It's been a year and a day since I posted the most read, linked-to and commented-on thread on this blog, Paleo Baby.
Getting linked by Primal lifestyle guru Mark Sisson was the equivalent to getting an Instalanche here on the fringes of the politically incorrect blogosphere. (Mahalo, Mark!)
Initially, I was amazed by the sheer number of folks that left comments...but I was even more amazed by the number of folks who were hostile, angry or felt personally insulted by that post.
A lot of folks seemed to think that somehow I was coming across as a condescending, know-it-all blowhard who implied that because they fed their kids formula or that their kids were colicky, I was judging them as parental failures.
At first, it made me angry and I responded in kind. The passage of time, interactions with many young and new to-parenthood peers and much personal reflection, has given me new insights into the psychology of Parenting. I get it. I really do!
Like everything else in our Brave New World Order of Mass Media Indoctrination, everybody has ideas about what is best for raising children. My new parental discussion code is this:
I'm not trying to tell you what to do, and I'll politely listen to your beliefs. I'll explain why I may disagree, but only if you ask...but mostly I'll just nod and give you an affirmative smile, rather than tell you why I don't think feeding kids grains, cereal, or not much meat is such a great idea.
I've learned since having my own kid, that everyone who's had kids is an expert when it comes to parenting.
"THEY say 'X' is best for 'Y'!"
I'm no expert. I only pretend to be one as an anonymous blogger on teh interwebz!
This is simply sharing my experiences from loosely adopting the Primal/Paleo lifestyle. "Going primal" nearly 5 years ago now, has been a dramatically life altering experience in terms of my own health and well being. So when my first child came along, it was only natural that I applied the same principles in feeding and caring for my offspring.
So here we are one year later, and "Paleo Baby" is now "Paleo Toddler."
My how time seems to fly quicker once you have someone other than yourself to care for and observe as they grow and mature..
Over this past year, I've periodically received emails and comments requesting I give updates, recipes, tips and pointers from people desirous of raising "Paleo babies" of their own, as well as the curious, wanting to know how my kid's health and growth are going. I've basically had to resist the urge to turn my blog into a "new-parent" navel gazing blog (not that there is anything wrong with those sorts of blogs).
Nevertheless, consider this my obligatory "update" post.
In revisiting many of the points from my original post, let's just say most of those points have not changed much in the past year. To avoid overusing the term "Paleo Baby" or "Paleo Toddler" and turning this into a caricature of gimmickry, I'm going to refer to the kid from here on out as "Keiki," which is Hawaiian for child.
- Approaching two years of age, my keiki has never had an ear infection, a chest cold, or a fever...other than the mild, low grade fever that typically accompanies teething. Keiki has had a runny nose a couple of times, but that usually cleared up within a day or two.
- Speaking of teething, Keiki has an entire mouth full of choppers, all nicely formed, straight and evenly spaced. This seems to fit with the observations of Dr. Weston Price regarding dental health and development that correlate with the nutrient dense diets of traditional peoples. I myself have a narrower jaw and crooked teeth. Then again, I was raised on Soy formula from birth. I had poor dentistry, bad allergies, asthma. So far, keiki has seemed to avoid all that.
- Keiki's immune system is strong. Mommy has gotten sick several times in the past year, as her job puts her into contact with a lot of travelers from around the world, on a daily basis (she works at the airport). Keiki has never contracted anything she's brought home...including the flu and a pretty bad chest cold for which she ended up having to get an anti-biotic prescription for.
- In keeping with the Primal diet ethos, keiki has eaten almost zero grains/cereals or legumes. About 6 months ago, I dropped keiki off with a short term babysitter. I assumed that dropping keiki off with a cooler full of foods my wife had prepared, that the sitter would feed keiki that food, so I need not worry. She ended up feeding keiki a bunch of "heart-healthy, whole grain!" dry cereal. Keiki had diarrhea for the next 12 hours. Fascinating to see a child who's gut had never encountered grains for the first year and half of life, and had almost zero diarrhea episodes prior, would react to cereal like that. That was also the last time keiki had diarrhea (or grain based cereal).
