On Nutrition: Family diet questions - SunHerald.com

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The questions here are true. Only the names have been changed to protect the innocent.

Q: "Dear Barbara: I realize you aren't Ann Landers, however, I do have a family problem that is in your area of expertise. We've tried for several years to convince my granddaughter that several members of her family should diet, exercise, etc. I've been rebuffed on each occasion and my suggestions are totally ignored. Now my great-granddaughter has changed from a beautiful child into a blimp. My family members live in another state, which makes it more difficult for me. Do you have any written material that spells out the ghastly effects of childhood obesity? I'm out of ideas. Thanks for listening to my problems. Sincerely, Concerned Grandad"

Dear C.G.,

Ann Landers, no. But I can point you to materials that spell out the sad effects of childhood obesity. One of the most recent is the 2011 report on childhood obesity from the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention http://www.cdc.gov/obesity/childhood/problem.html.

I also propose that your well-intentioned suggestions may not be the best solution for your family's weight issues. When defenses go up, motivation to make changes often goes down. I would guess that your great-granddaughter is still a beautiful child and needs to hear that.

Q: "I enjoy your column every week. My daughter is a clinical RD (registered dietitian) at a University Hospital in Arizona. She and her fiance are on the "Paleo diet" most of the time. When they were here for a visit last week, they told my wife and I about it and it sounds pretty reasonable. What do you think?"

Dear Jim,

I reviewed this diet for another publication last year. Its basic premise is that we would all be healthier if we ate the same foods that our ancestors ate 2.5 million years ago during the Paleolithic era - mainly those that can be hunted, fished or gathered. It therefore includes meat and fish (wild game preferred) and plant foods like nuts, berries, seeds, fruit and vegetables. Grains and legumes are prohibited because they were not introduced until the Neolithic (agricultural) era. Dairy foods are out as well, since it was probably very difficult to milk prehistoric cows.

Supporters of the Paleo diet present evidence that our current diet wrecks havoc with our caveman/cavewoman constitution. They point out studies that show how overly processed foods high in salt, sugar and fat have contributed to modern diseases like obesity, diabetes and heart disease. No arguing with that.

I am not convinced however that I need to trade my morning granola and yogurt for a grass-fed bison burger (hold the bun). It is also interesting that - as you point out - most people follow this diet "most of the time."

What do I think? I think it's always good to get back to basics. I'm just not sure I need to go back 2.5 million years.

(Barbara Quinn is a registered dietitian and certified diabetes educator at the Community Hospital of the Monterey Peninsula. Email her at bquinn@chomp.org.)

14 Oct, 2011

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