This transcript is brought to you thanks to the hard work of Trish Roberts.
Welcome Tom, to the Keto Woman podcast. How are you doing today?
I’m doing well. How about you?
I’m very good. Thank you. And it’s, it’s very nice to be talking to you and I got to watch your new movie the other day and enjoyed it very much. So I’m sure we’ll get to talk about that later.
So first perhaps you could just tell us a bit about you, what your story is, what led you to make the notorious Fat Head movie?
Well, when I made Fat Head, it actually began life as a response to Super Size Me after I watched Super Size Me. I thought it was an amusing film, but also full of nonsense. So I began by shooting a response to Super Size Me, which is kind of what the first half of Fat Head is about. But I was doing research while shooting it because I wanted to do my own fast food diet and prove that I could lose weight eating fast food. And the research kept taking me to sites where people would be saying no, saturated fat does not cause heart disease. No cholesterol is not the problem we were told it is. And I would keep following links and following more links and I would end up at good research. And as I was shooting Fat Head, I began to realize, oh, in addition to everything else, the dietary advice we’ve been given for the last 30 to 40 years is mostly wrong. So really the second half of Fat Head kind of became about how screwed up our dietary advice is. So people have pointed out, and they’re right, it’s almost like two films stitched together. Part One, here’s what’s wrong with Super Size Me. Part Two, your dietary guidelines are full of nonsense. So that kind of set the whole, whole career in motion because once I made Fat Head and then started blogging, I just kept continuing.
And what about you, your past, I saw a bit about this in the Fat Head Kids movie. You talked a little bit about that. And I love, I love the whole concept because how many times have we said that to ourselves? Goodness, I wish I knew what I know now, back then.
Absolutely. And partly what inspired Fat Head Kids was one, my own experience because I was the kid who became a fat kid around age 13 and I’m 60 years old, so that was back in the days when we would have one or two fat kids in each class. And then I became one of them. So I remember that body shame, of being 14/15 years old and having a fat belly and skinny arms and legs and growing the boy boobs. So this is a subject near and dear to my heart. And the other thing that inspired us to do Fat Head Kids was after Fat Head came out, we heard from a lot of parents, telling us that their kids loved Fat Head and they watch it over and over and that it really taught them a lot about diet and health. And that got my wife and I talking about what’s our next project going to be?
You know what, it should be something that we actually direct that kids. And of course many people who have read the book or seen the film have said, well yeah, you made it for kids, but I’m an adult and I learned a lot from it too. And that was certainly the intention. But more than anything else, we wanted to make sure that we explain this in a way that our daughters, who are now 15 and 13, we wanted people our daughter’s age to be able to understand it because, as so many people told me when they sent me emails about Fat Head, gee, I wish I had known this when I was a kid, and boy do I relate to that thought?
Absolutely. And I think it’s a real skill. You talk about conveying that message in a way that kids can understand, but I think it’s a real skill to bridge that gap so that kids and adults can watch it and the adults don’t feel like it’s, it’s condescending. They get things from it too. They enjoy it. I enjoyed watching it. I learned things from it and I’m far from being a kid. So I love that you can bridge that gap.
Well, thank you. And I mean that was of course the most challenging part of it was, we kept asking ourselves over and over, how do we explain this at a level that kids can relate to? I’m a big believer in the power of analogies when you were explaining things. I remember all the way back to high school, I had a physics teacher and I still remember telling people this guy could explain physics to a five year old. And what he did was he kept coming up with really brilliant analogies for explaining things. And I’ve always remembered that. I did used to be a journalist by the way, and that was something I tried to incorporate when I would write a health article. I would try to keep bringing analogies into it. So we kept looking for analogies when we were writing the book, which came before the film. And struggled actually because I came up with analogies that worked for each individual chapter, but it didn’t work as a whole unit. I remember when in early drafts to explain how you have a metabolism and it, it determines how much energy you burn. I had this house with a thermostat and the air conditioners on and the windows open, and why the house would use more or less energy. It made sense for that chapter. But then for explaining how the fuel system works, I’m like, well, you can burn sugar, you can burn fat. So I had this car that had two fuel tanks and you know what determined when it burned the sugar. And when it burned the fat. Each individual chapter made sense. But when I looked at the whole thing as a book, I thought, I’m jumping all over the place here. I’ve got this analogy and then I’ve got that analogy.
So I did what every smart husband should do, I had a discussion with my wife. I said, here’s what bugs me about this, and she actually was the one who came up with the idea. We kicked around a lot of ideas, so she’s actually the one who came up with the idea for the spaceship. God bless her. Once we start talking about it in terms of, let’s turn the body into a biological starship because. a starship, like a house, it needs heat and you will have the energy usage going up and down. It needs fuel, it can have the different fuel tanks. And once we settled on that idea, suddenly all the analogies for everything we were going to talk about, just fell right into place. At that point, the writing became much easier. Now I knew where I wanted it to go.
