Marks Daily Apple
Serving up health and fitness insights (daily, of course) with a side of irreverence.
2 Mar

My Son is Growing!

It’s Friday, everyone! And that means another Primal Blueprint Real Life Story from a Mark’s Daily Apple reader. If you have your own success story and would like to share it with me and the Mark’s Daily Apple community please contact me here. I’ll continue to publish these each Friday as long as they keep coming in. Thank you for reading!

My son, Gabriel, was born a bit early and was small from the start, 5lbs 14 ounces, but the doctors told us he was healthy. My wife had made the decision to nurse exclusively as she believes it is the healthiest option. My wife and I ate a normal, varied, and healthy diet consisting of whole grains, fruit, vegetables, meat, etc. She and I were both healthy and in good shape. From the start it was apparent Gabriel was a colicky baby. He spit up large amounts of breast milk and screamed for hours on end. The doctors told us that plenty of babies had colic, and although it was rough, he would grow out of it. Early on, one doctor recommended that my wife cut dairy from her diet. She did and there was some mild improvement. Later on, other doctors decided Gabriel suffered from acid reflux and prescribed medication. The medication may have helped a bit but, but my wife attributes the improvement more to propping up his crib. My wife tried soy formula for a while, but Gabriel spit most of it up after the meal.

His toddler years were not much better. Mealtime was always a battle with lots of screaming. At this time he developed digestive issues; he would go from being constipated to having bouts of diarrhea continuously.

When he turned three and started preschool his health became progressively worse. He constantly had a cold which turned into bronchitis often (four or five times that year). The doctors prescribed antibiotics every time. Everyone, including the doctors, told us that getting sick your first year in preschool is normal and with each cold defeated your body’s immune system becomes stronger. I remembered my childhood; I got bronchitis twice a year every year until I was in middle school. I figured everything happening was just part of growing up. Thankfully, my wife did not accept this.

After a year of continuous sickness mixed with antibiotics, my wife started looking for answers in his food. On Mondays, at around two in the morning, Gabriel would wake with an intense cough that many times became so bad he would vomit. We had a Sunday night tradition of pizza and movie. My wife, thinking it might be the dairy, made us cut out the pizza as well as all other dairy. Gabriel was still sick with intense coughing but the “super sickness” of Monday mornings disappeared. Soon after, she took Gabriel to see a naturopathic doctor, Dr. Hogg. In addition to telling us to watch for certain symptoms like eye-crusties, excessive earwax, and whininess, he immediately told my wife to take my son off wheat. Two weeks later we saw some improvement, but he still had the constantly runny nose, croup cough, and earwax so thick the doctor could not see his eardrum. Dr. Hogg told us to remove oats, soy, and corn from his diet as well. The results were amazing. It has been two and half years and he has not had bronchitis since, nor has he needed antibiotics for anything. He has had the occasional cold, but always beats it within three days.

My wife became very strict with his food. Determined to keep him as healthy as possible we went all organic and Gabriel’s diet consisted mostly of brown rice, quinoa, millet bread, vegetables, fruits, and nuts. Animal protein was included two to three times a week. Although he didn’t get bronchitis again, mealtime continued to be hell. His appetite was nonexistent. He was already small for his age so my wife would make him sit until he finished everything, which always took well over an hour. There was lots of yelling and tears involved. He also constantly complained about stomach aches, went from being constipated for a couple days to having diarrhea, and at three years old developed hemorrhoids. The only meal that Gabriel really enjoyed (and devoured) was during our weekend trip to the diner. Every Sunday morning he would eat a large plate of scrambled eggs, bacon, and hash browns. I was always amazed at how much and quickly he would eat on those mornings, and he always begged for more bacon.

My wife and I also noticed that when we gave Gabriel meat, he devoured it. When he was in kindergarten, we made the decision that we would give him a serving of meat: beef, chicken, pork, or fish at least one meal per day. We noticed an immediate uptick in his energy level. While his energy and mood improved dramatically, he was still having serious stomach issues. Around this time my brother was really talking up the new “primal diet.” He had always had lots of colds as a child with ear infections and asthma. He spoke about his new diet like some miracle cure. I figured he was exaggerating. He sent me two books, The Paleo Solution and his favorite cookbook, Primal Blueprint Quick and Easy Meals.

