Yesterday, Abram had his 4-year check up. Oy vey. I had not expected to be this upset about the experience. Then I recalled that this very thing happened last year, only Luke was present, not I.
Based on Abram’s height to weight ratio (42 in. and 46 lbs., respectively) the nurse calculated his body mass index to be in the 98th percentile (BMI for children is calculated according to percentiles for varying age groups). First of all, I must say that I am disappointed and appalled that medical professionals can look at my healthy, robust 4-year-old and tell me that he is in the obesity range. Ridiculous!
Because my child is in the “BMI danger zone” (as I like to call it), the pediatrician advised me to stop giving him whole milk. She did not ask, “Oh, does he consume a lot of sugar or refined carbohydrates or eat junk food all the time?” At least that would’ve made sense to the degree that those foods cause obesity. But milk? I casually replied, “Well, we prefer to drink whole milk.” And she proceeded to tell me that “at his weight” the fat in the milk could cause him weight and even heart problems in the future, so I should be giving him low-fat milk. I wanted to
punch her in the nose launch into a pro-fat argument right then and there, but instead I just smiled and nodded and reminded myself that it would be a waste of breath. This woman is a doctor, after all. A doctor.
The fact that this doctor advised me to not to feed my child whole milk (but said nothing about the actual offenders: sugar, refined carbs, vegetable oils, etc.), although infuriating, is not a problem for me personally since I have the good sense to completely ignore her. But what about the thousands, maybe even millions, of parents out there who are given the very same bad advice? They are depriving their growing children of the good fat they need to develop into healthy adults, and quite possibly feeding them foods that are making them ill! I find this extremely sad and a cause for serious concern.
The milk debate is really twofold: part one is that we need the fat in whole milk, and part two is that raw milk is milk in its most natural and healthy state.
- Part One: Fat. Saturated fat is a necessity in the human diet because it affects so many of our bodily functions, from strengthening the immune system and cell membranes and tissues to brain development, organ function, hormone production and regulation, etc. Saturated fat has been demonized for causing everything from heart disease to obesity to cancer, but in actuality, processed vegetable oils (which show up in practically everything) are the likely culprits. Pair them with excessive sweets and refined carbohydrates, and you’ve got the perfect recipe for any number of health concerns and ailments. (Hello, does anyone really need to be convinced to eat more fat?!)
- Part Two: Raw Milk. People still look at me sideways when I tell them we get our milk straight from the cow. Raw milk contains a built-in protective system that destroys harmful pathogens, stimulates the immune system, builds a healthy gut, prevents absorption of pathogens and toxins in the gut, and ensures assimilation of all the nutrients. Pasteurization destroys enzymes and good bacteria, making it harder to digest, and distorts the molecules in milk, causing the body to have an immune response. While I do believe that raw milk is completely safe and extremely nutritious, I know that not everyone is going to be able to find/afford/desire to consume it. Because people will be drinking pasteurized milk anyway, I encourage them to drink organic, whole milk, preferably grass fed/cream-top/vat-pasteurized.
Suffice it to say that I feel very strongly about the food my family eats, from grass-fed dairy to pastured eggs and meat to farm-fresh produce to homemade bread and broth to copious amounts of fat. But it’s not just about eating traditional foods that are good for our health; it’s also about breaking free from the industry of factory-produced food and supporting our local farmers!
There are so many excellent articles about children’s health (and adult health, too!) on the Weston A. Price Foundation website. Additionally, Sally Fallon’s book Nourishing Traditions: The Cookbook that Challenges Politically Correct Nutrition and the Diet Dictocrats completely changed the way I think about food–I read it for the first time a few years ago after finding it at my local library!
Much love and thanks to my dear friend, Sara, who started me down this path and is a source of constant encouragement.