Purging Sugar Part 3: Kick Your Kids’ Sugar Habit

Now that you’ve identified how much sugar is in your life, and how you plan on changing that fact, it’s time to focus on getting kids off sugar.

I know that some people might read this and say “well kids like sugar, kinda silly to deny them that” and I would agree, to an extent. Sugar is ubiquitous to childhood – birthday parties, Halloween, Easter, Christmas cookies, endearingly watching Willy Wonka’s near-murder of 4 random children – sugar is everywhere to a kid. But all of those things existed 30 or more years ago, so why is the childhood obesity rate nearly three times what it was in 1970?

It’s a complicated topic and there’s no clear one answer. Factors include:

  • A trend towards a more sedentary lifestyle
  • Less school time focused on play and exercise (many schools around the country have cut recess and PE in favor of spending more time devoted to passing standardized testing to improve grant funding)
  • Less families are spending time cooking and eating together, two factors that absence of which leads to more fast-food eating, more overeating, and less attention to nutritional emphasis versus simply eating to have eaten
  • More processed food consumption, which means more processed carbohydrate and sugar consumption
  • Little-to-no nutritional education in schools at any level, and misguided or unclear governmental information on the nature of healthy eating (emphasizing grains over proteins and healthy fats, for instance)
  • Massive funding put into advertising garbage food towards kids, as well as the part food lobbies play in what your kids eat at school. In particular, comparing the average American school lunch to that of a peer in another country provides a stark contrast in nutrition-density, variety of foods, and the amount of processing involved.
sugar-free kids, low carb parenting
Luckily, my daughter doesn’t seem to like sugar much. My son, on the other hand…


There’s more to it – studies indicate children with parents who example unhealthy behaviors will adopt unhealthy behaviors themselves, but it’s not good to get defensive or hard on yourself for anything you’ve done in the past. The whole point of this series is to change not only your life but that of those around you who look to you for guidance; wife, husband, children, parents, neighbor, dentist, that shady guy down the street who always seems to have candy. Er, maybe not the last two.

I digress.

BUT as long as I’m on a tangent, I might as well keep going for a second and tell a story:

My Nickname Was Fat Tony (Because I was Italian, A Tony, But Yeah, Also Fat)

I was a fat kid from about 4th grade until now-ish. I didn’t have a lot of nutritional guidance and what I did have was terrible, aiming me towards plain carbs because fat is evil. My mom and grandma were convinced that I needed to exercise more, so I did and I never lost weight. In Health class we were made to believe that eating too much fatty food was the problem, so it was dry turkey sandwiches on wheat bread for lunch and cereal for breakfast, complete with the spit-in-God’s-eye that is skim milk. Nope, still fat (and angry). Finally my senior year of high school, I got a car, a gym membership, and just kind of stopped eating breakfast, cut down my lunches, and I don’t know what I did for dinner. Regardless, the combination of weight lifting, fasting, and just less calories in general helped me go from 300lbs down to 265 when I graduated high school. I wasn’t quite sure what it was that worked, so I kept it all up until a depressive period saw my weight SOAR to 450. But when I finally discovered Atkins and keto 10 years after high school and really started to analyze my eating (and losing weight), I looked back and realized why I was likely fat:

There was sugar in EVERYTHING, EVERYDAY. My mom and grandma never wanted me to drink soda, but I drank probably 50+ ounces of fruit juice daily. I had skim milk – usually several glasses – with every meal at home. I had a binge-eating disorder that caused me to cram cookies and candy down my gullet whenever I was by myself, but even aside from those events, I still had peanut butter bars, cookies, whatever at my disposal all the time. Pop tarts or cereal for breakfast (because I couldn’t eat more than 2 eggs a week due to cholesterol!) When I was in high school, I worked at a fast food Italian place local to Springfield, and I remember subbing their plain, sweet, white bread for garlic bread when I ate my MASSIVE bowls of rigatoni with marinara because the meat sauce had a lot of fat in it and WHY WASN’T I LOSING WEIGHT GOSH.

Point is, carbs were everywhere. I was drinking them, I was eating more of them so that I could “eat healthy”, and at a certain point I’m sure they were scurrying into my mouth as I slept. It’s no wonder I wasn’t losing weight.

This is a good time to mention that childhood diabetes rates are at an all-time high. In a journal published in Diabetes Care in 2011, it’s stated before 2001, only 3% of new childhood diabetes cases were type 2. For the record, type 2 diabetes is insulin resistance – your body stops reacting to insulin, causing chronic high blood sugar levels. This is opposed to type 1 diabetes, which is from a damaged pancreas and a non-production of insulin. For what it’s worth, type 2 diabetes used to be called “adult-onset” but that term has lost its meaning. Now over 45% of new childhood diabetes cases are type 2, and that number is growing. It’s projected that as many as 1/3 or even 2/3 children born in America will suffer from diabetes at this rate, and that’s pretty insane. For the record, diabetes is (type 2 anyway) completely preventable.  There’s not much out there about getting kids off sugar, because the understanding that sugar is the leading problem here isn’t widespread yet, but it needs to be.

If you’re not frightened at the prospect of the social impact of being obese for your child, consider the very real health ramifications of being obese, such as:

  • Significantly increased risk of lifelong obesity
  • Significantly increased risk of heart disease when diabetes occurs before the age of 20
  • Significantly increased risk of fatty liver disease, kidney disease, dislypidemia, polycystic ovarian syndrome, several types of cancer, stroke, diabetes-related amputation, etc.
  • Attention-related disorders
  • Mood swings, depression, tooth decay
  • I could keep going but I feel like the only thing worse than this stuff would be it literally turning your child into a bunch of snakes or pudding or something

Point is, you should be scared of these things. They’re very real – doctors are seeing cardiac patients in their twenties or teens for high blood pressure who have no family history or genetic component.

Make A Change

Fit2Father: One man's journey towards a healthier life and better parenting

I am not 100% advocating a keto lifestyle for your kids. It’s pretty hard and I’d no more recommend a nearly dogmatic approach to your children’s nutrition in keto than I would veganism or something. The main thing is assessing your kids’ diet – is it mostly processed? Is there just an insane amount of sugar? Do your kids have behavioral problems that aren’t quite clinical but are enough that you notice them?

