5

votes

Hopeless discussions with my father, and now with my brother. What's the best evidence?

Answered on September 12, 2014
Created October 29, 2011 at 7:11 PM

When food is the conversation subject, that conversation usually turns into a discussion (basically everyone against me) that often ends in personal attacks. I totally gave up discussing with my father, but a discussion with my brother started today ...

I asked him what LDL was (he studies medicine). After a while he said "fat is bad. fat makes you fat, gives you heart disease, worsens your cholesterol, ...". So I asked him how the Atkins diet works. From then on, the discussion got ridiculous : he even said I believe in "conspiracy theories" found on the internet that are just totally crazy, and became almost aggressive when I told him that "butter doesn't make you fat". His arguments didn't make sense, yet everybody agrees with my brother because "the doctor knows better", and because he studied the stuff.

I decided to stop discussing, and go my own way. But there is one thing I wanna know : a lot of people (Gary Taubes, Atkins, even Dr. Kruse) say they read the research from Nobel price winners and got their groundbreaking ideas from those guys. If that's so, what research is that exactly?

E2b9c679315c7c9c7265783dde89f350

(1303)

on November 01, 2011
at 03:38 AM

I feel for you. My brother in law is a chemical engineer who is firmly entrenched in CW. Basically, I have to keep my mouth shut around my in-laws, because, while they're incredibly polite, if he doesn't immediately agree with me, everything else I say is politely ignored. Interestingly, my mother and brother who both have strong medical backgrounds actually listen to me. Which is a little disconcerting, but at least my brother threw out veg oils (dunno if that lasted, he moved out of state recently) and my dad is now cooking in lard!

B0fe7b5a9a197cd293978150cbd9055f

(8938)

on October 31, 2011
at 08:35 AM

That would be a good idea if : - my brother wanted to be healthy - we both had the same health status right now - I could do blood tests whenever I want (I can't)

Af005ec9a8e028f2b04bf5367b64e0d6

(2797)

on October 30, 2011
at 10:26 PM

Doesn't matter. He's looking for sources that acknowledge that the conventional wisdom isn't actually up to par with research. The clinician's guide is both extremely mainstream and, regardless of whether or not they promote vegetarian diets, discusses the current science on those things. Also, it would help if you provided a source when you say things like that. To say it's an "animal rights front" is very vague and I'm sure I'm not the only one who doesnt know what youre talking about. But advocating for better treatment of animals is important to many paleo people too. Myself included.

9d43f6873107e17ca4d1a5055aa7a2ad

on October 30, 2011
at 03:14 PM

Oh, haha, well I think those books have belgian translations too :)

B4e1fa6a8cf43d2b69d97a99dfca262c

(10255)

on October 30, 2011
at 01:05 PM

Korion, i am very sorry that you family treats you this way. they probably think they are showing healthy concern for you. i bet they love you very much inspite of this dissension.

B0fe7b5a9a197cd293978150cbd9055f

(8938)

on October 30, 2011
at 09:13 AM

Wait, Melissa : I'm not German, if that's what you're thinking. I'm belgian :). That being said, I love your answer.

B0fe7b5a9a197cd293978150cbd9055f

(8938)

on October 30, 2011
at 09:10 AM

All the answers are freaking awesome, but like JayJay said :D : nobody answered my real question.

B0fe7b5a9a197cd293978150cbd9055f

(8938)

on October 30, 2011
at 09:09 AM

"Don't let the guys, who lie on the couch and watch television every night, tell you how futile life is" Thank you thank you thank you. I'm gonna write that everywhere so I never forget.

B0fe7b5a9a197cd293978150cbd9055f

(8938)

on October 30, 2011
at 08:57 AM

I will, I will, but I get called asocial then. I try to leave the house as much as possible but it's cold outside and I got work to do.

Cbb1134f8e93067d1271c97bb2e15ef6

on October 30, 2011
at 05:09 AM

Oops..inserted the word "research" in the wrong place..."Major bariatric and research centers..."

