Weekend Mail

      74 Comments on Weekend Mail

Here are some recent emails I’d like to share.  I’ve edited them down a bit, but otherwise they’re exactly as they arrived in my inbox.  Since most of the text in this post is from the emails, I’m flipping my usual rule for quotes:  the emails I’m quoting are in black text; my comments are in maroon text.

Nutrition for Preschoolers – email from Andrea

I have worked in education my whole life, and just had the opportunity to spend a day observing in a local daycare and preschool. It is run by careful, goodhearted, conscientious people — who are dead wrong. If you’ve got time, the story is below.

I spent the day in a preschool class for 3- and 4- year-olds. The children came in between 7 and 8 in the morning after a breakfast that, according to the 18 children I talked to, was made of starch and sugar, maybe with some skim milk, but usually juice. By the time they got to class, their blood sugar was tanking and their moods were already affected. But that’s okay! We gave them skim milk and sugar cookies for a snack at 9! They were hyperactive until they crashed and the behavior problems stacked up.

At noon they were fed skim milk, tater tots, canned peaches in heavy syrup, and a sandwich made with white bread, plastic cheese, and a slice of bologna. They crashed shortly after. Fortunately, it was nap time, which was two hours. They needed it, but were groggy, unhappy, and very, very difficult on both ends of their nap. Of course, they got another snack once they were all up. This time it was fruit juice, crackers, and cupcakes!

They got to go out for playground time after their snack, and they ran around like crazy for the first half hour, all manic fun. The second half hour was filled with minor scuffles, complaints of tummy aches, and lots of crying. After playground time, it was just a blur of teacher yelling “no” or “sit down” and the children screaming, crying, and pitching fits. I finally had my fill and concluded my visit around 5, spoke with the Director, and was free at last!

What I learned from my experience–other than that I will never, EVER be a preschool teacher–was that these kids’ bodies and minds were being horribly abused.  Their “bad” behavior was either hypoglycemic grumpiness or hyperactivity. There were minor issues with discipline, but the root problem was lack of good nutrition.

What hope do children raised in such environments have? Children deserve better care. And I am not blaming the daycare. It was a good place, with good people and a stellar reputation. They do their best and keep the kids as well-behaved and cared-for as possible. They are doing their jobs and following the rules. The rules must change, because they are killing us all.

Amen, Andrea.  As a father of two girls, I can assure you that even kids who live on a near-paleo diet can throw temper-tantrums and become scatter-brained now and then … but it’s now and then.  When we allow our girls to eat sugar and other junk on special occasions, we pretty much count on a crash or a meltdown occurring within the next hour.   As one of the doctors pointed out in The Sugar Trap, after the sugar causes a blood-sugar crash, you’re not talking to a functioning brain anymore — you’re talking to a spinal cord.

Almost 60 pounds lighter in four months – email from Alex

I’ve been heavy since 3rd-4th grade.  I remember my doctor, during my high school physical, saying “You know you’re big right?” and, in my opinion, being a little rude.  I have tried several times to lose weight and each time I’ve only been able to stay motivated for a week or two and never really lost anything.

On Saturday 3/19/2011, my sister and her husband were over for a movie night. They suggested your movie (because they had seen it once already and liked it) but at the time we decided to go for something a little lighter and I decided I’d watch it later instead.  Well, long story short, they left, and at about 3:30 am Sunday my eyes were closing and I said “Oh, I should watch Fat Head.”  I started watching and didn’t have any trouble staying awake.  At that point I told myself I would change my eating habits.  My wife and I woke up the next morning around 10 a.m. and the first thing we did was watch your movie again.  She agreed it was great and that we should start eating better.

Well, here we are in early July and my wife and I are still staying strong.  We have completely changed our eating habits and lifestyles.  I follow what you did in the movie by cutting my carbs and keeping them around 100.  I’ve also moved away from sugary and processed foods in general.  I currently weigh 199.3lbs and I’m still losing 1-3 lbs/wk.  I went from stretching a XXL shirt to make it fit to comfortably wearing a large, and from being tight in size 44 x 32 pants to comfortably wearing 38 x 32s. Among other things, we’ve taken up running, regularly dancing using our Wii, and now have learned to enjoy things such as yard work.  We are planning on running our first ever 5k in Sept and, while I don’t have much hope of placing or anything yet, I have confidence I’ll do pretty well.

I hope you don’t mind my long-winded email, I just figured you probably would like to hear good feedback and I definitely wanted to thank you.