- Recently, while at a party with a large group of kids and adults, in a moment where I wasn't paying attention, another parent who I was not well acquainted with (all who know us well, know how strict we are with keiki's diet, lol), gave keiki a cracker. Keiki threw up a half an hour later. Coincidence? I don't know. All I know is that Keiki has only thrown up 3 times ever. Vomiting is not normal behavior for my keiki, unlike some other cereal munching, soy formula kids I know.
- So what does keiki eat now? Basically everything my wife and I eat...i.e. freshly prepared, "slow food" meals. No fast food, convenience foods, processed, packaged foods. We try to vary up our diet a lot, but the one constant is the usual daily breakfast with eggs from our pasture raised, free range chickens.
- Keiki eats a wide variety of animal protein: free range/additive free bacon and sausages. Most of it though is Paleo...Hawaiian style. Lot's of smoked, dried, raw and fresh fish, tako (octupus), shrimp, crab, hawaiian slipper lobster, 'opihi (limpets) and lots of grass fed beef (including some occasional liver), and wild boar if I manage to have a successful hunt. Keiki also gets a lot of bone-broth based soups and stew that we've begun to eat on a regular basis.
- Keiki also loves dairy; organic, unsweetened yogurt, and a wide variety of high quality cheeses...and the very occasional mouthful of ice cream (are favored 80/20 very occasional "cheat".)
- Contrary to some of the Paleo/Primal purists and adamant low-carbers, we do eat moderate portions of carbohydrates at almost every meal - white rice, sweet potatoes, mashed potatoes, fried potatoes, poi, and tortilla made from corn flour (treated with lime) and once in a while, some gluten free pasta.
- Keiki loves vegetables. I have a hard time believing it. I've watched keiki push meat and other dishes aside to pick out only the broccoli, cauliflower, asparagus, carrots, green beans, peas or peppers out of the meal, and forsake all the other food on the plate. The only thing keiki likes more than vegetables, is fruit. Sometimes we have to force keiki to eat the other foods.
- Since fruit is basically the only source of sugar in keiki's diet, keiki gets excited and squeals in delight at the mere sight of a banana, apple, papaya, nectarines, peaches, mango, pear, grape, strawberry or blueberry.
- Of course, everything we eat is cooked with either butter from grass fed cows, saved bacon grease and/or extra-virgin cocounut oil. All our food is and liberally salted with fresh ground Hawaiian sea salt. Other parents frequently comment on what a good eater keiki is.
- Same goes for keiki's Pediatrician. She cannot believe how we feed keiki when she asks about it. The only thing she says is that "I guess we can't argue with your results." That being said, I've had to continuously resist her recommendations to give keiki all sorts of vaccines (they want to give keiki 3 or 4 vaccines in a single sitting at almost every checkup! WTF? No, my child does not need the flu shot, the whooping cough shot, the chickenpox shot and the distemper shot right now...we'll take our chances, thanks!). Same goes for supplementing with fluoride. Why would I want to put that crap into my child?
- Oh yeah, I still sunbathe regularly, and most times keiki sunbathes with me in just a diaper. Keiki has never had a single drop of sunscreen applied. Keiki can frolick in our yard for 2 to 3 hours at mid-day with just a diaper on and has yet to get a sunburn. Ever. Same goes for taking keiki to the beach. Keiki has a perpetual, healthy looking tan (just like daddy! lol). Needless to say, I'm not worried about keiki's vitamin D levels.
- Some paleo purists might ask about whether or not we include intermittent fasting in our lifestyle? For a young child? LOL. I don't know many kids that can go for 6 hours without noticing they might be hungry, but keiki sometimes does. I don't try to force keiki to eat. I just wait until keiki gets hungry. But sometimes, keiki just isn't hungry and occupied with toys and playing around and doesn't think about food for hours on end. Lest anyone think I'm starving the kid, trust me when I tell you, keiki lets me know when it's time to feed the beast! But I never feed the kid until keiki lets me know it's time. Sometimes I have to feed as soon as keiki wakes up. Other times, we don't have breakfast until keiki has been up for 3-4 hours.
