Cape Town - Tim Noakes’ new book on low-carbohydrate nutrition for children is not so much about a new way to feed them as it about getting parents to serve the kind of meals that were the norm for most families before the late 1970s.
Raising Superheroes – a sequel to Noakes’ Real Meal Revolution – was officially launched on Monday night, and is about how to return to the way humans have been eating “almost since Homo naledi,” Noakes said.
The first book was designed to help adults learn to eat in a way that would do away with obesity and type 2 diabetes; the second is to help adults feed their children in a way that will ensure they don’t end up with these two conditions.
“The point with Superheroes is to say that you don’t have to get to that point as an adult. The nutrition in the books is the way I was raised. We ate these foods. So did everyone. I was in matric in 1966 and there were no fat kids. Today that is not the case. South Africa is one of the most obese nations,” Noakes said.
He pinpoints the start of the fundamental change in our diets to 1977 when the US Department of Agriculture published its food pyramid with a shift from the way we used to eat to one which advocated an increased intake of carbs, especially grains, and a substantial cutting-down on fats. It also moved from animal fats to vegetable fats.
Raising Superheroes, Noakes says, shows parents how to eliminate or drastically reduce sugar and refined carbs from their children’s diets and to include more whole foods.
In the new book, Noakes counters the notion that carbs are essential for a child’s growth and brain development.
“The first two years of a child’s life are critical. That’s when the brain develops. Puréed rice cereal has no nutritional value. The child needs fat and protein.”
Noakes says the body has only three uses for carbs: for energy, to be stored as glycogen in the liver and muscles, or to be turned into fat.
“There are no other alternatives. A growing baby cannot build muscles and bones from carbohydrates, nor, for that matter, brains.”
However, Noakes said the second book was not as strict on cutting carbs as the book for adults. “The book is about re-education. It’s saying, ‘let’s start helping children. No one has to be obese’. Food choices are the problem.”
Noakes attributes the success of his first book to the fact that it does not tell people they are the problem; it tells them their food choices need to change. The second book does the same.”Everyone else says: ‘You are the problem, you are fat because you are lazy and undisciplined.’”
The book is co-authored by chef Jonno Proudfoot, who has produced 120 recipes, and paediatric dietician Bridget Surtees.