Here’s why it’s important to teach your kids about good nutrition while they’re still young:

My wife is in Chicago to attend a funeral and then spend a couple of days with her family. This means it’s now my job to make breakfast for the girls, pack their lunches for school, and cook dinner when they get home.

Perhaps believing I was on the verge of cracking under the pressure, my daughter Sara informed me yesterday that if I happen to drop dead while Mommy is gone, she’s perfectly capable of feeding herself and her little sister and getting them off to school.

She explained that she knows she’s not allowed to use the gas stove to fry eggs, but there’s plenty of sausage in the freezer, so she’ll just microwave some links each morning. She promised to pack lunches including turkey or ham slices, nuts, cheese sticks, and apple slices. If need be, they could eat the same combination for dinner after the school bus brings them home, or perhaps put more sausages in the microwave.

She’s willing to do all this, you understand, even though the easy solution would be to simply remove $20 from my wallet and buy the sugar-and-starch-laden meals served by the school cafeteria every day until my wife returns home.

At no point in her detailed explanation of how she’d maintain a good diet in the event of my sudden death did she mention anything about calling 9-1-1 to consult with professionals who could confirm that I’m actually dead and not just, say, in a bit of a coma. So apparently, she would be stepping around my body to prepare high-protein, low-carbohydrate meals for herself and her sister.

“Sara, what’s wrong with Daddy?”

“I don’t know.  I think he might be dead.  Do you want Swiss or cheddar on your turkey rollup?”

Whether I was in the next world or clinging ever-so-slightly to this one, I would of course be proud she wasn’t using my unfortunate fate as an excuse to indulge in sugar and starch. That’s why you have to teach ‘em young.


37 Responses to “Personal Responsibility Begins Early…”
  1. Tina says:


    Not that they wouldn’t call 9-1-1 for you, but that she would have that much initiative.

    It is comforting in a way.

  2. Mike says:

    Don’t let them read the book “Alive” … just sayin.

  3. Rahul says:

    Haha thats crack up, mayb u shud hav just played dead, u cud hav escaped the pressure of preparing all their meals until ur wife returned 😛

  4. Kevin Clough says:

    Kids say the cutest things. Loved your movie. Keep up the good work.

  5. Vicki Keller says:

    I love this. I would hope my 7 year old daughter would do the same but I will counsel her to call 911 in addition.

    I apparently need to teach her up a bit more.

  6. I’m … happy for you?

    I’m not sure how to take it either.

  7. Nina says:


    Have a look at this blog post:


    Interesting. I just read “Body by Science,” and Dr. Doug McGuff says pretty much the same thing.

  8. Be says:

    I wonder where she gets it from? Our son (the one who loves your movie) would do the same. Sure, he’ll eat pizza at his club meetings, but the boy will NOT eat a school lunch and does get up and pack his own every day. As a Sophomore he has finally learned that talking about diet is worse than sex,religion and politics combined – he is learning to ignore fools and avoid fights!

    Hey – teaching them independence and responsibility means they will be better able to take care of you when you are an old geezer! They better hurry! 😉

    I’m 52. They don’t have much time left …

  9. Uh…

    On one hand I want to congratulate you. On the other hand, I can’t stop the urge to recommend you look into a Life Alert system. 🙂

  10. Jonathan says:

    Do you feel loved? LOL.

    Wonder what she would do with the meals people bring? My dad just passed away at 58 from head trauma and the meals that kind friends and church members brought were all carby and the amount of dessert that was brought was crazy! (and I ate plenty too… and the scales and my bad moods prove it)

    I hope she’d say thank you and then not eat the desserts.

  11. Rebecca says:

    Because I’m a bad mother who is frequently up at 3AM finishing work for clients (housework comes first, after all) and my husband leaves the house at 6AM, my oldest is used to packing their lunches and getting ready to go solo. They get up shortly after hubby leaves and wake me up round about 7AM most days. I so always feel a stab of guilt on the up-till-the-sun-rises days when she rouses me from comatose sleep at 7:45 to say, “Mom, we’re going to the bus” but it’s also gratifying that they can hold their own when Momma’s down for the count.

    I like knowing they feel confident they could pack their own meals.

  12. Rebecca says:

    And my copy/paste failed. Continuing the last comment…

    I think it’s great that you and wifey have trained up self-reliant little kiddos who don’t necessarily “need” you to get by. At least you know they can’t be hoodwinked by “nutrition counselors” at school, and can fend for themselves during the zombie-apocalypse.

  13. Katie says:

    They are so sweet when they are being earnest about something. My son used to do something similar where he would explain how he would take care of my husband if I were to die.

    Every now and then I would worry that it was wishful thinking on his part. I was eating low fat/high carb in those days and the high sugar/low sugar mood swings were truly a thing to be wary of.

