I strive to try and maintain some semblance of online anonymity with this blog. Because of this, I've deleted many an intended post here and elsewhere as I was composing it, because it gives away too much personal info. I've had several life altering events I've blogged about in the past year, but one thing I haven't touched on yet has been the birth of my first child. In order to write this post while attempting to keep up my pretenses of anonymity, I will refer to my child as "Paleo Baby" for the rest of this piece and avoid gendered references to the child.
Now, I've spent a good deal of time blogging about dietary and nutrition issues, and have related many of my own personal experiences I've undergone since I began eating foods contrary to the conventional wisdom of mainstream society. But I've done more than put my money were my mouth is...I've put the dietary principles I blog about into practice with raising my child. In short, my baby is being raised loosely following the Paleo diet guidelines. Another way to put it, is that I've not only put my money where my mouth is, I've put my progeny where my advocacy blogging has been.
It has been an uphill battle with most people. Paleo Baby's doctor, my wife, my in-laws, my own parents...all have argued, disagreed with me or have expressed incredulous amazement when they see me do things that are against conventional wisdom with regards to raising and caring for paleo baby.
I don't give a damn. As far as I'm concerned, the results speak for themselves.
It started at conception. That is when I essentially took over the grocery shopping (my wife loves pasta and bread, I had to take over the shopping to get that stuff out of the house) and cooking at least 50% of the meals in my household. I made sure to feed my pregnant wife ample supplies of proteins and fats, while eliminating all sugars, processed snack foods, and Omega-6-rich vegetable oils. I highly restricted all grains, bread, pasta and other such high-carb fare...including "heart healthy whole grains."
I fed my wife plenty of bacon, eggs (from our own pastured chickens) fried in a mix of bacon grease and butter (the highest quality butter from grass fed cows - either Anchor brand from New Zealand or Kerry Gold brand from Ireland), and a wide assortment of vegetables also sauteed in butter/bacon grease. This was breakfast every single day for the past two years.
Dinners were largely consisted of vegetables and meat...especially red meats - buffalo, grass fed beef, free range chicken and pork, as well as fresh caught fish. All vegetables were liberally buttered and salted with fresh ground sea salt. We would also regularly eat tubers like sweet potato and yams deep fried in extra-virgin coconut oil. In short, if you believe in the lipid hypothesis, my pregnant wife should have gained 300 lbs. and died of a heart attack shortly after birth.
Except she actually lost weight in all the right places. Her pregnancy was all belly, while she burned off excess fat in her arms, legs, upper body, neck and face. See, prior to pregnancy, she would regularly eat junk food. While she was basically following my paleo diet at home, she regularly ate pasta, bread, fast food, restaurant foods and drank soda and ate snacks and such while at work and out with her friends. Once she got pregnant, she got serious and cut all of that out "for the baby." When she was 9 months pregnant, you could not tell she was carrying if you saw only her back view.
Another thing that nearly everyone couldn't believe we did, was eschew any prenatal vitamin supplements. The only supplement my wife took during her entire pregnancy was a high quality fish oil pill to get EPA/DHA.
When Paleo Baby was born, there were a number of things that confirm to me that we did the right thing.
Paleo Baby was born with eyes wide open. I have no doubts Paleo Baby could see within minutes of birth. When I held baby for the first time, I was greeted to two wide eyes that tracked my head and hand movement from the get go. I've never seen a newborn like that before. This seems to jibe with this article: Vegetarian Mothers Depriving Young Children & Unborn Babies of Essential Vitamins
What Parents Should Know About DHA
In order to fully understand the importance of choosing the right omega-3 fatty acid supplement, it is necessary to understand how crucial a role these nutrients work to maintain health. Docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) is one of the most important fatty acids in the body. It makes up 40% of the fatty acids found in the brain and 60% of the fatty acids found in the retina, which is why it is so crucial for thought processes and maintaining healthy vision, and why parents should ensure that the body has enough of it. DHA is also one of the building blocks of neural cells, supporting mental faculties on a cellular level. In infants and fetuses, the addition of DHA to formula has been shown to improve cognitive function and improve macular development. The benefits of DHA do not only extend to infants and fetuses. In pregnant women, DHA has been linked to improved eyesight and attention.
Paleo baby had plenty of DHA in utero.
Paleo Baby head was being fully supported by the neck since 10 days of age. At 10 days, I could hold baby upright without having to support the neck. Sounds unbelievable?
Paleo Baby is also the most cheerful, easy going baby I've ever encountered. Paleo Baby regularly sleeps the entire night through, and only occasionally wakes up in the middle of the night to breastfeed. In those cases, baby than falls back asleep and stays that way the rest of the night. It's been like this from newborn to the present day.
Paleo Baby is the very anti-thesis of a colicky baby. 80% of the time baby awakens without crying. Paleo baby will coo, giggle or laugh until my wife or I awakes to feed or change the diaper.
Thinks this sounds preposterous? Check out this article: Why a steak for pregnant mothers could stop babies crying
It's not just the steak. It's the FAT. All that glorious, "artery-clogging" and "fattening" saturated FAT.
Note that while the article suggests that expectant mothers should eat steak, it still has to end with a quote from a so called "nutritionist" (who turns out to be a VEGAN!):
But nutritionist Yvonne Bishop-Weston warned: 'Meat comes with saturated fats which can hinder the body's use of essential fats needed for the baby's brain and nervous system development.'
I suggest all nutritionists and dietary experts who peddle such garbage should all be rounded up and shipped off to FEMA camps where they can be fed all the high-carb low-fat vegan crap they try to guilt trip the rest of us into eating. If it's so good for us all, they should thrive, no? They can eat like birds, I'll stick the diet of an omnivorous predator species, thank you very much.
But I digress.
