Adapted from Dr. Fuhrman’s book Eat to Live:
How do you modify your recommendations about superior nutrition and disease prevention for children or those not needing to lose weight?
I believe the diet we currently feed our children is the reason we are seeing so many frequent infections and such high levels of allergies, autoimmune disease, and cancer in this country. Unfortunately, what we eat early in life has a more powerful effect on your eventual health (or ill health) than what we eat later in life. I have three daughters and understand the difficulties of trying to raise healthy children in today’s insane world. It seems we are in an environment in which parents are enthusiastically and purposely breeding a nation of sickly and diseased adults.
In my community, parents and neighbors unknowingly attempt to poison their children at every opportunity. They don’t merely feed their own children a diet chock-full of sugar and trans fat, but at every birthday, athletic event, and social occasion they bring sugar-coated doughnuts, cupcakes, and candy for the entire crowd. The public schoolroom in my community also serves as another avenue for parents and teachers to regularly supply our children with junk food. I would expect, as parents, we all have the same goal of trying to get our children to eat more nutritious foods: more vegetables, fruits, raw nuts and seeds, and legumes and beans. However, no child will eat healthfully if he is allowed to eat unhealthy foods on a regular basis.
The only way to have a child eat healthfully is to clear all unhealthful foods out of the house, so when the children are hungry they are forced to pick from healthy choices. They will at least eat healthfully when they are home if they are presented with only healthy food choices.
Nevertheless, the dietary rules in Eat to Live
would be too calorie-restricted and too fat-restricted for a child or thin athlete. However, the principles for healthy eating and longevity do not change. All that has to be done to increase the caloric density and fat density of the diet is to add more wholesome sources of fat and calories, such as raw nuts and seeds, nut butters, and avocados. Starchy vegetables and whole grains can be consumed in larger amounts, and vegetable and grain dishes can be flavored with sauces and dressing made with nuts and seeds.
If you want to gain weight, eating more—or eating differently to bulk up—will add mostly fat to your body. It is exceptionally rare for a person to gain more muscle just from eating more food. Forcing yourself to consume more food than your body wants is not in your best interest. If you want to gain weight, lift weights to add muscle; then the exercise will increase your appetite accordingly. When you eat a healthful diet, nature has you carry only the mass you need; your muscles will enlarge only if additional stress is placed on them. Of course, Eat to Live
is designed for those who are overweight and desirous of losing weight. Those who are truly excessively thin, and need to gain weight, may have to modify this eating plan somewhat to meet their individual needs.