Dear Mark: Obesogens, Tots Who Hate Veggies, and Pregnancy Recovery

BroccoliFor today’s edition of Dear Mark, I’ve got three topics for you. First are the obesogens, those endocrine-disrupting chemicals that permeate our environment, our foods, our consumer products, and even our bodies. They sound scary and terrible, but how much should we be worrying about them? Next up is the tot who hates his veggies, as classic a trope as any other. Should we be force feeding these kids broccoli, collard greens, and butternut squash at all costs? Or should we take a more laissez faire approach and let them develop their tastes on their own? Finally, I discuss the importance of proper pregnancy recovery, especially in regards to lifting heavy (and not so heavy but extremely wiggly) things.

Let’s go…

Hi Mark,

I’ve been reading for a couple months now and I’ve recently come across a couple of articles on obesogens. While I don’t have the articles, I can explain what they are. Obesogens are chemicals that are supposed to disrupt normal homeostasis and metabolism and lead to obesity. Do you have any information on these chemicals?



According to some people, almost everything is an obesogen. You’ve got phthalates in paints, inks, shampoo, cosmetics, pills, detergents, sex toys, and emulsifying agents. You’ve got BPA in seemingly everything. You’ve got pesticides in conventional produce and animal products. And while it’s true that the modern world is fraught with obesogenic chemicals that mimic hormones, bind to their receptors, disrupt metabolism, and affect gene expression, I don’t think we need to lose sleep over it.

The primary obesogens remain the classics: grains, refined sugar, and seed oils (and too much of all of them); inactivity; poor sleep; and chronic stress. Before you go installing a housewide reverse osmosis filtration system to remove any obesogens in the tap water, allowing only chemical-free produce and meat to pass your lips to avoid all pesticides, banning all plastics from your home to avoid all potential xenoestrogens, handling receipts with chainmail gauntlets to avoid the BPA, catching your own fish with just your hands to ensure it’s truly wild and to avoid BPA leaching from nets, and making your entire kitchen cast iron, get the traditional obesogens under control. The best thing about it? We actually can control our exposure to them.

The fact is that we live in this world, and we have to deal with it. If we want to get our money back and return a product, we’ll need to hold on to that receipt. If we want grass-fed meat at a good price, it may mean buying it in bulk and having it shrink-wrapped in plastic. We need to breathe and drink, even if the air contains pollutants and the water contains obesogenic chemicals. Most of all, though, we have to live. We can’t go through our lives scared of everything, afraid to do anything, paralyzed by overanalysis, saturated with stress hormones from worrying about everything we can’t control or completely avoid. Do the things you love to do, take the basic precautions (look for BPA-free products, use glass instead of plastic, buy organic and local when possible – especially when dealing with the Dirty Dozen), limit the use of cosmetics or find or make natural products, spend time in nature away from pollution, avoid products that contain phthalates when possible, buy quality meat and seafood, burn incense instead of use air fresheners, those sorts of things), and don’t freak out about things that are out of your control. You can’t dodge wifi signals or cell phone radiation (but you can turn your cell phone and router off, if you worry about that sort of stuff). The very fact that you’re aware of them and take simple steps to avoid them puts you ahead of the game – without all the added stress of outright militant avoidance.

Dear Mark,

I was wondering if you are aware of any ‘evolutionary’ reason why many toddlers do not like vegetables. I remember once hearing a doctor speak on the Oprah Show, who said that childrens’ taste buds are designed to taste vegetables and some fruits as particularly bitter, to prevent children from experimenting and trying all sorts of plants in the wild, as some of those plants may be poisonous. Do you think that there is any merit in this argument, and that childrens’ dislike of vegetables is some sort of inbuilt survival mechanism? I am wondering how essential it is to try to ensure my very fussy toddlers eat vegetables, or if they were somehow ‘designed’ not to require them during the first few years of life. Dinner time is very stressful with my toddlers absolutely refusing to eat anything green (or red or orange for that matter), even if it is hidden. They would rather not eat at all. Of course, they eat plenty of grass fed meat, organic chiken and fish. Most evenings they just eat a dinner salmon or chicken, with nothing else, as they will not eat the sweet potatos, vegetables or fruits I am offering them, and I will not offer them bread or pasta.



Among humans, the youngsters (babies and toddlers) are the most intuitive eaters around. They’re unaffected by fast food advertising. They’re not subject to pressure from peers toting bags of Gogurt, chips, and Lunchables.

For that reason, I’m not too worried about a little kid who hates veggies.

Look, vegetables are bitter. They contain various toxins, and as adults, we’ve learned to appropriate and appreciate those toxins and turn them into full-fledged hormetic stressor nutrients. All those phytochemicals that abound in colorful vegetation that Primal and vegan eaters alike champion? They’re actually toxins that induce a hormetic response from our bodies and upregulate our antioxidant systems, thereby improving our health. But we’re adults. We’ve been eating these foods for a long, long time. Even if we don’t exactly love the taste – but most of us do learn to love the taste – even if they’re still kinda bitter, we know that it’s for the best. We can rationalize eating something that might not taste great because we know that it will improve our health. Eventually, we might even learn to honestly enjoy the taste.