Start by:

  • Do a journal – log your kids’ foods, at least what you can. Obviously older kids will be harder to pay attention to but the best bet would be to make this change while their young. Making notes about mood, activity, personality, etc will help you track changes that food makes in your kid.
  • Introduce healthy food slowly – make swaps. For our kids, we started small with swapping out their peanut butter (a go-to favorite snack) with plain, “natural” types that had literally nothing but peanuts and salt. They took to it just fine. Fruit replaced some candy and while fruit is pretty sugary, it’s 100% better than candy (in most cases).
  • Dilute fruit juices or try to phase them out altogether. Drinking calories is never productive. The same goes with pre-packaged “smoothies” – toss em.
  • Keep treats as treats. When your kids have candy every day, or cookies, or ice cream, it takes away from their special nature.
  • If you want some more tips, sign up for my email list and I’ll send you my “Breaking Kids’ Sugar Habit” download for free. It’s full of tips, tricks, and swaps to get your kids off their sugar addiction (and it might help you, too).

It’s no small feat getting kids off sugar, but every little bit you cut is a step towards better health for you and your family. Make the effort, get help, and change your life for good.



Keto Cinnamon-Vanilla Walnut Butter

Low carb cinnamon-vanilla walnut butter

Almond Butter Is Too Expensive

There, I said it. Everyone THINKS it, but I’m done living in the shadows. No more will we be oppressed by high nut butter prices, especially when it’s insanely easy to make them at home yourself. It takes a little bit of time, but it’s mostly hands-free, with the exception being a few scrapes down the side of your food processor every five minutes or so. That said, I’m also tired of almond butter. I don’t much care for almonds – I’ll eat them, but I’m not overly excited at the prospect – but every paleo or keto blog or recipe I see that extols the virtues of almonds has lead to burnout for me. No more, go away, I’m done.

Enter the walnut!

Walnuts are spectacular for low carb dieting, as well as paleo, or simply for regular people wanting an extremely healthy fat in their diet. Walnuts are full of omega-3s, folate, magnesium, and have a strong link with increasing brain health, particularly in inferential reasoning (in adolescents especially). This is perfect because honestly they look like little brains:

See? This picture is Cartesian, spooky, AND delicious. Brain in a jar!

Plus walnuts are just simply delicious. Give this walnut butter a try when they’re cheap and plentiful during the summer and fall – fresh walnuts are divine, though you can also do this without breaking the bank when walnuts are on sale for holiday baking. The beauty is that crushed or chopped walnuts are usually fairly cheap, as people want whole ones for pretty cookies. We don’t; we don’t care what you look like, walnuts, keto loves you just the way you are.

You can season them any way you want; I chose vanilla and cinnamon because those are the best flavors, but you can choose a lesser set of spices if you want.

Walnut Butter Ingredients

16 oz raw walnuts
1 tbsp cinnamon
1 tsp salt
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 tbsp Pyure sweetener (you can add more to taste, but I don’t recommend more than 1 tbsp at a time)
2 tbsp coconut oil

Start by gathering up your walnuts. Here I chose peak-of-the-season, organic walnuts picked straight from my grandfather’s ancient grove:

Don't need no fancy walnuts
Only the finest plastic bag was used to contain these heirloom walnuts from the store that I bought on sale.

Just kidding; these were chopped walnuts on deep discount from Aldi. Though my grandpa does have walnut trees, so I’ll be pilfering some in the summer. If your walnuts come a little bit bigger and more orderly than these (which were pre-chopped), you can break them down a bit to get them to fit in your food processor a little better, but you don’t really need to.

Before we start to grind them, we’ll give them a quick toasting:

The benefits of two cast iron skillets cannot be stressed enough.

You don’t want them to burn, so keep it at medium-low heat and make sure you’re tossing them around every couple minutes. Also to ensure even toasting, I separated my pound of walnuts into two pans, each with one layer of nuts. Toast for about 8 minutes, then toss them in a bowl and stick them in the fridge for a few minutes, just long enough for you to set up your food processor.

Pour your walnuts into the bowl of the food processor, and start on low speed. If you have a grind option, maybe use that, but I just used the regular chop option and let it run. At first, it’s going to grind them into meal, and it will creep up the sides, so your first few scrapes down the sides of your processor will happen relatively quickly after you’ve started. Let them blend, taking care to keep an eye for side-creep and scraping accordingly, for about 5 minutes. At this point, it should start to get pasty. You’ll add in your coconut oil now; this will help ensure it keeps a creamy consistency (and you can’t taste it). Blend for another 5 minutes.

It should look something like this:

Paleo/Keto Walnut Butter
Not quite there, but getting close!


At this point, add in your spices. As I said, I used cinnamon and vanilla, but you can use anything that’s reasonable. Not nacho cheese or cool ranch, please – pretty sure you can go to jail for that.

I also used Pyure sweetener. It’s stevia-based, and it doesn’t have that weird aftertaste that pure stevia has, nor does it have that odd cooling mouth-feel that pure erythritol has. I highly recommend it:

Not pictured: me spilling that little thing of vanilla a wee bit.

Now you’ve spiced and oiled your walnut butter, we’re in the home stretch. Continue blending for another 10 minutes, scraping down the sides as you need to, though at this point it should be good to go on its own. After 10 minutes, give it one more good scrape and blend for another 5 minutes, or until it reaches your desired consistency. I was done after about 17 minutes total, but mine were already broken down when I started.

Voila! Your very own walnut butter that took little effort and cost essentially half what you’d pay for a comparable store-prepared nut butter. I’ve found that cashew, walnut, and pecan butter are even more expensive than almond and that’s if you can even find them in stores. This has the added benefit of no sugar and no artificial weirdness. It’s toasty, spicy, and perfectly sweet.

Delicious, keto, paleo-friendly walnut butter.

Walnut Butter Uses

What can you do with it? Well anything! Use it for recipes where you would use peanut or almond butter, spread it on apples if you’re eating apples, or just eat a tablespoon when you’re craving something sweet. One of my favorite snacks is 2 tablespoons mixed in with some plain greek yogurt and a pinch of Pyure. It’s perfectly sweet, has a good dose of protein, and it’s not a carby mess like store-bought flavored yogurts.

When summer comes along, I’ll be doing a recipe spot on pecan butter. I LOVE pecans, and it’s a little bit different to make than other butters, but it’s so worth it.

How will you use your new keto walnut butter?


