Way back before Paleo was really the thing it is now, with Paleo Pete at the helm here in Australia, I remember someone telling me about it; saying they’d heard that it can reduce the chances of your child having autism. Or maybe it was cure autism. But have I tried it? Because you should. It might help.
In the years since then, I’ve had that same conversation, or a variation of it, again and again and again. Sometimes it’s from people who should know better, other times it’s from people who genuinely think they’re being helpful. Either way, my answer is the same: it’s not for us.
And it’s not for us for a whole wide range of reasons, but first and foremost I think life should be enjoyed to the full. Food, travel, experiences, drink, love, life: we only get one shot at this – let’s soak it all in, enjoy every opportunity presented to us, be able to say yes far more than we say no.
Of course, everything in moderation with more whole foods and less processed food is a good thing. It’s a lesson I need to apply more to myself (note – less ice-cream and more kale wouldn’t go astray), but the thought of cutting out whole food groups with no dietary reason to seems like such a loss to me. Unless it’s coriander, in which case, cut that crap right out.
Also, I’m a bit of a skeptic. If you’re claiming that your diet can cure disease, or even reduce it’s symptoms, then I want to see scientific proof, maybe with some studies, or you know, actual science behind it, not a cookbook from a celebrity chef.
Putting all this aside, if you’re an adult and you want to give these things a try, go for it. That’s the great thing about being an adult; you get to make these choices and experience different things and hopefully the people around you respect those choices, even if they wouldn’t choose the same thing for themselves.
However, when that celebrity chef implies that by using the recipes in his book, you might actually prevent autism (among other things) in young children, in a manner that has even the Australian health authorities questioning it’s safety, then you’ve crossed a line.
We have a responsibility to our kids to do the best thing we can by them; as parents it’s basically the job description. I’d bet there’s not a mother alive that hasn’t questioned their choices when it comes to what they feed their kids, or even more so in our case, what their kids will actually eat.
Are they eating enough vegetables? Fruit? Does it really matter in the scheme of things that they won’t eat anything other than cereal for a week? What if I can’t get those organic blueberries for her lunchbox, will supermarket ones do?
So when someone influential tells us that maybe we’ve been doing it wrong; maybe we can prevent things like (shock, horror) autism if only we feed them this, instead of that, or cut out that food group or this one, we’re bound to listen.
And that’s when it gets dangerous.
It gives desperate people hope. Whether it be parents of kids with special needs, those struggling to breastfeed or simply those who think that they’re screwing this parenting thing up; then strips that hope away again, leaving them to feel like failures when it doesn’t work.
Because for most of us, the enthusiastic claims, as fabulous as they may sound, simply aren’t going to work. The science just isn’t there to support it. And that’s the thing about science; it still applies whether you believe it or not.
So thanks for the books Pete, thanks for your Facebook page and for causing me a bajillion awkward conversations over the years, but maybe it’s time you shut up and go back to being a chef.