But a toddler? A toddler just has access to the basic senses, which he’s still figuring out. It’s only been a year or two that he even got a handle on all that sensory data streaming through his eyes or ears, or interacting with his tongue. He’s not going to enjoy a sip of $200 wine, and he’ll probably turn up his nose at the sauteed dino kale you’re urging him to eat, regardless of its freshness. He’s not going to rationalize the consumption of a bitter vegetable for his own good, because it’s icky. Icky trumps all in toddlerland.

That’s could be a good thing, too. It may be that small kids are less equipped to deal with hormetic stressors (whether they’re plant polyphenols or light bursts of radiation) than we are, and their tastes are constructed thusly. The hormetic threshold could be a whole lot lower in tots.

Besides, forcing him to eat the vegetables will only make him develop a complex about them that will likely persist well until adulthood. I’m not saying you shouldn’t offer them to him. Don’t give up; try new ways of preparation. Use plenty of healthy fat, which has been shown to increase a child’s appreciation of vegetables. Just don’t wage war at the dinner table.

Keep feeding him quality animals (go for some liver and eggs too, maybe?). If he won’t do anything colored, how does he feel about white foods? Regular old white potatoes and bananas are good substitutes for sweet potatoes. White rice (particularly if you cook it in real bone broth and douse it in egg yolk) can be an inoffensive choice, too, that’s far superior to the more problematic grains. Growing kids need calories, period. They shouldn’t be on a zero-carb diet unless medically indicated.

Hi Mark,

LOVE your posts about babies and families but I couldn’t help but worry a little about the baby wearing one. Lots of Mamas are ignorant of the need to let their bodies recover from childbirth before resuming heavy lifting (yes even a newborn baby is heavy). There is a lot of softening of muscle, ligament and, well, everything, during pregnancy and it takes a while to get back to normal (well, the new normal). So many hormones and so much extra care is needed!

I ignored this information after giving birth like a superwoman (efficiently giving birth then straight into business as usual) and ended up having to have some serious reconstructive surgery.

Perhaps some kind of follow-up on post-pregnancy care of the mother?

That’s a great point. You can’t – or shouldn’t – just pop up from giving birth and resume full activity levels. There are a few reasons for this. First, throughout pregnancy, a hormone called relaxin is secreted. In order to make delivery easier, relaxin promotes the loosening of ligaments and increased joint laxity, particularly in the hips. Hip mobility is important for athletic function, but hypermobile hips can leave you unstable and prone to injury. There’s evidence, for example, that higher serum levels of relaxin are associated with an increased risk of ACL tears. The laxity of the patellar tendon is also associated with serum relaxin levels. Relaxin takes awhile to normalize following pregnancy.

Second, very few women maintain full activity levels during pregnancy, particularly in the third trimester. What this means is that new mothers haven’t been very active for several months and are essentially detrained. Resuming their normal exercise routines in a detrained state will increase the chance of injury. At the very least, you won’t be able to do what you previously could do. Take it easy and act like you’re new to this exercise stuff – because you kind of are!

Third, pregnancy depletes nutrient stores. You’ve essentially spent nine months constructing an entirely new, 7 or 8 pound human being from a small cluster of embryonic cells. You’ve built a musculo-skeletal system, a full set of organs, a human brain, a cardiovascular system, a nervous system, and everything else a human requires… from scratch! As far as your pregnant body is concerned, building that baby is top priority. Dietary deficits mean the required nutrients will be pulled from the mother. It’s just as important to keep eating healthy food and otherwise taking care of yourself (sleep, stress, etc) after the baby is born to keep your body nourished, to recover nutrient stores from the pregnancy, and to maintain a healthy flow and composition of breastmilk. Some women even continue to take prenatals following pregnancy. Your body will regenerate its depleted stores (of, for example, bone mineral density) given enough time and a good diet, but the immediately post-pregnancy period is a vulnerable one.

Fourth, your abdominal muscles – the ones that maintain a neutral, strong, cohesive core that’s resistant to all manner of forces – are stretched out and loose. There was a baby in there. Relaxin was (and still is) coursing through your veins. You literally won’t be able to stabilize your body against loads as well as before, even if those loads are in the form of a ten pound baby strapped to your chest.

Every woman is different, and every woman will have a different recovery time following birth. The important thing is to be aware of your body’s lingering changes. Relax. Take it slow. Get lots of sleep. Hang out with your kid and partner. Opt for walks over sprints and body weight over weights, at least for now. Be careful hoisting that ten pound wriggling weight around; keep it close to your center of gravity (and breasts, which the baby will appreciate) whenever possible.

That’s it for today, guys. Thanks for reading and be sure to leave your thoughts in the comment section!

