Marisa’s Comment and Bratty Kids

This comment came through on an older post from November on evolutionary nutrition. Let me quote Marisa.

Hi! I stumbled upon this "paleo" eating quite by accident. I have a gluten/casein allergy that has wreaked havoc on my health, and has induced autistic symptoms in one of my children. Since removing it from our diet, my eczema has abated, and my child's ability to cross-pattern appeared for the first time, along with her toe-walking (symptom of neurological damage) being a thing of the past … except when we get wheat contamination, and then she walks around like a ballerina again. (along with the diarrhea, aggression, and general malaise)

We experiemented with the whole GFCF (gluten-free/casein-free) world of other grains, but literally spent a fortune. In the hopes of reeling in the finances, I dropped all the "fun" foods, and stuck to non-allergenic foods that were readily available to us: grass-fed, organic beef, pork, chicken, vegetables, nuts, organic oils (EVOO, coconut and palm mostly), coconut milk, and some fruits (thank god for Whole Foods). Because of our leaky guts I shied away from legumes (mold). Well, there you have it: the paleo diet.
As we progressed along this line, I was astonished at my kids' recovery: they were happier, less tantrum-y, their skin (which had always been dry) became dewy soft, their chapped lips were a thing of the past too.

This is purely anecdotal, but I have noticed a tremendous difference in the behavior of children in rough correlation to the things I see them eating. Kids eating lots of cereal, mac & cheese, cookies, boxed juices, sodas, candy and so forth often behave as awful brats.

On the other hand, my wife has some relatives with two young children that are perhaps the best behaved I have ever witnessed in my life. The mother is a fish-eating vegetarian, I never observe much junk in their house, and though not paleo, it's always real food served up around there.

Coincidence? Well, one of the things that Weston Price often remarked about during his world travels to study people living on traditional, non-industrial diets was the good behavior of the children, and that he never saw any sort of harsh discipline or corporal punishment involved.

Then, there's this from Stephan some months ago. Go see how closely the increased use of industrial vegetable oils tracks with homicide

Vegetable Oil and Homicide

One of the major dietary changes that has accompanied the downward slide of American health is the replacement of animal fats with industrially processed vegetable oils. Soybean oil, corn oil, cottonseed oil and other industrial creations have replaced milk and meat fat in our diet, while total fat consumption has remained relatively constant. The result is that we're eating a lot more polyunsaturated fat than we were just 30 years ago, most of it linoleic acid (omega-6). Corn oil may taste so bad it inspires you to violence, but its insidiousness goes beyond the flavor.

Stephan also has a follow up post well worth a read (The Omega Ratio), as in addition to the epidemiological correlations, he lists a number of intervention studies suggesting that improving the omega 3/6 ratio ameliorates some behavioral problems.

– EPA supplementation (a long-chain n-3 fatty acid) reduced aggression and depression in a group of women with borderline personality disorder.

– DHA supplementation improved aggression in young Thai students.

– n-3 supplementation improved symptoms of bipolar disorder.

– EPA supplementation improved symptoms of unipolar depression.

– n-3 supplementation improved perinatal depression.

– n-3 supplementation improved symptoms of major depression.

– DHA and EPA supplementation reduced suicidal behaviors and improved markers of well-being in patients with recurrent self-harm.

– n-3 supplementation decreased anger and anxiety in substance abusers.

So, are your kids brats, and you think that's just the way it is? How about stop with the poison (flour, sugar, processed vegetable oils and all the crap made from some combination of them)? feed 'em all the meat, natural fat, vegetables, fruits and nuts they want, only that, and just see what happens.

Since Covid killed my Cabo San Lucas vacation-rental business in 2021, this is my day job. I can't do it without you. Memberships are $10 monthly, $20 quarterly, or $65 annually. Two premium coffees per month. Every membership helps finance this work I do, and if you like what I do, please chip in. No grandiose pitches.


  1. Monica on February 2, 2009 at 16:28

    Boy I'd have to completely agree, Richard. I think Peter is right as well and the two go hand in hand. The friends I have who feed their kids the right food and don't restrict their freedom and learning (the second part is really crucial, too) are never upset. These kids are literally ALWAYS smiling. A big part of it is the food but another huge aspect is that their freedom is not restricted and they are never yelled at. What a difference from the way most of us were raised. That is what human childhood should be like.

  2. Peter on February 2, 2009 at 13:44

    Parents who let their children eat unlimited amounts of junk probably tend to be deficient in all sorts of parenting skills. That, not so much the junk food consumption, may be cause of the childrens' problems.

    • Benjamin on July 28, 2015 at 03:05

      Hello peter. I totally agree with your point.Those parents who who feed their kids the right food are always stay happy.

  3. Richard Nikoley on February 2, 2009 at 18:27

    Well, yes, I think it's both also, which is why I left Peter's comment stand as is.

    To me, it's as simple as observing the behavior of puppies & kittens. The young should be happy and carefree. My doggies have gotten better and better on a grain & rice free diet (which I supplement in fat via fish oil and lard). My 11-yr-old rat terrier has lost 6 years or more in terms of energy and playfulness.

    It'll probably work for human kids, too. Just feed 'em real food.

  4. Diana Hsieh on February 2, 2009 at 21:43

    When I was in the grocery store today, I noticed that the woman behind me had a cart full of the most amazing frankenfoods. Most of it was completely foreign to me, but I did see some more familiar stuff like pop tarts, sugary cold cereal, go-gurt, and lunchables. The sole recognizable real food was a gallon of milk. Everything else in the cart was high-sugar, high-grain processed junk in crazy colored boxes. She had no meat, vegetables, or fruit in her cart.

    Her three kids were running around uncontrollably, and she was 80 to 100 pounds overweight, even though probably in her early 40s.

    It was quite a sight. I know that people buy lots of that stuff, but I've never seen someone buy such a vast quantity of only that.

  5. Dana on February 3, 2009 at 09:06

    The woman who wrote The Continuum Concept noticed the same thing when she stayed with the Yequana Indians of South America for a period of time. The kids got along fairly well, learned quickly, and obeyed instantly most of the time when an adult asked them to do something. She attributed it to their parenting style, but that may have been only half the story. They were still living in the Stone Age, pretty much, with limited contact with domesticated people.

  6. Richard Nikoley on February 3, 2009 at 10:01

    Non-scientific, but I do this all the time. If you pay attention, there is an amazing correlation between what's in a shopping cart, obesity and leanness of parents, and behavior of children.

  7. Richard Nikoley on February 3, 2009 at 10:41

    "domesticated people."

    Excellent identification.

    "Free the Animal"

  8. Tricia on January 3, 2010 at 11:28

    My two daughters, 8 and 13, eat a mostly paleo diet, and have for the last two years. My older daughter’s asthma, which was intermittently severe, has cleared up amazingly with this diet and high amounts of fish oil and MSM. My comment though, was really about my younger daughter. I notice a HUGE difference in her behavior when she eats differently – most around holidays. This year, in the Thanksgiving to New Year’s corridor. She becomes a very different child – very loud, at times aggressive, doesn’t listen, is argumentative. Also, rashy, red cheeks. And that is not with eating lots of junk at home – we are more or less eating as we always do. That’s with the school parties, outings to relatives, etc – so not constant intake. Next year I am going to be more diligent about taking treats that support her health.

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