Happy Mother's Day!

Happy Mother’s Day to all the wonderful Moms out there!  Whether you are called Great Grandma, Grandma, Mom, or Mommy we honor all of you this special day! 

I thought it would be inspirational to feature a new mom, Katie, that I met a couple of years ago on Dr. Fuhrman’s Member Center.  We eventually became Facebook friends, and then I finally got to meet her in-person last summer at Dr. Fuhrman’s Health Getaway on Amelia Island.  I’ve been so impressed how she’s radically changed her eating habits and now enables her young family to eat for the best health possible too.  [In fact, she even went on to become a certified nutritional trainer through Dr. Fuhrman’s NET program!] When pictures of her relatively recent, second pregnancy started showing up on Facebook, she glowed with health and vitality!  It’s amazing what eating for health can do to a young woman’s life.  Welcome to Disease Proof, Katie.

Katie - before and after

What was your life like before discovering Dr. Fuhrman’s nutritarian approach?
I ate a very unhealthy diet before learning about Dr. Fuhrman. My favorite foods were things like pizza and chocolate. I was a vegetarian for a few years; but a very unhealthy one. Since I was slim I figured I was healthy enough.

I always had terrible allergies and also struggled with sinus issues. A few years before becoming a nutritarian an Ear, Nose and Throat doctor told me I would need to have surgery to alleviate my severe sinus infections. I also had debilitating migraine headaches. Finally, I also developed severe and painful cystic acne when I was around 18 which continued into adulthood.
 

How do you feel now?
I feel so much better now it is amazing. I didn't know how bad I felt until I realized how good I could feel. My allergies, sinus issues, migraines and acne all resolved after becoming a nutritarian.  And I have more energy and am able to think more clearly now.


Since you weren’t a nutritarian yet during your first pregnancy, did you notice a difference between the two pregnancies, labor and delivery, and postpartum recovery time?

Towards the end of the pregnancy with my first daughter my mom gave me a copy of Dr. Fuhrman’s book, Disease Proof Your Child.  It completely changed my perspective on nutrition.  Each of my pregnancies were uncomplicated, but I had gained 15 pounds more during my first pregnancy than my second.  I also had horrendous heartburn with my first, and just mild heartburn with my second.

With my first, I went two weeks past my estimated due date and had to be induced.  The labor was very difficult, and my recovery was rather slow.  With my second daughter I went into labor naturally two days after my due date and overall it was a wonderful, drug-free experience.  My recovery time seemed to be much easier as well.  


Do you have any success tip(s) to share with others; especially to young mothers of small children?Smoothie

  • The most important factor to changing my way of eating was learning as much as I could about the science behind Dr. Fuhrman's recommendations. I spent hours poring over the information in Dr. Fuhrman's books and on his Member Center.
  • We keep meals very simple at our house and cook large batches of soups over the weekend so we don't have to cook much during the week. I also like to make green smoothies or micro salads so I can get large amounts of greens in quickly while taking care of my kids.

 

 

 

Katie’s favorite micro salad: 

4 cups chopped kale

2 cups mixed greens

2 cups chopped green or purple cabbage

3 medium carrots, chopped into chunks

1 apple, chopped into chunks

Place all ingredients in a food processor (you may have to process each ingredient individually depending on the size of the container) and process to desired consistency. Top with beans and a nut based dressing.  Enjoy!           

In a nutshell, what has nutritarian eating done for you and your young family?

It has changed me and my family forever. My husband and I will definitely eat this way for the rest of our lives, and we hope our daughters will continue to as well. My 3-year- old loves the food she eats and has been healthy her whole life. She’s never had an ear infection or needed antibiotics. I'm incredibly grateful to Dr. Fuhrman for this life-changing information and to everyone on the Member Center for sharing such personal and inspiring experiences. I'm also very thankful to my mother for giving me Disease Proof Your Child and for providing a wonderful example of what it means to eat to live.  I also want to thank my husband for all of his support who, despite his initial hesitation, has fully embraced nutritarian eating.

  Katie's family

Katie, you are truly a wonderful role model for all mothers, young and old!  Congratulations on radically improving you and your family’s health by choosing the nutritarian diet-style.

