SANE Eating for Kids and More
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Jonathan: Hey, everyone. Jonathan Bailor and Carrie Brown, coming at you with another Smarter Science of Slim podcast. Carrie, how are you feeling this week?
Carrie: I’m doing awesome this week!
Jonathan: I’m also doing awesome because I just had a sampling of five of Carrie’s SANE treats! Carrie, let me see if I can get a correct summary of what I just ate. So I ate an egg mini quiche SANE cupcake thing – is that what you call it?
Carrie: It was a broccoli and red pepper egg cup.
Jonathan: Ah, yes! It was splendid. Then I had some soup that was a color that I’ve never seen before in food and it was spectacular!
Carrie: It was pretty much the color of your T-shirt.
Jonathan: It was, it was. Describe that for our listeners.
Carrie: It was deep purple.
Jonathan: Deep purple, but describe the soup.
Carrie: It was beet and tarragon and I think it’s the best thing I have ever made ever!
Jonathan: Yes, it was quite delicious and quite filling and it was quite colorful as well! So, three for three! Then I had some cashews – they were orange and something spice….
Carrie: They were caramel orange spice.
Jonathan: And these are all SANE and delicious. All SANE.
Carrie: All SANE and delicious.
Jonathan: And then I had Carrie’s version of a peanut butter SANE mousse, where she mousseified it – if that’s a word! But it was also delicious, so thank you. And then I tried your porridge – Nutty Porridge.
Carrie: Oh, yes, the oatmeal.
Jonathan: Yes. Carrie, describe your SANE ‘oatmeal’.
Carrie: Everybody’s very excited about that! I think that’s been my single most visited page in the history of my little food blog – the hot, nutty oatmeal replacement I made. Everybody’s been very excited about it.
Jonathan: What are the basics in constitution?
Carrie: It has almond meal and flax seeds and chia seeds and some other yummy… Oh, whey protein powder. Lots of good stuff!
Jonathan: Yeah, and there was also a cranberry orange scone which was like a coconut flour-almond flour…. Carrie’s still trying to perfect it because I keep throwing SANEity requirements at her and I’m just like, “Oh, make it have more of this.” And she’s like, “You can’t just say ‘put more of that in it’. It ruins the recipe!” Which I know intellectually, but I like to keep her on her toes. Well, I thought it was very good.
Carrie: It’s not good enough.
Jonathan: Being the world-class pastry chef that she is, our definitions of ‘delicious’ are not the same. So, it was all good! I’m very full! I’m very full of SANEity and ready to talk about some Smarter Science of Slim Frequently Asked Questions this week.
Jonathan: So, question #1 – which neither Carrie nor I can necessarily speak to you from experience, but we can speak to you from a science perspective – has to do with SANE eating and children and that’s specifically – ‘Is SANE eating the same for children as it is for adults?’ We are not necessarily qualified to tell you how to get your kids to eat SANE food, because neither Carrie or I have kids, but we can tell you some important things about if you do or if you are interested in helping your kids to be SANE – whether or not that’s a good idea, which spoil the surprise, it is! – and why.
Jonathan: Cool? Alright. So basically for the question of ‘Is SANE eating the same for children and in adults?’ The answer is yes and no. Yes, in the sense that the same foods that are satisfying, unaggressive, nutritious and efficient for adults are the same for children. It’s not as if non-starchy vegetables are healthy for adults and not healthy for children. They are equally healthy for all people, no matter their age. Same thing applies with nutrient-dense protein. Same thing applies to whole food natural fats. Everything that makes SANE eating important for adults makes it even more important for children and that’s why I say ‘no’. SANE eating isn’t actually the same for children and adults because it’s more important for children than it is for adults for four reasons.
One, children require more nutrition than adults and as we know, a SANE lifestyle is simply focused on eating the most nutritious food available to us. Two, children are more susceptible to food-related behavior problems. So, the bouncing off the walls and then being cranky and even sometimes some ADHD issues are really just nutrition-related. Third, fat cells never go away. We’ll talk more about this in a moment, but if a child gains excess body fat, that’s a battle that they’re going to have to fight against for the rest of their life, which is truly sad. Four, is that children form habits that affect them for the rest of their life. So anything we can do to help our children understand the science and understand the actual way to eat for health as well as being delicious simultaneously, that’s going to benefit them for 80 or 100 years, hopefully. So, it’s all good.