Gosh, it shows as well, how often collaboration is what makes a project, that just having somebody to bounce those ideas off. And in this case you came up with the answer you were looking for. I do love it. And I love that it’s another thing that bridges that age gap is, is using the whole riff on the Star Trek characters. Because it’s something that all the generations will be familiar with. And it reinforces the lessons, if you like, that you’re telling throughout, because you go back to the same characters that you get increasingly more familiar with what their roles are, as the film goes on.
Yeah. Once my wife floated the idea of the starship, then that’s exactly what I started thinking of, it’s, oh, wait a minute, we can have a Mr Spock-like character who’s all about the science and we can have a doctor character who chimes in about medical issues. And then of course suddenly, well, how are we going to explain metabolism? Well, the shift’s chief engineer who’s going to be named Marty Metabolism, and in the film gee, he’ll have a Scottish accent for some reason, and then it all fell together. And this was very much a collaborative effort because we knew all along when I was writing the book, we knew my wife was going to illustrate, and in order for the illustrations and the words to work together, we had to talk about each concept and kind of storyboard it and say, how do we explain metabolism? How do we explain it going up and down? Ah, well Marty, our engineer’s going to have this control panel where he’s doing all these different things in the ship. So everything in the book and the film was very back and forth. How about if we did this, could you draw that? Would it make sense if we showed it this way? So yeah, it was great to have a collaborator, especially one who lives in the same house.
Very convenient. And it was very much a family affair, wasn’t it? I know watching to the end credits, all the characters come up. Oh yes, that name looks familiar. They look like they’re all part of the same family.
There’s somebody Naughton, and somebody else Naughton, and somebody else Naughton. I’m fortunate that my nephews – two of my nephews – my brothers’ sons are actors. They’re good actors. They do theater in their hometown. I’ve gone to see them do plays and I knew they could perform. I know they’re both funny. So, of course when I wanted to start putting cartoon voices in this, I immediately said, hey guys, would you like to do the voice overs for my film? And my daughter did some, my wife did a couple, I even got my older brother to sneak in there and do a couple of lines. In fact, the only performer in the credits, not named Naughton is my buddy Jimmy Moore. And he happened to be visiting one week when I was still working on it. I’ve heard Jimmy do podcasts and I know he’s got that natural ham personality in him so I said, would you want to do a couple of voices for me? He said sure.
You roped him in.
Yeah, so it’s a bunch of Naughtons and one guy named Jimmy Moore.
Fantastic. Yeah. It is something I notice. I always like watching to the end credits because you quite often get little extras and you did have some extras as the credits rolled. Some little extra cartoons and things.
Yeah, we had to sneak, a couple of a final little bits of humor in there.
Talking of humor. That’s a strong part of your background, isn’t it?
Yeah. I spent most of my thirties as a standup comedian. I used to live on the road and my apartment for most of my thirties was kind of like a glorified mail drop. I mean, I would live on the road, then I’d maybe come home for a week. Because of the experience with standup, humor has always been important to me in almost anything I do. Whether it’s a blog post, a book, a film, I believe that if you keep people entertained, they’re going to stick around and eventually absorb the message. And I’ve seen a lot of documentaries on diet and health, which I think are fabulous, but I wasn’t sure if a kid would sit through them. But if you add that fun aspect to it and you add that humorous aspect to it, then I think kids will stick around.
And again, that’s what a lot of parents told me, oh my son watches Fat Head, once a week he seen it 10 times and things like that because he thinks it’s funny. So we very definitely wanted to make sure that when we were producing the book and the film, we wanted to keep the entertainment and humor content high enough to keep a kid interested. And there are jokes in there for the parents too. I mean with the Star Trek references, I think more adults are going to get those than, than young kids.
Exactly. And talking about the production. I’ve had some insight over the last month with learning how to edit this podcast, but I know that you produced this film yourself and that must just be a whole new level of difficulty producing a film, let alone animation.
It was. We learned the process on the fly. For animation, it basically got down to, my wife would take, in some cases, the drawing she’d done for the book, but in most cases she had to draw them all over again. Because for animating you have to draw characters in a particular way, and then you have to chop them up into body parts and then you have to link those body parts in such a way that if the arm bends, it bends at the correct place in the elbow, stuff like that. And that you don’t have a gap showing where the arm was when you bend into a different direction. So it was just something we both learned on our own. Thank God for lynda.com – I recommend it to everyone, even though they don’t pay me to – lynda.com, because you can go there and learn anything about production, photography, et cetera, et cetera.
So we watched a lot of lynda.com courses on how to do this. And I did practice animations and found out at first I didn’t have a clue what I was doing, but something that I’m always preaching to my daughters is, that nobody’s born knowing anything. So every professional in every field had to learn how to do that. So I just kept reminding myself, this is something I can learn to do. So my wife learned how to properly draw and illustrate and break the characters into the correct parts. I eventually learned how to throw those animations or those illustrations into Adobe After Effects, and how to animate them and just kept doing it. It was the same thing when I did Fat Head, I had to learn how to video edit for the first time and how to make sound, and all that. And I love learning new things. So it’s not like this was a painful process. It was just a long process.