Cbb1134f8e93067d1271c97bb2e15ef6

on October 30, 2011
at 05:08 AM

Taubes book has many research citations. Major bariatric treatment centers in the US, like UCSF's COAST center utilize low carb, high fat diets with an emphasis on unprocessed foods research and, as does Dr. Westerman's group at Duke. If you want alot of research, you'll need to go looking for it on PubMed, etc.

Cbb1134f8e93067d1271c97bb2e15ef6

on October 30, 2011
at 05:04 AM

This is a nice interview that specifically addresses your brother's issue with fats:http://www.meandmydiabetes.com/2010/03/24/eric-westman-duke-university-md-on-low-carb-high-fat-new-atkins-diet-password-protected-until-march-24th/

3846a3b61bc9051e4baebdef62e58c52

(18635)

on October 30, 2011
at 02:14 AM

YO! NOBODY ANSWERED THE QUESTION!!!!..."....Nobel price winners and got their groundbreaking ideas from those guys. If that's so, what research is that exactly?" Everyone just focused on the backstory...just thought I'd point that out.

B4e1fa6a8cf43d2b69d97a99dfca262c

(10255)

on October 30, 2011
at 12:44 AM

very good advise

25b139cc1954456d9ea469e40f984cd3

on October 29, 2011
at 11:35 PM

Tom Naughton has skewered them quite hilariously...

9d43f6873107e17ca4d1a5055aa7a2ad

on October 29, 2011
at 11:09 PM

Yep, PCRM is an animal rights front with very few physician members. Definitely NOT a good source.

9d43f6873107e17ca4d1a5055aa7a2ad

on October 29, 2011
at 11:08 PM

isn't PCRM a low-fat organization?

Medium avatar

(8239)

on October 29, 2011
at 11:04 PM

"Evidence" can be one hell of a trap. You can prepare a factual document for Paleo resembling a compelling legal brief, entirely lacking in adversarial tone, even enthusiastic and encouraging, and it is still likely to be received poorly by some family members, who (rightly, often) pick up a judgmental subtext. Different, of course, when an open-minded family member actually asks for information about diet and exercise. Even then, they don't always like actually receiving.

Medium avatar

(8239)

on October 29, 2011
at 11:01 PM

I'm with TeaElf. Nutrition goes on my list (with politics and religion) of topics not suited for family disagreements. Because, really, the disagreements tend not to be about what's being discussed in any particular conversation, but rather about old, primal, mythic family-drama type standoffs that tend not toward resolution, even in otherwise happy families.

96bf58d8c6bd492dc5b8ae46203fe247

(37227)

on October 29, 2011
at 08:59 PM

You actually deserve FIVE points for this answer! LOL

96bf58d8c6bd492dc5b8ae46203fe247

(37227)

on October 29, 2011
at 08:57 PM

Definitely correct, Caveman! When people notice that I look and act great and have noticeably lost weight, many ask what I'm doing and I tell them. I don't try to convince/persuade/convert them, I just state the facts and how MY body has responded. If they ask for more info, I give it but leading by example is what works here. I did, however, ask my son to consider a 30-day elimination diet because he has all the same symptoms I had. I said "It's up to you, but I love you and I'd like you to consider this."

Fb67dc30cead043d1d13ea503a3044dc

(3280)

on October 29, 2011
at 08:52 PM

+1 for a superb link, thanks Beth.

Fb67dc30cead043d1d13ea503a3044dc

(3280)

on October 29, 2011
at 08:50 PM

I find that with intense family discussions, it's not so much what's true/false, nor is the discussion really revolving around the topic at hand. Rather, it's a replay of familiar family tensions and old arguments/old arguing styles. Good luck - I have the same issue with my brother. Devolves to personal attacks as if we're 12 years old; he just wants to fight, not listen. I gave up!

25b139cc1954456d9ea469e40f984cd3

on October 29, 2011
at 08:27 PM

Are you familiar with the concept of triage?

13a44ea00b0c9af0b6d0f3d5f5c2cfca

(7223)

on October 29, 2011
at 08:09 PM

That is a fabulous article!