Going Sugar-Free, Part 2: Changing Your Diet

Sugar, Sugar Everywhere

As I spoke about in my previous entry, there’s sugar in nearly all processed food. I’m not certain as to WHY you’d want pork rinds with sugar, or high fructose corn syrup in your ranch dressing, but it’s there. In fact, sugar is so ubiquitous that most basic recipes of food WITHOUT sugar are considered “specialty foods”.

Really? I have to go out of my way to find and spend more on something that doesn’t have sugar, when it shouldn’t have sugar to begin with? How can you justify charging me more to leave something out?

Ok, rant over. Because this sugar is in processed foods pretty universally, I hope that it’s becoming clearer why it’s so common for people to exceed – by a large amount – a healthy amount of added glucose in their diet. When measurable blood sugar comes from anything with carbohydrate, you need to pay attention to more than just “sugar” on a nutritional label, because for the most part, your body doesn’t care where the carbs come from. With that in mind, a little numeric guide:

Carb Levels and Expected Outcomes:

151 or more grams a day: This is where most people start to slowly gain weight. Significantly more than 151 grams a day and you might find the weight gain isn’t even that slow!

100-150g/day: This is a great amount of daily carbs for someone who is at or near their ideal weight, is active, and/or who doesn’t have much to worry about in terms of metabolic dysfunction. A person with this level of daily carb intake could probably eat whatever vegetables they wanted to, fruit, dairy, and a reasonable amount of oats, quinoa, beans, or other starches. You could even lose weight with this amount of carb intake, but you’d need to focus more on energy balance (calories in vs calories out), and keep a daily deficit. It is possible, though!

50-100g/day: Carb restriction at this level will make weight loss fairly easy, and eventually your body will enter ketosis, the state of burning fat for fuel instead of sugar. Eating this level of carbs for a prolonged period will provide better insulin sensitivity, reduced inflammation, and a host of other positive effects. You likely wouldn’t be able to eat processed sugar at all in order to keep this level of carb intake, or at least very sparingly, but you’d be able to indulge in fruits periodically and nearly any non-starchy vegetables (and occasional sweet potatoes). Virtually no grain here, though.

25-5og/day: This is a more traditionally ketogenic level of carb restriction. Mostly meat, leafy vegetables, eggs, some dairy (hard cheeses, for instance) nuts, seeds, and fats. Keeping your carb intake to this level will make weight loss truly easy, as a constant state of ketosis will provide mental clarity, appetite reduction, blood sugar stability (further preventing extreme swings in hunger and energy levels) and shedding of excess body water.


While I practice and advocate a ketogenic lifestyle (I keep my carbs around 30g a day most days), you can still achieve results and get healthy eating more, as long as you keep it somewhere around 100 or less, assuming you still actively need to lose body fat for health. You could go higher if you’re active and already fit. The key is cutting out all the added sugar, and then reducing from there. White bread isn’t your friend. Pasta (sorry nonna) isn’t your friend. Sugar definitely isn’t your friend, nor are any of it’s differently-named-but-still-the-same friends.


With that in mind, it should be time to start looking at alternatives to your current way of eating. You can simply strip out the sugar but following a meal plan and a specific way of eating that has traction and a community will help you quite a bit in both knowing what to eat, how to eat, and staying on track. I have listed a few great eating disciplines below, a few of which I followed or follow myself, but of course you can adapt any desired way of eating to a lower sugar principle. These are by no means the only ways to improve your diet, but the overall inter-related practice of cutting down processed food and sugar are the key to healthy eating for the rest of your life.



There’s a LOT out there about this way of eating, but the intent is taking you back to cooking at home, using whole ingredients and cutting out processed sugar. Pinterest is FULL of recipes dedicated to this lifestyle, and it’s pretty easy to stick to. The focus is on eating healthy, whole, self-prepared foods, rather than on tracking calories and macros. Like a lot of the other examples I will provide, this relies on your hunger self-regulating as your blood sugar evens out when you’re not bombarding it with glucose constantly. In addition, removing processed flavors and certain other chemical additives will help you eat less as your cravings for certain foods (McDonald’s fries, for instance) will diminish or extinguish without the input of the addictive substances added to them. Whole30 is so-named because it is initially a challenge of sorts; eat like this for 30 days, with no cheats, no slips, nothing. After a few weeks, it definitely becomes easier.


Like Whole30, paleo or primal eating focuses on whole foods. The divergence however is that primal focuses on WHOLE foods entirely – no breads, not even homemade ones. It also is a little fast and loose with “added sugar”. A lot of paleo recipes I see use honey and agave nectar because they’re “natural” but honestly they’re still sugar. That said, paleo emphasizes healthy proteins, vegetables, fruits, and no grains. Lots of eggs, nuts, and very little dairy, so if you’re a cheese fan, this might not be the way of eating for you, or at least not in its strictest form.


The low carb diet that started me down this path, Atkins is pretty simple: keep your carbs under 25g a day, and you’ll lose weight. This is pretty spot-on, because when your carb intake is that low, your body stops craving food. High levels of insulin, driven by out-of-control sugar intake, cause extreme swings of hunger and mood, but without those insulin levels – and the resulting increased levels of leptin – your hunger is quelled. Atkins is great because it’s simple – the only variable you really track is carb intake. That said, it can stall you if you just eat and eat and eat and never heed energy balance (calories in vs calories out). The various Atkins diet products are rough, too, as they’re technically “sugar free”, but they use maltitol as a non-sugar sweetener, which has a pretty high glycemic impact.

Keto/Low Carb High Fat

This is the diet I personally follow. I keep my carbs low, only getting them from dairy or non-starchy vegetables for the most part. I aim for at least 100g of protein a day on sedentary days, and more on days I lift weights, and I eat fat when I’m hungry. Ketogenic eating has the benefit of keeping blood sugar stable, allowing for a natural reduction in hunger and calorie intake. In addition, because fat and protein are so filling and slow to digest, keto provides another layer of hunger reduction through the main foods you’ll be eating.






Low Carb Crepes


Little Blueberry Thief!

Breakfast with keto or when you’re sugar-free doesn’t need to be only bacon and eggs, or butter coffee, or … nothing… if you’re into intermittent fasting. There’s a billion things you could eat for breakfast, but sometimes you want something that is delicious and seems indulgent, and crepes are maybe not reminiscent of the latter, but on low carb they certainly feel that way.