Me too. I feel the same way and I have a very methodical and logical approach. So things like that where it is all about the technique, that you just have to practice and do over and over. I’m the same. I knew that I could learn how to edit. The bit that frustrates me is the speed with how long it takes to do that. And I want to be able to do it a lot faster than I’m able to right now. But I know it’s just a case of sticking with it. But I should imagine that’s what you found making the film, you were a lot faster at doing all the things by the end than you were at the start.
Oh yeah, absolutely. And I knew that would be part of the process. But in addition to teaching myself to do stand up comedy back in the day, when I was around 40 and thinking about getting married, et cetera, et cetera, I knew I had to find a way to get off the road. So I eventually taught myself to be a software programmer, which is what I then did for, and still do, for a living for the next, two decades. And it was the same thing. I mean at first you’re trying it and nothing’s working, and you want to tear your hair out, but eventually if you stick with it, you learn it. So I’ve been through that process before and I knew it was just a matter of going through it again. We all wish we could read a book and know everything there is to know in one day. But the fact of the matter is, it takes a while to learn to do something that’s complex like animating, but it’s all about sticking with it. And I look at it this way. It was a long process to get through, but now I have that skill, so the next one I do, the next film I do, or next video cast I do, or wherever I decide to use animation next time, I know how to do that now.
Exactly. Going back to the origins of Fat Head, where did the name come from? Is it literally just as obvious as it sounds? Again, did you throw some other ideas about names? What are the ones that ended up on the cutting room floor?
That film spent a long time untitled just because I had to save the documents into a folder with some name instead of Super Size Me. Because I was originally responding to Super Size Me, I threw everything into a folder called Super Slap Me just so I could find it on my hard drive and I knew that was not going to be the title. It was when I was reviewing interview footage and Mary Dan Eades, who was one of the doctors I interviewed in Fat Head said at one point – she was explaining why fat is important and why the whole idea of everything should be low fat is nonsense – she was explaining that your brain is mostly made of fat and she said so when people call you a fat head, they’re not kidding. And as soon as I saw that piece of interview footage, I said that’s the title, Fat Head.
Right. And I think maybe the first time I came across Fat Head was the infamous pizza, the pizza base. Everyone was talking about this pizza base we could have called fat head. And I went searching and that’s where I came across the blog and the film and so on.
And the irony of that is people call it FatHead pizza and they give me credit for coming up with it. I deserve no credit whatsoever for FatHead pizza. That recipe originally came from a site called Cookies Creations. My nephew tried it, he liked it, he altered it a little bit and then my brother told me, hey, this makes a really great pizza. And I said, well have Eric – that’s my nephew’s name – I said, well, have Eric write up a little post about it and post the recipe and some pictures. So he did. So my total involvement in the whole process was saying, well, why don’t you have my nephew write that up and put it on the blog? And now everybody calls it FatHead pizza. And I actually had email exchanges with the woman from Cookies Creations who said, don’t worry about it. No worries. I’m glad the recipe is out there, but people call it fat head pizza and I’m grateful for that. But believe me, I did not come up with it. Other people did.
I know, and I remember reading the article where you actually said that. Yes, great respect for that because it’s something that irritates me where people don’t… When you’ve taken a recipe and yes, you might have tweaked it a little bit, but you’ve totally just taken a recipe on board and you love it. And then you’ve shared that. I do think you should give credit, so I always really respect people who do that. And then that recipe again has been taken off. And I mean, I don’t know of a keto food blogger who doesn’t have a variation of the fat head pizza dough.
Yeah. And I get a Google alerts, because the word FatHead is in there and people say, I made FatHead muffins, or FatHead this, or fat head that, using the FatHead pizza recipe as the base. It’s like, well it’s great that it’s out there, but way back in the original post that my nephew put up, he linked to Cookies Creations. So credit where credit is due. Everybody out there who loves the fat head dough, thank Cookies Creations.
Yes, absolutely. So you effectively popularized it. That’s what it comes down to. But it’s quite something that people don’t even need to say pizza dough. All you’ve got to say is, I’ve made this usingFatHead, so they’ll say fat head cookies or fat head cinnamon rolls or whatever it is, and everyone knows exactly what you’re talking about.
Yeah, I guess so. So I guess it worked out the way it should have.
It did but it’s really nice that you give credit where, like you say, where credit’s due. And so back to the Fat Head Kids movie, you’ve got lots of great interview snippets in there. There are lots of people you obviously went off to interview to contribute.