0511b69b133556de6e7ef12d4ae262bc

(399)

on October 29, 2011
at 07:20 PM

this is a great question. i would be interested to know the answer to that as well!

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12 Answers

12
B4e1fa6a8cf43d2b69d97a99dfca262c

(10255)

on October 29, 2011
at 08:44 PM

i get the impression that this crusade is more about being right than being healthy. Korion, do your cortisol levels a favour and let it go.

B4e1fa6a8cf43d2b69d97a99dfca262c

(10255)

on October 30, 2011
at 01:05 PM

Korion, i am very sorry that you family treats you this way. they probably think they are showing healthy concern for you. i bet they love you very much inspite of this dissension.

B0fe7b5a9a197cd293978150cbd9055f

(8938)

on October 30, 2011
at 08:57 AM

I will, I will, but I get called asocial then. I try to leave the house as much as possible but it's cold outside and I got work to do.

9
9d43f6873107e17ca4d1a5055aa7a2ad

on October 29, 2011
at 11:05 PM

You realize that the more you argue with your family, the more they will dig in their heels and refuse to really listen. This is one of many threads here on PH involving arguments with your father. Many of us have recommended Taubes' book or many other books that have German translations for him. Clearly he hasn't read them. The best thing you can do is keep your head down and try not to draw attention to your diet while you still live at home. I have family members that believe my diet is EVIL. When I'm around them I try not to draw attention to my diet and if they bring it up, I change the subject. It's too emotional for them.

B0fe7b5a9a197cd293978150cbd9055f

(8938)

on October 30, 2011
at 09:13 AM

Wait, Melissa : I'm not German, if that's what you're thinking. I'm belgian :). That being said, I love your answer.

9d43f6873107e17ca4d1a5055aa7a2ad

on October 30, 2011
at 03:14 PM

Oh, haha, well I think those books have belgian translations too :)

B4e1fa6a8cf43d2b69d97a99dfca262c

(10255)

on October 30, 2011
at 12:44 AM

very good advise

7
7dc950fc76a046048e683d2a27dced37

on October 29, 2011
at 07:25 PM

Instead of tracking down nutrition research you should read this -- Made-up minds -- which although about politics holds true for any similar scenario. A relevant snippet:

Our individual responses to the conclusions that science reaches, however, are quite another matter. Because researchers employ so much nuance and disclose so much uncertainty, scientific evidence is highly susceptible to selective reading. Giving ideologues or partisans scientific data that's relevant to their beliefs is like unleashing them in the motivated-reasoning equivalent of a candy store.

And it's not just that people twist or selectively read scientific evidence to support their pre-existing views. According to research by Yale Law School professor Dan Kahan and his colleagues, people's deep-seated views about morality, and about the way society should be ordered, strongly predict whom they consider to be a legitimate scientific expert in the first place ??? and thus where they consider "scientific consensus" to lie on contested issues.

So by all means, feel free to dig into the science if it will make you feel better about your position. But don't expect to change your family's minds. If I were you, I'd avoid these discussions the same way I avoid both politics and religion at home!

Fb67dc30cead043d1d13ea503a3044dc

(3280)

on October 29, 2011
at 08:52 PM

+1 for a superb link, thanks Beth.

13a44ea00b0c9af0b6d0f3d5f5c2cfca

(7223)

on October 29, 2011
at 08:09 PM

That is a fabulous article!

6
6371f0ae0c075ded1b8cd30aafd4bf16

on October 29, 2011
at 07:54 PM

Show them don't tell them. If you say it it's an opinion, if they say it its a fact. Information is great but people are rarely sold on just the facts. Best advice is to go along your paleo way and get super healthy. The time will come when someone will stop and ask what your doing. At that point and only at that point can you help someone.