 

Blessings to all mothers today, and keep up the great job of leading your family’s health destiny!  

Interview with a Nutritarian: Talia Fuhrman

Talia Fuhrman, the oldest daughter of Dr. and Mrs. Fuhrman, may possibly be one of only a handful of young adults in the US that has now been eating high-nutrient foods since birth. I thought it would be motivational to interview Talia, age 25, not only to inspire the young people of America, but also to encourage all the parents who are doing their best to raise children to eat for health in a culture that promotes just the opposite.

 

What was it like for you growing up in a home that had ample selections of delicious and healthy foods to eat at all times?

As bad as the American obesity and disease epidemic is today, times were certainly different when I was a child and a teenager. These days people know what a vegan means, more people are vegetarians and overall, we are seeking the birth of an increasingly health-conscious America. When I was younger, my family was an odd anomaly in our community of standard American eaters. My feelings about living in this healthy-eating environment evolved over time and became so much more positive as I grew from my childhood and into my early teens.

I definitely felt different from my peers! It would be impossible not to feel different when my parents were preparing cashew cream kale for dinner and zucchini filled “brownies” in my lunches when my friends were opening boxes of cookies and obsessing over their Lunchables lunch boxes and Lucky Charms cereal. Prior to middle school, I wanted to be like my friends and would beg my parents to have the pizza served on Fridays at my school’s cafeteria and cake at birthday parties. Fights with my parents about food often occurred at home, but they allowed me to have some of my favorite “junk foods” like pretzels at the mall and pizza at school every now and then. If they had been too strict and didn’t allow me to eat any conventional foods, I think this would have put a dent in our relationship as I grew older.

I did absolutely love the foods my parents made for me at home and I didn’t feel deprived with the plentiful selection of healthy fruits and vegetables, and it was only in social settings that I desired to be like my friends and eat what they were eating. As a child, some of my favorite foods were strawberry banana “ice cream” made with frozen bananas and soymilk, and sweet potatoes mashed with coconut milk and cinnamon. I loved organic strawberries and I have vivid memories of running around our living room while eating lettuce leaves. When my dad began preparing homemade date-nut balls, which he now sells on DrFuhrman.com as “date-nut pop’ems,” that was a very good day.

 

What did your parents do to help you make the transition into social settings away from home?

They taught me why it was important to eat healthy foods and the negative consequences of eating junk foods. My parents did a good job of teaching me that their desire for me to eat healthy foods was out of love for me and wanting me to be a healthy person. Once I was old enough to make my own eating choices, they let me make my own decisions in social settings. I never went to a birthday party in which my parents wouldn’t let me have a slice of pizza or piece of cake if I wanted it, and if I decided to make a poor eating choice, I was taught that I would be the one to pay the price with a stomach ache, runny nose or feeling ill.

 

What were the teen years like for you? 

Understandably, my teenage years were very different from those of my childhood. I matured and took it upon myself to read and educate myself about nutrition and had no desire to eat the same foods as my peers. I packed my own school lunches filled with hearty salads and whole-wheat avocado, hummus sandwiches, for instance. I was the girl who ate dried persimmons and macadamia nuts for lunch and I wouldn’t have it any other way. I never dealt with weight gain, fatigue or acne and always had energy.      

 

Tell us about your young adult years. Why did you pursue an undergraduate degree in Nutritional Sciences from Cornell, and why are you now working so hard to develop a blog for young people? 

Throughout my life, I had exposure to seeing how what we eat affects the quality of our lives; not simply whether or not we will get cancer in our later years, but how we feel on a daily basis. I spent my childhood and teens hanging out in my dad’s office where I got to meet patients who got rid of debilitating health conditions by committing to the nutritarian lifestyle. My passion for nutrition and living a healthy lifestyle blossomed when I was a teenager from the combination of seeing these success stories and my innate love of science.

When I was a freshman in college, I did go through a doubtful phase and questioned whether or not I would get sick of studying nutrition. I pursued a few other career choices but none of them gave me as much satisfaction as studying nutrition. I am passionate about helping people get healthier and never suffer from pain due to avoidable health conditions, and this is why I am developing a blog for a younger audience. The teen years and our 20s are when we start to form our lifestyle and eating habits that we will take with us into adulthood.