Carrie: I have a cute little story. One of my girlfriends has a little girl who just turned one and mom has been hugely frustrated that her little girl was just not interested in breakfast. She just wouldn’t eat breakfast until one day her mother decided to make my strawberry chia seed pudding and now, every morning that’s all this little girl wants! She wants the strawberry chia seed or blueberry – whatever berries her mom makes it with – and she absolutely loves it and it’s the only thing she will eat for breakfast!
Jonathan: Oh, wow, that’s awesome!
Carrie: And she’s also a big fan of those egg cups – that one I just made you for lunch. She’s a huge, huge fan of those! So when mom threw her first birthday party the other week, apart from the actual cake, everything else at this 1-year-old’s party was SANE.
Jonathan: That’s awesome! That’s really, really cool!
Carrie: And I throw that in there because I don’t want parents to automatically think “Wow! It’s healthy. I’m going to struggle to get them to eat it.” That has not been the case.
Jonathan: Yeah, and what a lot of people find – a lot of my friends have very, very young children – and children are not necessarily born wanting candy bars. It’s sort of a hyper stimulation. When you give a child these processed foods, it’s a bit like giving them crack. I mean, I don’t mean to use that morbid analogy, but these foods are literally engineered to make humans’ brains go crazy with releases of things like dopamine and if you give a child these foods, they’re just like, “What?!” Like, you give a kid caffeine, he doesn’t really know what to do with it. However, when kids are not subjected to these kinds of foods, they find foods that everyone else finds delicious to be just as delicious as everyone else finds them. So just like it’s possible to eat SANEly and really enjoy food, as Carrie just showed me with the food she gave me, we can definitely have children enjoying food and have it be SANE at the same time.
Let’s dig into detail – and I don’t want to spend the whole podcast because I know not all of our listeners have young children – but I do want to provide some useful information here. One, we talked about children needing more nutrition than adults and we all know this. For example, let’s look at the youngest ‘children’ possible. When a child is actually developing in utero, we, as a culture, globally understand that that developing child needs very precise nutrition or else their development halts. I, personally, am very saddened that that mindset seems to go away as soon as the child leaves the uterine environment.
Carrie: It all ties back to what we were talking about in the last podcast, which is the ‘why’. People can do the right thing if they have a big enough ‘why’ and a child growing within you is a big enough ‘why’.
Jonathan: That’s a great point. I’m hoping this podcast can maybe help further that ‘why’ because just because the child is not growing within…. The point I’m trying to make is there is nine months from conception to nine months the child is developing. The child continues to develop once it leaves the womb for 18 years. So we care deeply about the nutrition that child receives from 0-9 months and I would urge us to be, at this point, even half as concerned with the nutrition that child receives for the next 18 years of development because they’re developing literally just as much and water, fiber, protein-rich, SANE foods contain more nutrition per calorie than any other food on the planet. That’s the end in SANE. Ensuring they have an abundance of those foods is really good for them and then also, related are kids being very active. They often need quite a few calories. Oftentimes we’re told the scientifically garbage statement that the only way to do this is to give kids sugar and starch and that’s absolutely not true! If you need to give anyone – child or adult – extra calories, the best way to do that is via SANE sources of fat. So, cocoa, coconut, avocado, flax seeds, chia seeds, nuts, nut butters. If you’re a distance athlete, if you’re a growing child and you need abundant energy, you can do that healthfully and simply using these whole food natural fats we just talked about. There’s absolutely no need to supplement your diet with starches and sweets. Absolutely not!
The second point is that children are more susceptible to food-related behavior problems. This one, we can kind of skip over because we all know if we stuff our kids full of aggressive foods like sugars and starches, they flip out and then they crash and then we have to deal with the consequences of that. If we stick with unaggressive, nutrient-dense proteins, non-starchy vegetables, and whole food fats, we’ll find that oftentimes a lot of children that may otherwise be considered ‘problem children’ are actually not; they’re just… If you put kerosene in a car’s gas tank, you might think that’s a problem car; it’s not, it’s just being given the wrong fuel. The same thing applies to a lot of our little ones.
Carrie: You have the best analogies!
