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...
...in revisiting many of the points from my original post, let's just say most of those points have not changed much in the past year. To avoid overusing the term "Paleo Baby" or "Paleo Toddler" and turning this into a caricature of gimmickry, I'm going to refer to the kid from here on out as "Keiki," which is Hawaiian for child.
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 allergies...it'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.