My goal for the blog is to foster a positive community in which healthy eating is fun and learning about nutrition isn’t boring. I want to provide all the information that I know about nutrition to a younger audience in a way that is easy to understand, enjoyable, and even stylish. My dream is that living a healthy lifestyle will become what younger people will want to do because it makes them feel good, and because they can have fun with it too. It’s not as difficult as most people think to make smart, health promoting eating choices. Yet, teens and young adults I’ve encountered are totally in the dark, and have no idea they are laying the groundwork for their future health with that they eat today. The first step will be to have the knowledge about which foods are good for us and why it’s important to consume them. After that, people just need to learn how to prepare tasty meals that incorporate these foods. It can become a creative process of trial and error and a rewarding one too. My blog will have easy to prepare, tasty recipes to help people get started in making meals and desserts that are both healthy and delicious as well as nutrition advice that is written in a fun and youthful way. 

 

Thank you Talia ~ we wish you all the best and can’t wait to see what unfolds in the days and years ahead!  To view Talia’s blog click here

 

 

image credit: portrait by Esther Boller

 

 

 

 

 

 

Interview with a Nutritarian: Chris

Sometimes it takes the responsibility of being a parent to wake-up to the realization that we want to “be there” for our kids; not just when they are little, but when they’re grown up too. Chris was incredibly wise, because he took the necessary steps while his daughters were young to be the healthiest dad that he could possibly be for them. What a gift he’s giving to his young family! Welcome to Disease Proof, Chris.  

     

What was your life like before discovering Dr. Fuhrman’s nutritarian eating-style?

As someone who always worked out or competed in sports I never had to think about what I ate.  As I got older and other things got in the way of exercising, I would gain weight fast, because I ate like I was working out.  I always thought I was eating healthy because I'd make sure I ate some kind of animal protein with dinner.  It wasn’t until the birth of my second child that I realized I’m going to be in my 60's when they are in there 20's.  I remember not being able to put my socks on in the morning by bringing my knee straight up; I had to turn it to the side because my belly was so big.  I also remember thinking, “How am I going to carry my two daughters up the stairs when they want me to carry them?”   I didn't want to be that kind of dad.  I wanted to be the athletic dad that could do anything with them, even at a later stage in life.
 
 

How did you feel then?

Being on a high protein diet continually, I experienced toxic hunger really bad and called it “hypoglycemia".  I'd get moody if I didn't eat every two hours. My days centered around eating five meals a day.  I also suffered from adult acne and would catch a few colds every year; and it was no fun looking at myself in the mirror when trying on clothes. It was difficult for me to be out of shape while playing with my one-year-old, especially since I was in such great shape when I was younger. 

 

How did you find out about Eat to Live?

After the birth of my second daughter, I adopted a whole food, plant-based diet after reading The China Study, and I was going to raise my two girls vegan as well.  My parents and in-laws thought it was a crazy idea, because they were afraid their granddaughters weren't going to grow up to their fullest potential; so I set out to prove them wrong.  I first discovered Disease Proof Your Child, and then found Eat to LiveEat to Live made the most sense to me of all the plant based books that I had read so it was the lifestyle that I wanted to adopt for my whole family.

                                

How do you feel now?

It's crazy to think that I now weigh the same or less than I did in high school!  My energy levels have never been better.  I no longer have crazy mood swings or adult acne.  I’ve lost 7 inches around my waist and it’s fun to shop for clothes again.  Sometimes I find myself looking for clothes on the rack next to high school kids. 

I started competing n running races again and have won twice in my age division while pushing a double stroller! I’ve also received a "Super Preferred" status from my life insurance carrier.  It’s fun to say that I’m 43-years-old and in the best shape of my life; and my life insurance company just confirmed it.

  

 

Before

Now

Height

5’11

5’11

Weight

190 lbs

154 lbs

Hemoglobin A1C

5.5

5.3

Triglycerides

164

82

Cholesterol

212

145

HDL

68

70

LDL

111

58

LDL / HDL ratio

1.64

0.84

 

Do you have any success tip(s) to share with others?

