I'm finally going to attempt to post. Pray it doesn't crash the server! If you hadn't heard, I've been having major problems with my server going down. I'm still not sure what's been causing it but I'm probably going to have to switch hosts this week. I also found out I was hacked twice — which may or may not have been part of the problem. Needless to say, I've been pulling my hair out over all this technical stuff for weeks now. I'll get it all squared away and things will be back to normal soon.
In other news, I took my 2-year-old, Kate to the doctor last week to re-check her iron levels. She went from 8.0 last month (slightly anemic) to 10.4 this month. Which means she's in the normal range now and is no longer anemic.
I really think it was a matter of limiting the milk she was drinking. Like her mother, she loves her dairy products. There's a reason I named this blog CHEESESLAVE. Now I let her have 1 to 2 sippy cups of milk and that's it. Because she's drinking less milk, she's eating a lot more food. I think that was the main problem.
I think eating those fried clams helped her, too. She ate one big plate one week, a small plate the next week, and the following week we went out for seafood and she ate two raw clams. I also managed to get her to eat a small amount of pork liverwurst. Pork liver is high in iron, too (not anywhere near as high as clams — but much higher than beef).
The neat thing about clams is they are so high in iron, you could serve them to your child just once or twice a month and it will boost their levels. And like I said, fried clams really aren't so different from chicken nuggets, especially if you serve them with ketchup. This is why I'm always so bullish on mollusks — they are so nutrient-dense that you reap major benefits even if you only eat them infrequently.
As far as the theory of calcium blocking iron absorption, I did a little research on that and I'm not convinced that it is true. So I didn't worry about serving milk only between meals and not serving milk with iron-rich foods. I just gave her clams those few times, and the liverwurst. And I tried to see to it that she got more red meat and beans and a variety of foods.
Kate doesn't eat perfectly. She's a toddler — and toddlers are notoriously picky. Anytime we go out to eat, if anyone orders French fries, that is the ONLY thing she will eat. Last night she only ate tortilla chips for dinner. For lunch she had California Pizza Kitchen pizza. But I try to make sure she eats at least one good meal per day. Yesterday morning she ate pastured eggs cooked in butter. She didn't eat a lot of them, but she ate some. That's good enough for me.
How I've Changed
I've definitely noticed a change in myself. I've become a lot more lenient. When I first started eating traditional foods when Kate was a baby, I was obsessive about it and wanted to do everything perfectly. But I think it's normal, especially with your firstborn. I also think a lot of people can get this way when they start eating a traditional diet. I remember asking some people I knew who were following a traditional diet if they ever ate out and they said, “Very rarely.” When I heard that, I wondered if I was joining a cult.
Here's what I think now: we can get way too obsessive about this stuff. And it's not good for us — or our families. I think if we let our kids eat junk here and there (like restaurant French fries or tortilla chips), it's not going to kill them. The important thing is to make sure they get good meals in as often as you can.
This is key: it's not about avoidance. It's about giving them good, nourishing foods as often as possible. Remember, nourishing foods protect us and mitigate the damage we do from eating “bad” foods — or smoking cigarettes. This explains why people 100 years ago could smoke like chimneys and still be so healthy. They were eating lots of butter and lard.
I think this tendency to try to avoid foods comes from our culture. For decades we've been told, “Avoid this and don't eat that!” We're so trained to think in terms of avoiding and restricting. So when we try to start eating healthier, we are still focused on what we should avoid, instead of what we should eat.
Can you eat nourishing, healthy foods at restaurants? Yes, of course! Just the other night we went out to eat at a local French place. We ordered rib eye steak with Bernaise sauce, gratin potatoes, French fries, cooked spinach, and green beans. And for dessert: crème brûlée.
Was it all organic and grass-fed? No. Were the fries cooked in tallow? Highly doubtful. Did they use refined sugar in the crème brûlée? Most definitely.
But we needed a night out and considering the amount of meat, cream, butter and cheese we consumed, I think it was a reasonably healthy meal.
