Sunday, March 30, 2014

Paleo Progeny Reprisal

I'm amazed at the continuing popularity of my Paleo Baby post. I guess I shouldn't be though, since it is linked over at Mark's Daily Apple, and people go through his extensive archives all the time. If anything, I certainly understand the intense interest and fascination one experiences when they discover a new paradigm that fosters a host of positive and dramatic changes in health and well being.

I also think there are a lot of folks who upon finding out they are going to have children, suddenly take the idea of eating a careful diet seriously, and start to look for answers on teh Interwebz...and find linkage to my post.

I eventually posted a follow up post, Paleo Toddler, because I kept getting requests from people to keep writing on the topic. But it was seeing repeated hits coming from this old Paleo Hacks forum post about Ketosis During Pregnancy that finally prodded me to do another "Paleo Kid" post here.

I've been paleo for about four months and have seen great success in weight loss, energy levels, lipid profiles, skin, I could go on and on. I have been in ketosis more often than not in the last two months or so.

Today I found out I am pregnant. It's very early in the pregnancy but I am already mindful of the affects that my previous non-paleo had on my body (namely much of the weight I just lost). I do not want to go backward in my progress. As a matter of fact, if I can safely continue to lose weight while maintaing a healthy pregnancy that would be my goal.

So, to my question...does anyone know of any research that indicates the safety of being in ketosis during pregnancy? If I have to up my carbs I will but in my experience thus far when I am not in ketosis, even if I keep my carb intake at less than 100 grams per day, my weight loss stalls out.

In the replies to this initial post, somebody links to my Paleo Baby post. And it's been regularly sending traffic here for the past three years now. So for those of you still coming to this blog via Paleo Hacks, I'd like to address a few points with regards to this topic.

First things first: My wife was never in ketosis throughout her entire pregnancy.  As I initially wrote back then:

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...

While I had by that point in time gotten off the "low-carb forever" bandwagon, my thinking was still biased towards the simplified "low-carb > high-carb" paradigm of that time. My thinking on that has changed a lot, based on personal experience. My primary concern now is not concerned with quantity (low carb vs. high carb), but rather quality.

The reason why "low-carb" and ketogenic diet protocols have been embraced in the early days of Paleo diet popularity, are because people who go low-carb or ketogenic, by default, end up cutting out all of the inflammatory, omega fatty acid-imbalanced oils ubiquitous in processed carbohydrate foods - chips, cookies, cakes, crackers, bread, buns, tortillas, etc. They also cut out a lot of other bad things found in grain-based processed foods that contribute to cellular inflammation - arguably one of the primary underlying conditions for being overweight or obese.

But taken to the extreme, I've seen people write about avoiding even miniscule amounts of fruit and vegetables because of the carb content. I view this as problematic and bordering on obsessive. 

I view ketosis and ketogenic diets to be a short-term, therapeutic protocol to address specific health issues - aka an Extreme Dietary Intervention, not a proscription for a diet to be followed for the rest of your life.

If you are overweight, borderline or full blown diabetic, or have some other serious health issues regarding your blood sugar regulation or overall metabolism and energy levels, a Very Low Carb or Ketogenic diet may be exactly what you need to fix your issues.

But I just don't believe it's a good idea for most people to adhere to a purely carnivorous diet. The best argument I can put forth for that is the simple statement of biological fact: in comparison to all other mammalian species on the planet, it's plainly obvious that the human body is an Omnivorous species.

While I myself was on a low-carb diet for several years (no grains or starchy plant foods like potatoes, corn, etc.), by the time my wife and I conceived "Paleo Baby," I had begun regularly eating "bad" carbs like rice, potatoes and other starchy tubers back into my diet. I had come to the conclusion that carbs are not the devil.

But enough about me, all apologies if I digress in excess, this is supposed to be a "Paleo Baby" reprisal...

But before I proceed any further, I'd like to once again restate the following:

I'm no expert. I only pretend to be one as an anonymous blogger on teh interwebz!

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... 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.  

Keiki is almost four years old now. At this point in time, I do believe my application of nutritional principles have paid dividends with regards to my progeny's health and overall development.

Many of the observations from two years ago, still hold true.

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.

This is still largely true.

Keiki recently experienced the first "major" illness. A bad chest cold/cough that lasted close to two weeks. I attribute it to Keiki visiting indulgent relatives without me on the mainland for a week and feasting on a cornucopia of all the things I don't allow in my household. Breakfast cereal with commercially processed, homogenized and pasteurized milk; chips, crackers, ice cream etc. After a week of eating such feed, keiki's immune system was undoubtedly compromised, and an extended ride in the re-circulated air of the jet when returning back to Hawaii exposed the child to a host of germs. Keiki came down with a runny nose, fever and cough within 48 hours of returning.