In this case it's not really about Paleo but rather a long standing sibling rivalry. Here's some advice from Og Mandino that might apply:

Believe By Og Mandino Why do so many people let their dreams die unlived? I suppose it is the negative, cynical attitudes of other people. These other people are not enemies; they are friends, even family members. Our enemies never bother us greatly; we can usually handle them with little trouble. But our friends, if they are nay-sayers, are constantly punching holes in our dreams with a cynical smile here, a put-down there, a constant stream of negative vibrations- our friends can kill us! A man gets excited about the possibility of a new job. He sees the opportunity to make more money, do more meaningful work, rise to a personal challenge; the old heart starts pounding, and the juices begin to flow, and he feels himself revving up for this stimulating new project. But then he tells his neighbor about it over the back fence one evening. He gets a smirk, a laugh that says, "You can't do that", a foot-long list of all the problems and obstacles and 50 reasons why he will never make it and is better off to stay where he is. Before He knows it, his enthusiasm falls down to near zero. He goes back into the house like a whipped pup with his tail dragging along the ground. All the fire and self -confidence is gone and he begins to second-guess himself. Now he is thinking of all the reasons that he can't make it instead of the reasons that he can. He lets one five-minute spiel of negativity of ridicule or just plain disbelief from a dream-nothing neighbor; take the steam right out of his engine. Friends like that can do more damage than a dozen enemies can. Of course, all of us have dreams of a better life in providing more of the good things for those we love and those who depend on us. The trouble is that most of us live in fear, fear that we might stumble and fall if we dare take a chance. Give it a chance to happen. Don't let your brother-in-law or your plumber or your husband's fishing buddy or the guy in the next office robs you of that faith in yourself that makes things happen. Don't let the guys, who lie on the couch and watch television every night, tell you how futile life is. If you have the flame of a dream down inside you somewhere, be thankful for it, and do something about it. And don't let anyone else blow it out. Once you select a goal that is really important to you and make a decision to pursue it, the next step is to make up your mind before you set out toward it. You know that is going to require lots of hard work and accept it. You making up your mind before you start that sacrifice is part of the package. Is this the real secret? Can it be that we all usually go into a new and challenging job or enterprise expecting things to work easily and smoothly instead of planning, up front, for the adversities that are certain to come? If I could wish for any person in the United States a single quality to secure for him success in life, I would not grant to him in massive intellect or a well-coordinated athletic body. I would not bless him with a physical attractiveness or talent. I would wish for him the ability and the will to persist toward whatever his goal!

96bf58d8c6bd492dc5b8ae46203fe247

(37227)

on October 29, 2011
at 08:57 PM

Definitely correct, Caveman! When people notice that I look and act great and have noticeably lost weight, many ask what I'm doing and I tell them. I don't try to convince/persuade/convert them, I just state the facts and how MY body has responded. If they ask for more info, I give it but leading by example is what works here. I did, however, ask my son to consider a 30-day elimination diet because he has all the same symptoms I had. I said "It's up to you, but I love you and I'd like you to consider this."

B0fe7b5a9a197cd293978150cbd9055f

(8938)

on October 30, 2011
at 09:09 AM

"Don't let the guys, who lie on the couch and watch television every night, tell you how futile life is" Thank you thank you thank you. I'm gonna write that everywhere so I never forget.

4
13a44ea00b0c9af0b6d0f3d5f5c2cfca

(7223)

on October 29, 2011
at 07:56 PM

If they didn't ask for the research, I wouldn't bother getting it for them. They aren't going to be swayed if they aren't even the tiniest bit open to what you are telling them. No amount of research you could dump on them will change that.

Your best bet would be to just continue doing what you know is best for your body. Over time, they may become more interested. But then again, they may not. That's ok. You can't force anyone else to change their mind--or their habits.

I would suggest steering clear of any diet-related conversations with them in the future. If they start one, change the subject. Asking them a (non-diet related) question about themselves will usually do the trick.

2
1d0497f8781845ab371b479455bfee8e

(11157)

on October 29, 2011
at 08:26 PM

Simple: You just need a new family. Or move thousands of miles away. My best friend's boyfriend is a doctor, and he doesn't adhere to the low fat, low salt theory driving current nutrition studies.