I made these by accident one day while trying to make cream cheese pancakes for my wife. I goofed on the recipe and forgot almond flour, and so the batter was runnier than normal. Coupled with the fact that I used a flat griddle pan, when I poured my batter, it spread incredibly thin and cooked very quickly. Not wanting to waste anything, I hurriedly flipped it and then flopped it out onto a pan. The result was a thin, roundish, anemic pancake (by pancake standards) so I thought of how to re-brand it. As if possessed by a supernatural force, I found my mouth moving, words flowing forth from me against my will; “call them crepes”.

I thought quickly about how to best to sell my crepe-nee-pancake to my family and I found blueberries in the fridge. I pulsed them with cream cheese and erythritol in the blender and spread that filling inside, rolling them up and dabbing the tops of each with freshly whipped cream. My wife walked in, probably draw to the sound of the blender (“uh, pancakes?”) and the length of time it was taking me to make breakfast. I whirled around with my best “s’spize!” (how my daughter says “surprise”) and presented these beauties. Her and my little girl ate everything I gave them and then some more. My son even ate some, and to illustrate how impressive that is, my wife is very picky, and my son is even pickier about what he eats.

By contrast, who is 2, will sit on the floor with dad and eat pork rinds from the bag with hot salsa from the jar. Chip off the ol’ tallow-block, that one.

Anyway, crepes. Super easy, delicious, keto, quick, and versatile. Make them with your hands, eat them with your mouth, share them with your friends.


Keto Krepes (is that dumb? Crepes, then)

4 large eggs
3.5 oz room-temp cream cheese
1 tbsp erythritol or Swerve sweetener


Blend the eggs, sweetener, and cream cheese together until smooth.

Heat a griddle or flat, wide non-stick pan over medium heat and grease with butter. Pour 1/2 cup of batter onto the griddle, cook until it starts to solidify (as with normal pancakes, about 1-2 minutes), and then carefully flip. Continue to cook for about 30 seconds and, without tearing or bunching, transfer to a wide platter for filling. A word of caution – making them TOO big will make them unwieldy. About 4 inches across is perfect.

This recipe makes about 4 crepes, so 2 servings, but honestly you can make them whatever size you want. I’ve made tiny ones before and stacked them, with a layer of sweetened, whipped cream cheese in between each before and yeah, it was as delicious as it sounds.

After they’ve cooled for about 5 minutes, spread whatever filling you want on them, just about an inch from the edge, and roll up. Serve with a garnish of the filling on top, or with whipped cream.

I can’t wait until farmer’s market season. Blueberries are the best.


Our Favorite Fillings

We make this one a lot, so we’ve got a good amount of variations in our repertoire. A few favs are:

Berries and Cream

1 cup of whatever berries, fresh or frozen (blueberry and strawberry are perfect)
2-3 ounces of cream cheese, softened
3 tbsp Swerve/erythritol
2 tbsp heavy cream

Blend until smooth.

Cinnamon Roll

1 stick of salted butter
1/4 cup Swerve/erythritol
2 tbsp cinnamon
1 tsp nutmeg

Same as before, soften butter (don’t melt it though) and mix vigorously with sweetener and spices


Juice of a lemon
Sprinkle of sweetner

One of our favorite non-keto breakfasts is German pancakes, these weird, thin pancake things my wife makes (other people do too, I’m sure, probably some of them actually German). We top them with powdered sugar and lemon juice, so the premise here is derivative of that. It’s delicious!


1 cup creme fraiche/mascarpone cheese (I’ve not done it, but you could theoretically use plain Greek yogurt as well).
1/3 cup Swerve
3 tbsp cocoa powder
1/2 cup very strong brewed coffee

Blend everything together – you may need to add a bit more creme/cheese/yogurt to thicken as you see fit. Fill your crepes and then dust with cocoa powder. Eat them, make more, eat those, then call your grandma and tell her you’re finally eating well. She’ll be mega proud.
I’m making these tomorrow actually.


Maybe this will inspire some keto breakfasts; I know a lot of people get bogged down by the thought of meat/eggs all the time, or are so bored with the various iterations of meat/eggs that they skip breakfast altogether. These are reasonably healthy, have protein and fat for satiation, and taste really good. Give them a spin sometime.


Going Sugar-Free, Part 1: Know Your Enemy

Why Purge Sugar?

As humans, our bodies normally operate in a state called “glycolysis” in which we burn sugar for energy (the other metabolic state is “ketosis”, where you burn fat). Though our bodies want glucose to function, too much and you eventually can end up diabetic, along with a host of other potential disastrous consequences. In a perfect world, we’d be in the middle all the time, eating enough carbs to keep us alert and energetic, but not enough to make us sick. The problem is people don’t handle moderation that well. Most of the rest of the world, outside of the US I mean, has an upper limit of added sugar in their daily diet that is deemed healthy. For most of the world, that’s about 20-25g a day, but Americans in particular are eating about 85g/day, which is about 60 pounds of added sugar a year. 60 pounds is a lot of ANYTHING; 60 pounds of spinach would qualify you to change your current job to “brachiosaurus”, but 60 pounds of sugar doesn’t make you a dinosaur, it makes you sick. This is a 3-part series on getting to understand your sugar intake and how to identify sugar in your diet, ways to change your eating habits to drastically lessen your sugar intake, and finally how to kick your family’s sugar habit (especially for your kids). Buckle up, there’s learnin’ to be done.


credit: www.morguefile.com
White? Check. Powdery? Check? Addictive? Check. Yep, sugar is a drug.



Why Is This Bad?

Well, aside from the fact that adding 60 extra pounds of nearly anything into your diet will likely add weight to your body in general, sugar is rough for your body in excess. I am refraining from using the word “toxic” because toxic has very specific meaning scientifically, and sugar isn’t literally toxic. It is, however, unhealthy. The short reasoning is:

  • Blood sugar causes the pancreas to secrete insulin
  • Chronically high insulin levels make the pancreas work harder, damaging it over time
  • High insulin also diminishes leptin, which is the hormone that suppresses hunger
  • We eat more, so blood sugar rises higher, which leads to more insulin
  • Cells resist insulin and eventually, high blood glucose damages organ blood vessels
  • Damaged blood vessels cause heart, kidney, liver, and pancreatic disease, as well as diabetes and other metabolic diseases


The Standard American Diet (SAD HA HOW CLEVER)

It’s really not far from the mark that the acronym of the regular way an American (or really, most of the western world) eats. It’s high in carbs, fat, sugar, and grease, none of it really healthy, and most of it processed in a way that would make Dr. Frankenstein cringe. Some data(I love data):

  • The average American eats out 4-5 times a week.
  • The average fast food meal contains 800 calories or more
  • HOWEVER, American adults tend to underestimate the calories in their meals by 178 calories or more
  • Teens fare worse, underestimating the calories in fast food meals by 259 calories or more
  • A little math reveals that 4 meals at 800 calories apiece is 3200 calories a week. A pound of fat is about 3500 calories.
  • Averaging the 178 and the 259 gives us 219, and if we multiply that underestimation by 4 meals a week over 52 weeks, we have about 45,552 calories, or 13 pounds of fat unaccounted for.

