes sound so good! ;)

    2. I don't like talking to health care people about food either. It's especially tough during the times my husband has been in the hospital and the "dietician" comes in. I'm always shocked to see how overweight they all seem to be. Why would anyone ever take them seriously?

      Like you guys, the first thing people talk about is sandwiches. Yeah, you can't really drop everything and go grab a sandwich, but I'd take being the right weight, healthy, energetic, and unlimited bacon without worry over the convenience of a sandwich any day.;o)

  2. One other point I didn't stress is that the current popular "low fat" diet is actually the Fad Diet. This concept has only been around since the 60s. It was based on bad science, basically one flawed study, and we have been on an unhealthy low fat kick ever since. Worse, we traded in healthy fats for unhealthy, unnatural fats, and for foods loaded with sugar and high fructose corn syrup to compensate for the fact that the foods tasted like cardboard without the fat. It makes me angry when I think how people have been so mislead. Obesity and heart disease has skyrocketed since we went to the low fat - high carb diet. That is a statistical proven fact and not just an opinion. Someday all these facts will get a hearing and maybe the corn grower lobby and others who promote foods like high fructose corn syrup will be exposed for promoting our national epidemic of metabolic disorders.

    1. I know! The more I learn about food, and the more I see that we should just do the opposite of what the government tells us to do...the more angry I become. All these poor people just doing what they're told to do (going low-fat and such) because they think they should trust the powers that be. GAH!

    2. Yep, you're definitely Tom's wife. Haha!

  3. Well said! As I wrote on an earlier post... we too are move to a Paleo/primal way of living. I think the planning ahead is the key. Well this morning I came to the end of a a VERY busy week and had nothing planned for breakfast and was pretty much out of all groceries. So when the kids came down to eat before school there was plate in front of them and I thought I might have a revolt on my hands... On each plate was a carrot, some celery with almond butter, half an orange and some cashews. I fully expected my eatingmachine son to demand a "real breakfast" I busied my self with the normal morning routine and waited for it.... but much to my surprise all I got after he scoffed down the plate in about a minute was "sink or dishwasher?" So, I think I can say we have arrived. We have been doing this since Christmas. Kids are way more adaptable then us. If that is our new normal, they won't question it as much as those of us who have been eating carbs for breakfast for 30 + years.

    1. Oh, we've had a few of those mornings. lol Congrats on helping your kids become more healthy! I know it's difficult.

  4. Amen to everything! I read Mark's book and said to myself "this just makes perfect sense to me and I'm going to try it!" My children are grown and uninterested in this, but I'm pushing forward because I just know this is the best thing I can do for myself! Thanks for sharing your ideas and thoughts :)

    1. I wish you a lot of luck! And as little Carb Flu as possible :)

  5. One response is that you are doing an elimination diet based on some pretty severe allergy/food intolerance issues you're seeing in your kids. You have one child who can't eat egg yolks, right? You can always placate them by saying you'll add back any foods that aren't problem foods.
    And it's not just a response, is it? You really are eliminating problem foods!
    I ate cereal every morning and sandwiches for every lunch for 50+ years. We know this is a different road! But we can't ignore the evidence, especially in our own bodies, that it's a change worth making.
    You were pretty brave publishing your before photos! I hope your continued success on the road to health is your reward.

    1. Very true. The kids having legit allergies has really helped me out. ;)

      Thanks so much!

  6. When talking grains, I talk about gluten toxicity, the blood/gut barrier and their health affect. Not getting into the biochemistry, gluten is really bad for your gut barrier. Overtime chronic gut inflammation occurs and is the root cause for the majority of autoimmune diseases. Not only that, but the absorption of minerals and nutrients can be blocked, robbing your body of what it needs. All of which can trigger a plethora of issues, even thyroid problems.

    Any symptom ending in "itis" is a by product of inflammation. Inflammation is one of the bodies healthy response to signal white blood cells to show up and kick butt. But when inflammation is always present and turned "up to 11", lots of bad things happen. I highly suggest chris kresser's site to learn about these things to add to your verbal arsenal when someone attacks your food choices.

    I also like to use the grocery store example when explaining good foods vs bad foods. Bad foods need more marketing. Steak, fish, chicken, etc. do not require "cereal box appeal". Good foods sell themselves. How come I never get a coupon for bison meat or asparagus? Also the grocery store layout, stick to the perimeter and avoid the bakery dept.


  7. Thank you for writing this post, Heather, and thanks for sharing so much info about your primal experience.

    I've been primal for 5.5 months, before that I was simply eating a lower-carb diet. I have lost quite a lot of weight by simply consuming less carbs and increasing my activity level, although it has taken me a long time to do so.

    My reason to go primal was that I was looking for a way of eating that would help me deal with osteoarthritis and PCOS. I have certainly had success with PCOS just by restricting carbs, but now there was the knee issue and I also wanted to make sure my hormones would get more balanced. And I just wanted to find a way of eating that would be good for overall health. I stumbled upon Mark's blog and was hooked.

    Of course, people have been watching me lose weight for a long time now (as I said, it has taken me a long time - 2.5 years). And I am getting the comments you are - "I could never do that", "This is not sustainable, you can't maintain your new weight when you go back to your normal diet" (why would I want to do that?!), "Grains are good, fat is bad", "What do you mean you don't eat bread?" I have tried to discuss gluten and lectins with them, I have also tried to tell them why vegetable oils and high-carb diets are bad. My experience is most people are just not ready for this kind of information and this kind of change. Of course, I have helped 'convert' some who were ready to change and saw the logic of this way of life. But most aren't ready. Maybe they never will be. Or maybe I am not good at explaining and convincing them. Anyway, I don't try so hard to convince people these days, although I do find it irritating to be forced to explain myself and justify my actions. But your post has been helpful in this respect, so thank you and good luck to you and your family.

    (btw, I had been overweight/obese since my early childhood, I have only been normal weight for less than a year now, so sometime I get really angry at my parents for not providing proper nutrition when I was a child - I realize they didn't know better, but still it is very painful to know my metabolic damage could have been avoided or mitigated, but wasn't, so I think you are giving your kids a good start in life by feeding them good quality food)

  8. I do this one which is very similar to the Primal thing except that it allows high fat dairy (butter and heavy cream).

    A fantastic book for you to read is The Art and Science of Low Carb Living by Phinney and Volek (of which Primal is included of course).

  9. Heather, I'd be interested in what you would have to say to someone who objects to the premise that we have "evolved" to eat this way. As one who believes in the inerrancy of Scripture, I believe that our bodies were designed by our Creator. I am eating Primally, but can't subscribe to Sisson's basic premise.

  10. Thanks for this post, I really enjoy your blog. And I'm indebted to Tom for introducing me to Primal. I've been reading about it nonstop the last week and a half. My fiancee and I have been eating primal since then, and its already making a difference. I'm from a German/Italian family, was raised having a loaf of bread with every meal, carbs of every kind all day long. I thought I'd miss them fiercely. So far, that hasn't been the case. We're eating far better, for the same or less money.

    My fiancee is very hypothyroid, despite finally getting her levels sorted out, she's been unable to lose any weight the last 3 years. She's lost more the last 10 days than the 3 previous years, by a large margin, and with more energy to get through our hikes and workouts.

    Be bold, don't let detractors get you down. So far, a small majority of folks I've spent a few minutes to share Primal with have been interested to know more, but there are always those that just want to tear you down. My theory is, you can't force people to educate themselves. Rather, I'll make myself a strong example, in the end, they'll either swallow their pride and give it a shot, or continue with self imposed ignorance (sad, for sure, but that's their right).

    Thanks again!