Explaining what ‘Smart’ Means to a 7-Year-Old

I had the following conversation almost verbatim with my 7-year-old daughter the other morning. I was driving her to her early morning school program before going to work and started driving in the wrong direction, then suddenly realized it and corrected myself.

“Stupid Daddy.” I said aloud to myself. “I almost forgot to bring you to school.”

“You’re not stupid, Daddy – you’re very smart.” She said.

“What do you mean by ‘smart’?” I asked. (I’m the kind of guy who attempts a socratic dialog with a 7-year-old at 7am.)

“Well, you’re very good at remembering things.” She offered.

“A lot of people have good memories but do dumb things. So what does ‘smart’ mean?”

“Your brain!” She was grasping at straws now.

“Everybody has a brain but not everybody is smart.”

“Then I don’t know.” She surrendered.

“Well then, do you want me to tell you what ‘smart’ is?”

“OK”

“Being smart is simply acting smart.”

“What do you mean, Daddy?”, tossing the socratic dialog back into my lap.

I was ready. “Well, we all have lots of thoughts, and some of them are good, and some not so good. Acting on the good thoughts is being smart. Imagine that you have 2 people in your head and one says: ‘it would sure be fun to crawl out the window and sit on the roof!’ And then you have another thought that says: ‘if I crawl on the roof I might fall and kill myself.’ Then YOU listen to these different thoughts and decide: ‘I should listen to the thought that said not to go on the roof.’”

“You mean like in the cartoons where the angel and the devil appear on somebody’s shoulders?”

“Exactly! You need to know which one to listen to. We all have plenty of thoughts and some people think every thought they have must be good because it’s theirs. YOU need to realize that your thoughts aren’t you and decide which thoughts are the smart ones.”

There was a flash of recognition that came across her face – her thoughts weren’t her. She got it.

I think I successfully explained the psychological concept of Executive Function – the theory as to why smart people do dumb things –  to a 7-year-old – a concept some people never get their entire lives.

I hope she really did get it.

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From a Paper in the AMA Journal: Let’s End the Diet Debates

Right after I posted this last post, I read an article that makes it seem like I’m not alone in my thinking.  The authors of a paper published in the Journal of the American Medical Association just last month seem to be thinking along the same lines as I am:

As the obesity epidemic persists, the time has come to end the pursuit of the “ideal” diet for weight loss and disease prevention. The dietary debate in the scientific community and reported in the media about the optimal macronutrient-focused weight loss diet sheds little light on the treatment of obesity and may mislead the public regarding proper weight management.

I find the ‘science wars’ on nutrition and weight loss tiring. Looking for the ‘best’ approach to weight loss is the wrong approach. ‘Best’ needs to be defined by the individual. Everyone who wants to lose weight should experiment with multiple approaches and find not only the approach that works for them, but also makes them happy. It’s a lifelong thing – and I hate the word ‘struggle’ – I’d rather call it a ‘practice’. Every day, show up for your diet, ‘punch the clock’, make the effort and then after giving an approach a chance, evaluate how you feel physically and psychologically. Continue reading “From a Paper in the AMA Journal: Let’s End the Diet Debates”

Low Carb Diets Don’t Work and Bumble Bees Can’t Fly

I'm the one to the right...
I’m the one to the right…

I remember as a kid, whenever the popular press reported something people didn’t want to hear – oh, let’s say that all that margarine that was supposed to be good for us was suddenly pronounced bad for us – there was always a person who would trot out this old saw: “You know, science says that bumble bees can’t fly.”

This was supposed to be a way to diss science, call it a poopyhead, and use what is known as the ‘poisoning the well’ logical fallacy. “Well, science goofed on that bumble bee thing because every dope knows bumble bees DO fly. So this particular fact of the day must be wrong as well.”

It’s flawed reasoning.

(By the way, ‘science’ never said bumble bees don’t fly. This oft-repeated comment was stupid on so many levels.)

Science DOES get it right – a lot. Think of rockets, moon shots and even your humdrum jet flight. Those things weigh 400 tons and routinely leap into the air, serve lousy food, and bore the crap of everyone onboard, including the crew, until landing hundreds, if not thousands of miles away. Plane crashes make the news because they are so rare. Continue reading “Low Carb Diets Don’t Work and Bumble Bees Can’t Fly”

What is ‘Nutritional Ketosis’ (Without the Gobbeldygook)

I’ve used the term ‘nutritional ketosis’ in a few posts but I haven’t taken the time to explain it – as if everyone’s a nutrition nerd like I am and knows what the heck I am talking about.

I could get all ‘sciency’ on you, but I’d rather not. Most people aren’t all that interested in the sciency details – and I would just be lifting from a book that has become a bit of a bible to me in my current approach to low carb:

The Art and Science of Low Carbohydrate Living: An Expert Guide to Making the Life-Saving Benefits of Carbohydrate Restriction Sustainable and Enjoyable by
Stephen D. Phinney and Jeff S. Volek

I’ve read the book twice and it is well-highlighted in my Kindle. Recommended for all you nutrition nerds, but many of you aren’t nutrition nerds and don’t want to read a book written by two doctors written for other doctors. It isn’t a breezy read.

Instead, why don’t I give you the explanation I give myself – dope that I am. For goodness’ sake – check this out for yourself if you have even the slightest curiosity. I give no promises for accuracy. You have been warned.

Continue reading “What is ‘Nutritional Ketosis’ (Without the Gobbeldygook)”

The Lonesome Bread Roll – Atkins Induction – Day 7

THE LONESOME BREADROLLIt is usually the ‘kiss of death’ for my diet to mention these things, but the above picture is from my lunch at Legal Seafood, which is one hell of a seafood restaurant and should be visited if you ever get the chance – there’s not a lot of them around.

This was the roll for me. The three others were being consumed by my wife and kids while this one sat forlorn.

If I had any interest in appearing to have willpower and projecting upon myself some nobility of character I would tell a story of how my steely will and the dedication to my diet and my goal allowed me to refrain from this fresh roll hot out of the oven sitting in front of me.

That wasn’t the case, however. My character nor willpower played no part in it. There was no heroic struggle involved. It didn’t even appear on my radar. No neural circuits fired with conflicting eat/don’t eat messages.

As mentioned before, it is easy to miss non-events and I was completely oblivious to this thing until my younger daughter asked me to butter her roll for her. Only then did I dimly realize that: “Hey – why aren’t I drooling over this thing sitting in front of me?”

I think it was the ketones. Continue reading “The Lonesome Bread Roll – Atkins Induction – Day 7”

The Skinny on Fats – Without the Gobbledegook

[First, a quick disclaimer: while there’s a chance that I might end up in bankruptcy court because of my habit of obsessively buying books on health, food, and nutrition, reading a lot does not mean I truly understand what I am reading. It was once said that the inherent danger in books is it can create the appearance of knowledge in some – and people not versed in the area might not be able to tell the difference.

Because of this I want you to promise that you will keep this in mind while reading what follows. It’s not meant to be advice for anyone else but myself.

Actually, it’s a gamble. I’ve chosen to take an unorthodox approach to eating based upon what I’ve learned, but this is a personal decision – not an expert opinion.]

The problem with ‘fat’ is it is a gross simplification – and a dangerous one. It’s sort of like thinking every species of fish is the same and handling an interaction with a goldfish the same way you would with a great white shark.

One you might eat on a dare (in college and involving alcohol in the 1920s perhaps) and one might eat you – it’s a very different interaction. Continue reading “The Skinny on Fats – Without the Gobbledegook”