Jonathan: Well, thank you very much. I appreciate that. Actually, I hear a lot of really cool stories about even things like autism being dramatically helped with diets like the GAPS diet and even, I think, epilepsy and very-low-carbohydrate diets. They’re now using very, very, very low carbohydrate diets in some cases to put epilepsy in complete remission – very interesting because the body stops running primarily on glucose and starts running on derivatives from fat metabolism which is ketones. Anyway, so it changes the way the body fuels itself, it changes the way the body runs. Good stuff.
What I think potentially, nutrition is obviously very important. Kids being able to control themselves is very important, but the one that really gets me – and Carrie, to your point earlier about understanding the ‘why’ – it’s probably not a good idea to take drugs while you’re pregnant because then this child is going to be born with challenges for the rest of its life. I don’t mean to make this sound too severe, but I’m just going to communicate the scientific fact. It is a fact that once we develop a fat cell, it does not go away. It can become shrunk, but it’s always there. This is why once you gain fat, it is harder to stay lean for the rest of your life because you’re predisposed to storing that fat. So if you were a child that has no control over what you eat and are simply eating what you’re given and that causes you to develop new fat cells, you now, for the next 70-100 years, are going to have to struggle with your weight forever. It’s not something that you can just, “Oh, just go exercise more.” You literally are now carrying this backpack of being predisposed to fat-gain forever. We avoid doing certain things while the child is developing in utero because it would break our hearts to put our kids in a position where they’re going to struggle against something for the rest of their life. If our children are gaining excess fat, we are putting them in a position – and I don’t mean to be too sad about this – it’s just true that they’re going to have to struggle with that for the rest of their life.
Carrie: Because they’ve literally got more fat cells than other people.
Jonathan: And they literally can do nothing to get rid of them. It’s not like they can exercise more and the fat cells will go away. The fat cells may shrink…
Carrie: We can shrink them but they’re still always going to have more, so….
Jonathan: There’s just that propensity.
Carrie: That’s very sad.
Jonathan: It’s very sad. So that’s why, if you need a compelling ‘why’… Again, I have no kids, so it’s hard for me to talk about some of these things, but I realize we live in a society where food manufacturers make it very easy to take these processed garbage things and just throw them in the kids’ lunch pail – Go-Gurt and all these… Kids see the advertisements on TV, so it’s what they’re asking for. Just like we try to send our kids to good schools because we know that having a good education will benefit them for the rest of their life, what happens to our children in terms of their health in their childhood will affect them throughout their life as profoundly, if not more profoundly, than their education.
The number of hardships that overweight individuals face in our culture, in terms of discrimination, in terms of social ostracism, in terms of self-esteem issues, in terms of just freeing your kids of that burden – I think is one of the most profound gifts you can give to them and I think – I don’t think – I know they’ll appreciate that when they get older. That really has to do with #4, which is, again, the habits that kids form when they’re kids is going to affect them for the rest of their life. The one point I’ll call out here is, there are people who are somewhat naturally thin and because they’re naturally thin, they don’t worry about their eating habits as they grow up and you see this a lot in people who, once they go to college or once they hit 30, if they don’t develop good eating habits, they may be able to slide by based on their youth until they hit 25 or 30 and then those suboptimal eating habits…. – Carrie, I think you’re an example of this.
Carrie: I’m a perfect example of this.
Jonathan: “It’s great. I can slide by on my magic youth metabolism.” But then, when 30 hits, whoop!
Jonathan: Bet you wish you learned how to eat SANEly before this!
Carrie: Yup. I feel very lucky because I, of course unintentionally, grew up in a pretty SANE household. We had a lot of vegetables. My father grew everything. We did not eat junk food. We didn’t have potato chips and all of that stuff except once a year. We didn’t have candy except once a year. We did have bread and cakes, but they were all things that my mother made from scratch at home, so I was lucky that I had that kind of base. But you’re right. I didn’t think about it until suddenly I woke up and went, “That is not my body! What the hell happened?” And now…. Well, everybody knows the story now, but I am one of those naturally thin people that just thought it was going to be like that forever and then woke up and went, “Oh!”