Other than that, colds, runny noses, upset stomachs, diarrhea, and other common ailments (the things for which I notice are common occurrences for all the kids of my social and familial circle) have basically been something other kids get to regularly experience, not mine. I'm still regularly told how lucky I am by friends and family.

I still believe luck has got nothing to do with it. The recent sickness following a week of free-for-all junk food indulgences while visiting relatives is confirmation enough for me. The more I observe and practice mindful, deliberate and careful eating, and applying the same deliberate care in feeding keiki, the more I am convinced of the connection between gut health and the immune system.

That being said, other than the few deviations due to circumstances, our diet and lifestyle largely remains unchanged in the past two years.

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.

These are the basic principles I try to follow in feeding my child. Nothings changed on that front since I  wrote that.

The real struggle though, is keeping with these principles while living a life interacting with family, friends and acquaintences.

The only way anyone can achieve dietary purity is to avoid social eating situations and watch every single moment of my child's actions when visiting other people's homes.

Life's too short to take it to that level.

There's careful, mindful eating of nutrient dense and nourishing foods while abstaining from the worst poisons our Brave New World Order's Feedlot system has to offer....and then there's obsessive-compulsive, diet-Nazi pathological behavior that alienates people.

That's not me. As I like to say, if you're at your sister's wedding, eat a fucking piece of the wedding cake.

I can't keep keiki from ever eating junk food without becoming a micro-managing tyrant, aka the "helicopter parent." There are times where keiki is given something I would normally object to. I don't lose sleep over it. If I take the kid to a playmates birthday party, I don't sweat keiki having a piece of birthday cake and ice cream with all the other kids...but I do try to make it less likely, by filling keiki up with a belly full of real food before the junk food is doled out. At that point, only a few bites and the overly full feeling from all the real food is enough to make keiki only eat a few bites of the dessert before running off to play instead of gorging on the junk.

The tactic is not just a short term plan to deal with specific occasions either. My overarching goal is to regularly feed the kid with so much good food, that the junk food will never gain a strong place in the child's mind when the hunger pangs start to kick in.

I've introduced my keiki to a wide and varied diet of good, nutrient-dense foods. I've instilled the taste for many foods that most other keiki don't eat. Bone broth soups and stews, spicy chilis, fermented vegetables like kim chee, poi, sauerkraut and pickles, sour yogurt, artisanal cheeses, a wide array of vegetables and fruits, eggs from my chickens, raw fish, wild boar, an assortment of seafood, and all sorts of meats. This is 95% of what my kid eats on a daily basis. 
In contrast, I see most parents handing their kids the latest snack crackers or bowls of cereal when they get hungry and start whining.

"Your so lucky your child likes and eats all those fruits and vegetables! I can't get mine to eat any at all!"

That's the common refrain I hear. I silently note that said parents usually always have bags and plastic containers of grain-based snack foods on hand in case their child "gets hungry." In my observation, when kids are full of crackers, chips and cookies; vegetables and fruits have zero appeal to them.

I also believe the saturated fat-phobia and the fear of salt promoted by the conventional wisdom of our corporate-produced and mass-media marketed industrial feed system plays right into most children's aversion to vegetables.

In my opinion, if you start your kids out on buttered and salted vegetables, they'll eventually take to eating them raw and unprepared once they have a strong association formed with vegetables and food already made in their mind.

I once attended house party in which everyone was eating. My kid walked across the room and approached the food table, bypassed all the breads, rolls, pastries, cakes, and other dishes, and grabbed a fistful of raw broccoli and proceeded to eat it with gusto. Everyone in attendance was amazed, myself included. I always gave keiki broccoli steamed or sauteed and liberally buttered and salted. Several parents asked me how I got my kid to eat veggies like that.

When I said "lots of butter and lots of salt." I don't think they believed me.

Most people don't believe me, when they express incredulity when I tell them "no thanks" when they offer keiki some snacks, soda or candy. It seems like everywhere one goes in society, people want to offer cute kids sugary candies and desserts and grain-based snacks like chips and crackers.

They mean well, but then so do I.

I've gotten so tired of politely refusing such offers, I simply tell people keiki's allergic to wheat, soy and corn. That usually covers all the bases for processed junk feed. and most people don't question the existence of food's a lot easier than trying to explain why whole wheat crackers or "multi-grain chips" are still junk food.