Not every year, but most years go on the Low Carb Cruise, the one that Jimmy Moore puts together and he always has fantastic speakers on that cruise. So once I realized I was going to make this book and film – and I knew from the beginning that I was going to do a book and immediately turn around and turn it into a film – I just took my camera with me when I went on the cruise and I would drag someone, one of his speakers into a room and record. And I think the only interview that I didn’t get from one of the cruises was Doctor Robert Lustig because I was a speaker at the Ancestral Health Symposium one year and he was there, and I have tremendous respect for his work so I grabbed him at that. Actually now that I think about it, also Nora Gedgaudas and Doctor Feinman were at that conference. So yeah, I grabbed interviews with them because I happened to be at the Ancestral Health Symposium and then the rest I grabbed from the cruise. Which was nice because these were trips I was going to make anyway. As opposed to Fat Head, I was flying around the country, specifically to get people on camera. So it was quite awesome to just have them already there and already available.
Yeah, very convenient. It’s always good to multitask, isn’t it? I do have a favorite quote from the film that just absolutely made me laugh and completely resonates with me because I have the same thing for breakfast every day. And it was from Dr Ann Childers and it really made me laugh. She said, “What’s pretty surprising is, I’ll occasionally get a call from a teacher. The teacher will say, please put Jessie on an additional dose of that medication that you’re giving. And I’ll say what? Bacon and eggs?” I love that.
I actually had a difficult time when we were conducting that interview – not laughing out loud at that myself – because of course you don’t want to hear what the interviewer laughing in the background. But I agree with you, that quote says so much in that one sentence about what’s right for kids, and about what’s wrong with our dietary guidelines. We have so many kids these days being diagnosed with ADHD, and I think part of that I think is just more awareness on the part of the schools. Back in the day, kids who had what we now call ADHD maybe would have just been labelled troublesome kids. So I think it’s partly a matter of we’re diagnosing it more, but I also think we have more kids these days who were having difficulties concentrating because their diets are so horrible. Yes. An additional dose of bacon and eggs. That’s what a lot of these kids need.
Yes, I love that section. That chapter. I liked the way the film was broken down into chapters. It felt like something that could be used in schools where they show a chapter per lesson, whether it’s daily or weekly. It could easily be broken down into those little sections that you could just watch that chapter, and then have a discussion about everything that that was talked about in that chapter.
And of course that was partly to make the film be more or less like the book. I mean obviously it’s animated and there are voice-overs and we didn’t have cutaways to interviews in the book, but the outline, the chapter list is pretty much the same as in the book. But yeah, it would be nice if people would show this in schools. Although the hurdle we’re going to have there is that we’re saying the USDA’s recommendations are wrong and in America’s schools – public schools at least – are required to follow those guidelines. So I’m not sure how school districts are going to feel about showing a film where I’m saying by the way, the lunch that they’re about to serve you is based on guidelines that are incorrect.
Yeah, little bit tricky. But yes, I did like that chapter where you talked about mood and behavior and how important it is to set yourself up right for the day. And those kids in class who are looking out the window or being disruptive, that’s quite likely what it comes down to.
Yeah, and I mentioned this I think in the book we didn’t have… whenever you do a film you have to kind of take a book and trim it down, otherwise it turns into a mini-series. So not everything that we covered in the book is covered in the film, or maybe not covered the same way in the film for brevity sake. One thing that occurred to me when I was working on that chapter in the book anyway, I remember – again, I’m a software programmer – I remember I was in a meeting with a guy from a company who needed me to write a fairly complicated piece of software for them. We started the meeting in the morning then we had lunch. I had a salad with chicken. He had a big sandwich on white bread, a bag of chips and a Coca-Cola, and about an hour to an hour and a half after lunch, he starts obviously kind of nodding like he’s going to go to sleep.
And then he said, I’m sorry, we’re going to have to continue this discussion tomorrow. I’m brain fried. I can’t think about this anymore. And I’m thinking, really, because I could think about this for another eight hours. And he was probably 15 or 20 years younger than I was at the time. And I’m thinking, this is not that your brain is fried, this is that you ate a lunch that caused your blood sugar to shoot up, and then drop like a rock. And now your brain is trying to go to sleep. You think about that with kids in school who eat these awful sugary carbs-laden lunches, how are they supposed to concentrate in the afternoon?
Yes, it’s no wonder that they just lose focus or start playing up.
Yeah. And I remember when I was a kid – again around that time that I started gaining weight and I was living on cereal and bread and pasta and all those quote unquote, healthy foods – my parents remember that when I was around that age, I had a well-deserved reputation for having a hot temper. I would sometimes fly off the handle and go into these rages over what really should have been inconsequential frustrations. Nobody who knows me now thinks I have a hot temper. People who know me now think I’m very calm. Well, my personality didn’t go through a sudden shift. I can guarantee you it was all about diet, and how I’m feeding my body and my brain. And one of the lovely letters I got after Fat Head went to Netflix was from a woman telling me that she and her husband had switched their diet after watching Fat Head because they wanted to lose weight – which they did – but she said, that’s not why I’m writing you. I’m writing you to tell about the effect of this diet on my son. He was failing in school and he was known for his rages, and then they switched to a high protein, high fat, low carbohydrate diet to lose weight. She said he has become an A student, and he’s calm and happy and funny. That was from a switch in diet and again it makes you wonder how many kids are diagnosed with behavioral problems and put on drugs when as Ann Childers said, what they need is an additional dose of bacon and eggs.
