He has been crusading in his clinic to help obese kids and their parents drop bad habits and replace them with good ones, and he saw many kids -- and their parents -- lose weight.
What are your thoughts on diets that focus on calories?
I’m not against reducing calories. But if that’s all you’re doing, it can’t work. It depends what those calories are. Everything that comes in a 100-calorie container, half of it is sugar, whether it’s yogurt, or cookies, or whatever. If a calorie is a calorie, then it should work. But it doesn’t, because a calorie is not a calorie. And this is the thing that we have to get past. That’s why I wrote the cookbook. Because the question is, once you realize that all calories are not the same, what do you do?
How do you change behavior?
We do one thing at our clinic that nobody else does, and it’s the key to our success. We do something called “the teaching breakfast.” Every kid comes in fasting because we’re drawing blood. So they’re all hungry. They go to the teaching breakfast with their parents – it’s six families all at a communal table – and our dietitian spends an hour with them. The dietitian narrates exactly what’s on the table and teaches the parent and the kid at the same time.
We make sure four things happen. No. 1, we show the parent the kid will eat the food. No. 2, we show the parent that they will eat the food. No. 3, we show the parent that other kids will eat the food, because they have other kids at home and they have to be able to buy stuff that they know other kids will eat. And No. 4, we show them the grocery bill, so they see that they can afford the food. If you don’t do all four of those, they won’t change.
A lot of the recipes in your book use fruit to add sweet flavors. Was this a way to limit refined sugar?
Exactly. People always say to me, “What about fruit? It has sugar.” But I have nothing against fruit, because it comes with its inherent fiber, and fiber mitigates the negative effects. The way God made it, however much sugar is in a piece of fruit, there’s an equal amount of fiber to offset it.
There’s only one notable exception: grapes. Grapes are just little bags of sugar. They don’t have enough fiber for the amount of sugar that’s in them. But I have nothing against real food, and that includes real fruit. Eat all the fruit you want. It’s only when you turn it into juice that I have a problem with it, because then it loses its fiber.