Unaccounted-for calories can pack on the weight, particularly since if you’re not minding calories at the fast food joint, you’re likely not in any other setting, either. Poor food choices are indicative of poor health habits (or at least correlated to them). This is where the SAD’s negative impact is compounded by lifestyle choices; poor food choices laden with artificial flavors and sugar will condition your palate to only crave highly processed food that’s nearly universally without nutritional merit. This in turn leads to overconsumption of calories, as highly-processed food is most often loaded with energy. Overconsumption leads to weight gain, weight gain leads to inactivity, inactivity leads to more weight gain and insulin resistance, which leads to increased risk of heart disease, cancer, type 2 diabetes, etc.

So Am I Saying All Carbs Are Bad?

Not at all – various beans and quinoa are both examples of great carbs. Both are healthy and they taste pretty good, and beyond complex carbs, they offer protein and other nutrients that your body needs. Bread isn’t really useful, though it tastes good, and all things bready – pancakes, cupcakes, …cakes – are probably best avoided except for rare occasions. I think the best policy is moderation, but if you’re very far to one end of the bad spectrum on overeating sugar, then you’ll need to purge it first. As before, I prefer purge to “detox” because “detox” has specific meaning, and although sugar behaves in an addictive way to our brains, it’s still not the same, so let’s examine how to purge our systems of and dependency on, sugar.

These steps are meant to be taken for 1 week – 7 days. Follow these fairly simple rules, as we’re going to establish where you stand on overindulging in sugar/carbs. You might not be too bad off, or you might find yourself next week shocked at your sugar intake and ready to change your eating habits for good.

1. Weigh Yourself and Take Measurements

You’ll be making minor adjustments to your diet – primarily you’ll be monitoring everything you eat, and also making some substitutions. It’s worth getting some baseline information at first, because after a week you might see that even minor changes can produce positive results.

2. Gauge Your Sugar Intake

This step is simple. Download a food log (I personally use Myfitnesspal) and log EVERYTHING you eat, every day. If you don’t have a smart phone, I suggest using a small notepad and logging everything that way, then going to your computer and entering it into your food log. Then, keep track of your macros – fat, carbs, protein, and calories – every night. The log will do this for you, but I further suggest writing it down in a separate log. Putting it to paper makes it more real. That’s it – you’re just logging for the first week.

3. Observe Your Labels

Start really reading your ingredient lists. Did you know there are over 60 names for sugar that are approved for nutrition labels? And something that says “no sugar added” or “sugar free” can still have high fructose corn syrup or honey or something similar, which is still sugar, just run through a semantics filter. While you should be paying attention to the carbs and sugar sections of your nutritional labels, getting a feel for ingredient lists and where sugar hides is essential to understanding just how entrenched it is in our diets. Here’s a graphic with just some of the names – bear in mind that none of these is “healthier” than the others. They’re all just sugar, and though there’s trace minerals in honey and molasses that pure sugar doesn’t have, it’s not enough to warrant using them in excess:

4.Try Some Substitutions

Swap white rice for quinoa, try using lettuce leaves for burgers instead of buns, with the knowledge that, for this week at least, you have the option of going back to what you’re used to. This way you can experiment with healthier alternatives and it’s less frightening than just taking the plunge. I fully understand that psychological effect of “fear of missing out” of your favorite foods. This first week is about opening yourself up to change and also to establish a baseline of your current eating habits, so trying healthy options is a great way to breach that threshold.

5. Reach Out

With as popular as keto and paleo diets are now, you surely have a friend or several who have jumped down the sugar-free rabbit hole. I highly recommend seeking out support from other people. Changing your diet is hard because food is so psychological to us. It’s cultural, mental, comforting, and not least of all essential for survival. Having someone who has been there to talk to can greatly impact your chance at success.


That’s all for this week. Next week we’ll talk about transitioning into a sugar-free, whole-foods way of eating.

Part 3 of this series will focus on helping your family, particularly kids, transition off of sugar addiction. Stay tuned!

How My Kid’s Onesie Supports Heteropatriarchy

My kids’ clothing is oppressive.

Okay, so probably not intentionally. I mean to say my kid’s clothes aren’t men’s rights activists or something. They’re just intended for a certain gender, and before I had a daughter, that made reasonable sense to me. My son, who was born first, has lots of cute clothes that refer to him as “Captain Cutie” or “Mr. Adorable” or “Penis-owner Crime Stopper Guy!”

My daughter, by virtue of being second, also has a lot of these clothes, because hand-me-downs are nature’s way of saying “we love you but not like brand-new-clothes-love-you“. And that’s fine, because spending money on brand new clothes for kids is for suckers anyway, though I digress. This all came about when I was sorting their old clothes into piles for a garage sale. I put a small onesie into a “girl” pile (mostly because my daughter had most recently worn it) and my wife suggested that “it’s a boy’s onesie”.

I looked at it – it was red and blue striped, with a little octopus. It was cute, and aside from the coloration being considered male (dumb), I wasn’t sure how an octopus was inherently masculine; I mean, do they even have … wieners?

My issue with children's clothing - gender roles, Heteropatriarchy, womens rights
Can YOU tell the difference?

The answer, if you’re wondering, is that octopuses (the correct plural, by the way) can change sex at will, and also change their appearance from male to female to avoid jealous murder by rivals, but again, I digress. How was this octopus onesie not suitable for the “girl” pile? If anything, octopuses are the most gender-fluid animals, so it should be good for either kid.

The root of this of course comes from the fact that we were already sorting clothes into “girl” and “boy” piles. That speaks to a much larger issue of indoctrinating gender stereotypes – which colors are masculine and feminine, which animals reflect boys vs girls, etc. That’s something that’s kind of odd, but it’s pretty widespread, and although I yearn for the days when we don’t balk at a child feeling incorrectly gender-designated at birth, I don’t fault parents or even clothing manufacturers for continuing certain gender conventions. Changing those themes is something we’ll need to tackle as a society; I don’t need a piece of clothing to fight that battle for me.