About the Author

Mark Sisson is the founder of Mark’s Daily Apple, godfather to the Primal food and lifestyle movement, and the New York Times bestselling author of The Keto Reset Diet. His latest book is Keto for Life, where he discusses how he combines the keto diet with a Primal lifestyle for optimal health and longevity. Mark is the author of numerous other books as well, including The Primal Blueprint, which was credited with turbocharging the growth of the primal/paleo movement back in 2009. After spending three decades researching and educating folks on why food is the key component to achieving and maintaining optimal wellness, Mark launched Primal Kitchen, a real-food company that creates Primal/paleo, keto, and Whole30-friendly kitchen staples.

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108 thoughts on “Dear Mark: Obesogens, Tots Who Hate Veggies, and Pregnancy Recovery”

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  1. Heh, you advised new mothers to get lots of sleep. That would certainly help, but…

    1. It only gets really bad when trying to maintain a 9 to 5 job otherwise you sleep or relax when the baby sleeps. Screw the housework, guests, your waistline, cooking the perfect meal etc. Nurse and sleep. Sleep and nurse. The rest will work itself out. Consciously let it go so it doesn’t nag at you when you’re trying to let down milk. Since newborns sleep the majority of the day and spend the rest of the time nom nomming, it’s perfectly conducive to plenty of rest & recovery even if it’s not the customary 8 hours of sleep at night.

      1. That would work fine unless one has older kids in the home, which the majority of new moms do.

        1. If they had older kids running around, they probably wouldn’t be categorized as new mums, rather mum with new bubs.

  2. I know it’s legit, but “relaxin” seems like it’s either a new drug designed to deal with ADD or something I’m really looking forward to doing this weekend.

  3. My core was so compromised during pregnancy that I was left with separated abs that have yet to return to normal after 2 years. I haven’t found any advice that worked for closing this gap and have constant back pain now whenever I bend my back. If anyone has a non-surgical solution I would love to hear it.

    1. I had this issue after having my twins (I gained nearly half again my weight)– it took time but it did knit back together. Very slow reverse leg lifts seemed to help the most. Good luck!

    2. A quick Google search for separated abdominals came up with several links. Much of the advice was repetitive, with the same basic exercises listed on each. Have you tried them already? Wiki Answers mentioned that there are physiotherapists who specialize in this, and that you should get exercises tailored for you, because some common ab exercises will actually make the separation worse.

    3. Google “diastasis recti physical therapy exercises” – or even better, go to a physical therapist. I think the best is doing abdominal contractions in a body wrap, and avoiding curl-ups and sit-ups.

        1. Especially in cold water. It’s like a reset.
          Sticking a hot iron in a bucket of oil! Adaptive hormetic nerve therapy. It will fire them all in their protective curves of insulated nerves.
          Shock the system, supercharge it.

    4. Thanks for all the suggestions! I have sort of googled this to death, nothing I’ve tried for the past 2 years really worked and I’m resigned to having a pregnant-looking belly 🙁 I took a post natal workout class to handle this and it went nowhere.

      1. I had the same thing, my baby was born 18 months ago and I still have a pooch! The gap is pretty much closed now thanks mostly to time I think, but also to a good Pilates instructor and NO SIT-UPS even at Crossfit…must stay away from any isolated abdo work! Could you try Pilates?

        1. I’ve tried some Pilates exercises but no success… I did avoid sit ups as everyone said. I thought there might be a more “primal” approach that someone knows about, apart from the 4 essential movements (plank, yes). I guess I will just keep trying!

      2. I would see if your doctor could recommend a physical therapist to help work with you individually, if you’ve already tried a bunch of other things. There’s no point in keeping guessing this when a professional might just be able to point you in the right direction.
        I tried for years to fix a similar issue by myself armed only with google and all it took was two months with a physical therapist to finally fix my issue. Sometimes it just helps to have someone who is experienced with these issues to tell you what to do!

    5. Try getting some therapeutic body work – Massage, or ideally Bowen Therapy (though Bowen Therapists are probably hard to find in your part of the world.

      Helping the blood and lymph flow into the affected muscles and ensuring that they aren’t being pulled the wrong way by tightness in the wrong place will help.

      You may need to try a couple of therapists before you find the right person. Get them to work around the area, rather rather than right on it for the first visit until you have worked out if they are the therapist for you.

    6. Look into the Tupler technique! There is a book “Lose the Mummy Tummy” – it’s a terrible name, but the techniques work. What you have is diastasis rectii, and it’s VERY common after pregnancy. And too many people try to “fix” it by doing regular ab work – crunches, sit-ups, leg lifts. That’s the opposite of what you should be doing. Check out the book (and if you live in the Portland, OR metro area, check out The Tummy Team).

    7. You may need more time. I could still feel a gap after 2 years but by 3 years it was gone without any targeted effort.