Yes, exactly. They need to be diagnosed with the wrong diet.
What about your kids? How does it work in a family environment? I mean, I know I find it easy because it’s just me. I live on my own and so I can clear out the cupboards. I have a real problem with carb addiction, and I just can’t be around those kinds of things. But it’s easy for me because I can just have exactly what I want in the house, and so not have any of those things in front of me. How does it work in your family? Because I know some families have to cater for people in that family who don’t want to eat the same way as they do. Does everyone eat the same way?
Everyone eats in a similar way? The way we handle it, my wife and I are very careful about not turning into the food fascists, especially when you’re dealing with teenage kids, there’s that urge to rebel anyway.
Exactly. Whatever you’re asking them to eat, even if it’s something that they would love, if your saying, you have to eat that. I can remember it completely. Automatic response is I’m not going to eat that.
Exactly. We control it by being careful about what we have in the house. We don’t have cereal in the house. We don’t have white bread in the house. My daughters do like – there’s a particular brand of gluten-free bread – they like that. I’m okay with them having it. Kids – unlike those of us who became insulin resistant and overweight, and need to watch what we consume as adults – I don’t think kids necessarily need to be on a low carbohydrate diet. What they need to avoid is being on a junky diet. So my girls will eat some gluten-free bread, but for the most part we just handle it by being careful what’s in the house. There’s no soda. There’s no Gatorade. There’s no boxes of juice in the house. There’s no cereal. There’s no white bread.
Now, if my wife’s cooking dinner and my daughters want a potato with dinner, I’m fine with that. I don’t think potatoes make people insulin resistant. Once you are insulin resistant, you may have to skip that potato. But they’re kids with healthy metabolisms, so as far as I’m concerned, if they are avoiding junk most of the time, that’s good. A point we bring up in the book is you don’t have to have a perfectly good diet. We say a couple of times in the book and in the film, it’s a perfectly good to be good, instead of perfect. So what we want is for our daughters to be on a good diet most of the time. When they go to parties, we know they’re going to eat pizza. We know they’re going to have the cake and ice cream. Well, I don’t think that’s a problem for kids with healthy metabolisms. The occasional treat isn’t what screws us up, it’s the daily abuse of a bad diet.
My older daughter, interestingly, she’s kind of gotten to where she monitors herself because she inherited my body type and a lot of my physical characteristics. I don’t do well with grains and she’s discovering on her own she doesn’t do well with grains either. In fact, she was in a speech and debate tournament last weekend, and afterwards they served pizza and she said, okay, it’s a special occasion, I just completed this tournament. I’ll have a piece of pizza. When she got home later she started feeling kind of like her neck was uncomfortable, and she couldn’t seem to find the right position for it, and it kind of bothered her a little bit. And I remembered that back when I thought grains were health food, I would get these weird backaches at night and she made the connection like… it’s the pizza. So she pretty much monitors herself. The younger one is, she enjoys carbohydrates more than the older one. She doesn’t have those immediate issues. So when she goes to a party, we know she’s going to eat the junk. But again, it’s not available at home. So she’s on a good diet most of the time, which is where I think kids need to be.
Yes, I agree with you and I think it’s great that your older daughter is finding these things out for herself, and so setting her own rules. They’re not rules that are being imposed on her. These are decisions she’s coming to herself. But growing up in that environment where like you say, the overall general intake is a good one.
And I had the same experiences that my older daughter has. The difference is I wasn’t my father. My father didn’t know – or my parents didn’t know – that if you get that kind of eeeh feeling, you know that it’s coming from the wheat. I’m aware of that. And again, that’s why the subtitle of the book and the film is, Stuff About Diet and Health I Wish I Knew When I Was Your Age. If someone had told me when I was 13 or 14, you know those kind of aches and pains, or that kind of off feeling you get, it’s because you’re eating bread. I can guarantee you I would’ve stopped eating the bread. So the difference with my daughter is she gets those reactions and I’m very aware of the effects of diet and health, so I’ve made her aware – that uncomfortable feeling that gee, your neck kind of feels off – that’s inflammation from the wheat. So she has the knowledge to make that decision for herself, which is the whole point of the book and the film. We know that there are people out there who you can, explain this as much as you want and they’re still going to choose to eat junk. If that’s the decision they want to make that’s okay. But there are a lot of kids who, if they’re told this is why you don’t feel good, this is why you can’t concentrate, this is why you’re getting fat, if they’re given the information they will act on that information.
At least whatever decision they’re making is an educated, informed decision.
You talk about the kind of things you have and you don’t have food stock-wise in your house, but you raise and grow a lot of your own food as well, don’t you?
