Baby Hudson does four things well at 14 days old… eat, sleep, cry and poop.
It’s almost been 2 weeks since the birth of our new son Hudson…
As any parent already knows, it’s gone by so fast.
Today, since I have a little time and Annmarie, her mom and I are settling into a groove — her mom is visiting and helping for 2 months (which is a blessing!) — I wanted to share something that I think is unbelievably important for our community.
This first part was originally going to be a simple disclaimer, but it blossomed into a full length diatribe. I apologize if you find it offensive (which I don’t think you will) or brings up emotion for you.
It’s a fiery topic, but I need to make sure that I stop some assumptions before they spiral out of control about Hudson and mom’s diet before he was born.
Hudson is not a “raw” baby.
Actually, that’s not entirely true. He is a raw baby now, but was not while in the womb.
He eats exclusively mom’s breast milk as nature intended — which is raw, unpasteurized, non-homogenized, contains no added hormones and no antibiotics.
(And please, if you cannot or were not able to breastfeed your baby, I completely understand any decision you needed to make in order for your baby to thrive — I can’t say how deeply I understand this now!)
Back to raw…
During pregnancy, Hudson and mom did not eat an all raw or vegan diet.
I say this because it’s the right thing to do for all the future mothers, recent moms and even grandmoms out there who are deep into raw food.
I do not want anyone to assume that Annmarie was eating a 100% or even 50% raw food diet when Hudson was in the womb.
She was not. We honestly didn’t even keep track of the percentages.
Annmarie ate high quality, local and organic foods while pregnant — which is a benefit of being here in Berkeley. This includes some eggs, fish, meat and anything else that made her feel vibrant and healthy during pregnancy. She also took many herbs and supplements to help support her diet — one of which was an extremely high quality fish oil.
Her pregnancy was amazing with very little ill feelings or discomfort — until the very end. Her bile levels were elevated and she did get itchy, but these were lowered when she cut back on the strong liver support herbs she was taking. I wrote about this here.
She also only gained just the right amount of weight during the pregnancy and is already starting to regain her slim figure. Almost too quickly, since our midwife wants her to eat more to support the baby while breastfeeding.
This means, to her pleasure, she’ll eat more great, organic food!
These signs are just some indications of a healthy pregnancy that I’m sure her diet, genetics and emotional wellbeing helped create.
So now, I have to get into some things that some of you may not like to discuss — and since I was a raw fooder for a while and was also completely vegan for longer, I’ll understand if you disagree with me.
I would have disagreed with me too a while back.
Do I think mothers can raise raw babies?
I don’t know how to answer this anymore.
If you asked me 4 years ago, I’d have said yes.
These days, I can’t say the same.
Raw is an experiment.
A good one for many people — in fact.
It’s been shown to heal people. Any diet that does this is remarkable. I’ve seen and heard hundreds of stories where this works.
The reason I say it’s an experiment is because no human society — before we could corral fire — has ever eaten all raw.
So, that to me indicates that if you’re doing the raw food thing, you are doing an experiment on yourself — which in many ways I support deeply. What’s important is that you see it as this — something you’re doing for yourself that may or may not have positive long term results.
For most, the short term results are amazing. It’s the long term results — and the results with children that concern me the most.
Sometimes experiments work, other times they don’t. As an adult, you make those decisions for yourself.
For example, I recently did an experiment with coffee that went horribly wrong. I’ll tell you about it next month. But this experiment was on me — not my unborn son — which I believe involves a different set of criteria.
So here’s how we broke down our decision…
When Annmarie and I sat down to discuss our views on what to eat during pregnancy, we assessed five things.
1. Like, I said above, raw is an experiment.
Do we want to experiment on our baby? The answer to this was no.
Just like we wouldn’t take a questionable supplement during pregnancy or do a crazy experimental birthing technique, we didn’t want to place our unborn son in any unnecessary long-term danger. We wanted to use tried and tested, older world techniques. This is why Annmarie chose a midwife, why we used herbal support, and why Annmarie continued to be active right up to the day Hudson was born. Eating all raw food during pregnancy — for mom — has very little precedence.
I don’t need scientific evidence to prove everything, but I do need historical-anecdotal evidence. For raw foods, there’s very little.
2. Observed evidence of not so healthy babies.
We’ve seen a good deal of raw babies and toddlers with raw moms in our travels. I have to be honest, most look gaunt, are underweight, their eyes are sunken and are somewhat misbehaved. (Not all, but most.)
The behavior may not be any indication of their diet — this could be their environment and parents — but I think there is something to this, considered they all seemed to have the same traits and acted in similar ways.
If you asked their moms, they’d say their child is perfectly healthy — as any mom would — but outside indications of their children tell a different story.
Other first hand accounts I’ve heard are toddler’s teeth crumbling out of their mouths, seemingly higher incidence of miscarriage, and fertility issues.
Keep in mind that the last two on that list are happening all throughout the United States. But if raw were truly healthy long term in all instances, there should be no or little miscarriage or infertility, since it’s man’s ideal diet — or some would want you to believe. Our purpose — quite shallowly — is to expand our species, so if we’re infertile or our babies aren’t getting born, something is wrong. In this case, likely with both extreme diets… all raw and junk food.
I’ve heard other stories as well, but they’re harder to confirm, so I’ll leave that out of the discussion here and only add this as an augmentation.
What about the healthy looking children?
It’s possible they’re extremely healthy — which could be confirmed with a string of blood tests over a few years. If that’s the case, fantastic.