Of course Kate only ate the French fries. ;-)
The Indian Lady from Africa with Perfect Teeth
I took Kate to get her first hair cut yesterday and had a really interesting talk with the lady cutting her hair. She was Indian, but she was born and raised in East Africa. She asked me if I was worried about Kate sucking her thumb. She said, “Well, I guess all kids need braces these days anyway.”
I explained to her that many people (my dentist included) believe that thumb sucking does not actually cause kids to need braces — but that it's a nutrient deficiency. Particularly the fat-soluble vitamins, A, D & K. I told her about Dr. Weston Price and the native peoples he studied around the world who had perfectly straight teeth with no cavities. I pointed out how kids today are drinking skim milk and eating margarine instead of butter, and drinking soy milk which is full of phytic acid.
I asked her if her two grown sons, whom she raised here in the U.S., had worn braces. She said the youngest did wear baces, but the older one did not. She said she also never needed braces and she's never had a single cavity.
I said, “What do you grow up eating in East Africa?”
She said, “We didn't eat a lot of red meat. A lot of chicken and fish. But we didn't have a lot of money.”
I said, “What kind of oil did you cook your food in? Was it ghee?”
She smiled, “Oh yes, we cooked everything in ghee.”
Ghee (clarified butter) from grass-fed animals. Rich in vitamins A, D & K. There you go!
My Mother's Ice Cream Habit and My Straight Teeth
I was the only kid in our family who did not need braces. This really puzzled me after I read Dr. Weston Price's book, Nutrition and Physical Degeneration. My older sister needed braces, but I did not. Why? You'd think my sister would have had straight teeth and I would have had braces since my mom's nutrients stores would have been depleted. Right?
Then I remembered something my mom told me. She said that when I was in utero and she was breastfeeding my older sister (we are only 13 months apart), she used to eat ice cream every single day. The women at La Leche League told her it was good for her breast milk.
I believe this is what gave me my straight teeth. Was the ice cream homemade and made with organic, raw ingredients? No. It was stuff she bought at the grocery store — surely made with refined sugar and definitely pasteurized. But this was the 1960s, so it's possible that the cows were still on pasture (most dairies moved cows off of pasture and into confinement in the 1950s and '60s).
There was one other factor. Although I ate my share of peanut butter and jelly sandwiches (which I totally believe cause cavities), I also ate liverwurst as often as I could get it. Liverwurst was my absolute favorite sandwich. This probably also helped.
Perfection Not Required
My point in telling these stories is that we don't have to be perfect to raise healthy children. Look how much Kate improved in just one month by just making a couple small changes. Of course, we have to know which changes to make. Who knew eating butter and ice cream could be the thing that saves us from cavities and braces?
Thank goodness for Dr. Weston Price, Sally Fallon and the Weston A. Price Foundation. I'll be eternally grateful to them for putting all the pieces together. If you haven't yet read Dr. Price's book, Nutrition and Physical Degeneration., go read it! It will change your life. You can read the whole thing online. Just click that link.
Bottom line — it's not about trying to be perfect. So what if you eat pasteurized butter and cream instead of raw. As long as it's grass-fed. So what if you eat junk here and there. As long as you try to get in one good meal a day. Oh, sure, if you're sick or recovering from an illness, or pregnant or nursing, you want to try to do better. I had to avoid sugar and wheat for two years when I was recovering from arthritis and chronic fatigue in my twenties. We don't need to try to be perfect — we just need to do the best we can.
The most important thing we can do is eat more good fats like butter, cream and cheese. Or, if you don't do dairy, eat other good fats like lard, beef tallow, palm oil, coconut milk, and coconut oil. Seafood and particularly shellfish is also one of the very best things you can eat.
Find something you love that's nutrient-dense and rich in fat-soluble vitamins. The so-called “sacred foods” — organ meats, butter, cream, fish eggs, egg yolks, and fish liver oil. Try to eat more of these sacred foods — and don't worry so much about trying to restrict all the other bad stuff out there. And enjoy your crème brûlée!