Yeah. I would love to tell you that most of what’s on our plate comes from off the land. We’re not quite there yet. But we have chickens, so the eggs that we eat come right out of the back pasture out there. It’s amazing how much better eggs from your own flock are. The yolks are…they’re so rich they’re almost orange. The shells…you have to actually whack an egg kind of hard to crack it when it’s comes from your own chickens because they’re healthy chickens. Healthy chickens make good thick shells. A few years ago we raised two hogs and then we took them to be slaughtered and processed. We got, I dunno, I think 500 pounds of pork out of that. My wife has huge gardens, so we eat a lot of vegetables that come off our own land and the food is great. The taste when it comes right off your own land is amazing, which I’ve pointed out many times. So many of us remember grandma being a great cook. Grandma probably was a great cook, but I think the reason a lot of us remember grandma being a great cook is she was serving food that had been grown locally and the taste was just there. It’s just part of the food when it’s grown locally.
Yes. I think you might have a good point there. My grandfather used to grow his own spinach and I’ve always loved spinach, which is quite an unusual thing for a child to like, children don’t usually like spinach. They turn their nose up at it. But I used to love it. And I did keep chickens here for a while in France. Unfortunately the fox got them all and I haven’t wanted to get them again because of that, but I loved having them and they’re amazing how much personality they have as well. And they used to run about all over the place. They were free range and boy, did they range. They used to travel a long way during the day. You’d look up and they’d be down the field. A few hours later they’d be up on the road. They’d have their pattern. They’d go from around the back of the house, work their way around to the front door, and then they’d start tapping on the front door. They were fabulous and like you say, the eggs were so rich from all that foraging, and the bugs they were chasing and eating. Nothing compares to fresh eggs and fresh vegetables. Like you say, the difference in taste when you’ve just literally picked that five minutes ago and cooked it and eaten it? It’s worlds apart, isn’t it?
Oh it absolutely is. And a couple of years ago we had a company work event and for whatever reason they chose to hold the event on an organic farm. So one of the options available was to take a little tour of the farm. This is a farm where they don’t even use pesticides, everything’s organic. And the woman who owns the farm explained to us that the produce that you buy at the grocery store is not bred for flavor. It’s bred for durability. It’s bred to be able to be shipped a long way without getting bruised and to maintain its color. But it’s not bred for vitamin or mineral content, and it’s not bred for flavor. It’s bred to look good in the store after it’s been shipped 500 miles. So absolutely, the difference between what you grow yourself and what commercial ventures are growing for you, it’s a very big difference.
Mmmm, for sure. You mentioned earlier about the emails and the correspondence you get from people telling you their stories. But I heard you talking about how people have been trying to do the opposite. You’ve had lots of hate mail and even a bit of a campaign to try and get you taken off Wikipedia. Is that right? Not successful I see. You’re still there, but still
Well actually the campaign to get me off Wikipedia would have been successful – and I’m not emotionally involved in being on Wikipedia or not – what annoyed me was that some editor had obviously targeted everyone in the low carb community for deletion. And this was clearly all about one editor’s personal campaign. So I started pointing it out rather vigorously on Twitter. And eventually the founder of Wikipedia got involved. And at first he just kept citing Wikipedia policy. In other words, he didn’t think there was anything wrong but he hadn’t looked into it. So I finally pointed out very specifically, some of the people who had been targeted for deletion and why. And I asked him, do you really think this is simply someone making an objective decision or does this look like someone inserting his personal bias?
So he eventually looked into it and lo and behold, he did determine that that particular editor was applying his personal bias and he undeleted or marked for not deleting Fat Head – and again, if Fat Head had disappeared from Wikipedia, it wouldn’t have made any big difference to me – it was just the fact that this was so clearly someone who had a bone to pick with the low carb community. My guess is probably a vegetarian or vegan because they’re usually the ones who hate low carbers. And then of course, yes, I get the emails and the comments on my blog from people telling me, you’re telling people to eat meat, you’re going to kill them. Way back when Fat Head first came out, I got a nasty email from a doctor telling me that by telling people no cholesterol and saturated fat are not the problem, you’re going to be responsible for the deaths of people who eat saturated fat and cholesterol.
I still get those once in a while. Honestly, I don’t care. It goes with the territory. So when I get those, most of the time, if I open my email and two sentences in I realize it’s one of those hate emails, I just delete it. I’m not going to bother to respond. People like that are not open to having their minds changed. They will happily waste your entire day with an argument that goes on forever. I have more important things to do. So when I get one of those hate emails or whatever, I just basically delete it. I don’t care. And for every one of those I get, I will get at least a hundred emails from people saying, I watched Fat Head, and I changed my diet, and I lost weight, and I feel great for the first time in my adult life. Those are the emails that matter to me.
Yes, that’s right. It’s the best thing for them really, just to put them in the bin. But yes, the whole Wikipedia, I just didn’t understand the logic behind it. What possible thing? What were they citing? What was the reason to have you taken down in the first place? Like you say, it’s the principle of the thing.