    8. I’m a Physical Therapist Assistant. There are Physical Therapists who specialize in women’s health, which includes the diastasis recti you suffer from. Try Googling “women’s health physical therapists” along with the area in which you live to see what comes up, or go to One of these therapists did a guest lecture when I was in school. If you live in the Phoenix area, I could give you her contact information. Hope this info helps!

    9. One thing that helped me was doing side (oblique) crunches while literally holding my abs together. Also just straight up core work will do it!

    10. Look at the Tupler method. She has the book Lose the Mummy Tummy and a DVD

    11. Pilates, binding (look up the Belly Bandit) and yoga. That’s what got mine back – even after five babies.

  4. Great info! We just had our first…he’s 3 mo now. And for all the chemicals that are in everything, scary! But we will not stress and maybe invest in some glass containers. Thanks Mark Sisson!

  5. On the toddler issue, just get them to give an honest try, and remember that “Hunger makes the best sauce” meaning let them go a little hungry and they will be more likely to eat what you put in front of them. They are not going to starve if they go an hour or so without food.

    1. True Chad G., also nothing sweet including drinks -even kefir/kombucha- about two hours before vege o’clock. Seems to make all the difference in this house.

  6. My boy loved cooked broccoli (because he was a dinosaur) but turned up his nose at asparagus, even though they’re dinosaur food too. Go figure! Just keep introducing a variety of foods and see what works. ;^)

    1. Good advice, Gibson. Another point: veggies don’t fare well if they’re competing with sweet foods. Eliminate all sweets, including fruit, fruit juices, etc., for a week or two, meanwhile inventing games and other ways to make veggies more appealing. Stick with the better-tasting ones. Even I, as an adult, don’t care much for brussels sprouts, okra, and broccoli rabe. I can imagine how a toddler would react.

      1. Totally agree – leave out all sweet things! And there are so many tasty veggies – and so any ways of cooking them to make them nice. But then – I never had this problem with my kids. They both always loved their veggies…. 🙂

  7. Tots who hate veggies – how about full grown adults who hate them? I really struggle with that, there are very few veggies that I can tolerate the taste of. I found that I can throw them into a smoothie with a banana and tolerate more than I thought (carrots, kale and spinach are my favorite smoothie mixers).

    1. The plant kingdom contains almost all the poisons and allergens on the plant. Look outside your door one day (assuming you’re not a desert) and marvel at the all the plants that will kill you if you attempt to consume them. 😉

      Traditional people in the arctic circle ate hardly anything but meat and fat. (Think about the kind of absolute stress a body must go through living at the Artic circle year round.) The premier breastmilk substitute is ground up meat.

      So..*whispers softly so the mothers and the health gurus can’t hear of the world*: There’s evidence out there that you probably don’t need to eat vegetables if you have adequate calories in a meat based diet.

      Make sure your meat is as fresh as possible fresh and that you’re eating offal. (The offal contains the trace nutrients that plants often provide. You can’t skip veggies and the offal.) Do the head check so you’re not listening to some random idiot (me)if you’re body is telling that you’re missing some nutrient.

      But you may not really need to overcome your dislike of vegetables. Plants are handy backup system that can add some variety to your diet. It’s been a long time since I’ve been convinced they are absolutely critical unless access to meat is somehow diminished.

      1. Amy, I’m a month or so pregnant and I’m lucky if I can get a cucumber down. Starch in the morning, meat/starch in the afternoon. Grapes grapes grapes till bed. When I think of the tonnage of kale/spinach/coloured veg/fungi etc. I used to eat per day I wonder how this is possible, the very idea sickens me right now. I loved reading your view. It reminded me of reading through the WAP ‘NaPD’ when preggo last time.

        1. Cucumbers!

          I had a similar experience when I was pregnant; I distinctly remember having dinner w/my husband one night during my second trimester and the butter lettuce salad that he assembled made my brain say, “POISON! DO NOT EAT!!” Even though it was just butter lettuce–I mean, come on!! I had to spit it out it was so vile tasting; my brain wouldn’t let me swallow it.

          On another night, the smell of fried cod made me so sick that I still get a little ill when I smell it.

          All I wanted was Indian and Mexican food. The spicier, the better! Its funny because I can’t tolerate capsascin when I’m NOT pregnant!

        2. Congrats!! Isn’t amazing how quickly hormones turn taste buds around? It’s pretty clear that having women come this side of not eating for 3 months benefits the baby. The women, not so much.

          What’s “WAP ‘NaPD’”

  8. Re veggie-hating toddlers: take heart! I raised three boys who in their turn as toddlers all refused to eat veggies. As they got older they all started loving them, particularly salads, and now as adults they all eat pretty healthfully. One of them went vegetarian a few months ago!