I don’t mind at all, Alex.

Alex was kind enough to send some pictures of his progress.  The first pictures, when he weighed 256, are a little fuzzy, but you get the idea.  Look at him now at 199 pounds.  How’s that for an impressive body transformation?



The calorie-equation freaks will no doubt insist that Alex lost weight because he consumed fewer calories than he burned, and of course that’s true – I’ve never claimed otherwise.  But as he explained in the email, Alex tried losing weight many times before and failed.  So there are two possible explanations: 1) For most of his life, Alex didn’t have the character to stick with a diet, but suddenly developed character after watching Fat Head, or 2) The diets Alex tried before caused him to ended up feeling starved so he gave up, while the low-carb diet allowed him to eat less without feeling hungry and fatigued, so he stuck with it.

I don’t think it’s a matter of character.  I think it’s a matter of biochemistry.  The “character” part of it is in being willing to give up the foods you like once you realize they screw up your biochemistry.

A biologist changes her mind – email from Lorraine

The last week of April I was home – bored and depressed.  This was the usual night for me since I put on over 60 pounds.  I would just sit on my couch watching movie after movie.  Luckily, I discovered your documentary on Netflix.  April 27th was the night you changed my life.

I was always a thin child, but in my junior year of high school I gained about 40 pounds.  After being teased and bullied for my weight gain, I resorted to unsafe diet pills (ephedra) and over-exercised (approximately 1-2 hours a night).  I’m embarrassed to admit that I even resorted to throwing up on occasion.

I lost the weight and went back to 110 pounds, but I was tired, hungry, weak, and experienced heart palpitations.  I wasn’t aware of this at this time, but I could have caused severe damage to my heart.  I was able to maintain my weight for two years, but it was a constant struggle.  I received my A.S. in nutrition and dietetics, and thought I knew it all — calories in/calories out, fat is bad, salt is bad, meat is bad, and so on.  Our entire curriculum was based on the guidelines set forth by our government.

I eventually had a change of heart and went to pursue my B.S. in biology.  Over the course of four years, I slowly but surely regained the weight and then some.  I started a new diet almost every two weeks, but always failed.  I wrote down everything I ate and counted every little calorie to make sure I consumed 1200-1400 calories a day.  I worked out approximately 6 days a week.  I just gained more weight.  I had never felt so frustrated in my life, because I knew exactly how much I was eating.  I began to accept the fact that my thin days were over and I was just meant to be a heavy woman.

By April 2011, I was 25 years old and 171 pounds. I was depressed, antisocial, and I just wasn’t my normal self.  I gave up on living. I missed birthdays, social events, vacations,  and New Years Eve parties because I did not want my friends to see how big I had become.  Additionally, I turned down dozens of dates.  I knew I couldn’t be in a relationship if I didn’t love myself.  I lost two years of my life in hiding.

And then I watched your film.  I couldn’t believe it, because it went against everything I had learned in school.  Being a biologist, I checked and rechecked a lot of the research in your film.  I studied the pathways of the hormones and other metabolic processes.  I couldn’t believe how all this information is just simply ignored.  I ordered some of your recommended books such as Atkins, “Good Calories Bad Calories,” and “Protein Power.”  I studied the low-carbohydrate lifestyle as if it were a college class.  I realized that all the calorie-counting in the world would have never helped me.  I was addicted to carbohydrates and I had no idea.

I followed the Atkins diet because I needed some guidelines to get me started.  At the time, the low-carb lifestyle was a new concept to me.  Now I write to you a little over 4 months later and 33 pounds lighter.  I am 138 pounds and still dropping.  I went from a size 14 to a size 6.  I graduated with my biology degree in May and a new lease on life.  I was able to lose 33 pounds without feeling hungry, weak, or resorting to unhealthy dieting methods.  I am no longer depressed and chronically bloated.  I don’t count calories, I have more energy, and I am no longer starving myself to lose weight.

It is because of you that I am living my life like a 25-year-old should.  I am confident and happy.  I still have more weight to lose; however, this is the first time in my life I can confidently say that I know I can lose the weight and keep it off forever.  Now I work full-time as a secretary and a research assistant in a lab.  I am currently shadowing a physician, and I applied to graduate school to become a physician’s assistant.  Four months ago I dreaded going to my interviews, but now I actually look forward to them.  I hope to one day be a successful PA with a family of my own.