Other than social events and well meaning generosity from strangers and acquaintances, it is really not that hard keeping the kid away from most junk food.

My primary tactic is to just make sure the belly is already full of real, nourishing and nutrient dense food before leaving the house. Taking snacks or candy from a hungry kid is much more of a challenge then it is to watch in amused satisfaction as your kid declines the junk food by his or her own volition, because they're just not hungry from already having recently eaten a full meal of real food.

Kids who are nutritionally loaded up with real food all the time from regular meals, seem to me to be much more concerned with playtime rather than snack time.


Amy said...

Thanks for the update. I found you from the Paleo Baby post at MDA. Then I let my curiosity take over and read your links. Finding the manosphere (for lack of a better catch-all term) has been an awakening for me.

We don't eat pure paleo here but the real food, eaten as close to it's natural state as possible, is our model, and reading up on Paleo principles and finding W.A. Price's writings have had nothing short of a tremendous impact on our family's health and general life rhythms. Our kids are energetic, certainly, but well-behaved overall and seldom sick. People remark on how nicely they behave in stores, at parks, or in church, sometimes with such amazement that I wonder if my kids are atypical in this sense.

I can ALWAYS tell when they've had sugar. ALWAYS. They act coked-up and when they come off the high, they crash very hard. Like you, I make sure that 95% or more of the time, they eat nutritious home-cooked foods, including bread, and lots of healthy fats. It mitigates the damage done by birthday parties and visits to friends' homes.

The other related factor, though, is that I'm home with them, to feed them and guide their behavior, and daddy comes home after work too, and we do family meals together, take walks or go to parks together, and just generally enjoy being around each other. The kids have a stable home life and a fairly low stress level, even though materially we don't have all the newest stuff. It affords me the time to ensure proper nutrition, as I take that as one of my primary duties.

Would that all parents could find it in themselves to do this. I know it's not easy but anything is possible if you're willing to make the necessary sacrifices of material possessions and time. Sadly, I know many SAHMs who, though they are home, take the convenience route and feed 100 calorie snack packs and juice boxes and feel good about it because the label says low-fat, all-natural.

So, so, so many things discussed in the manosphere, particularly the Christian circles, are just right on target about what is going wrong with society. I refer people to your site often, KG, hoping that at least one more pair of eyes can be opened. Praying!

Richard Nikoley said...

Ha, Keoni

Go see what I just posted at about the exact time this popped up in my email.

Anonymous said...

Purely awesome post.

I'm one of those people who grew up on the sweet stuff whenever possible. I used to go through one of those "Jumbo" boxes of breakfast cereal (the 2-2.5 lb ones) in three days, sometimes less. I believed in the low-fat lifestyle and it cost me 272 lbs of unhappiness.

Like Amy, I found the manosphere about two years ago and started eating keto/paleo straight away. Lost 90 lbs (have kept 70 off) by eating purely fat and meat. Never felt better.
When you tell people "give up wheat and you'll feel better", I only laugh at the "buuuuuuuttttt, I caaaaaan't give up bread/pasta/donuts/etc."

Real food > fake food.

Stickwick said...

Just read your "Paleo Baby" article, and it confirms my experience. My baby is three months old and is doing quite well in spite of the fact that she is formula fed (I had breast cancer a couple of years ago and can't breastfeed).

I decided to go paleo when I was pregnant. Got some criticism for it ("You need healthy grains!"), but stuck with it. Baby came out alert, healthy, and was able to hold her head up and hold onto things at three days old. She's 77th percentile for height and 58th percentile for weight. Except for her chubby cheeks and legs, she's lean and mean. She is also sleeping through the night. Last night I put her to bed at 10 pm and she didn't wake us until 7. She is sweet, happy, interactive, non-fussy, just all-around the easiest baby in the world to take care of. I thought we just got lucky, but I'm starting to think it has a lot to do with how I ate and exercised while I was pregnant.

I read a book recently about how the French raise their babies, and one thing they do differently is that they don't give them any sort of cereals. The first solid food their babies get is vegetables. I was a bit surprised to read that you fed your baby meat at four months, but maybe there's something to that. I might try it with our girl in a couple of months. You've also convinced me to go ahead and make our own baby food.

One last note, and maybe this will convince other moms-to-be to go paleo: I gained very little extra weight with my pregnancy. If you looked at me from behind, you couldn't tell I was pregnant. And I lost all of the excess weight within two weeks of giving birth.

Keoni Galt said...