    And yeah, don’t make meals into a battleground. I started off there as a new mom, with oldest son, but fortunately smartened up after the battle of wills wore me out 🙂

  9. I second the idea of letting children get a little hungry before meals. American culture has become so snack-oriented that many of us have forgotten how our parents and our grand-parents trained us “not to ruin our appetites” before a meal. Most kids have pretty blank-slate palates until we start introducing certain foods. Addictive foods like sugary snacks, crackers, pretzels, etc… will almost guarantee that a child will begin to have less of a taste for wholesome foods. Karen Le Billon writes about this in her memoir, “French Kids Eat Everything,” where she had to transition her kids from an American snacking culture to a strict three-meals-a-day culture when she and her family moved to France. The result was that her kids began to eat foods they never would have before, and they ate everything on their plates. It’s a nice read for parents.

    1. Clearly the French don’t understand Capitalism. Snack foods are highly profitable.

      1. Sadly the French no longer embrace laissez-faire. Gournay, Turgot, and Bastiast are rolling over in their graves. French cuisine though is very primal.

        The French suffered a massive hyperinflation due John Law’s poor economic guidance in the early 1700s. Desctruction of a currency coupled with directing consumer goods and resources to foreign wars spanning decades typically ends badly, i.e. the French Revolution.

        A near century of economic folly paved the way to the future works of Fredric Bastiat and even Napoleons rise. (Napoleon championed a gold coin to combat the failed assignat). John Adams, Ben Franklin, and Thomas Jefferson all interacted with the French government and observed the ill effects from excessive money printing. (Plus the failed early colonial paper money called the “continental”).

        During the real and false, boom and bust cycles, the French invented such words as “entrepreneur”, “millionaire”, and “guillotine”.

        1. The French are pretty clever, truthfully. When the Normans invaded Britain, they came with better lawyers and accountants. That’s why it’s “accounts receivable” (French word ordering) and not “receivable accounts”. The French made their mark on the English accounting and law and never left. 🙂

          And French cuisine is not only very Primal, it tends to be tasty and efficient in the kitchen once you know the techniques. The emphasis on stock preparation, etc means nothing goes to waste in a French kitchen as well.

          As you noted, though, the cultural Achilles heel has been letting this reasonably clever way of looking at the world go to their head. (And I have personal knowledge of the subject – my Father’s family are all French Canadian.) Once there’s an idea lodged in that French brain, failure is not an option. If it’s not working, the idea just needs a little longer to take hold, you see. 😉

        2. Thanks for the history lesson. Getting back to health and cuisine… the French eat well – and enjoy one of the highest life expectancies in the world. They also have some of the lowest childhood obesity rates in the world.

    2. French kids don’t eat everything – sadly junk food culture is creeping in and in the same rush to do everything, working mums don’t always have time to make good food. My eldest has friends who eat nothing but pasta (with cheese on top for a change)! Parents still have a vitally important role to play, regardless of nationality/culture. Stick to 3 meals plus a 4.30 snack after school and eat together at the table as often as possible.

  10. Not all toddlers dislike vegetables. I think it’s more of the approach you take. Here’s my two cents (for what it’s worth):

    1. Start with vegetable baby food. Research says it takes 8-10 times of eating a new food to develop a true like or dislike, so stick with it (I’m not advocating force-feeding, but don’t be out-witted by a toddler either. There are plenty of ways, making mmm noises, eating the food yourself, making it a game, etc. to make it work.)

    2. Give finger food veggies (well-cooked) instead of bread/crackers (even the primal/paleo kind).

    3. Make sure the kid is hungry (this means several hours between one meal and the next. It’s really hard to be interested new food if you’ve been snacking all day).

    4. Always serve the veggies first, when they’re most hungry, only put vegetables on the tray. When the veggies are gone, give them the next course.

    5. To work up an appetite and get your child to sit still, make sure they’ve had some exercise. We always went to a restaurant with our toddlers once a week, but we’d go to a playground for about an hour, say 4-5pm. Then we’d arrive at the restaurant before the crowd, around 5pm, for quicker service.

    6. Take a small container of veggies (soft) to the restaurant with you. We always refused the bread and chips (even before going primal), so they weren’t a distraction for our kids. We’d give them small amounts of veggies before our food came. Since eating requires coordination and time, our kids would be busy eating, but not full by the time the food came.

    Don’t know if that helps anyone. It just worked for us.

    Oh, and our pediatrician once told me, “some parents say that the only thing their kids will eat are Goldfish and raisins,” to which the doc replied, “well who keeps giving them Goldfish and raisins?” Food for thought.

    1. It’s true, offer it again, and again, and eventually (most of the time) they’ll try it.

      And having a family of vegetable hounds helps (baby see baby do).

      I’d also like to add that some flavors they just have to grow into.

      Personal experience, as a young kid I loved almost every vegetable offered to me, with the notable exceptions of mushrooms, green beans, and raspberries (and raspberry relatives). By the time I was 8 I loved them all – except the raspberries. Those took longer, bitter greens like dandilion and arugula I wasn’t even offered until I was in my teens – after a year or two of experimentation I started loving those too.