 

  • Discover the “WHY”. You need to find out "WHY" you are doing this.  Mine was for my two girls ~ I wanted to be that active, healthy father for them while they were growing up and beyond.  If you have a deep emotional commitment to your "WHY" you can achieve anything. 

 

  • Choose the highest scoring, nutrient dense foods. Always find places where you can sneak in the most nutrient dense foods like using cooked collard greens instead of tortillas.

 

In a nutshell, what has nutritarian eating done for you?

It has made me make conscience decisions about everything I put into my mouth.  If one eats for health, the weight takes care of itself.  I love not having weight issues now or ever again, and I can live life to the fullest.  Plus now I’m competing in running races again and showing my girls how fun it can be.  When my girls are older, I will be able play sports with them instead of just watching, and I know that I’ll never have to worry about having a heart attack.  I’m also eating all the anti-cancer foods to protect myself from ever getting cancer.  I know that I will live a long and active life, thanks to my nutritarian diet.

 

Congratulations Chris on achieving your goal of being the healthiest dad that you can possibly be! 

 

Moms, we really do have the most influence

Emily Boller as newbornI was born at the tale end of the infamous Baby Boom. This picture was taken on the day that I was brought home from the hospital.  My parents were of “The Greatest Generation”; a term coined by journalist, Tom Brokaw, to describe the generation who were children during the Great Depression and teens/young adults during World War II. This generation of youth learned the value of sacrifice, hard work and commitment. I remember my mom saying how much she loved the first weeks of spring as a child to be able to go out and pick dandelion greens for supper, because fresh food sources were so scarce after the long winter months. A few years later she mourned the death of her brother, a young soldier fighting in Europe, as she herself helped with the war effort by growing a Victory Garden. Women all across America grew lush vegetable gardens; supplying over 40% of the nation’s food, on top of carefully rationing additional food supplies.1

 

Fast forward three decades. 

  • Teen girls traded growing and preparing food for after school activities. 
  • A magical applicance called a 'microwave' was introduced.
  • At the touch of a button food could be instantly heated.
  • Pre-packaged and processed meals flourished. 
  • These young women eventually married and started families of their own. 
  • They met friends at McDonald’s Play Land for their toddlers' play dates. 
  • Happy Meals replaced green beans and carrots. 
  • Carbonated drinks replaced glasses of cool water. 
  • Coupon clipping for artificially flavored, processed food replaced working in the garden.   

 

Fast forward another decade; the Happy Meal toddlers became teens. 

  • Soccer and dance practices replaced the family dinner hour. 
  • Traditional, sit down meals became a thing of the past. 
  • No longer was anyone home at the same time. 
  • Big Macs 'supersized' replaced Happy Meals.
  • Dad nuked cold spaghetti in the microwave and watched the evening news . . . alone. 
  • Thankfully, Death by Chocolate ice-cream was in the freezer.

 

Emily Boller as a child eating an ice cream coneWhen I was a kid, ice cream cones were rare commodities reserved only for very special occasions.  However, when I became a mother, the 99 cent cones at McDonald’s were routine lifesavers. Sure, freshly cleaned grapes would have been a better choice, but the drive thru was more convenient to a busy soccer mom. Unfortunately, I raised most of my kids in the fast lane on waffles, processed cereals, pizzas, chicken nuggets, mac n’cheese, pot roasts, “homemade" beef n’ noodles, and plenty of chips, sweets, and junk food in-between.

I recently asked my 21-year-old son, who now freely chooses high nutrient foods over the junk he was raised on, what has influenced his healthy choices the most. His reply was seeing the impact that nutrition has made on his mother’s life, and the healthy example now set at home.

Last year I wrote a post titled, “Moms, we have the most influence.”

I still believe it.  

 

 

 
                                  

1.  wikipedia.org/wiki/Victory_garden

image credits:  Emily Boller's family archives

          

Why Have We Decided To Feed Our Kids Crap?

The following is a guest post from Habib Wicks, co-founder of PEERtrainer

Why Have We Decided To Feed Our Kids Crap?
It Is A Decision, And It Seems To Have Been Made...