After watching Gabriel get progressively less sick with each change in his diet, I looked into the whole Primal thing. I read the two books my brother sent me and found Mark’s Daily Apple. My wife was still very concerned amount Gabriel’s symptoms: Eye-crusties, excessive earwax, and hemorrhoids. At this point the only grains left in Gabriel’s diet were brown rice and quinoa, but they made up a substantial part of his diet. My wife and I discussed the possibility of going grain free over the summer of 2011.

After a full two years of diet experimentation, Gabriel, at six years old and 32 lbs, went grain-free on September 1st 2011. In addition to going grain-free, we added eggs every morning and increased his intake of meats, avocados, nut butters, and sweet potatoes. Within the first month his stomach issues disappeared, as did his hemorrhoids. He did start to complain about his knees and ankles aching a bit. He looked taller to me so I measured him; he had grown an inch in one month! His appetite, for the first time in his life, exploded. In the morning he now eats three eggs, a salad, a banana covered in peanut or almond butter, and raisins. Some mornings he is still hungry so I keep sweet potatoes in the fridge for him to eat in the car. Lunch and dinner are both much larger with a full portion of meat and massive amounts of fruits, veggies, nuts, and sweet potatoes. Dinner still takes a long time, but only because he devours all his food and then tells us he is still hungry. It is like his body is trying to make up for six years of undereating. Five months into the new diet he has grown over two inches and put on nine pounds, a 28% increase in body weight!

We have seen a great change in his physical ability and mental state as well. He used to come home complaining about being the slowest kid in class. Now he comes home complaining there are still two boys in 1st grade faster than him. The other day he did 19 full pushups. He is still very skinny, but his musculature has noticeably increased. Emotionally, he is able to handle his emotions better and has a greater ability to concentrate on school work without becoming frustrated.

I was inspired to write to you when I woke up last Sunday morning and found him reading your cookbook, Primal Blueprint Quick and Easy Meals, marking the pages with the recipes he would like to try next. We read to him every night before bed a book of his choice and some nights he requests your book. So far his favorite recipe is the BLTA Chicken Breast Sandwich; it is also my favorite.

As mentioned earlier, Gabriel was a colicky baby. We now have our second child, Elliott, who was exclusively nursed until six months of age. My wife Caron kept her grains to a minimum during this time and Elliott nursed without issue. Once in a while we would cheat by ordering a pizza or having bread and cheese as a late night snack. The results were immediate; Elliott would be congested and whiny the next day. Now that he is transitioning to solid foods, we have purchased a Vitamix and Caron is making his baby food from organic, real food. So far, so good; he is totally healthy with no immunizations. This past week my wife tried adding in rice cereal in the mornings to see how he would handle the grains. He spit up most of the meal within an hour each day.

Mark, I love your website and your book. You have influenced my eating and exercise habits as well, in the same way as most of the people writing to you. As I hear so much about children with health issues, I hope this story will encourage other parents whose children have health problems to consult a naturopathic doctor, experiment with nutrition, and read books like yours.

Finding this new approach to eating has changed all our lives, but especially my son’s.

Grab a Copy of The Primal Blueprint 21-Day Total Body Transformation and Start Getting Primal Today!

You want comments? We got comments:

Imagine you’re George Clooney. Take a moment to admire your grooming and wit. Okay, now imagine someone walks up to you and asks, “What’s your name?” You say, “I’m George Clooney.” Or maybe you say, “I’m the Clooninator!” You don’t say “I’m George of George Clooney Sells Movies Blog” and you certainly don’t say, “I’m Clooney Weight Loss Plan”. So while spam is technically meat, it ain’t anywhere near Primal. Please nickname yourself something your friends would call you.

  1. Wow, you all look happy and healthy. Good for you!

    Ulla Lauridsen wrote on March 2nd, 2012
  2. a beautiful, healthy-looking family! so happy to read this story :-)

    meret wrote on March 2nd, 2012
  3. Wow. LOVE this story!

    Honeybuns wrote on March 2nd, 2012
    • Ditto!

      Steph wrote on March 2nd, 2012
    • +1

      Jen wrote on March 2nd, 2012
  4. What a wonderful success story. Thank you for sharing, and challenging the CW and not taking what they say as the only way of dealing with things!!!