I have never written anyone before, but I needed to tell you my story.  I know you must get e-mails like this all the time, and I don’t expect a reply.  I just needed to thank you from the bottom of my heart.  God bless you and your beautiful family.

Sincerely,

Lorraine

God bless you too, Lorraine.  Good luck with your career – and enjoy those new clothes!

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74 thoughts on “Weekend Mail

  1. Rhonda Cowsert

    I remember writing you a rambling (seriously rambling) e-mail thanking you for all you’d done in getting this information to the public. Fat Head marked a massive shift in my dieting experiences. After years of doing low fat/low calorie starvation type diets with nothing to show for it except a bigger butt and a cranky disposition, I started LCHF after watching Fat Head at the end of May.

    As of this morning, I’ve lost 48 pounds! 🙂 For the first time in my life I’m able to lose weight easily without resorting to unhealthy starvation type diets.

    Outstanding. I appreciate all the emails (rambling or not) from people who made a positive change after seeing the film.

    Reply
  2. Andrea Lynnette

    I (the Andrea from the email) went low-carb after a diabetes scare about two months ago. I went to a baby shower yesterday, and there were candies and cakes and cookies all over the place. I had a piece of candy which tasted far too sweet to me. And all I could think when I looked at a gorgeous strawberry shortcake was “they ruined the strawberries!” It’s amazing how your body readjusts. The smells that used to entice me to binge on sugar made my stomach want to have an emergency evacuation. But it does take time. Withdrawal from these addictive substances can be a real bear.
    I know I had the Atkins Flu when I first went Paleo-ish, but I was giving up alcohol, caffeine, sugar, and grains all at the same time. Can you say withdrawal? Those first days were awful. My mood was foul and my energy was non-existent. But I was losing weight, so I kept at it. After three or four days, I woke up feeling *good* and haven’t looked back.

    It’s amazing how those foods lose their appeal over time. I used to like pancakes. Now the smell of them makes me gag.

    Reply
  3. Bean

    Underground: you may not need extra carbs for extended exercise (though admittedly each person is different). My husband, who along with me has been eating low-carb for over a year now, just completed a sprint distance triathlon – just over 1.5 hours of pretty high-intensity activity – on a ham & eggs breakfast. No “sports drinks”, just water. He also commented that he didn’t bonk and had gas left in the tank to really sprint to the finish line. And he did the whole thing about 6 minutes faster than last year. As for me, I play hockey regularly and typically at lunchtime with only the breakfast of bacon & eggs to fuel me (eaten five hours earlier), and I feel like I have limitless energy. Getting off the carb cycle seems to remove the “bonking” part of intense exercise. It’s a surprisingly handy side effect – no more complicated pre-game/pre-workout meal planning, just go out and have fun.

    Reply
  4. Robert

    > And even school officials who know better are stuck with the USDA rules.

    Amen to that. My girlfriend is a public school health/PE teacher, and despite the fact that she finds the low-carb science compelling and follows it herself, there’s nothing she can do. In fact, the national exam on physical education and health ensures that all teachers will disseminate the low-fat + starve + exercise formula that has failed us so miserably. It’s like teaching evolution in the South[ern U.S.A.], except the whole world is the South…

    I feel for her. Must be frustrating.

    Reply
  5. Andrea Lynnette

    Tricia, I wish I could say I was surprised. But they classify certain things as healthy or unhealthy pretty arbitrarily.The way the rules are structured in my area, you can give a kid all the Sunny D you want, but a diabetic-friendly frozen fruit pop is out of bounds.

    Even if you could convince the day care centers and schools that the rules were bogus, what then? The state and federal government won’t LET them make choices for themselves!

    Reply
  6. Tricia

    The preschool story hit home for me although some may read it and think that the issue was with the cupcakes, cookies, etc. Our son is in a federally funded preschool which strictly follows the USDA guidelines. Recently there was a change from 2% milk to skim milk as a “healthy” initiative to compliment the carb-loaded menu. But, a meal consisting of chicken nuggets, tater tots, fruit cup, and skim milk is considered healthy?? I had to laugh when we got a note home indicating that they would no longer be able to offer sugar-free ice pops on hot afternoons because they are considered “junk food.” Yes, please keep the evil sugar-free ice pop away from my son. I’m sure that’s the problem with childhood obesity. :rolls eyes:

    And even school officials who know better are stuck with the USDA rules.