 

"Nothing is over until we decide it is! Was it over when the Germans bombed Pearl Harbor? Hell no! And it ain't over now! Cause when the going gets tough.. The tough get goin'. Who's with me?" -Bluto, Animal House

"The modern diet that most children are eating today creates a fertile cellular environment for cancer to emerge at a later age.... In order to have a major impact on preventing cancer we must intervene much earlier, even as early as the first ten years of life"- Dr. Joel Fuhrman


I am trying to be funny, using some common humor to introduce a very very touchy subject. Food and kids. But the reality is that most children today, regardless of the socioeconomic context, eat piles of cheese, pasta, chicken fingers, fries, milk, cookies, pizza etc. Go to any birthday party or play date currently in the U.S. and this is what you see.

When children eat a junk food based diet, the groundwork is being laid. This is something that Jackie and I personally struggle with. We have two small children. We were both raised (thank God) by parents who knew the deal about nutrition. Every meal I ate as a child was served with green vegetables and salad. We ate burgers, ice cream, hot dogs and all the other stuff. But that was the exception.

The rule was greens, salad, local fish freshly caught in the Gulf Of Maine, fruit. The Cuisinart was (and still is) the center of my mothers kitchen. Onions, ginger, garlic-- all sorts of things went into the Cuisinart, the frying pan, pressure cooker. My mom cooked real food. Mac and cheese was something I ate at the babysitters house.

"What we feed (or don't) our children as they grow from birth to early adulthood has a greater total contributory effect on the dietary contributions to cancers than the dietary intake over the next fifty years" -Dr. Joel Furhman, Disease Proof Your Child

Fast forward to the present day. The households that Jackie and I grew up in are probably rarer now. Seems like it at least. The diets that our parents sought to protect us from appear to be totally dominant.

With our kids my objective is to get them to eat as much of the good stuff as possible, knowing that the junk is inevitable. We also work to enable them to make their own decisions as much as possible.

But that is us. We were raised a certain way, we started PEERtrainer. We have a well developed focus. The challenge for us, and me in particular is other parents. The reality of modern child rearing in America is that people are very cooperative and constantly share the load. Our kids are often in the care of other moms, nannies or otherwise in environments that we cannot totally control. There are endless birthday parties, play dates. Lots of cooperative, generous and helpful parents all around.

Yet, junk food is the default. The tough thing for a parent is that you really can't say anything. if you do, you violate the code. The code, as best I can tell is this: "don't rock the boat, and don't disrupt social agendas."

This is something I am really struggling with. And it is pissing off Jackie, because I actually said something recently. I absolutely should not have, but I did. I was tired, the younger child was screaming in my ear. And then it happened. We were all leaving school (last day) headed to some end of school kid parties. A local mom pulled up and very nicely asked if she could pick up some Wendy's for our kids.

She was just trying to be nice. But in the back of my mind I was thinking "why is this always the default"? I had been thinking about this for a while, holding my tongue for a few years now just watching as I said nothing. Unfortunately, this time I said exactly what I was thinking. Imagine being really nice to someone, as she was being to me, and have someone act like a total jerk. Which I was. I had been thinking about this problem, did not know the answer.

The question is though, who is there to bring this question up? Why is junk food the default? I could keep my kids at home and avoid all other contact. That would be insane on so many levels. Yet, the decisions of other parents effect my kids. That is the reality.

So there is no going around this issue. You can't keep your kids away from other kids, and you can't make you kids outcasts by forbidding them to eat foods that everyone else is.

You can't. You can find ways of subtly suggesting things. You can model and you can be patient. But that happens when that does not work? The most interesting question is this- what is really at the root of this phenomenon?

All of the parents we interact with really understand this issue. It is not like they don't know this stuff. Yet for some reason they choose not to prioritize it. Many of the moms will make sale day at Saks Fifth Avenue the top priority. They will give generously to others. Yet they won't make a simple decision to forgo Wendys, Mcdonalds etc for ANY OTHER alternative.

This is collective behavior. Everyone seems to be doing this- not just the one that was at the brunt of the end of my rope. One mom does something (we men generally just do what we are told btw- I think that might be part of the analysis here) and the other moms go along. Zero incentive to rock the boat.

When I asked this other mom "why is stuff like Wendys always the default?" Her first response was "the entire class is going there." Then she got pissed at me, understandably. And now other moms call Jackie and first ask if I want a Happy Meal. And it's funny on one level.