    Steffy wrote on March 2nd, 2012
  5. Amazing success story!! Thanks for sharing!

    Shavonne wrote on March 2nd, 2012
  6. Yippee for all of you! You look so incredibly healthy and happy. This is my favorite success story so far. Truly amazing.

    Linda wrote on March 2nd, 2012
  7. Amazing! This story brought tears to my eyes. Thank you so much for sharing!!

    Jess wrote on March 2nd, 2012
    • BTW, the comment about Gabriel reading the primal cookbook made me laugh. I have the “21 Day Transformation” book, which my 2-year old son has decided we need to read every night before he goes to bed. He loves looking at the pictures in it and calls it “the man book.”

      Jess wrote on March 2nd, 2012
      • The Man Book. Love it. I’ll have to get it!

        Amy wrote on March 2nd, 2012
      • love it :D

        Anna wrote on March 2nd, 2012
      • That’s hilarious! Sounds very similar to something my boy would say.

        This story is so inspiring! Parents need to wake up! Conventional Wisdom is making our babies sick. My daughter whose 7, has autism and we have battled with her diet for years. We cut dairy, gluten and soy when she was 3. Then over the years another myriad of additives, preservatives, dyes, etc. It still wasn’t enough. I recently removed all grains from her diet and she already seems to be doing better. I am hopeful, and looking forward to improving her digestive health. I have yet to completely go primal with my little boy, but this inspires me to bite the bullet and fully remove grains from his diet as well.
        Thanks for the inspiration!
        Any thoughts or ideas to help this transition along would be welcomed.

        Charissa wrote on March 3rd, 2012
        • So if you believe in your 1st statement then why is it you are still feeding grains to your kid.

          Butch wrote on March 3rd, 2012
        • Do GAPS!! You can see huge improvements. It’s basically Primal eating but you add tons of healing foods: broth, fats, probiotics, ferments, etc. Try gapsdiet.com and GAPS help group on Yahoo (http://health.groups.yahoo.com/group/GAPShelp/messages)

          Magda wrote on March 7th, 2012
    • To mine as well. I already send it to my girlfriend, who is joining me in Paleo (but a bit conflicted…)

      primal headshrink wrote on March 2nd, 2012
    • I thought I was the only one crying…
      Great story. Thanks for sharing.

      Marianne wrote on March 2nd, 2012
    • Add me to the Crying Gang! What a wonderful, wonderful story. I’m glad that Gabriel is thriving, growing, and taking names!

      Joy Beer wrote on March 2nd, 2012
  8. I used to get pneumonia and horrible allergies at least once a year. I’ve been eating paleo(er)for about two and half years now and haven’t gotten sick once.

    Also, at 20 yrs old, my large frame is finally starting to fill out on account of starting to lift. My weight has only went up about five pounds in a couple of months (145lbs to 150lbs) but I can’t wear the same pants (on account of my abs popping out) and I went up a shirt size. It’s weird, i feel like a grok is growing out of my formerly scrawny bony frame.

    SAD for me = sickly, almost anorexic, and depressed.

    Trakan wrote on March 2nd, 2012
    • Good for you!

      Susie wrote on March 2nd, 2012
  9. What a fantastic Friday story!
    Your family looks so happy and healthy!!

    ActiveChaCha wrote on March 2nd, 2012
  10. Great story. I am the father of 3 boys and nothing makes you feel better than seeing them thrive. Something occurred to me when I was reading it: you may want to consider some testing for you and your wife through 23andme. Not that there is anything “wrong” with you, but the testing does predict sensitivities to foods, medications, and a host of other things (one of my most prominent markers was for gluten sensitivity). Just something to think about. It sounds like you are doing all the right things already.

    Ted wrote on March 2nd, 2012
    • We have had genetic testing and it can be very enlightening and informative especially as guidance for our kids and their eating in the future when they are adults making their own choices. It was very helpful before we found PB.

      Nowadays, on a day-to-day basis, I keep it all in mind as I plan our meals but don’t stress about it. If I keep the house primal/paleo (we limit dairy substantially) we are good.

      Alison Golden wrote on March 2nd, 2012
  11. What a fab story! Well done on perservering and delighted he’s making such great progress. I’m slowly introducing mu kids to a more primal diet and will keep at it.