And yet there I sat, staring at this little onesie, wondering what pile it should go in, if people would be confused if they found it among the girls’ clothing items on our garage sale table, and also if maybe I was overthinking this whole thing. My daughter walked up and, taking her pacifier out of her mouth, pointed at the shirt and said “that’s octopus! That mine, daddy!” I smiled but then she took the onesie and walked off, because irrespective of gender, my daughter can sometimes be a bully.

My issue with children's clothing - gender roles, Heteropatriarchy, womens rights
Don’t let that sweet smile fool you…

As I deftly avoided the judgemental eyes of my wife, I began to think about what gender models meant for my kids. Both of them like dinosaurs, throwing balls, roaring, playing with dolls and blocks, princess books and monster books alike, and both seem infatuated with makeup. What does this mean? Do I need to make a “boy traits vs girl traits” diagram and see where they fall? Is there a spectrum for gender, or does gender, like posting political Facebook statuses, not matter at all?

We actively seek out toys that don’t conform to gender; those tend to be the least boring toys, anyway. I avoid any phrasing that suggests a specific gender “doesn’t do that”, i.e. playing with dolls. I subject my children to music that has both male and female vocalists, across all genres. Do I do these things because I’m some incredibly left, ultra-liberal crazy person?

No, I do it because I love my babies and I want them to do whatever makes them happy.

My issue with children's clothing - gender roles, Heteropatriarchy, womens rights
Why would I tell him only Sis gets to play dress-up if both of them doing so keeps them quiet and happy?

The absolute last thing I want is for my kids to grow up with a narrow view of who they can be and what they can accomplish. If my daughter grows up with throwaway role models like the Kardashians, then she might think she can’t be a great scientist, or a fantastic artist, or an incredible…sports…person (I covered this in a previous post about being a fatherless father, but I don’t know much about sports). Likewise, I don’t want my son to feel inferior if he wants to do something “traditionally” considered a woman’s role, like teaching grade school, nursing, or opening a bakery. I don’t want to raise my children with the notion that something they love doing or are good at is somehow wrong because of their sex or gender.

I think my overall lesson from this experience was that I don’t want my children put into a box by society or by branding and certainly not from stupid, gender-specific octopuses. Your babies are born, they grow up, and somewhere in between they might actually listen to you for five, maybe ten minutes. If part of what you’re saying to them is that they can only do so many things or act in a certain way because of something that they had no control over – like their sex at birth – then you’re both wasting your time to help build their confidence, and also eroding their faith in themselves and their abilities, and probably a little bit of their faith in you. And now it’s the dead of winter, that garage sale is long over, and that octopus onesie is…I don’t know, on the cat or lost in our creepy basement, but the lesson it imparted remains:

You can do or be whatever or whomever makes you happy, regardless of whether or not you were born with tentacles.

Mouthwatering Low Carb Breakfast Sandwich Recipe

Low carb breakfast sandwich, keto sandwich recipe

I like a good breakfast sandwich. Sandwiches, in fact, are nature’s perfect food, evolved and perfected for centuries by artists and wizards alike. The problem is bread; bread isn’t the healthiest thing in the world, as even “whole grain” varieties don’t offer much aside from fiber, and there’s far more nutrient-dense ways of getting fiber.

So if you’ve adopted a low carb or simply a scaled-back approach to carbs, what are you to do? Missing that brekkie sammie? I have a solution! Enter the low carb breakfast sandwich! *Fanfare*

My family likes them, they’re incredibly filling, and you can feasibly put whatever you like on them so they never get dull. I, however, tend to keep it traditional; eggs, bacon, cheese.

But for real, put whatever you want on them because that’s the beauty of a sandwich – it’s anarchy in food form.

Keto Breakfast Sandwiches

Sandwich Fillings:

  • 2 strips of bacon
  • 1 slice of cheddar cheese

For this example, I used bacon as my protein, and some cheddar cheese. I opted out of adding eggs because I wasn’t feeling it, but you can; eggs are delicious!

Start by frying up the bacon to whatever doneness you prefer, being mindful that at the end of the cooking, you’ll be leaving the grease in the pan for later. While the bacon cooks, start on the muffins.


For the muffins:

  • 5 tbsp almond flour/meal
  • 2 tbsp butter or coconut oil, melted
  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tbsp shredded parmesan


Beat the eggs well in a bowl, then mix in the melted butter (make sure it’s not very hot, so as not to curdle or cook the eggs in the cup). Add in the dry ingredients and mix them until a batter forms and pour the batter into a greased, wide-mouth coffee mug or a shallow, microwave-safe bowl. Microwave on high for about 1.5 minutes. If you greased the mug, simply turning it upside down should dislodge your muffin. Let it cool for a minute or two, then slice into two (lengthwise, of course, like an English muffin).

At this point, the bacon should be close to being done. Set it to cool a bit on some paper towels and leave the heat about medium on the pan with the bacon grease. Put the two halves of the muffins into the grease to fry for about 2 minutes. After 2 minutes, flip them and cook them for another minute on the other side.


Remove them from the pan and put them on some paper towels as well to get rid of extra grease. I highly recommend straining your bacon grease and putting it in a jar to use later on.

Assemble each muffin with 2 strips of bacon, each broken in two, and the slice of cheddar. You can leave it as is, or you can pop it into the microwave for about 20 seconds to ensure the cheese is melted. After that, you will likely eat it. It’ll be delicious. You might even clap, which is fine.

Keto breakfast sandwich macros:

Calories: 741
Fat: 73
Carbs: 8
Fiber: 4
Protein: 21

In terms of calories, this is pretty dense – I wouldn’t recommend this every single day. That said, it’s delicious and it will keep you full for a very long time. I ate mine at 8 on the morning of writing this, and I’m not even close to hungry and it’s going on 1:30. To cut some calories, you can opt not to fry it in bacon grease (that’s about 100 right there). Instead, pop the muffin halves into the toaster – it works pretty well, too. Ham instead of bacon will save calories, or opt for simply egg and cheese.

There’s a million ways to work this recipe – what’s your favorite combination?







How To Make Your Fat Loss Resolution Stick



Another year, another chance at a new you!