    Reply
  7. Lorraine

    CtO,

    I am glad to hear another biologist has “seen the light” just like me. Unfortunately, I believe many men and women are able to relate to my story. The misinformation about food and our bodies greatly influences the physical and mental health of those who are overweight.

    Thank you for your recommendation. 🙂

    Reply
  8. Robert

    > And even school officials who know better are stuck with the USDA rules.

    Amen to that. My girlfriend is a public school health/PE teacher, and despite the fact that she finds the low-carb science compelling and follows it herself, there’s nothing she can do. In fact, the national exam on physical education and health ensures that all teachers will disseminate the low-fat + starve + exercise formula that has failed us so miserably. It’s like teaching evolution in the South[ern U.S.A.], except the whole world is the South…

    I feel for her. Must be frustrating.

    Reply
  9. Underground

    “Underground: you may not need extra carbs for extended exercise (though admittedly each person is different).”

    Caving for 8 hours +, I need some carbs to be able to keep moving. Although not nearly as much as I thought I did in the past. I’ve tried staying low carb, and it just doesn’t seem to hit me fast enough to help.

    There’s also the issue that it needs to be durable, non perishable and compact. Pudding cups are not a pleasant thing to find squished in your pack.

    Reply
  10. Andrea Lynnette

    Tricia, I wish I could say I was surprised. But they classify certain things as healthy or unhealthy pretty arbitrarily.The way the rules are structured in my area, you can give a kid all the Sunny D you want, but a diabetic-friendly frozen fruit pop is out of bounds.

    Even if you could convince the day care centers and schools that the rules were bogus, what then? The state and federal government won’t LET them make choices for themselves!

    Reply
  11. Lori

    Re: occasional indulgences, after I quit wheat for awhile, it only took a couple of re-exposures with stomach aches and horrible sinus congestion to break me of the habit.

    Other foods are sickening sweet (like the yogurt I got for a friend when she visited) or don’t even taste like food (like some of the junk in the cupboard at work). Perhaps it really is easier to get to one side or the other regarding healthful eating.

    Once you stop eating junk, it tastes like junk when you try it again.

    Reply
  12. Peggy Holloway

    Underground:
    My partner and I are distance cyclists.I have been low-carbing for nearly 12 years and started cycling 5 years ago. I refused to change my diet, in spite of being told I could not possibly do distance rides without carbs. I never felt the need to snack and did fine on my diet. My partner’s been cycling for over 10 years and this summer, for the first time, did the rides as a low-carber. He is amazed at the extra energy and stamina he has. We ate steak and eggs for breakfast (usually about half-way through the 60+ mile rides) and had nothing at the SAG stops but water. He is convinced that having converted to ketone-burning prevents “bonking.” He’s nearly 70 years old and is in the best health ever. He also lost 35 pounds this summer that refused to budge on exercise and a conventional diet. Steve Phinney is also a proponent of intense exercise on a ketogenic diet – I highly recommend reading “The Art and Science of Low-Carbohydrate Living,” because Steve did a lot of research with elite cyclist. That was the book that finally convinced my partner to go low-carb.

    Reply
  13. Underground

    “Underground: you may not need extra carbs for extended exercise (though admittedly each person is different).”

    Caving for 8 hours +, I need some carbs to be able to keep moving. Although not nearly as much as I thought I did in the past. I’ve tried staying low carb, and it just doesn’t seem to hit me fast enough to help.

    There’s also the issue that it needs to be durable, non perishable and compact. Pudding cups are not a pleasant thing to find squished in your pack.

    Reply
  14. Peggy Holloway

    Underground:
    My partner and I are distance cyclists.I have been low-carbing for nearly 12 years and started cycling 5 years ago. I refused to change my diet, in spite of being told I could not possibly do distance rides without carbs. I never felt the need to snack and did fine on my diet. My partner’s been cycling for over 10 years and this summer, for the first time, did the rides as a low-carber. He is amazed at the extra energy and stamina he has. We ate steak and eggs for breakfast (usually about half-way through the 60+ mile rides) and had nothing at the SAG stops but water. He is convinced that having converted to ketone-burning prevents “bonking.” He’s nearly 70 years old and is in the best health ever. He also lost 35 pounds this summer that refused to budge on exercise and a conventional diet. Steve Phinney is also a proponent of intense exercise on a ketogenic diet – I highly recommend reading “The Art and Science of Low-Carbohydrate Living,” because Steve did a lot of research with elite cyclist. That was the book that finally convinced my partner to go low-carb.