      Nice tips! Never would have thought of the pre-meal vegetable when dining out. Great idea!

  11. Your post about new mothers came at the perfect time! I have a 2-week-old and have been feeling guilty about being pretty lazy so far. I feel like i should get back to working out but I just dont want to! this post reminded me that its ok to take time and enjoy my new amazing boy. i think recovery time depends on how the birthing process went. I went natural with my second and I must say, I feel a million times better in a short amount of time. I will get back to it when I feel like it I guess:)

    1. Yes, take your time in getting back to the workouts. A year out with spotty workouts, I’m fitter than before she was born.

      If you’re feeling stir crazy like you have to do *something*, then put the kiddo in a sling or stroller and take a nice leisurely walk in the fresh air. How you tired you feel afterwards will be a fabulous indication of your readiness to hit the gym. It took me a few weeks/couple of months to get to a point where I thought – “wow, that’s my workout for today”. 😉

    2. Congrats!! I have a 2 month old. I worked out once and I pretty much said screw that… I was super sore for a week. it was awful. Seriously ease back into it!

  12. Darling daughter, who is now three, loves the PBS show, “Dinosaur Train,” where her favorite character is a triceratops named “Tank”. She nicknamed raw baby spinach leaves “Tank Leaves” and always asks, “Mommy, I want some Tank Leaves, please!” We’ve transitioned her to thinking that romaine, kale, and even watercress are also Tank Leaves. She loves to pick the various leaves out of our family dinner salads and chomp!

    She also loves horses; when we go to a nearby stable, she feeds the animals carrots and apples. She whinnies as she eats these items, because, well, that’s what horses do.

    I had to laugh out loud the other night as she was eating her lamb chop and started to whinnie like a horse. She declared, “I’m a carniverous horse and I love lamb!”

    1. My 4 year old daughter loves Dinosaur Train and horses too. I can hand her a bowl of carrot sticks with an open palm and say “here is a horse snack”, and she will eat it with no question. Presentation is very important with toddlers/ preschoolers. I’ve also noticed that their tastes are fickle. Sometimes they love a veggie and other times won’t touch it. Just keep offering lots of variety. Also, “sneaky veggies” grated into ground beef are great.

  13. The obesigen hypothesis won’t really takeoff till we have data from people who work with these chemicals and get the highest exposures. Do the people in the BPA factory look like blimps yet? I mean, more so than the average american?

    You can grate a whole head of broccoli into a bolognaise or similar and it vanishes if you saute it with the onion at the start – no kid will even notice it’s there.

  14. Hmmm, looks like I’ll have to make the switch to glass containers!

  15. There’s a seasonal obesogen right now that I’ve been trying to avoid, but it’s basically ubiquitous – I just can’t avoid it. Indoors or out, at work, in the parking lot of the grocery store, etc. The problem is that I’ve been exposed to this obesogen every spring since I was old enough to remember, and I’m pretty sure there are addictive qualities. I think it might even be some sort of government conspiracy. Yes, I’m talking about Girl Scout cookies.

    1. Ugh. As long as I can keep the Tag Alongs away, I think I can resist…

      1. @Susie: the book “Paleo Indulgences” by Creditcott has a more friendly Thin Mint recipes. It’s the bomb. Plus at $17 from amazon I think that covers one box of G.S. cookies. (Also it has the chocolate coconut cookie).

        For me the macaroon is hands down the best treat. And it is mainly egg whites! (I dunno if that is in the book I referenced).

    2. “Yes, I’m talking about Girl Scout cookies.”

      LOL!!!! When people ask about me about it now, I usually offer to write a check directly to the troop. The troop gets much all the funds and the obseogens don’t darken my door. 😉

  16. Glad you suggested white rice or potatoes for picky kids! After reading Perfect Health Diet, it seems as if carbs are pretty important for children, even if adults can do well on very low carb diets. And if white rice gets bone broth, grass-fed butter, and egg-yolks into them, it’s hard to argue that it’s unhealthy!

  17. If you think you had some role in getting your own kids to like veggies you are sadly mistaken. It depends greatly on the kids as well. I can give a counterexample for each of the well-intentioned suggestions above. You can do everything “right” according to the advice that’s out there and still end up with kid who happily eats meat, nuts, cheese, eggs, and fruit, but not vegetables. So in our house the philosophy is, just don’t push them, they will come around in time. Let’s face it, vegetables ARE bitter, and I don’t remember liking any of them at all when I was little, so I shouldn’t be surprised that my kid doesn’t either. I love most vegetables now – but only cooked – I still dislike most of them when raw.

    Our little eater is becoming more adventurous now of her own accord, and we make sure to praise her for trying something new, even if she doesn’t like it: “big girls always try new things” is one of our catchphrases. She’ll come around.