Jonathan: Yeah. Eventually, bad eating habits will…. There are plenty of thin people that have diabetes and there are plenty of thin people that have heart attacks and just being thin doesn’t necessarily mean we’re healthy either. That’s also very important. So, that’s a very common question. To summarize, ‘Is SANE eating the same for children as it is for adults?’ Yes and no. Yes, the exact same things we’re telling you to eat as an adult are the same things your kids should be eating. No, in the sense that technically, as much effort as you’re putting in to SANEity, I would recommend doubling that if you have kids because it’s going to help them even more than it’s going to help you. It’s going to set them up for having optimal life for the rest of their lives in a way that is just so profound.
Carrie: Just one last thing about what to feed them. Even though I don’t have children, either – when I’m creating these recipes, I try and create them with whole families in mind. There are a lot of dishes where I’ve hidden vegetables or where they’re not necessarily where children would think that they actually were eating vegetables. So I hope that I can help you make it easier because the recipes have more vegetables in them than your kids have any idea they were eating.
Jonathan: Absolutely! Then again, with everything else, folks, don’t beat yourself up that you can’t be perfect. People sometimes – the cynics out there – say to me, “Well, Jonathan, when you have kids, are you not going to let them trick-or-treat?” Of course, I’m going to let them trick-or-treat because it’s a treat. We can all have treats. Even as adults, we can all have treats. The point is, though, I will not feed my children sugar-saturated cereal for breakfast, peanut butter and jelly sandwich for lunch, and then a dinner of pasta and cookies. I won’t. But if we don’t know any better, then it’s really hard to keep our kids free from that. So it’s not about perfection; treats are fine. If they’re going to a birthday party, of course, that’s a party; it’s a celebration. The idea is what are we doing day-in and day-out.
The next big question we get asked is, ‘How does the Smarter Science of Slim or SANE eating compare to traditional diets like Atkins, Weight Watchers, or, let’s say, Paleo?’ The first thing I’ll mention is that Atkins, Weight Watchers, and Paleo are all diets; meaning, they only deal with how you eat. We know the Smarter Science of Slim deals with both – how we eat and how we exercise. That’s one difference right off the bat. Traditional diets have nothing to do with exercise, so we have a complete lifestyle here and that’s really important because it all works together to fix our metabolisms. That’s great! So, a complete re-frame of how we think about food and exercise.
Let’s step through these. First, Atkins. Let’s abstract this and say just low-carb in general. So, there’s quite a few similarities between a low-carbohydrate diet and a SANE way of eating, but let’s quickly define a low-carbohydrate diet. Individuals who are on low-carbohydrate diets – there’s often three phases; there’s an induction phase, there’s a phase 2 – I don’t know what it’s called, and then there’s a maintenance phase. Most people, when they think of low-carb diets, are thinking of the induction phase and an induction phase or low-carb diet is anywhere from 20 g…. Basically, you cannot exceed 20 g of carbohydrate in a day or in some cases, it’s 50 g of carbohydrate in a day.
Carrie: From any source.
Jonathan: From any source. That sometimes even requires restriction of no fruits at all, only certain kinds of vegetables, and you have to go out of your way to eat fat because otherwise you have no source of calories – so you’ll be eating almost 70% of your calories from fat, so you’re eating things like butter and bacon and full-fat everything because you need energy.
Jonathan: However, if you are on the Atkins maintenance phase, it’s actually very similar to a SANE way of eating because it just says ‘don’t eat starch, don’t eat sweets, enjoy non-starchy vegetables, enjoy low-sugar fruits, enjoy low-sugar dairy products, enjoy nutrient-dense meats and whole food fats’. The maintenance phase of the Atkins diet allows generally… I think it’s somewhere between 80 and 120 g of carbohydrates per day.
Carrie: But you can get them from anywhere?
Jonathan: No. That’s a good point. I mean, I’m not an expert in the Atkins diet but the general gist is that the Atkins maintenance phase is quite similar to a SANE lifestyle. SANE lifestyle is going to focus a little bit more on food quality; meaning, it’s not just that you eat about 120 or 75 g of carbohydrate per day, it’s that those are coming from non-starchy vegetables….
Carrie: Right. That’s why I asked the question.
