As we all know, our Primal lifestyles don’t exist in a vacuum or (more than likely) even a very compatible environment. That goes double for our kids. However committed and exacting we might choose to be at home when it comes to their diets, the minute they walk out the door they encounter a whole world of competing interests and influences: grandparents and other family members, friends’ houses, school lunches, social outings, even sports team trips (ah, the big yellow buses pulling up to McDonalds…). While some of us might keep our Primal commitments more personal, all of us want to see our kids eat and be healthy. That’s easier said than done unfortunately. Sometimes the challenges hit closer to home, as in this reader’s email.
Once a proverbial given in this and a number of other countries, circumcision has become a hot button issue, intensely debated in both family and medical circles. For decades it was standard procedure for hospital births, but the numbers are quickly declining. Today, 56% of newborn boys are circumcised, although the rate varies considerably by geographic region in the U.S. In 1999, the American Pediatric Association revised their statement on circumcision to acknowledge the “potential medical benefits” of the procedure but concluded “these data are not sufficient to recommend routine neonatal circumcision.” Most of Canada has “de-listed” circumcision as a necessary (i.e. paid for) procedure.
Ideally, The Primal Blueprint is a living, breathing document. Whether it’s emails from insightful readers or random articles from my RSS feed casting a subject in a completely different light, or even personal N=1 revelations spurring a meticulous re-examination of previously-held stances, I’ll often find myself rethinking certain aspects of the PB. They usually hold up pretty well, mind you, but it’s always good to take stock of the evidence. It keeps us in the Primal community on our toes. Take yesterday’s post, for example. The discovery of grain residue from a 100,000 year old dig site was undoubtedly intriguing, because it suggested that a major tenet of the Primal lifestyle – that grains have no place in the human diet – might need some refining. In the end, our position remained the same (the intense labor inherent in the sourcing, gathering, hulling, processing, and cooking of grass seeds would have been too great for Grok to make it a staple food – especially when nutritionally-superior and far more nutrient-dense alternatives existed in abundance), but it was tested and therefore strengthened.
Sometimes, though, new evidence forces me to completely rethink things. Even something so seemingly innocuous as a random comment from a reader can set me off on a researching bender. Last week, someone mentioned the Bisphenol A (BPA) leaching tendencies of canned tomatoes. That was all it took to send me on a tear.
There was a time when you could go to any schoolyard and see kids being kids. Kids would run, leap, throw, and exert themselves with the pure joy of uncorrupted youth. They were suddenly realizing their bodies were incredible machines capable of precise, complex movements, and the games they played developed these capabilities. Dirt clod fights, epic dodgeball matches, and tetherball developed hand-eye coordination and agility; roughhousing that never graduated into enmity taught kids the value of a few bumps and bruises (as well as how to dish ‘em out); games like tag, capture the flag, and monkey in the middle emphasized foot speed, lateral agility, and rapid changes of direction. The teacher on yard duty might hand out a citation or break up a little scuffle once in awhile, but recess was generally pretty relaxed. About the only thing your average schoolyard athlete worried about was explaining away the grass stains, or maybe the scuffed knees. Looking back, we really had it good: unstructured play, impromptu workouts that didn’t feel like work but got us into great shape and developed our social skills. We were little Groks, cultivating our minds and bodies without actively planning a routine (or play date). It probably helped that we didn’t have Nintendo DS Lites or smart phones (or overbearing parents) to distract us, but the fact remains that we just were. A bit like Grok, we didn’t run and jump to get better at running and jumping; we ran and jumped because it was fun, because it simply felt like the right thing to do. Our athletic development was merely a bonus.
Some of us have kids who seem to naturally flock to sports and physical activity. And while they might not resist every food temptation typical for their age group, they somehow pull together a pretty solid diet. Still others of us have children who aren’t necessarily the best eaters or exercisers but who seem (for now) more or less immune to the weight gain that might inspire better habits. Finally, some of us parent kids who truly struggle with weight. And even while poor food choices and low activity levels clearly contribute to most children’s problems, occasionally there are kids who, despite good habits, continue the battle into adulthood.
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