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May the wind be at your back along your journey towards health, fitness, and peace of mind. 

Oct 11, 2018

Dr Ann Childers: From the Vault - Original Air Date: October 2017

Dr Ann Childers is a Psychiatrist living in the Pacific Northwest, also she's a USAF Veteran, Author, and Speaker. She is in private practice, and is the owner of Life Balance Northwest LLC: Lifestyle Psychiatry.

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"Here I'm talking about especially refined carbohydrates and sugars. The highly processed stuff. Wow, people just feel amazing after they just get rid of those things, and if they go further, they feel even better." 


"I eat meat, fish, eggs, poultry, all with their fats, and I prefer fat over protein. So, I keep my protein moderate, and my fat high. And, I eat vegetables that grow above ground. 

Unless you're working out heavily, or have suddenly become sedentary, protein needs don't change that much, except perhaps as we age. Then it may be that because of digestive problems we actually need more protein and not less, and we can save that discussion for another time. But, if you think of protein as your fulcrum (and you think of it as being fairly steady), then if the calories from carbohydrates go down you have to raise your fat calories. Or, if your calories from fat goes down, you still have to fill your caloric needs, so you raise your carbohydrate calories."

Dr Childers goes on to explain that in our industrialized society the processed food is so highly refined that even the flour (speaking of all flour on the market such as wheat flour, rice flour, etc) is essentially sugar, because of how it affects the body when it is ingested.


"I don't. Not in the way most people would think. I'm very sedentary. Most of my life is spent sitting in a room with other people talking to them."

Dr Childers has been on a very strict ketogenic diet over a long period of time, where she consumes under 20 grams of total carbohydrate per day, along with high fat and moderate protein. What she has found is that when she is out with her family she can walk 5 miles at the drop of a hat with no pain, inflammation, or shortness of breath.

Does she credit her diet with helping maintain overall health and fitness?

"I would say that is the take home message for my particular experience."

Peace of Mind

"When I stopped eating the Standard American Diet (SAD), and I started eating a whole foods diet, that was the first step toward having energy and not having a depressed mood. 

 I never had a diagnosed depression. I wasn't suicidal, that was never a part of my life. But, I always had this low hanging cloud in my head, and I felt kind of distracted a lot. Eventually was diagnosed with Attention Deficit Disorder"

Even before the elimination of wheat from her diet, just switching off SAD and onto a whole foods diet, she reports immediately feeling better. Then, once wheat was taken out of her diet she realized it was another step towards improving her overall personal health.

"So what I really enjoy now is very little in the way of moods I cannot handle. In fact, I can't remember the last one." 

Adapt & Overcome

Just because the woman has a path towards health, fitness, and peace of mind certainly doesn't mean she doesn't face challenges along the way. Along the course of any journey we inevitably come across challenges that force us to adapt, and obstacles that must be overcome. How does Dr Ann Childers herself adapt and overcome?

"I had an awful lot of obstacles, and I'm not without obstacles now. I have a condition called Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome, which I was born with, and with that comes what's called Dystonia, which is a neurological condition. And, there are some other problems because of the hyper-mobility of my joints, even joints in my back... If anyone out there has done Myers-Briggs, I'm an INFP, so I'm not the most organized and neat & tidy crayon in the box, but I'm easy going, and that is what has really helped me.

Being an intuitive feeler, I have a lot of hunches about things. The problem with hunches is you can't show your work, even if you're right... But, I have really good hunches, I'm like a talent scout for information, and when I get the right information I just test it, and test it, until I've proven to myself that's the right direction to go in, and then I go with it."

During the chat after our question round we covered her journey from having what others perceived as a great life, and being unfulfilled, to having her dream practice.

A Fulfilling Practice

"I remember when my practice was unfulfilling, and I was making a beautiful six figure income."

She adapted by taking a leap of faith and going into private practice, and funding it all out of her own pocket.

"Welcome to 2017, because now I've got the beautiful building of my dreams. It's like a home, with a fireplace where people can sit and think. Meditate, contemplate, whatever they need to do. "

Now, remember, even though she overcame significant obstacles, and has a wonderful story of success that can motivate others, she is still not without challenges and obstacles in her life today. It doesn't matter how you measure success, or how far you go towards your goals, there will always be challenges in life. And, because of that, all is as it should be. As Dr Childers puts it:

"It's really funny because now I don't have this beautiful six figure income, and all that. But, I have a place I can call my own. And that, to me, is worth everything." 

Balancing on the Fulcrum of Protein

Dr Childers pointed out earlier in the interview that protein is the fulcrum of our diet. When carbs are lowered, fat is raised & vice-versa.

Older people may not have the stomach acids needed to digest the protein properly, so they may need more gelatin in their diet. Dr Childers cites the opinion of Ray Peat on red meat and gelatin. Ray believes that meat should be served with some type of gelatin such as an aspic. She points out that carnivores such as lions go after organ meat, as opposed to the muscle meats, and the animal as a whole contains quite a bit of gelatin. Iron deficiency is a worldwide problem, and lack of red meat can cause an iron deficiency. As it so happens heme iron, found in red meat, is the easiest way for us to absorb iron.

I think that red meat does have to be balanced. But, I also think we need to eat the rest of the animal. We need to eat snout to tail. There are some organs that we need to be very careful of, like the thyroid especially, but we do really need to eat snout to tail.”

Circling back to the ideas presented by Ray Peat, he suggests that there may be some amino acids in red meat that may be difficult to digest without being balanced by amino acids in gelatin. We spoke briefly of the old tradition of surrounding meat in aspic. In the Middle Ages this was both a presentation and preservation method, the earliest known recording of which dates to 1375. So, people had been using it for some time prior to its usage in Le Viandier. Dr Childers suggests that some of these traditions from classical cuisine may be about balancing the things that we are just now (re)discovering are important. Hence, a return to snout to tail eating for balancing total health.

Making Vegetables Edible

Dr Childers does hold the point of view that human beings are primarily meant to be carnivorous. However, she also points out that if we go to the North Pole, then we see human carnivores, but as we go towards the Equator, then we see more populations eating plants as well as some meat. So, overall human beings have adapted to a wide variety of climate and food sources.

“We can live just about anywhere, and one of the reasons is because we know how to make fuel from sources that we’re not even adapted to naturally. One of the ways we do that is by breaking down cellulose walls, and we can’t adjust cellulose. We don’t have the micro organisms to do that, but we can cook things. So, we can cook vegetables to break down the cellulose walls, or we can puree them to do the same thing. Or we can pickle them, and that does the same thing, in fact, that’s like digesting the vegetable outside your body. The price you pay for fermenting and pickling is you have to be really careful with your teeth.

We're advised to not brush our teeth immediately after eating pickled vegetables due to softening of the enamel. But, we have adapted the vegetables to us. The entire Brassica family  (not to be confused with the entire Brassicaceae line) of vegetables was bred from the wild mustard plant over the past 1,000 years, which was essentially a weed that people used to tread over in the forest.

“We don’t have the mechanisms to really digest these things (vegetation), but we have learned how to breed them, and we’ve learned how to do a lot of things to them so that we can have something else to eat.”