@ Amy - I can ALWAYS tell when they've had sugar. ALWAYS. They act coked-up and when they come off the high, they crash very hard.

Yup. Same experience here.

@ Richard - It's hardly a coincidence, considering I read FTA on a near daily basis...your continued arguments about using ketogenic or low-carb diets as a therapeutic treatment rather than a permanent dietary lifestyle have certainly been influential on my own thinking.

- @ Stickwick I read a book recently about how the French raise their babies, and one thing they do differently is that they don't give them any sort of cereals. The first solid food their babies get is vegetables. I was a bit surprised to read that you fed your baby meat at four months, but maybe there's something to that.

Two important things to note - my child was born with nearly a full set of teeth; and two, I cooked and pureed the meat before feeding.

I forget where I read it, but in many traditional cultures, Parents would first feed their kids meat by pre-chewing it for them.

So many people gave expressed disbelief and/or gave me grief when they discovered the first food I ever fed baby was meat.

Before my kid ever had a single serving of vegetable, fruit or any other plant-based carb, I'd already fed Keiki ground buffalo, grass fed beef, bacon, sashimi and poke (raw tuna fish), tako poke (octopus), and eggs.

Keiki had zero issues with digestion or chewing. Of course, I was careful to make sure most of it was pureed or in really small pieces.

"My baby is three months old and is doing quite well in spite of the fact that she is formula fed (I had breast cancer a couple of years ago and can't breastfeed)."

Congrats on the new baby, sorry to hear about the cancer, and hope you did your research on the best formula to use - i.e. not the Soy based kind, I hope!

Stickwick said...

Congrats on the new baby, sorry to hear about the cancer, and hope you did your research on the best formula to use - i.e. not the Soy based kind, I hope!

Argh, it's soy-based. I just went with what the hospital gave me, as they told me this is what seems to work best. Looks like I'll have to do some research.

(NB: I was able to breastfeed on one side for the first month before my body just gave up. Apparently, the colostrum is really important, so at least my girl got that.)

Super Joe said...

I have to mention that I sincerely appreciate the information that bloggers like you provide.

I still remember being confused at the fact that if I listened to my cravings for what the nutrition gurus of the 90's called "bad stuff" - meat, butter, salt,etc., I would actually feel healthier and more energetic.
That contradiction eventually led me down the rabbit hole to places like your blog, and a whole lot of further questioning on my part.

Anyway, I thought you might be interested in this:

At this point, I look at every study with a skeptical eye, but my own personal experience seems to match these findings.

Amy said...

Stickwick, sorry to hear about your cancer. Do the best you can for your baby. There are some human breastmilk banks about where you can purchase some milk to supplement. The more the better, but I'm not sure how expensive it is. Perhaps you have a friend willing to pump and share some? It's an option but not one all people are willing to take. Wetnursing does have a long and storied history.

The WAP Foundation has some instructions for making your own baby formula with raw liver and raw grassfed milk. See Food Renegade's blog for info, she has some of the better write-ups I've seen about it. Of course if baby is lactose/casein allergic or intolerant you can't go this route; I don't care what Sally Fallon says, dairy allergic kids just shouldn't have milk.

I didn't give any of my children solids until they were 8 or 9 months old. It was so, so, so much easier to let them nurse when hungry, and then feed them solids when they were ready for the texture and for self-feeding. I didn't have to deal much with pureeing everything or baby spoons. They were able to sit up and mostly feed themselves soft chunky foods, ground meats and soft baked yams, soft cooked rice or beans, etc. It was a good experience, and unless there is a medical need for the added nutrition, I see no reason to introduce solids before this time. But ymmv, I'm not making a prescription for you, just sharing my experience as something you may wish to consider.

Best of luck with your little one, even in its tough moments motherhood brings me more joy than I'd ever thought I'd experience.

Aboutlifting said...

Dude, my 4 year old loves snacking on Langsats, rambutans, naranjas, and stuff like that. I think one of the reasons is that her first meal was the Gerber broccoli and she loved it.

BTW I have linked this article up in the Easter special Testosterone Linkfest

Keep it up bro

Marty said...

I, too, refer back to your post quite often. I am a member of the 'International Paleo Movement Group' on Facebook (there is an open and also a closed group). At any rate, any time people ask about paleo for kids - I find your article and link to it. 'Great stuff!

Marty said...

BTW, I absolutely ADORE the picture of the women, children and man in a cave in this post. It reminds me of the image of how women contributed to the success of the primitive tribe. Jared Diamond has written about the significance of women and why menopause evolved. This article covers some of the most salient points.