It was the principle of the thing. And of course the editor who was involved… and by the way, he ended up changing his handle a couple of times. That was part of what convinced the founder of Wikipedia that something odd was going on here because apparently they’re not supposed to do that – but he couldn’t just come out and say, I’m marking all these people for deletion. It was me. It was Fat Head. It was Jimmy Moore. It was Uffe Ravnskov. It was Malcolm Kendrick. Again, it was basically anyone who’s known in the low carb community and certainly anyone who says saturated fat, cholesterol are not deadly. He couldn’t just say, I want these people deleted because I disagree with them. So he kept coming up with these other bogus reasons, such as I’m marking Fat Head for deletion because it’s not a significant film. Well, I mean, I guess we could argue about what significant means.
Millions of people have watched it. So to me it’s at least sort of significant in that way. In every case he was coming up with some other excuse, but if you dug into his comments on other articles, which I did, you would see references to these crazy low carbers, et cetera, et cetera. That’s when it became obvious we were just dealing with someone with a personal bias. As far as what logic was involved, there was no logic. It was obviously someone, again, my guess is a vegetarian who just didn’t want this message out there. And the reason it annoyed me – again, the principle of the thing – it’s not that that person disagrees. Go ahead, disagree. I’m fine with that. But I’m a big believer in the marketplace of ideas. You put out your information and your argument, and I will put out my information and my argument, and we’ll see who’s more convincing. That’s the way it’s supposed to work. This was someone who obviously didn’t want the views that oppose his own, to even be seen. That’s the part of it that annoyed me. It was someone trying to essentially shut down the conversation because he didn’t like what was being said.
Yes, exactly. And that is a big problem because as we know, different ways of eating suit different people. There are people that being vegetarian and vegan is perfect for them, and you’re never going to convince them to eat the way you do, and you probably wouldn’t want to. But that’s the problem, isn’t it? Just trying to shut down those opposing views. Like you say, we need them all out there.
And that’s what I see as the difference. And again, I’m only going by on my own experience, so keep in mind, this may not be everyone’s experience, but in my experience, if a meat eater stumbles across a vegan website, they don’t jump in there in the comments and try to convince people, No, you’re wrong. You’re all going to die. You need to eat meat. And yet for some reason, and I think it’s because we’re talking about a belief system that for many people is essentially a substitute religion, and therefore they kind of have that religious zealotry about them. If you have a site where you tell people it’s okay to eat eggs, it’s okay to eat meat, you will get people in comments who think they’re going to make the argument you’ve never heard before and convince you, you need to go on a vegetarian diet.
In fact, I got so tired of answering those people one by one, I finally just wrote a very long post called To The Vegetarian Evangelists where I dealt with all the arguments that they always make and gave my answer to them. And I said at the top of the post, the reason I’m doing this is not because I think I’m going to change your mind. I know I won’t. I’m writing this post so that when one of you shows up making the same arguments that I’ve already heard a hundred times, I’m just going to point you to this post and bid you good-day. So that’s what I did. And now when I get one of those people show up – and again, I have never, ever, ever heard one of them make an argument I haven’t heard and dealt with a hundred times before – when one of them shows up, I just link to the post. I’ve already responded to this. Have a good day.
That sounds like a perfect strategy. I think that is the problem with that community in general, is this aggressive, militant attack nature. I did come across a very different character when I interviewed Carrie Diulus who is vegan and keto, and she gave me a whole different appreciation of that way of eating. Almost tempted me to try it – almost, but I can’t quite give up the meats. But she actually arrived at that through finding what suited her and her health, and actually came to it via carnivore. So she had tried all different things including the absolute opposite, but that’s where she ended up feeling better. So she didn’t have that militant aspect to it. It was purely an individual health decision. I wish more people approached it in that way.
Right. And I’m not familiar with her, but it sounds to me that for her this was a science and health issue.
Yes. She’s a scientist.
Which is what it should be. And I should point out, because I get a lot of these hate emails and occasional comments on the blog from vegans, I’m happy to poke them right back and people think I’m hostile toward vegans. I’m not. I’m hostile toward people who can’t resist preaching at me. So I should point out that they’re certainly not all that way. I suspect it’s a minority of them who are that militant. In fact, I had a friend… it was a woman I was in a show with in Los Angeles. I knew her for, gosh, I don’t know how long before I even knew she was a vegan. So she was the antithesis to the joke, how do you spot a vegan in the crowd? Don’t worry. They’ll tell you. She was not like that at all.
And this was stunning to me. Eventually I did learn she was a vegan, and I ran into her and her boyfriend in a restaurant one time. They invited me to join them. I did, he ordered bacon and I kind of looked at them and said, wait a minute, Marty, aren’t you a vegan? She said, oh yeah, I am, but he’s not. Well obviously this woman was not all emotionally involved in convincing everyone to eat like her, because she’s a vegan. Here she is, living with the guy who eats bacon. So to me that’s how it should be. You make your choice based on what you believe is best for you, and put it out there and share your information with other people so that they may learn from your experience, but do not turn it into a religious issue where everyone has to agree with me. Because there is no one correct diet for all human beings. We all came from different parts of the world with different ancestors who lived on different diets. I will find what works for me. I will talk about it. I will put that information out there, but I’m not emotionally involved in convincing everyone to eat my way because I don’t think everyone should eat my way.