    Reply
  15. Keith

    “The state and federal government won’t LET them make choices for themselves!”

    … and the state and federal governments have been captured by the food-industrial complex. This is the root cause of the problem, and I have no idea how that root cause can be corrected. Until it is, only a small number of people will have accurate information about proper diet.

    That’s why I want a much smaller government. Take away their power, and there’s no one worth bribing anymore.

    Reply
  16. Keith

    “The state and federal government won’t LET them make choices for themselves!”

    … and the state and federal governments have been captured by the food-industrial complex. This is the root cause of the problem, and I have no idea how that root cause can be corrected. Until it is, only a small number of people will have accurate information about proper diet.

    That’s why I want a much smaller government. Take away their power, and there’s no one worth bribing anymore.

    Reply
  17. Jeff S.

    Hi Tom, just wanted to thank you again for making this movie and opening up our eyes. Just giving you an update from last time I left a comment, 3 1/2 weeks have passed and I’m down a total of 15.5 lbs while my wife is down 12lb as well. I’m even walking to work now (only about 3 miles a day, but it’s a start). While I do miss pizza and fries (boy do I miss fries) The happiness and satisfaction I get looking in the mirror far exceeds what I could get from eating those foods.

    We still have about 20-25lb more to go, but with the results we’ve seen we are now both confident that it’s within our reach.

    Thanks again and take care!

    Those are great results, so keep it up. Trust me, after awhile you’ll taste a french fry and wonder why you liked them.

    Reply
  18. Tricia

    “The state and federal government won’t LET them make choices for themselves!”

    I was reminded of this fact today. My son is lactose-intolerant and therefore we have to provide an acceptable milk alternative. (Here’s a thought, just provide water!) I got a call from the center this morning asking if I could run out to the store to get him some more milk alternative because if he didn’t have one of his “components” for lunch, they couldn’t receive federal funding for him for the day.

    Head. Bang. On. Desk.

    Reply
  19. Jeff S.

    Hi Tom, just wanted to thank you again for making this movie and opening up our eyes. Just giving you an update from last time I left a comment, 3 1/2 weeks have passed and I’m down a total of 15.5 lbs while my wife is down 12lb as well. I’m even walking to work now (only about 3 miles a day, but it’s a start). While I do miss pizza and fries (boy do I miss fries) The happiness and satisfaction I get looking in the mirror far exceeds what I could get from eating those foods.

    We still have about 20-25lb more to go, but with the results we’ve seen we are now both confident that it’s within our reach.

    Thanks again and take care!

    Those are great results, so keep it up. Trust me, after awhile you’ll taste a french fry and wonder why you liked them.

    Reply
  20. Susan

    That’s why I want a much smaller government. Take away their power, and there’s no one worth bribing anymore.

    Amen, to that!

    Reply
  21. Tricia

    “The state and federal government won’t LET them make choices for themselves!”

    I was reminded of this fact today. My son is lactose-intolerant and therefore we have to provide an acceptable milk alternative. (Here’s a thought, just provide water!) I got a call from the center this morning asking if I could run out to the store to get him some more milk alternative because if he didn’t have one of his “components” for lunch, they couldn’t receive federal funding for him for the day.

    Head. Bang. On. Desk.

    Reply
  22. Susan

    That’s why I want a much smaller government. Take away their power, and there’s no one worth bribing anymore.

    Amen, to that!

    Reply
  23. Alison

    I couldn’t believe this article and am praying that this doesn’t happen in my state. This obsession with BMI in children is truly getting out of hand! They need to look at the bigger picture, why this is happening…I really wish we could send a copy of your movie to Michelle Obama. =)

    http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/44510663/ns/health-diet_and_nutrition/t/michigan-require-body-weight-reports-kids/

    What a stupid idea. So we track BMI scores for kids … and then do what, exactly? Tell the parents to put them on low-fat diets?

    Reply
  24. Alison

    I couldn’t believe this article and am praying that this doesn’t happen in my state. This obsession with BMI in children is truly getting out of hand! They need to look at the bigger picture, why this is happening…I really wish we could send a copy of your movie to Michelle Obama. =)

    http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/44510663/ns/health-diet_and_nutrition/t/michigan-require-body-weight-reports-kids/

    What a stupid idea. So we track BMI scores for kids … and then do what, exactly? Tell the parents to put them on low-fat diets?

    Reply

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