  14. Katie J. says:

    When my son was 4 he promised to marry me if daddy died:-) Who says kids don’t think about death. Foolish people.

    That was generous of him to offer to take care of you.

  15. gcb says:

    FINALLY got a copy of Fat Head (Chapters/Indigo started carrying it here in Canada, at least via mail order) – words cannot express how happy my wife and I are to have something we can loan to friends and family, and say “Watch this, we’ll talk later.” We’ve been paleo (or something close to it) for several years, with all the usual results – blood pressure under control (no meds), diabetes under control (no meds), decent cholesterol numbers (although I think I need to talk to my doctor about the different kinds of LDL), slow and steady weight loss, etc. But Gary Taubes’ book (GCBC) is (a) a little on the dense side for non-scientific people and (b) not really attuned to the Nintendo generation. So, again, thank you for your great movie! We watched it tonight for the first time, and laughed all the way through it – well done, sir!

    Thank you.

  16. Diana says:

    Sooooo funny! Smart kids! Makes me realize I need to think more about my children’s diets!!

  17. monasmee says:

    At that age I probably would’ve wolfed down a few sausage links before administering CPR. Gotta keep up one’s strength you know. Right tool for the right job.

    Good point. You won’t someone fatigued and unable to focus banging on your chest to re-start your heart.

  18. Stephanie O. says:

    If you think about it she is exhibiting the utmost respect for your hard work and what you have taught her and us.

  19. Ornish's Melting Face says:

    You mean you haven’t yet taught your daughter that if someone seems dead, but you’re really not sure, to poke that person repeatedly with a pointed stick while hollering “Are you dead?…Are you dead?”

    No, but I’ll put it on her things-to-learn list.

  20. Paolo says:

    I love this story. Two weeks ago I went test my total cholesterol, just because a friend of mine asked me to do that, and when I came home my 8 years daughter asked me “were the test good?”, I said “Yes! very good” and she “but I was good also for them?” meaning the doctors.

    She already knows that total cholesterol has no meaning 🙂


    P.S. by the way, my total cholesterol was 230, after a year of 4 eggs a day and lots of butter.

    Probably with high HDL and low triglycerides, if anyone checked.

  21. Dianne says:

    This is just too funny. I guess congratulations are in order.

  22. PrincessKimmy says:


    I’ve done low carb off and on through the years, but with the new information coming out, including your movie, the Weston A. Price response to USDA guidelines, and now reading Good Calories, Bad Calories, not to mention Michelle Obama’s new initiative to put my children on a low-fat, low calorie diet, I’m trying to work with MY children and send them to school with healthy low carb, high protein meals. The problem is they’re fighting me every step of the way. My daughter finally agreed to eat ham and sunflower seeds if I send them with her. My son refuses to eat cold meat in any form, and will only eat pb and jelly sandwiches (the kind of pb with the sugar and additives). All the yogurts have either artificial sweeteners or straight sugar. They won’t drink milk and they both refuse to eat cheese.

    My daughter’s 9 and I have been trying to educate her, but she hates what I’m telling her. My son’s 5 and I don’t even know where to start with him. They’re both heavily addicted to carbs. Do you have any suggestions?

    I know it’s difficult, and I know it’s tempting to give in, but you wouldn’t give in if they were crying for cocaine. Your protective instincts would win out. Same with sugar. You have to be firm.

    It’s a matter of finding acceptable foods they like, making some small compromises. Our girls like full-fat yogurt, which we sweeten with a bit of Truvia. They can have a peanut-butter sandwich now and then, but it’s on sourdough bread with Kerry Gold butter, natural peanut butter and no jelly. They like cheese sticks, nuts, and black olives, so those go in the lunchbox as snacks.

  23. dlm says:

    See Gary Taubes “Why We Get Fat, and What to Do About It” — less dense, easier to read, pocketbook type. Excellent.

  24. Molly says:

    This is off-subject, sort of, but I need someone to vent to. I had been doing so well for the past month; feeling great, lean, and fairly energetic. A friend brought over some soup with noodles and bread and Max and Erma’s chocolate chip cookies. I had made up my mind that I was not going to eat ANY of them, until I looked at the cookies and decided that ONE was worth it. 2 bowls of soup, a piece of bread and another cookie later, I felt HORRIBLE. Later that night I ate Oreos and ice cream, which is something I hadn’t even THOUGHT of doing before. I am still feeling the effects today and am craving carbs like crazy. I hate myself for doing this to my body. Thanks for listening.

    Yup, once you get back on the blood-sugar rollercoaster, you’re in for a ride.