I agree – 100%. So what’s next for you?
I’m not sure. I’ve been thinking about that. It was of course, an absolute ton of work to get the film done. I was working long, long days. You kind of get to a point where you’re happy when it’s over. My first instinct when I was done with the film was, why don’t you just take some time and relax? So I did.
Yeah, recover. I don’t have any big project in mind at the moment other than promoting the book and the film. I think where I’m probably going to head next is – in addition to doing my blog, because I did pick up all these skills while making the film – I’m thinking I want to maybe start doing video blogging or video casting where I bring in the type of skills that I picked up from the blog, the animating, sound mixing, et cetera, et cetera. Maybe to make like short entertainment pieces that teach something about diet. But that’s all kind of fuzzy right now. What I would like to do is maybe get my nephews involved again, and maybe start doing short videos where Mr Spot or Dr Fishbones or Marty Metabolism are characters who reappear because we have those characters drawn and configured in such a way that they can be animated. All we’d be missing was the voices. So I may do something like that, but at this point it’s all kind of, eh, I might do that. I don’t have any definite plans.
That sounds great. Some nice little shorts that people can take away and digest.
Yeah. Like five minute videos because, when I first made Fat Head and started blogging, I was afraid, well gee, maybe in six months from now I’m going to run out of things to talk about. And I’ve since discovered, no I will never run out of things to talk about. So if we start doing little video snippets to talk about things we didn’t talk about in the film. Again, I don’t think we’d ever run out of material.
So tell us where can we find you? Where can we watch the film, buy the film and the book?
So my blog is www.fathead-movie.com and probably the best place to find the book and the film – because we have links to where you can buy it on Amazon, et cetera, et cetera – is, and this is all one word, fatheadkidsmovie.com which actually takes you to pages about both the book and the film, and links to where they can be found. Otherwise, people can just go to Amazon and type fat head kids, fat head kids movie, fat head kids book. Any one of those search terms will eventually bring it up. Also, I know the film now – I heard from our distributor – it’s available on ITunes, Amazon Prime, Cable Systems. There are a lot of places, if you go search for it you will find it.
Great. So easy to find and we’ll have all the details in the show notes and we’ll be out on social media as well. Well fantastic. Perhaps you could round us up with a top tip for the listeners.
Top tip for listeners, I would go with what I put in the book and the film as the three things I want everyone to do. No matter what your ultimate diet is, there are three things I would like to see everyone do. Stop eating sugar. Stop eating refined grains. And stop eating those awful seed oils that are called vegetable oils, but they’re not, they’re chemically extracted seed oils like canola oil, sunflower oil, soybean oil, et cetera, et cetera. If you do those things, give up the sugar, the white flour. I personally don’t eat grains at all, but if you give up the sugar, the white flour and those seed oils, I think you have gone 80% of the way, maybe 90% of the way of what you need to do to get your health back.
I agree. I think if more of us grew up that way. Like you say, we don’t need to overly restrict when we’re kids, and much more moderate, but just taking out those really harmful, and often really addictive, elements. That has always been my problem, is being addicted to those foods, and overeating them, and using them for emotional comfort type eating. That has been my problem. So they get you in one way or another. So yes, just cutting out…actually just quite a few things. People talk about it as being so restrictive, but it isn’t really, it’s just a few really harmful things that is a good idea to remove.
Well, and if you don’t mind me adding this on, most of those foods were really not available to most people for most of human history, so there’s still plenty to eat. And I know when people think about giving up the sugar, and the white flour, and et cetera, I don’t know if people get emotionally involved in giving up seed oils, but they certainly do about sugar and white flour. I would like to let everyone out there know, especially kids, when you think about giving those up, your first thought is, oh my God, it’s going to be miserable. I’m going to miss those all the time. I promise you, if you give them up for a while, you will lose your taste for them. In fact, I’ve found most people lose their taste for them so thoroughly that when you do indulge, you say, wow, this tastes awful. So it’s not going to be a lifetime of deprivation. After a while – this happens all the time at work now – someone brings in a cake because it’s somebody’s birthday or whatever. I say, no thank you. People say, oh, you’re so disciplined. It requires no discipline at all to say no to foods that have become kind of disgusting to you. So you will find after a while your tastes will adjust. You won’t enjoy those foods anymore, and you will not feel deprived at all giving them up.
Yes, and I think the big thing for me, the big revelation was feeling like I was in control again. I used to just not feel in control and feel completely controlled by the food and the addiction that I had for it, and coming around to feeling like I was the one who is in control of all that, is much better than the alternative.
Thank you so much for talking to me today, Tom. It’s been a great pleasure.
I appreciate you having me on. I enjoyed it very much.