So thanks Pete.

So thanks Pete.  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.

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  1. PatrickC says:

    Here Here, I am sick and tired of all these fools who have some sort of celebrity thinking they know more than people with science degrees etc telling us how to live. This man is dangerous where are the peer reviewed publications in the science journals reviewing his diet. Where is the support from nutritionists and dieticians to support his fanciful claims with expert facts. If people like this celebrity chef want to make claims then they should also make themselves liable for prosecution both civil for false advertising and criminal for inciting neglect if a child becomes sick because he has convinced a parent to support his advice. Just sick and tired of this stuff. You cant “cure” autism. We need to learn to accept the different abilities that someone who lives with autism presents to us, embrace those different abilities and learn from them. Autism isn’t something that should be looked down upon and parents whose children live with it “blamed” for their child, their precious special beautiful child having it as part of their lives. yes it can be challenging but its a lot more authentic than a stupid form of diet.
    Oh and by the way Pete do you eat the food on MKR or do you spit it out. How do you truly judge it?

  2. A – fecking -men. Thanks for nothing Pete.
    I’m not on the ASD roundabout but he still offends the bejesus out of me.
    If someone told me Gracie could walk and talk if I changed her diet I’d have belted them.
    My husband has been brainwashed by some of the hype so he wants to eat paleo. So I have to cook paleo. So I have to bloody eat paleo too. But I refused to buy that dickwads books and bought others instead. So I’m 5 days in and lost almost 2kg (also running) but it’s kind of impressive. And my appetite has changed. And I feel ok. But I think it’s an odd and restrictive regime. And I’m only doing it so indont have to cook yet another different meal for me. Both girls eat different so my evening routine is full enough.
    So bugger off Pete. And bugger off people who annoy my friend Renee x x x x

  3. Add Jenny McCarthy to the list of people we can thank for idiotic advice. I’m sorry, I will never forgive that woman for the autism vaccine thing. By promoting this absolutely stupid and proven to be wrong theory, kids are actually dying from things we never thought they would die from again, like whooping cough. 🙁

    I have done Paleo. I found it to be excellent for a lot of reasons but not something I would want to do all the time. It has added a new oil to my diet which I love – coconut – encouraged me to use maple syrup, coconut sugar and agave in place of white sugar, and got me using more coconut cream and milk. These are changes to my diet which I found useful and I will continue with them. But it did not cure my Aspergers, or cure anything else.

    I was not a great fan of this guy anyway. There are so many chefs out there, kick this Pete to the kerb. 🙂

  4. Thanks so much for sharing this. We are all trying to do our best for our children and ourselves with what we know. There is no magic cure. My daughter is coeliac and people assured me when I removed gluten she would improve. It made no difference to the autism but obviously health wise she is better off. I have been accused of not doing enough and that if only I would change her complete diet, I would see amazing things. Whilst I don’t doubt that changes make a difference to some, I also believe in a quality of life as a family and the need to be balanced and not let the ASD rule our entire lives. It really bugs me that these so called celebrities can come out with this stuff with no proof and that the media runs with it.

  5. Thank you Renee. I feel exactly the same way, this guy’s been winding me up for ages. I was prepared to get on board with the whole paleo thing until he started making these claims about autism. I’ve been looking for the proper science to back him up and guess what- there’s just a lot of anecdotal accounts which are not the same thing. It’s all just unhelpful distracting noise. Once again you’ve managed to perfectly sum up how I feel about something!

  6. So true….if only they walked a month in our shoes, with our kids, these celebrities might actually change their tunes. They have no idea what it’s like when a particular food is eaten for a week (and not much else) and then the next week it changes to a different food. How do you change your diet(or your child’s) when their usual diet consists of 1 or 2 foods, if we’re lucky 3. I get sick of the people who tell me I should try toast or sandwiches for my son who will only eat mashed or pureed foods, no ‘lumpy’ foods get passed those eyes, let alone his lips!

  7. Great post. I can only imagine how frustrating it must be for you to constantly have to respond to people on this issue.
    As you said, I don’t have a problem with adults choosing whatever diet they like if it makes them feel better (although just quietly I do have to wonder what proportion of people that go paleo are feeling better/losing weight because they are reducing the amount of processed food they eat and upping their wholefoods) but when we start talking about how a particular diet can prevent or cure certain diseases then I’m so not ok with it. It’s dangerous, cruel and completely lacking in any proof. I have many issues with paleo (it’s an incredibly unsustainable diet for our planet) but this is definitely the biggest for me. Thankfully it looks like the tide is slowly starting to turn, I just hope no babies are harmed by the release of his new cookbook, which I think he’s now self-publishing.
    Liz @ I Spy Plum Pie recently posted..Ingredients to Avoid: Palm OilMy Profile

  8. So with you sister. Daftest thing I’ve seen reported all year. Apart of course from those who continue to think that vaccinating your child will cause autism….

    • Don’t even start me on that one… I’ve been told I’m not allowed to write the vaccination post till you, Kim and I are at the farm… You’ve been warned!


  1. […] educate themselves, but feel the need to educate everyone else. Like an ex-smoker or someone on the Paleo diet. I had all the answers and looking back I realise I was not just a little bit […]

  2. […] So, thanks Pete. […]

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