    Anthony wrote on March 2nd, 2012
  12. Very uplifting. You guys like great.

    Mario Vachon wrote on March 2nd, 2012
  13. Yay! A happy Friday story about a kid! Cheers to you all for taking the time to investigate all this for your son!

    cgk wrote on March 2nd, 2012
  14. What a cool story.

    My sons (now 12) were premature and had many, many illnesses when they were little. That transformed into behavioral challenges in elementary school as a result of the meds they had lived with for much of their lives. Now, they are the mellowest, well-behaved (well, almost ;-)) healthy boys and we are so, so thankful.

    Congratulations on finding out about PB so early and good wishes to your lovely family. :-)

    Alison Golden wrote on March 2nd, 2012
  15. What a beautiful family and what a wonderful story! Made me teary-eyed, too. I am so happy for you all, especially Gabriel!

    rarebird wrote on March 2nd, 2012
  16. That bacon, lettuce, tomato and avocado meal sounds like winner. I never thought of that.

    Grokitmus Primal wrote on March 2nd, 2012
  17. Wow. Amazing story. Thanks for sharing!

    Danielle wrote on March 2nd, 2012
  18. Woot! Woot! I have a similar history with my kids, but nothing anywhere near this drastic. Thanks so much for the inspiration!

    Now, to give my kids my Primal Blueprint cookbook to read :)

    Anne wrote on March 2nd, 2012
  19. That is awesome :) I’ve recently been set back eating-wise since I’ve been out of work, and I immediately noticed the changes. Clogged sinuses, weight gain, fatigue. It’s amazing how quickly we can deteriorate when eating poisonous foods, and on the flip side, improve tremendously when eating good whole foods!

    Caleigh wrote on March 2nd, 2012
  20. What a beautiful family!! And such an amazing story. You guys are awesome keep it up!

    Cassie wrote on March 2nd, 2012
  21. This made my Friday. Thanks for sharing and congratulations.

    svend wrote on March 2nd, 2012
  22. Fantastic story!!!

    Harry Mossman wrote on March 2nd, 2012
  23. As I mom, I think this success story got to me more then any of the previous ones :) Absolutely fabulous!

    Emily wrote on March 2nd, 2012
  24. I am finding more and more of the kids O dp wellness coaching thrive when I can move the parents to a more primal/paleo lifestyle! My own little boy was thrilled to throw out his allergy meds and pills 2 months after we threw out the grains!! I love it when parents take the time to examine their kids diets rather than buying into the doctor’s misinformed nonsense.

    Dea wrote on March 2nd, 2012
  25. Huh, my oldest boy was collic, very picky eater, and has a ton of earwax. I’m forwarding this to my husband. Thanks for sharing.

    rabbit_trail wrote on March 2nd, 2012
    • Excessive earwax can be a sign of omega-6/omega-3 imbalance. (Specifically omega-3 deficiency.)

      Just food for thought.

      Amy B. wrote on March 2nd, 2012
      • You know, I never thought about earwax much, but now looking back… that was one of the things that improved tremendously with me. It went away along with my chronic ear infections.
        Yet another primal advantage…

        Louise D wrote on March 10th, 2012
  26. WOW. You look one prime(al) family and being a redhead myself I just love your son’s red hair. The baby looks very bonny too. I was brought up on grains and dairy and tolerated them fairly well but I was a chubby baby. As soon as I went to solids, however, my mother fed me meat and innards and I loved it from the start. Still do.

    mezzo wrote on March 2nd, 2012
  27. We too have changed our youngest son’s diet due to reoccuring illness and behavior. I can not believe the impact it has had.

    meredith wrote on March 2nd, 2012
  28. Wow, great story. I think I got some dust in my eyes or something.

    Bruno wrote on March 2nd, 2012
  29. Good work on making your son healthy. It sounds like your son may have an eosinophilic disorder (eosinophilic esophagitis/eosinophilic colitis). Treatment usually involves identifying and avoiding trigger foods. It sounds like you have things under control, but I just wanted to mention eosinophilic disorders in case you have problems in the future or are looking for the underlying medical condition that can cause symptoms similar to your sons.