    1. I do think it can depend on the child. My oldest will eat asparagus, broccoli, green beans, even cauliflower, but not tomatoes or sweet peppers. My middle just won’t touch veggies, not regularly. He will occasionally fall for the “dinosaur” approach to eating broccoli, and he likes peas, but that’s it, and he will go hungry for a long time if that’s all we serve. My youngest isn’t quite 2, but she eats everything, including home fermented sauerkraut, salsa, blue cheese, etc.

  18. anyone have the link to the video of the guy doing a morning workout to lubricate his knees and joints to start the day? much appreciated

  19. Back in the day – mom, dad, and others, chewed the baby’s food for them. This may have provided all kinds of nutritional, physiological, even psychological benefits.

  20. I learned pretty early on as a kid that it was far better to be fed and full of energy on some foods that may not have been my favorites at the time than to be picky and starving. And now I can’t really think of a veggie I don’t like…

  21. recently I put finely ground carrots and zucchini into burgers…my 11 yo ate almost an entire one before saying “is this carrot in here?!” I asked why she ate almost all of it before noticing. She said she didnt taste it….
    I also put canned pumpkin and zucchini into chocolate pumkin muffins… I made them gluten free and all, and she liked it, too.(these are more of a treat than a meal, but why cant you sneak it into “treats”, too!!)

  22. My older kids are boycotting any green veggies, but they will eat salad,so I don’t make a big deal out of it. They eat all fruit,one will eat sweet potatoes and butternut squash, one will eat carrots, etc. They like tomatoes, but not cucumbers. They are 9 and 10. When they were little, they ate whatever I gave them. Now they wait all week for Grandma to give them junk (don’t get me started).
    We now have a new little guy, 3 1/2 months. My girls want to help feed him when he is ready…I told them to get ready, because he will eat like they did when they were small…veggies, meat, egg yolk, fruit. Skipping cereals this time around.
    Im not sure that veggies are the “all important” foods that we have been led to believe, so I do not force the issue at the dinner table.

  23. On this same vein, are there any Primal Mommas out there starting with meat? I was thinking of starting with lamb,but I have read that lots of Moms are starting with grated liver. I breastfeed this baby right now, but he is 20 lbs at 3 1/2 months, and he will be ready for solids sooner rather than later, IMO

    1. The first meal for both of mine was meat, some sweet potato and veggies. We did baby-led weaning, starting solids at 7 months, so they got little chunks of whatever we were eating. They’ll both eat nearly anything now.

    2. Juliemama, we started with grated liver (raw, frozen 14 days) and egg yolk. He gobbled it up when we started at 6months.

    3. A great book to check out is “Super Baby Food”; it gives a month-by-month guide on what foods are safe to introduce. Easy enough to skip the grains; I was giving DD “adult foods” from the very beginning–we used prepared baby food only a handful of times. At one point, I was mixing Brewer’s Yeast into plain yogurt with some cooked/mashed squash and DD was just loving it!

  24. A real recovery story:

    Our zumba instructor was teaching zumba until almost one week before delivery. We at the class were a little scared that the baby would be born in the zumba class. Funny that she said in the days before the birth that the baby seemed to like the zumba class, it stayed calm. After the class is when he (it turned out to be a boy) started to kick.
    It’s been not a whole year after she had the baby and nobody can tell that she had a baby less than one year ago, she looks as good as ever!

  25. My four kids, ages 2-8, all love veggies. My husband and I eat a ton of them and we offer them (usually raw) at almost every meal except breakfast. I believe that presentation is key. A plate filled with lots of color appeals to kids. There are certain ones that certain kids don’t like (my 6yo hates tomatoes and my 4yo hates cucumbers), and on those, I don’t force the issue. The 2yo especially will eat practically anything, including sauerkraut and other fermented foods.

    Lol on the sleep comments. I am expecting #5 in just a few weeks and I don’t think I’ve had a good night’s sleep in the last nine years. Someday…!

  26. Some suggestions for getting tots to try new foods: have them help make a veg/fruit smoothie (primal of course) get them to first be comfortable smelling and touching foods they don’t like without pushing to eat them. You can also play a game with the food (even tho we were taught not to play with food) Use bright colored veg to squeeze and finger paint with it. I use these techniques also with kids that have food .aversions

    1. I second the “play with your food” mentality. As a pediatric therapist who works closely with feeding therapists and their “picky” clients, making mealtimes fun and playful is absolutely key! When a child refuses a particular food, it is usually for one of two reasons:

      1) Behavioral (power play, overall defiance, etc.)
      2) Sensory (the child has not experienced that food before, so their brain doesn’t know what to make of it yet)

      The problems really start when something that starts as a mild sensory aversion becomes behavioral when parents (or other caregivers) push the issue. When a child is allowed to explore and discover food at their own pace, they will universally be much more successful.

      Bottom line: have fun! And just because your child doesn’t like a food the first time, it doesn’t mean they won’t like it after the 10-12th time. Keep on trying!!