The following is a list of food and practices I do in raising Paleo Baby, for which I get raised eyebrows and regular objections to, by doctors, relatives and friends alike when they here or see me doing as such:
- No formula. Ever. Breast milk 100% for the first 4 months, and still only breast milk in addition to solid foods.
- First solid food at 4 months? Pureed buffalo, salted and sauteed in butter. I looked at the sheet of paper Paleo Baby's pediatrician gave us that recommended a schedule for introducing solid foods. I ignored it. The supposed first food was supposed to be pureed grains like rice, corn along with other vegetables. It recommended only introducing meat when baby reaches 9 months. I laughed out loud at that one.
- We make 95% of all the baby food paleo baby eats from fresh ingredients. Grass fed beef, free range chicken, wild caught fish, free range pork. All cooked and salted with fresh ground Hawaiian sea salt, and pureed with a wide variety of vegetables and butter. Broccoli, cauliflower, carrots, sweet potato, asparagus, spinach, zucchini, green beans, peas. The only fruit is an occasional little bit of banana or pear, and only given after eating full portions of the main food first. We always feed paleo baby until baby is full and doesn't want anymore.
- Paleo baby also eats 100% organic, whole milk (full fat) yogurt, and full fat sour cream, as well as a wide variety of, high quality cheeses like brie, cheddar, mozzarella, muenster, feta and organic cream cheese.
- I regularly give paleo baby hunks of meat, bacon, fish, and seafood. Pieces that are too big to swallow, but perfect to gnaw on to get the flavor and the FAT.
- Paleo baby has never eaten any sugar, high fructose corn syrup or any kind of soy or wheat derived food product. No cookies, crackers, cereal, "num nums" etc.
- Paleo baby also sunbathes every day at high noon if the weather is conducive. No sunscreen. We carefully monitor baby as we sunbathe. We've been doing this regularly for months now, and Paleo Baby has a nice tan, and has never been sunburned. This is the big one that gets so many friends and relatives upset with me. When we go to the beach, I'll take Paleo Baby into the water and some relative or friend will ask me if I'm going to put any sunscreen on baby. When I politely decline, they look at me like I'm some kind of monster purposely going out to broil my child into a burnt crisp.
- Paleo Baby has only had one head cold to date. Paleo Baby is almost 1 years old, and has been exposed to a variety of sick people, and has only gotten sick once. No ear infections, diarrhea or other common childhood ailments.
- Paleo baby only had diaper rash once (because we were out and about, and didn't change the diaper for over 4 hours or so). We have tubes and tubes of diaper rash paste given to us as baby shower presents, sitting unused and unopened.
- Paleo Baby's diapers are almost too easy to change. The crap is solid, not that smelly, and easily cleaned up with a single baby wipe. It is very rare that more than one wipe is required to adequately clean up after changing a diaper. I know this is related to Paleo Baby's diet...because we recently went on a trip and bought a bunch of "organic" jarred baby food for the convenience of not having to bring along our baby food maker. Baby did not like it (probably because none had good FAT in it, like all the butter Paleo Baby is used to), and ate with half the gusto as usual. Paleo Baby had soft, runny, stinky diapers that required multiple wipes to clean up. Within a day of returning home and resuming the fresh homemade paleo foods, crap diapers went back to solid and less smelly and easily cleaned as before.
On the most recent check up with Paleo Baby's Pediatrician, she commented that we were the most well-rested, relaxed and least distressed parents of an infant she's ever seen. We are not sleep deprived, and we do not have frayed nerves because baby cries so infrequently, and is easily pacified.
The Pediatrician also informed us that Paleo Baby is in the 94% percentile of all babies in the country with regards to height...and 40% percentile in weight. In other words, Paleo Baby is taller than most, and is at what she described of as the perfect weight. She essentially told us that most babies are fat all over, Paleo Baby only has fat thighs and cheeks. Paleo Baby actually looks somewhat muscular (for an infant). I believe that's because most babies are fed soy formula and lots of sweets and grains. Not many babies have a diet for which the majority of the calories comes from fats and proteins like Paleo Baby.
Paleo Baby also has not manifest any sort of allergies as of yet...which also jibes with the idea that gut bacteria is the primary component of the immune system, and babies not fed formula or high carbohydrate grain-based foods will have a much better immune system than babies on the standard American diet (SAD starts at birth...). Paleo Baby's gut bacteria is obviously thriving and doing it's job as it was intended.
I note that the average parent of a newborn nowadays is continually handing off grain/sugar based cereals and snacks to their kids, and the kids will actually start crying until they get their fix every hour or so. The only grains Paleo Baby ever gets is some white jasmine rice blended in with some form of animal protein, and that is only during meal time. Paleo baby eats 3 square meals and nurses 2-3 a day.
Yes, I'm aware that many parents will often brag about their progeny and proclaim them special and unique. It's natural. I'll just say that I'm no stranger to baby's. I come from a large family. I have been babysitting and tending younger siblings and cousins -- that is feeding, burping and changing baby diapers since I was 10 years old. In addition, several of my friends have also had children within the last couple of years as well. The contrasts between Paleo Baby and all of the new born baby's my peer group's experiences are rather stark and obvious. We are regularly told by our friends that they wish their own children were as easy going and well tempered as Paleo Baby.
Most think I'm crazy for insisting on the diet and other things I do with Paleo Baby.
Than they always tell us how lucky we are.
I don't think luck has anything to do with it.
Now I'm not going to claim Paleo Baby is perfect. But it's quite obvious to me that Paleo Baby is well fed, and adequately nourished from the nutrient dense, high-fat diet, and the differences in behavior, demeanor and development are obvious. I know why...even if others don't or won't believe it.
On the other hand, if someone wants to discount this testimony and just attribute it the luck of baby having superior genes, I won't argue with that either. :)