But the greater question is, for all of us who are parents and want to find some way of reducing the amount of junk that our kids collectively eat- what the hell are we supposed to do? All move to Boulder?

It is a puzzle. And it is serious.

"Most of the animal products eaten by children, such as cheese and milk, are exceptionally high in saturated fat. Saturated fat consumption correlates with cancer incidence worldwide. It also raises cholesterol levels and causes obesity and heart disease."

"Americans eat only 5 percent of calories from fruits, vegetables, beans and unprocessed nuts and seeds" -Dr. Joel Fuhrman

Right now cancer, heart disease and stroke will kill 85 percent of Americans. 85 percent. It may be that after the battles of marriage, career and raising kids many people actually want to die on some deep level.

One thing I do know is that group think can be changed. I just don't know how.

What is an Easy Target For Parents To Hit?

The basic solution to this problem is to attack the equation. Work on growing the 5 percent number. There is another great stat from Disease Proof Your Child that will help end this article on a positive note.

"Recent studies have also found that eating fruit during childhood had powerful effects to protect against cancer in later life. A sixty year study of 4,999 participants found that those who consumed more fruit in their childhood (the highest quartile) were 38 percent less likely to develop cancer as adults."

So if you are a competitive parent who wants their kids to score in the 99th percentile in tests- why would you not also want your kids to score high on their nutrient intake?

As for me, I am already the a**hole for bringing this up with the local parents. I understand I violated a set of social codes. But if you want to criticize me for making this an issue-- who is doing the most harm?

Maybe you are reading this just seething, thinking "worry about your damn kids." Fine, I do. But who is left to say something? Michelle Obama is doing a great job advocating gardening. The Disney channel seems to be doing a good job at running ads about spinach and fruit. Who else is there leading the effort? What is the trend, and who is making the effort?

From my vantage point as a parent there is a ton of work to be done. If you are a parent (or nosy grandparent!) please pick up a copy of Joel Fuhrman's book "Disease Proof Your Child." There is a ton of stuff in the book to chew on- and do you own research frankly. But you will find that this book raises a ton of important questions, and is extensively footnoted. There are seventeen pages of references to research studies at the end of the book.

And if you find a more tactful and more effective way to raise the issue in your community, please let me know.

 

This article was orignally published on PEERtrainer.com.

 

 

Moms, we have the most influence

image of a mom with her daughters 

Whether we are single moms, full-time working moms, stay-at-home moms, mothers to many or a few; we have the most influence in our children’s lives. 

We are the primary role models and educators in teaching their values concerning food and establishing their eating habits.

We set the stage for planning meals and creating holiday food traditions. 

Women are the primary food industry consumers who stock the refrigerators and pantries of America.  We purchase over 90% of the groceries in the United States.1 

At the end of the day, when it’s all said and done, it’s what little Johnny repeatedly sees when he opens the refrigerator and cupboards at home that’s going to have the most influence on his food values and health.

               

It would be ideal if every pediatrician would instruct their young patients about the health promoting benefits of nutritarian eating.  It would be beneficial if every daycare, school and church would educate children about the life-damaging effects of eating for disease.  It would be wonderful if every youth activity, from nursery to college, could teach the importance of eating nutrient dense foods for developing bodies. 

Reality is, moms, we purchase the food and set the example.  We are the primary educators and role models that will have the most influence in establishing our children’s long term eating habits and health.

“The key to raising a healthy family is not letting unhealthy food choices enter the house. Because when they do, the kids will seek them out, like flies to honey and fill their caloric requirements with junk; crowding out anything health supporting. (Wheat flour listed as a first ingredient means it is junk food. It must be ‘whole wheat flour.’)”  -Dr. Fuhrman

Are we teaching, by our example and purchases, to eat for disease or to eat for health?

 

Reference:  1. Too Busy to Shop; Marketing to “Multi-Minding” Women  by Kelly Murray Skoloda  

Children Eating Sweets Daily Linked to Violence

Colorful image of a pair of hands holding some multi colored square block candies

Children who eat sweets and chocolate every day are more likely to become violent adults according to UK researchers.