  27. Another suggestion to get kids to eat veggies: We got a dehydrator and I make kale chips frequently (you can google raw or paleo recipes for lots of options–if you don’t have a dehydrator there are oven recipes too). I make either sour cream and onion flavor, or nacho cheese flavor. Our 3-yr-old would never normally touch kale, or any other green veggie, but he eats the kale chips like crazy!! Sometimes the best option is to make the veggies taste like “junk food” 😉

  28. I was 41 during my last pregnancy. I LOVED being pregnant. They ought to bottle Relaxin, I felt so great!

    However, the, aftermath wasn’t so great–I developed adhesive capsulitis in BOTH shoulders–that made baby wearing and co-sleeping impossible, which caused me great pain and many hours of physical therapy.

  29. Funnily enough, my kids (3 y.o. and 1.5 y.o) really like broccoli. My 1.5 y.o. daughter enjoys kale a lot, at least the way I prepare it: in bacon fat, with a bit of onion powder, paprika and full fat cream. Other veggies are more hit or miss: green beans were OK for a while but not anymore, chickpeas are always OK but now we enter the legume family. Lentils are really appreciated by them.
    Tomatoes are OK, cucumber and pepper fruits as well. So anyway, we do have them eat veggies. Yesterday was cauliflower. The thing that seems to upset them (at least my 3 y.o.) is when things are mixed up together. So we have this special plates with several container areas so they can have a few different single foods on the same plate with any of them in contact with each other. It helps.

  30. Drinking your water out of a glass bottle might reduce your intake of BPA. Also, people might look funny when that bottle has a “Smirnov vodka” label on it.

  31. The lovely thing about baby-wearing on post-partum fitness it that everything you do is weight-bearing exercise, even just walking around the house. I found that starting right away was great because my fitness level naturally adapted to the gradually increasing weight of the baby. Starting to wear your baby when he is 20 lbs could certainly come as a shock to a body, but when you build up from a creature that weighs less than 8 lbs, the transition is smooth. The other nice thing is that a baby carried on the front acted, for me at least, as a support for my abdominals, compressing from the outside those muscles that he distended from the inside!

  32. Re: Tots and Veggies, we didn’t start my now 14-mo-old on grains and held off on fruit and sweets until around 11 mo. He plows down everything we put in front of him, especialy the veggies. DH and I hope that not starting with grains and waiting to introduce sweet stuff would encourage DS to develop a “happy palette” early. Did anyone try this with their kid, and did it seem successful? If not, at what age did your kid start refusing certain foods?

  33. I started my kids off with mashed sweet potato, broccoli, pumpkin etc. i believe they eat veges now because they were introduced to them as their first solid food. If they turned their noses up I made sure they were hungry before they sat down, and added juice from the meat we were eating with the mashed veges.

    Sometimes its the texture toddlers don’t like – so try mashing veges with butter and get your toddler to help you in the kitchen. They love eating food you’ve prepared together.

    And just because they say they don’t like something now, continue to offer it, and say they can get down from the table once they have tried just one bite. just because they don’t like something now, doesn’t mean they won’t like it forever.

    I had a friend who’s son was really tiny for his age and would only eat sausages and weetbix. I used to wonder if he ever really truely got hungry – and whether he would gobble down chicken, veges etc if his tummy was grumbling…

    nothing worse than trying to organise dinner if you have one child who hates something, one child who hates something else. In our house, you eat whats on your plate and don’t complain. (mine are now a bit older though – 10,11 and 13). Whoever complains will be cooking dinner the next night.

  34. I wouldn’t worry at all about children who don’t eat vegetables. There is no evidence whatsoever that vegetables improve or protect our health. In fact, there is some evidence that vegetables may even be harmful due to their naturally occurring toxins. Hormesis is an unproven theory that says “what doesn’t kill us makes us stronger.” This theory was generated to try to explain this apparent paradox: vegetables contain potentially dangerous chemicals, yet epidemiological studies suggest that people who eat more veggies are healthier. However, we all know how misleading epidemiological studies of nutrition can be…Clinical studies of vegetables have not been able to show any health benefits for vegetables.

    If you want your kids to eat plants, better choices are fruits, and fruits masquerading as vegetables (vegetables with seeds, such as cucumbers, squashes, and avocado).

  35. I have two boys, and the youngest who is still a toddler just loves the green smoothie that I make (kale) and the older one chokes and gags and spits it out. I figure it’s a battle not worth fighting but I encourage the older one to keep trying different veggies that he will eat. Surprising things we learned, he will eat a raw carrot but not a cooked one. He will eat raw cucumbers and kelp but not most cooked vegetables. We keep trying.

  36. Here’s a reason why babies/toddlers don’t like veggies;

    Babies and toddlers have very small stomachs, and veggies are calorie sparse. So the reason they don’t go for the veggies it’s because it’s a filler food they do not need for their ever growing body. The reason they are attracted to fatty/sugary foods is exactly the opposite, they pack a caloric/energy punch.

    In conclusion, as Marks says, they are very good ad knowing the foods needed for their bodies.