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