96bf58d8c6bd492dc5b8ae46203fe247

(37227)

on October 29, 2011
at 08:59 PM

You actually deserve FIVE points for this answer! LOL

1
Ba5b05f5c84750734b218e9f482103dc

on October 31, 2011
at 05:28 PM

Think how you discovered Paleo. Most of us probably were asking for the info, not being told it against our will. Best way to help people is by thriving and when they ask why you're thriving then point them to all the studies and research. Be the change you want to see in the world.

Or tell em Bacon is Good, Pork Chops are Good...and Sewer Rat might just taste like Pumpkin Pie

1
89a38d4a2df3cb2fe3d0c2ee749e121c

on October 31, 2011
at 05:10 PM

Maybe it's your test of tolerance...what speaks truth better than successful results... p.s. Laughing at family frailties is fun.

1
5ef574d7893bc816ec52e04139e9bc09

(6097)

on October 31, 2011
at 04:32 PM

They have to think paleo was their idea. INCEPTION.

1
Daac5f2510a6c0466f22dac57e40d070

on October 29, 2011
at 09:04 PM

I think the best way to learn that saturated fat is not the problem, is to check the results of clinical studies, or meta-analyses based on clinical trial data. The Hooper's meta-analysis is the best IMO: http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1002/14651858.CD002137.pub2/full

Ramsden's meta-analysis (2010) is also nice one. Then there are Skeaff&Miller's meta-analysis and Mozaffarian's meta-analysis too. I think the Mozaffarian's paper is the most problematic and shouldn't really be recommended. Here's one criticism: http://wholehealthsource.blogspot.com/2010/03/leave-your-brain-at-door.html

0
Dc6407193ba441d1438f6f0c06af872b

on October 31, 2011
at 02:37 AM

The answers here have been good, but not enough. Bet $$. You each do bloodwork now. You eat as healthfully as you can for a year, he eats as "healthfully" as he can for a year, and you bet what your and each other's numbers will be. It'll take a bit of work to come up with a set of tests that you both agree upon as significant biomarkers of health (e.g. don't bet on total cholesterol!). Maybe bet on HDL, small-dense LDL, blood glucose, blood pressure, % body fat, etc. Now come up with a big money bet, no excuses allowed, and make sure the loser must endure laughter and humiliation as well as a lecture on the evidence.

B0fe7b5a9a197cd293978150cbd9055f

(8938)

on October 31, 2011
at 08:35 AM

That would be a good idea if : - my brother wanted to be healthy - we both had the same health status right now - I could do blood tests whenever I want (I can't)

0
Af005ec9a8e028f2b04bf5367b64e0d6

on October 29, 2011
at 07:19 PM

You should just get this: http://www.pcrm.org/shop/nutrition-guide/ and point them to the index and look up saturated fat, cholesterol, etc.

Or basically look for any recent (since 2005 at least) research/analysis of the evidence on saturated fat/cholesterol and heart disease. It almost unanimously shows that the effects of saturated fat on CVD are uncertain at best. e.g.: http://www.ajcn.org/content/91/3/535.short

This should be good reading for them as well, as a scholarly critique of the current USDA nutritional guidelines: http://www.nutritionjrnl.com/article/PIIS0899900710002893/fulltext

25b139cc1954456d9ea469e40f984cd3

on October 29, 2011
at 11:35 PM

Tom Naughton has skewered them quite hilariously...

9d43f6873107e17ca4d1a5055aa7a2ad

on October 29, 2011
at 11:09 PM

Yep, PCRM is an animal rights front with very few physician members. Definitely NOT a good source.

Af005ec9a8e028f2b04bf5367b64e0d6

(2797)

on October 30, 2011
at 10:26 PM

Doesn't matter. He's looking for sources that acknowledge that the conventional wisdom isn't actually up to par with research. The clinician's guide is both extremely mainstream and, regardless of whether or not they promote vegetarian diets, discusses the current science on those things. Also, it would help if you provided a source when you say things like that. To say it's an "animal rights front" is very vague and I'm sure I'm not the only one who doesnt know what youre talking about. But advocating for better treatment of animals is important to many paleo people too. Myself included.

9d43f6873107e17ca4d1a5055aa7a2ad

on October 29, 2011
at 11:08 PM

isn't PCRM a low-fat organization?

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