  25. PrincessKimmy says:

    In reference to your reply to me about the Sourdough bread, ummm…that confused me a little. I would think they would be better off with a 100% whole wheat than sourdough. I’ve been low carbing for many years and had never heard of this as an alternative. Could you please elaborate on why you specified sourdough?

    My bad. I should’ve specified the reason. Grains can irritate the digestive system and eventually lead to leaky gut syndrome because of the lectins they contain. In traditional cultures, grains were soaked or fermented to neutralize the lectins. Sourdough bread is made from fermented grains.

  26. PrincessKimmy says:

    Oh, and I also meant to say thank you for the helpful tips.

  27. allison says:

    @princess kimmy
    Like Tom said, you have to be firm and consistent. You’re the one buying the groceries. What we found with our 5yr old son is if the items weren’t in our house, he eventually gave in and started eating what we were offering. Being hungry wasn’t a viable option for him. Same with the school lunch; at first it seemed like a waste of food to send lower carb items as they would still be in his lunch kit when he came home and some of them we had to throw out. Eventually it seems he decided on his own that he’d rather eat them than go hungry.

  28. Barry says:

    This whole thing is an uphill battle against the conventional wisdom. I’m a huge baseball fan. Giants are my team. Pablo Sandoval got extra fat last year. This off season he lost 40 lbs. How did he do it? He cut out the carbs in his diet and worked out pretty hard. Pretty well documented in articles and on his website:

    Just now he was up to bat on Opening Day on ESPN. How did the announcer explain his weight loss? “He cut out the sweets and fatty foods.” Drives me NUTS! Why couldn’t he say he cut out sweets (carbs) and carbs? That’s what he did.

    Anyway, since watching your movie and getting pretty deep into Taubes I have gone from 208 to 193 in about six weeks or so. Tiny bit of exercise. Have no desire for carbs at all.


    They almost always throw “and fatty foods” in there. It’s like a reflex.

  29. Barry says:

    Here’s an article on Pablo the Kung Fu Panda:

    And and excerpt where he says exactly why he was fat:

    “He swears he can see his arepa/ice cream/corn bread/mayonnaise days in the rearview mirror, and that he has no desire to pull a U-turn. “No mas carbohidratos,” he says, patting his shrinking tummy as a grin streaks across his face. When he reported to camp on Feb. 18 and stepped on the scale, it read 239, about a 40-pound drop from his heaviest days last summer. His body fat was down from 30 percent to 19 percent.”

  30. Liz Downunder says:

    Tom, I wish I could go back 8 years, discover Paleo/Primal, and THEN have my children. Unfortunately, my 4 and 7 year old boys would step over my body to climb the shelves in the pantry to see if they can find any hidden chocolate.

    Better late than never. We wish we’d known about paleo while my wife was pregnant, but at least the girls are getting an early start.

  31. @Molly, why did you have the Oreos and ice cream in the house?

    My wife and I spent the month-and-a-half from Thanksgiving to early January eating all the carb-y stuff in the freezer and pantry and replacing it with low carb stuff. *Then* we changed how we eat.

  32. Walter says:

    I thought the libertarian in you might be interested in this:

    That’s an interesting situation for a libertarian. I certainly don’t like seeing the state tag on extra fees for fat people and ordering them to enroll in slimming programs. On the other hand, if you ask the state (and therefore your neighbors) to pay for your health care and the state attaches conditions, that’s not a violation of your freedom, any more than refusing to give taxpayer money to offensive artists is “censorship.” You want the “free” goodies, you accept the conditions.

  33. Sigi says:

    LOL! Oh that is just beautiful. You should be proud, Tom!

  34. Tracee says:

    I have done this with my five year old, but it does have its side effects. For example, when he sees adults or other kids drinking sodas, he will ask me, right in front of them, why they are drinking something that’s bad for them, or why do the gatorade makers put artificial chemicals in it, or if that person is going to get diabetes. He also then likes to point out that he doesn’t drink stuff that’s bad for him. After the diet related health problems he suffered at an early age he doesn’t understand why anyone would eat/drink sugary florescent chemical cocktails and foods.

    We realized the potential for that side effect and counseled the girls not to criticize what other people eat. Good thing too, or they’d spend their lunch period at school giving lectures.

  35. Becca says:

    Oh, that’s beautiful! Thanks for sharing that laugh today. 🙂 I can just see her stepping over you. It’s probably the low-carb diet that has her thinking so clearly. 🙂

    She has her priorities straight.

  36. kimberly says:

    Good Job! She’s got a great head on her shoulders.
    I’d be careful not to let her read the comic, though.
    Its not just vegans that are tasty.

  37. HAH! Quite literally laughing out loud.

    So was I, but I tried to hide it, since she seemed so sincere.

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