Except not really – every single day is a chance at a new you. In fact, you don’t even have to wait until you wake up. Start right now – stop eating sugar from this point forward. Start running right now, even if it’s only for a few blocks, then do it again tomorrow. Every meal is a choice, every bit of free time you have is a chance at creating something fantastic.

That said, this piece is about making a fat loss resolution stick, but still keep that first bit in mind; that first bit is gold. That mentality will be part of keeping you on track to making your goals a reality this year, that and these other things.

Part 1: Diet

And in this sense, I don’t mean diet as in some kind of fad where you eat in tune with your blood type, or you only eat certain colors of vegetables or when the moon is in a certain phase. That’s all woo-woo. I also don’t mean “diet” in a deprivation sense. You will need to cut calories to lose weight of course, that’s how it works, but I’m not talking about only eating plain potatoes and celery every day. I’m referring to everything you eat, what makes up your way of eating.

1 – Fat loss is about 20% exercise and 80% diet. There’s an old adage “bodies are made in the kitchen, not the gym”. That’s because you really can’t “earn” calories by exercising them off, and most machines or apps that estimate how many calories you burn doing any given activity are pretty bad at their job. So many things go into how many calories you expend and what fuel your body uses for that energy that saying “running for 1 hour burns X amount of calories if you weight Y” is pretty useless.

2 – Sugar is in everything AND it’s pretty bad for you, so cut it out. Modern nutritional research has pretty conclusive evidence that fat – demonized for years as the cause of heart disease and obesity-related diseases like diabetes and PCOS – is actually pretty healthy for you. It’s the sugar we were pushed to instead of fat that wreaks havoc on our hormones and bodies. In addition to restricting calories to lose fat, cutting out added sugar should be another primary concern.

3 – Choose a way of eating that works for you. For me, keto was the way of eating that stuck. It keeps you full, prevents blood sugar swings that cause ravenous hunger, and helps retain muscle when you’re losing weight. Other people though might not be able to swing bacon, cheese, and eggs all the time. The good news is you can still lose weight! Veganism, vegetarianism, paleo, etc – there’s a million ways to cut fat without compromising your way of eating or filling yourself with garbage food, or wasting money on stupid food gimmick shakes. The keys are cutting calories, cutting out/drastically reducing added sugar, and eating whole foods as much as possible. Following those guidelines, it’s pretty simple to lose fat.

Part 2: Exercise

1 – Pick a physical activity you love, and do that everyday. You want to be aiming for at least 30 minutes a day of activity above-and-beyond whatever your normal life is. Make sure this added activity is something you actually enjoy, otherwise it’s not going to stick. If you love hockey, practice drills or skating. If you like lifting weights, do that, but no matter what, don’t pick something you hate just because it’s supposed to be awesome or burn a ton of calories.

2 – That said, make sure you’re doing some strength-training. Studies show that weight training provides the best increase of insulin sensitivity of nearly all exercises. In addition, added muscle mass improves your metabolism, protects against injury, and makes you look better (ok, so that last one is subjective).

3 – Don’t get discouraged if you don’t see weight fly off. In fact, weight should be one of the last indicators of success you look at, though predictably it will probably be the first. Be sure to take measurements of your body: neck, chest, waist, hips, thighs, calf, bicep, and forearm. Measure these weekly. Take frequent pictures as well – these non-weight measurements might change far faster than the scale budges, due to a complex interaction of hormones, fluids, and other factors. Two weeks of dedicated healthy eating and exercise might not move the scale much but you could find clothes fitting better, inches gone from your waist, and a decrease in fluid retention.

Part 3: Mindset

1 – Don’t take on too much at once. Rigorous exercise plan, drastic dietary change, cutting caffeine, soda, cigarettes. People tend to see the new year as a time that they will turn into saints and give up their vices. Though this is a noble thought, doing it all at once will almost certainly fail, and worse yet, you’ll be miserable. Start with one thing, or small bites of several (changing your diet and adding in some simple, fun exercise is a great place to start for instance), and diligently stick to them until they’re habit. After that, look forward to your next goal to tackle.

2 – Recruit. Friends, family, strangers – it doesn’t matter. There is substantial evidence that making a goal vocal, even if it’s simply stating it to a close friend, makes you more likely to stick with it. Perhaps its the fear of public failure, or the desire to prove to yourself and others that you can succeed, but regardless, recruit people into your changes, even if it’s only as spectators. Join some weight loss Facebook groups, start tagging your progress pics on Instagram with trending hashtags, or start a blog about your journey and share it with anyone who will listen. Having a cheering section does wonders for your motivation.

3 – You only fail if you give up. Platitudes aside, this is one I’ve struggled with because of my binge eating. The number of times that I’d started a diet, or an exercise routine, and then went off target and then said “screw it” and binged is difficult to count. People derail all the time – parties, holidays, birthdays – all tempt us to eat bad food, drink booze to excess, or stop exercising. The worst thing we can do after this is to say “well, I’ve already screwed up, I’ll just screw up some more”. In these cases, you need to regain your senses, cut your losses, dust yourself off, and get back on the path. I mean, if we’re being literal and you are on a path and you go off the path, just, you know, get back on that path. It’s right there, just go back. Don’t go into the forest, no matter how many pizzas and beers are there.

4 – Plan. Exercise routines, meal plans, grocery lists, and contingencies for hiccups. If you start a low carb diet and you’ve got a beautiful meal plan worked out, but your daughter suddenly has banjo practice, are you going to hit a drive thru? No! Have some chicken or burgers cooked up. Wake up late and no time to exercise? Have a quick, 10 minute routine worked out for those occasions and skip the coffee shop that morning. Always have a back-up plan because life is full of detours and side quests.

Make 2017 your year for sure, but make tonight your night, and make tomorrow morning your morning. Stick to your resolutions because life isn’t about the broad strokes until you’ve passed those moments by and can look back at the painting. Life is about the little choices, the nuances of colors made up by your decisions with your time. Every meal is a choice, every second of leisure time unspent until you choose to allocate them someplace, and choice is the keyword here. Go, you crazy chooser. Go choose good things.


Fatherless Fathering

Yeah, like, I get it Rally’s, thanks. Now I’m conflicted AND hungry.



Fatherless Fathering

Have you ever noticed that when you say or type a word too often, it suddenly becomes foreign? Like the word itself makes no sense and you’re not sure how it ever did in the first place? I’ve typed “father” a lot lately, and the only time it looked more bizarre than it does now was when I saw it on my son’s birth certificate.