The Cardiff University study involving 17,500 people is the first study to look into effects of childhood diet on adult violence. It found 10-year-olds who ate sweets daily were significantly more likely to have a violence conviction by age 34. The researchers found that 69% of the participants who were violent at the age of 34 had eaten sweets and chocolate nearly every day during childhood, compared to 42% who were non-violent.

The link remained even after controlling for other factors such as parenting behavior, location of where child lived, not having education after the age of 16 and whether or not they had access to a car when they were 34.

So not only does eating junk food in childhood increase the risk of adult cancers as stated in my book Disease Proof Your Child, there is now evidence that suggests eating sweets may contribute to sending your child to jail down the road. Interestingly, this link between violent behavior and sweets was better than the link between abusive parenting behaviors and violent crime. Parents need to know that giving their children sweets is dangerous for many reasons.

The study was reported in the British Journal of Psychiatry.

Don't Make Food a War Zone

Picture of Dr. Fuhrman's Children in House

Joel and I have four children, ages 8, 15, 18 and 22. So, we've had a lot of experience in dealing with childrens' food issues, particularly socially. In my house, my children love the way we eat, yet when they are in the Standard American Diet (SAD) world, they become different human beings. Depending on their age, they have reacted very similarly. Here is a recounting of what we've experienced:
Basically, when the kids are 6 and younger, they know of only what you feed them. They are dependent on their family, not friends and like and do what their parents and siblings do. This makes it very easy for all. One interesting example was when our son was 3 years old and he and I attended my daughter's school fair.  I was talking to my girlfriend (who knows how we eat) when my son started looking at a tray of chocolate chip cookies. If you can picture it, the tray is on a table that is the same height as my son's eyes. It is a huge tray and a huge amount of really big, soft chocolate chip cookies. It really caught my son's attention and just as quickly he grabbed a cookie and took a bite. I stopped talking, watching him and said to my girlfriend, "He's never had a cookie!". Well, as soon as he took the bite, he spit it out of his mouth and said, "Yuk!" Both my girlfriend and I were astounded, as we certainly did not expect that response.

The above event let me see how much children's preferences are dictated by what they are used to. My son never had a cookie, ice cream or processed sweet food in his life and once he tried it, he didn't like it.

As I've watched my girls grow up, particularly after the age of 6, I have not had such luck with them disliking such foods. They all did not like chocolate for the very longest time, but they enjoyed ice cream and certainly pizza once it was offered to them. The social events at school were the way my children were introduced to the many unhealthy foods we never had in our home. This has always infuriated me and I was looked at like a leper whenever I brought up the idea of no candy being allowed in school. I can now happily state that our school district has implemented a policy where no foods with sugar as the first ingredient can be brought in. However, when my daughters were younger this was not the case and is probably not the case where many of our nation's children go to school.

With the hope of keeping my children as psychologically healthy as possible, my philosophy has always been not to make my children feel guilty by the food choices they make. I recognize that food can become a big psychological issue if you let it. I also knew of people whose children rebelled and I certainly didn't want that. So, I rarely ask them about what they ate during their time in school or with their friends. I do know of instances where they have had candy and I know that they may eat what is offered at a friend's house that we may not approve of. I accept these times, with the knowledge that whatever they eat in our house is healthy and that has got to be at least 80% of what they take in that day. One of my daughters orders a "salad" pizzas (where it's only the pizza dough with lettuce, tomato, onion, garlic and italian dressing) when her friends are ordering regular pizza. It's her way of compromising both worlds. To be honest, I tried it and it was good.

Picture of Fuhrman children outside

This attitude has enabled my children to talk freely to me about their day and to acknowledge that while they have their SAD foods once in a while, they love our food at home. They also chose restaurants that offer salads and veggie dishes when they go out with their friends. All of my children prefer the food we serve at home and whenever they are away, they can't wait to get back to our house to get good tasting, healthy food. I have even overheard Joel speaking to one of my daughters telling her, "Don't worry about it, it is no big deal. Your overall excellent diet keeps you healthy and there is no reason your healthy body cannot tolerate an occasional stress. Just have a fun time."

We feel good that our children know how to take care of their bodies. They have the knowledge that what they eat has a large effect on their health. And that puts them way ahead of the game!