Jonathan: Yeah. But I think it’s more macro-nutrient focused. I’m not a huge expert in it, but it’s quite similar. Actually, the same thing applies to Paleo. A Paleo-type diet is very similar to a SANE way of eating. The only real big difference between Atkins and a SANE way of eating is in some ways, an Atkins diet will say ‘you should go out of your way to eat a full-fat cut of meat’. Like, if you have the choice between eating a fatty steak and a lean steak, you should go with the fatty steak because you’re intentionally restricting carbohydrates, so you eat more fat in its place. With a SANE lifestyle, you could do that. You could do a lower-carb SANE lifestyle or you could do a higher-carb SANE lifestyle, in which case, you would want to take the leaner choice. Paleo is somewhat similar where Paleo is generally focused on eating food in the most natural state possible. For example, chicken with the skin on is more ‘natural’ than chicken with the skin off, so you’d eat chicken with the skin on. Again, if you say to someone in the Paleo community, “I eat egg whites”, they would spit in your face. I’m just kidding. They won’t spit in your face, but it doesn’t make them happy because they’re like, “Well, why wouldn’t you eat the whole egg?” and I get criticized for this all the time. It’s not about saying that whole eggs are bad or that chicken skin is bad, it’s about saying ‘what are your goals?’ If your goal is to eat food like it’s found in nature, then of course eat it like it’s found in nature. If your goal is to eat water, fiber, and protein-rich foods, egg whites have more protein – are 91% protein; a whole egg is only 35% protein because the yolk is predominant’y fat. So, ‘is a Paleo lifestyle like a SANE lifestyle?’ Yes. They are 90% similar. The question is just ‘do you eat more carbohydrate or do you eat more fat?’ If you eat more fat, you’ll end up eating things like whole eggs and chicken with the skin on. If you eat more carbohydrate, you end up eating things like egg whites and chicken with the skin off because you’re getting more and more calories and carbohydrates.
Carrie: Maybe you don’t know this. Do Paleo people eat dairy?
Jonathan: That’s a good question. To my understanding, there are three fundamental pillars to a Paleo lifestyle – one is ‘no grain’, the other is ‘no sugar’, the other is ‘no seed oils or processed oils’. So if you’re really Paleo – no, you don’t do any dairy because you don’t just find dairy in nature; you have to do something with it. You also don’t do legumes or beans potentially because Paleo is also focused on this idea of anti-nutrients. There are some foods which are thought to block the absorption of other nutrients, so you’d avoid things like tomatoes and eggplants. There’s basic Paleo – Paleo 101, which is essentially a SANE lifestyle. It’s ‘avoid grains, sweeteners, and processed seed oils’ which is essentially a SANE lifestyle. SANE lifestyle is going to say ‘more non-starchy vegetables’. Like, you need to go bananas with non-starchy vegetables. But by and large, 99% of the same Paleo lifestyle is awesome! On the more extreme end of the spectrum, a Paleo lifestyle is a very restrictive lifestyle which can be essentially just non-starchy vegetables, fruits, meats, and seafood and nothing else. For a lot of people, that works really, really well. I, personally, my research has shown that low-carbohydrate diets are profoundly beneficial for a lot of people. It’s shown that Paleo diet is profoundly beneficial for a lot of people. So I think there are ways to do low-carb SANE. Like, I think you could do the Atkins diet just saying, “When I’m eating low-carb, I’m going to try to eat the most satisfying, unaggressive, nutritious, and efficient foods possible.” Same thing with Paleo. “I’m going to try to do the same thing with Paleo.” That works just fine. So, those get a thumbs-up from me. They’re very SANE. They’re very supported by science.
The other class of popular diets is not at all supported by me and not at all supported by science and those are things like Weight Watchers or any sort of calorie-counting programs such as Jenny Craig or such as these mail-order programs where you get all your meals in the mail and it’s fundamentally about portion control. These diets are fundamentally predicated on the idea that we need to manually regulate the amount of calories we eat and the amount of calories we burn off and that’s just not the way our body works. You can stretch a rubber band as much as you’d like, but eventually that rubber band is going to snap back. When you eat less of just a traditional diet, you’re essentially stretching your metabolic rubber band and as soon as you stop doing that, you’re going to snap back. So unless you plan on being on Weight Watchers for the rest of your life, it’s not going to work. Unless you plan on eating a 6-inch Subway sub twice a day for the rest of your life, you’re going to end up worse off because those programs do not seek to heal your body. They seek to override and fight against your body and we always lose battles against our bodies. Whereas something like Atkins – the goal of Atkins is to help your body run off of fat rather than running off of carbohydrate. The goal of Paleo is really just to enable your body to eat the foods it was designed to eat. That’s why those diets work. They transform the way your body works. That’s also why SANEity works. They change your body. Whereas things like these calorie-counting programs – they just fight against your body and they don’t work.