There was that line: “father’s name:”  I knew the rules, biologically, and I accepted that I was responsible, but actually being a father? Anyone could technically sign in this space and the county would have all it needed, but for me it was more like signing a job description, embracing my duty.

To put some perspective on the fear I was feeling at this point, I had just gotten my first real job after 3 years at a sandwich shop, had just graduated college, and, at a previous point, had given a puppy back to a friend after 2 hours because the enormity of taking care of it terrified me. In my mind, I was not in a good place to take care of a kid, so when I went to sign that line (“father’s name”), the pen felt a lot heavier than any pen ever had before. Should I sign it? Can I sign it? As a fatherless father, was this ok?

I don’t know who my dad is, not just in the existential sense, or in the “he died fighting overseas before I was born” sense, but in the “I honestly do not know who my biological father is” sense.

My mom was married to a guy when I was younger, but that didn’t work out, and he wasn’t really the patron type, so it was my grandparents, my mom, and me. Don’t get me wrong; my grandfather was one of the greatest goddamned people I’ve ever met, but it’s still different from a dad.

I have all of these expectations of talks I should have had with a dad that never transpired; what if, when I’m supposed to have those talks with my son, I just blank? What if that data was never acquired, and all this time I’ve been doing something critical in my life just completely incorrectly? Am I shaking hands wrong? Would I have been more confident in dating had I a father to talk to about women? How would my life have differed if I grew up with an actual father, even a bad one?

I feared signing that paper because of all the things I don’t know that fathers typically teach their sons. I don’t know much about cars. I abhor most team sports. I’m not particularly handy. My grandfather taught me billiards, taught me how to swim, and instilled me with a love of gardening, and for that I’m thankful, but I feel like I missed out on key “dad” information. How do I know what to pass on to my kids? Is there a GED for dads?

As I put the pen to the paper, one last hesitation existed in the form of fear of the past. My stepdad was a violent drunk, and a physical person to begin with. I was humiliated and beat in front of my friends, given absurd chores to do at a very young age and met with threats of violence if I had trouble with them, and I was privy to torrents of withering verbal abuse from him towards my mother. In times of extreme stress or anger, I could feel his hatred and words pop into my brain and I didn’t want to project that at my wife or kids, knowing that having a baby would be the most stressful, anxiety-inducing thing I’d ever experienced. In my heart of hearts, I didn’t want to be the kind of dad that stuck around but was a horrible influence on his children.

With all of this apprehension in the back of my mind, permeating my soul with regrets and fear, I was, even after meeting my  amazing little son, still terrified of signing that paper; of signing up to be someone’s father when I was so woefully undereducated on the position.

So now here is this blog, one I named Fit2Father, despite STILL being unsure (even over three years later). Obviously I signed the paper, and did so again when my daughter was born. If it had been called “Fit2Abandon”, “AmIFit2Father”, or “GotAllThisExtraChildSupportMoneylol”, we might have a twist here but thankfully I think I’m alright at the most basic aspects of parenting. I keep them fed, I read to them, I play dinosaurs and babies, and most importantly, I have fun doing those things.

I love my children more than anything in existence, but the nagging self-doubt always rears its head.

How embarrassed will I be that I can’t fix the car if it breaks? What will I do if my son loves football? I really don’t know thing one about football. What if my daughter also loves football? Are there girls football teams or will we need to make one? Why is it called football and not “hand-egg”? So many questions…

Truth is, I know if those things come up, I will handle them, because there’s one thing I know that a father does, and that’s support their kids. So if my son or daughter loves sports, I’ll learn sports and throw balls (spastically, I’m sure). I’d do the same thing if they wanted to dance, hunt, or deep-sea fish as well.

Being a fatherless father, I’ve come to realize that my kids will learn about things from me, and even though I didn’t have a template to work off, I will need to teach them regardless.

Besides, a lot of the coolest stuff in the world was done without templates.

Crockpot Butternut Squash Soup Recipe

Butternut Squash soup, easy crockpot dinner, easy slowcooker dinner, low-carb soup, low carb dinner, low carb slow cooker

Crockpot cooking is a constant in my family, given our desire to eat healthy but also save time. Now that it’s Fall(ish) here in Illinois, it’s time to adjust our diets once more to allow for a few gluttonous days (looking at you, Thanksgiving), but still allow ourselves delicious meals on a daily basis.

Enter: Butternut Squash soup

Crockpot Butternut Squash Soup Recipe, slow cooker soup recipe

This butternut squash soup has become a staple throughout the colder months and it’s not only an absolutely amazing comfort food, but it’s fairly healthy, too!

Required equipment:

  • Crockpot/Slowcooker
  • Immersion blender (we have this one and it’s my absolute most favorite kitchen tool!)

Crockpot Butternut Squash Soup Recipe, slow cooker soup recipe


  • 2 Cups Vegetable Stock
  • 3 Cloves of Garlic, diced
  • 1 Large Onion, diced
  • 1 Medium-Sized Butternut Squash, peeled and diced
  • 1 Cup of Baby Carrots (chopped regular carrots are fine, too)
  • 2 Apples (Granny Smith tastes best for this recipe, imo), diced
  • 1/8th tsp of cayenne pepper
  • 1/4th tsp of black pepper
  • 1/2 tsp of garlic powder
  • 1/4th tsp salt
  • 1/2 Cup of Heavy Cream (optional, and to be put in at the end)

Place stock, garlic, onion, squash, carrots, apple, and seasonings in the crockpot. Cook on low for 6-8 hours or on high for 3-4 hours, until the squash is soft.

Using the immersion blender, puree the mix until smooth, then stir in the cream.

Serve with optional garnishes, such as red pepper or sour cream.

Crockpot Butternut Squash Soup Recipe, slow cooker soup recipe

It makes about 6 servings, depending on how garnishes and cream, but just the soup itself, per serving (assuming 6) breaks down like:

Calories: 126
Fat: 5 (this is with the cream)
Carbs: 15
Fiber: 3
Protein: 1

It’s a warming, delicious fall side or light meal if coupled with a solid protein, like roast pork. Depending on if you’re in the very early stages of low carb eating or not, the 12 net carbs per serving might be “a lot” for you, but it’s fairly low carb and low GI, in addition to being crammed with vitamins.



What’s your favorite part about Fall (other than Halloween, of course…)?