    Sara wrote on March 2nd, 2012
    • Sara, do you have experience with this? I was recently diagnosed and go for allergy testing soon. Really hoping it’s not beef, fish, or eggs!

      Melanie wrote on March 2nd, 2012
  30. This was incredibly moving to read.

    Rachel wrote on March 2nd, 2012
  31. Thank you so much for sending this in. My heart breaks when I read/hear about kids suffering so much from their diets. We recently cut all dairy from our 5 year old’s diet and she too is much improved. She is no longer bloated, with excessive gas and–surprise!–now has very little ear wax.

    We’ve also noticed a change in our 2 year old. While she ate well, she would lack energy and every 2-3 weeks would have episodes of extended vomiting (from 2 hours up to 17). These were not from illness but, we think, diet-related. In fact, I suspect the cod liver oil we were giving her. She is a different kid since we stopped that supplement.

    I congratulate you and your wife for persevering and changing your lives to help your son grow and thrive. :-)

    Happycyclegirl wrote on March 2nd, 2012
  32. GREAT STORY!!! I’m so happy for you and your family!!!!

    Mark wrote on March 2nd, 2012
  33. What a cute sweet family!! I LOVE your son’s story!!! Happy for you all!!
    Tonja

    Tonja Pizzo wrote on March 2nd, 2012
  34. I enjoyed this read, and thanks for sharing. I completely agree with 99% of everything said in this article. The only thing I can’t come to agree with is not getting your children immunized. Check out the stats in the graphic of this article below. Pretty telling if you ask me.

    http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052970203315804577209230884246636.html

    taylor wrote on March 2nd, 2012
    • Ditto on the great story and the reservations about not getting vaccinations.

      I’m so glad your boys are healthy now, but infectious diseases have no respect for good intentions. Your boys may be avoiding the real nasties because the majority of children today are vaccinated. People of my parents’ generation were so thankful that they could vaccinate their children and spare them the ravages of diseases that had killed for generations. Please don’t become complacent about protecting your children — those microbes are still out there and they still put kids in the hospital.

      Chica wrote on March 4th, 2012
      • This was a great story!
        Please don’t judge or criticize other parents about their right to vaccinate their own children. Every individual has a right to choose what medical procedures are right for them and not have others forcing their opinions.

        Crystal wrote on March 5th, 2012
  35. I’m so happy for your family!

    My daughters were very colicky and my eldest Autistic. I cured her autism and they are both the best behaved kids I’ve ever seen with amazing attention spans and appetites that never quit. All of that thanks to a paleo diet (with bone broth and probiotics galore).

    I wish all parents could be exposed to your story and help their own families thrive.

    PaleoMom wrote on March 2nd, 2012
    • I would love to hear of some strategies you used to help cure your daughter of autism.

      Charissa wrote on March 3rd, 2012
      • You should check out Dr. Natasha Campbell-McBride’s GAPS diet – she is focused on autism and diet, very paleo in her approach, although she identifies more with WAPF I think

        Bruce wrote on March 4th, 2012
  36. This is the first child success story I have read and one of the best. Congrats to you guys for figuring it out and transforming Gabriel into a healthy person. You all look very healthy.

    I think this really proves that the primal blueprint is superior to SAD and CW. It’s a shame that our CW “experts” can’t admit they’re wrong and come clean.

    Joe wrote on March 2nd, 2012
  37. This is a great story that almost parallels my family. My two daughters didn’t have growth issues but since primal they pretty much never get sick any more.

    One difference though we didn’t keep trying to re-introduce grains back into the diet. Sometimes I think grains are so embedded in our psyche that we’ll do almost anything to continue using them.
    My only friendly advice is to stop trying to get grains back into the kid’s diet. You’ve found what works so stick with it.
    When we went through this I just asked myself why I would ever again feed them something that caused harm. And I never did.

    Tom wrote on March 2nd, 2012
  38. What a great story – my co-worker is currently pregnant with her second child and I think she’ll find this pretty interesting. Sending her the link now! :)

    Unamused Mouse wrote on March 2nd, 2012
  39. What a beautiful family. Thanks for reminding us that the real food movement is not just for grown-ups!

    Debra wrote on March 2nd, 2012
  40. Just goes to show you kids know what they need and they react appropriately if they don’t get it.

    Great story!

    Vicky wrote on March 2nd, 2012

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