Carrie: I’ve often thought that the success of Weight Watchers, even before I met you and learnt all this stuff, that what made Weight Watchers work for people for whom it does work is the public accountability.
Carrie: It’s having your goals out there. It’s all out there and you have to show up every week and you had better be lighter than you were last week. So there is some goodness there, it’s just not… I think it’s more in the emotional than it is the actual ‘doing anything healthy for your body’.
Jonathan: It’s a great point. Weight Watchers, to their credit – I don’t know if it’s Weight Watchers or one of the other programs – but they are changing. It used to just be – I’m exaggerating – but it’s like eat 1200 calories a day from whatever, I don’t care, you just can’t exceed 1200 calories per day. You can eat 1200 calories of Twinkies and at the support group, they’re like, “Yay! You met your goal.” That’s very much changing. They’re very much moving towards food quality. But you’re exactly right. In terms of the social support which we’ve talked about in previous podcasts, they nail that and I only hope that soon they will catch up to the science and soon they’ll be able to combine that support with actual science and I can only imagine how much more success people will have then.
Carrie: Yeah. You mentioned the Twinkie and it’s just interesting that you mentioned the Twinkie because the Twinkie died last week.
Jonathan: Yeah, yeah, they went out of business, didn’t they? That’s awesome!
Carrie: I have to say, I’m very sad that people are going to be losing their jobs but the Twinkie was not making us healthy, people!
Jonathan: Yeah. A lot of people are employed trafficking drugs, too. I mean, I’d offend some people, but there are some things…. Anyway, there’s a lot of industries that employ people. Not sure that that is a good enough reason to keep those industries around, but anyway, glad to see them go.
Actually, Carrie, the last question let’s cover this week actually has to do with Twinkies. This is not current news. Maybe a year or two ago, there was this college professor who went on the ‘Twinkie diet’ and lost 27 lbs. and what he was trying to illustrate was how you can eat whatever you want; as long as you create a caloric deficit, you’re going to lose weight. Well, there are a couple of things to talk about here. So, I don’t think anyone’s debating and we’ve never said that if you eat 1,000 calories a day that you’re not going to lose weight. Actually what we’ve said is, you are going to lose weight. You’re going to become dehydrated, you’re going to burn off a bunch of muscle tissue, and then you are going to burn off some fat until your body slows down enough to deal with that and then you’re going to maintain that new degraded version of yourself until you stop eating 1,000 calories a day and then you’re going to experience fat super-accumulation and be worse off than you ever were before.
So the question is not ‘is a Twinkie diet effective?’ You could just stop eating. The ‘starvation diet’ is effective, too. Ask anyone who’s been through a famine. They lose weight. The question again, though, is if weight loss and destroying our health is a valid goal and I would argue that it’s not. So, is the Twinkie diet effective? No. It destroys your health and it may make you burn muscle and slow down your metabolism, but you could cut off your leg and you’d lose weight, too, but you don’t see anyone that… Well, maybe! I don’t know. Maybe next year, there will be a ‘cut off your leg’ diet. Who knows? “I lost 30 lbs. in 5 minutes! All it took was this hacksaw!” On that note…..
Carrie: Not that you have strong feelings about any of that!
Jonathan: That was our frequently asked questions for this week. I’m not sure I can top that! I think I’ve sort of left the farm a little bit. I think it’s Carrie’s delicious food. It has changed the way my brain is working.
Carrie: It was that beet.
Jonathan: It was that beet! I have never eaten beets and tarragon before. I think you laced that with something!
Jonathan: There you go! Hide some spinach in there. Well, Carrie, do you have any final words?
Carrie: Keep asking the questions. Let us know how we can help.
Jonathan: Absolutely! Jonathan Bailor, Carrie Brown, living the Smarter Science of Slim. Have a great week!