Second, people, at least to me, tend to lie about their diets. Believe me, if my parents and friends do it, so do people who don’t even know me.
So, how honest is mom in reporting what diet her child eats? Would she think I judged her if she said she feeds little Jonny some eggs in the morning?
I, of course, wouldn’t judge, but you have to factor this into the equation.
Look, even I was deceptive when I first started eating eggs. I’d bury them in the shopping cart or in my farmer’s market bag under heaps of collards, lettuce and whatever other veggie that I could lay on top.
3. We used the Blue Zones as a model.
Annmarie and I both are of Mediterranean descent, so we looked to Mediterranean type diets (not the “Mediterranean” diet) — adapted to our Northern California location — to decide what to eat.
Lots of plants. An abundance of them.
Pretty much like Michael Pollan’s semi-haiku…
“Eat food, not too much, mostly plants.”
The people in the Blue Zones eat real, fresh food, enjoy life, some drink, some don’t, work hard, are active, are somewhat isolated and keep family and friends close.
That to me is a recipe for — if not living long — living happy while you’re alive.
We decided these principles were tried and tested enough to produce the longest lived people who exist on our planet today, so they’re were good enough for the development of our baby.
4. If the baby wanted to experiment — it could do so when it’s conscious enough to try.
I didn’t want to push an agenda that I wasn’t even sure of on this baby.
Annmarie and I both did not want the weight of a diet experiment on our baby going wrong. The stakes for us were too high.
We both removed our egos from a dogmatic stance and allowed the history of diet and our common sense and knowledge guide us.
The only indication that this has worked to date is Annmarie’s easy pregnancy and that we have a seemingly healthy baby — which I guess is fully determined when he passes away at 100 or so after living the highest quality of life, right? Regardless, it’s long after I’m gone, but everything — particularly with children is so subjective until they’re fully developed.
So, we went with a tested path, and did not blaze a new one.
5. There’s very little documentation of long term effects on raw food babies.
Based on long term studies of most raw fooders — which there is some not-so-pleasant evidence — I have to say that effects on a developing child likely wouldn’t be so favorable either.
Long term raw fooders tend to have health issues, just like anyone else in our culture. Their teeth fall out — maybe even more so than people who eat a poor diet — they have hormone issues, they get batty, and they tend to be more agitated.
Now, to be clear, I’m not sure if this is because of the type of person that is attracted to a long-term raw food diet, a nutritional deficiency or both. But what I do know, is this is what I’ve observed and I’ve seen some science to support it.
I also know, there are some long term-ers who seem to be perfectly fine. One, I’d love to know what they really eat — all the time — and, two, maybe they are the just the ones who thrive.
I know that Philip Madley from HealthForce was studying vegan children (with some cooked food) while under Dr. Gabriel Cousens’ program. I’ll have to follow up with him to see what he’s found. You can find the proposal here.
So if long term raw fooders — who decide to do this type of diet after their formative years are sometimes unhealthy — it’s likely babies, who require even more nutrition as they grow could be even more deficient later in life. Something that is definitely not evident in a 2, 3 or even 5 year old.
I’ve heard the argument that raw fooders with issues may have them because of what they ate during their formative years. It may be true or not, but it’s a factor that is hard to prove for an individual. The only thing we can observe is what is happening to that person at the time. If it’s poor health, then the diet may be to blame. (There are many other factors, of course.)
So this is what we decided for the pregnancy…
1. Healthy, high plant matter diet.
2. Some meat, eggs, fish.
3. Supplements including a complete Prenatal profile of nutrients.
4. High quality, non-contaminated fish oil.
5. Support herbs — in moderation.
6. Mineral rich drinks like coconut water.
7. Floradix with iron, for Ann’s Mediterranean anemia.
Healthy… with a major “so far.”
For the dissenters…
You can argue these points with me, since there is no data, but I urge you to look into this deeper. I didn’t go into my observations 4-5 years ago thinking that an all raw during pregnancy was bad — in fact, I wanted to support it. What I saw, eventually swayed me in a different direction.
I’m also clearly not saying all raw or vegan or any other diet is good or bad. If you’ve been around me enough, I don’t really care what diet you eat — I just want to know if it’s working for YOU.
You can easily do this through monitoring your blood test results. Some things that work for health gurus, don’t work for you — it’s very important to know which ones do and which ones don’t so you don’t end up having a health challenge even though you thought you were eating a diet that was the best available.
So again, this is based on our observation, our beliefs and as much as science can help (in the realm of blood tests, which you can learn more about here.)
If you have a healthy all raw baby, I’d like to see your and her blood tests for the next 10-15 years to ensure that her development is appropriate. If we get enough of this data, I’m sure I’ll gladly change my mind about what I’ve written here — but until then, I’m going to side with our human ancestors who brought us to life (and the ancestors before them.)
Even more additional thoughts…
1. If you raised a “raw” or “vegan” baby, and you weren’t all raw during the pregnancy and you’re a raw food or vegan “expert”… you have to come clean about this. Otherwise, you’re not allowing your followers the truth of your story.
2. If you wished us a happy raw baby and congratulations two weeks back when Hudson was born, this post is in no way aimed or targeted at you. We appreciate your wishes more that you can imagine. We feel loved by you and everyone else who commented. I just saw these comments come through, was grateful for them, but also wanted to be clear about where we were so we didn’t mislead anyone.
3. If you have comments for this post, please be nice. You can be as critical as you like, just back it up with either science OR observation.
4. Have an awesome weekend!
Your question of the day: What do you think about all this? Did you raise a healthy raw food baby? Know someone who did?