In summary, the guiding principles I try to follow with raising a "Paleo Toddler" are this: Focus on real food, eaten until satiated. Get adequate, regular, mid-day sun exposure to ensure optimal vitamin D levels. Avoid consuming modern day, mass produced, industrialized toxins like vegetable and grain oils, high fructose corn syrup, cereal grains and flour, MSG, and other mass produced, processed food garbage.
It is my personal experience and testimonial that it works for small children as well as it works for adults!
Finally, for all the naysayers, disbelievers, skeptics and cynics who criticized or got offended last year, I will state the following: What works for me and my child may not work for you.
YMMV. N=1 and all that.
You may very well feed your kid soy formula, cereal grains and a vegetarian diet, and you kid may be the picture perfect representation of health. Awesome. I say that in all sincerity!
Perhaps you're lucky or just blessed with great genes.
Or maybe I am just mistaken, deluded and full of shit. Have a look around my archives, you'll see I've been called that a lot. I'm a conspiracy theorist whack-job that hates teh womynz! Why should you care what I have to say?
Move along folks...nothing to see here.
I'll keep on doing what I'm doing, and you can feel free to do what you do.
This is an anonymous blog and I am not trying to sell you or anyone else a damn thing.
I write on this topic, because I'm passionate about diet and nutrition. I was not a healthy baby. I have lifelong health problems for which I now believe are attributed to my poor nutrition as an infant. My keiki is now in the 95%-tile for height. Neither my wife and I were, when we were babies. I anticipate our child is going to grow up much taller and healthier than either of us did.
So far, I've put my hard-gained knowledge and personal experimentation with the Paleo/Primal/Archevore/Weston Price paradigm to the ultimate test - by raising my child on these loose proscriptions based on years of research and self-experimentation. Seems to be working as my child has avoided all of the problems I had when I was a kid.
Keiki is not perfect.
I'm figuring out that the "terrible 2's" applies to "paleo babies" just as much as it does to SAD fed kids. I also think I need to figure out this whole aggravating potty training thing. One other thing...a well fed, healthy kid can still throw wild, dramatic temper tantrums, destroy things and get into quarrels with other children.
I am not a perfect parent.
My kid is not better than yours. (Well...I might actually think so, but that's not the point.)
If you read this and that's what you take away from it, than please, go work on your reading comprehension and quit jumping to conclusions.
I believe I've gained some important experiences and knowledge, and share them with teh interwebz to help those who are interested and see the value in discussing the whole "Primal/Paleo" lifestyle. This is just my $.02
None of this should EVER be taken seriously. Feed your kids what the Doctors, Pediatricians and American Medical Establishment tells you to! It's your fault if you try any of what this blogger relates here and your kid turns out mysteriously well nourished and healthy!
(I think our Pediatrician thinks I'm lying when I tell her what we feed the kid).
For those interested in reading up on the sorts of things I've used as guidelines, here are some of the readings I found helpful for me:
Dr. Art Ayers Cooling Inflammation blog. Great blog overall, but this particular post discussing gut flora and the role it plays in digestion and nutrient absorption...and how infant formula fucks it all up, is a very important one - Why Discuss Mother's Milk?
The Weston Price Foundation has a wealth of knowledge on Infant Nutrition as well.
Peggy's the Primal Parent blog is also a great n=1 account regarding infant pre and post natal nutrition topics.
And I just discovered another good blog from Dr. Chris Kresser. You can check out his "paleo baby" advice here: http://healthybabycode.com/
And of course, the place were I send anyone and everyone that always asks me about "my special diet," Mark's Daily Apple is the starting point I refer all to.
For those about to have babies or seek to improve the diet of your kids, good luck!
Now I'm off to take "Paleo Toddler" outside to get some mid-day sunshine...
"Sun is Shining..the weather is sweet!"