Doyle Melton has made a career of baring her inner most feelings to a wide public, and she is not afraid to tell everyone that her life is no bed of roses—she is a recovered bulimic and alcoholic who still craves alcohol and food. She finds her kitchen terrifying: “See the refrigerator, the last appliance standing, trembling in fear due to my presence? Actually, I don’t want to talk about this room anymore. Too scary. Let’s turn our attention instead to this section of the kitchen, although it’s equally terrifying to me. This wall is my attempt to organize my family. It’s where we keep our calendar and reminders and invitations and other horrible things. I call it the Wailing Wall, because having anything at all to do or anywhere to go is very stressful for me. It’s just so much work to leave the house, you know, because of all the finding shoes and brushing hair and matching socks and then trying to get the kids ready, too and just UGH. Lots of wailing.”
Here’s how Doyle Melton feels about having children: “Every time I’m out with my kids – this seems to happen. An older woman stops us, puts her hand over her heart and says something like, ‘Oh– Enjoy every moment. This time goes by so fast.’ Everywhere I go, someone is telling me to seize the moment, raise my awareness, be happy, enjoy every second, etc., etc., etc. I know that this message is right and good. But as 2011 closes, I have finally allowed myself to admit that it just doesn’t work for me. It bugs me. This CARPE DIEM message makes me paranoid and panicky. Especially during this phase of my life – while I’m raising young kids. Being told, in a million different ways to CARPE DIEM makes me worry that if I’m not in a constant state of intense gratitude and ecstasy, I’m doing something wrong.”
In fact, there IS something wrong when your kitchen terrifies you and a well-to-do life with normal children strikes you as “brutal” and “broken” (her words). I am not saying this to be catty, because Doyle Melton is bravely speaking the truth about her life, and it resonates with millions of women. But not feeling moments of pleasure and joy every day when you are bringing up children—even though your marriage may not be perfect or the finances stretched or the kitchen chaotic—this is not normal. What’s the problem? It’s a question she keeps asking.
In one blog, Doyle Melton lets us peek into her refrigerator, and there we get a few clues. She describes their meals as “healthy” but the first thing we see is a bottle of commercial salad dressing, full of toxic vegetable oil. Yes, there are eggs in there, and they do eat meat (“hot dogs and hamburgers twice a week” she divulges, in a blog called “House of Pain”), but nothing else in the murky photo strikes one as particularly healthy. Conspicuously absent is butter or any other healthy fats, and no sign of cheese or even yogurt. Her cupboard contains a big container of fish oil capsules (more rancid oils) and she hints at drinking diet sodas. She describes the microwave oven as “the magical box in which I put uncooked stuff, push some buttons, and then a minute later—pull out cooked stuff.” As for the coffee machine: “I can’t even talk about this thing. Actually, let’s take a moment of reverent silence because this machine is the reason all my people are still alive. It turns magical beans into a life-saving nectar of gods. Every morning. On a timer.”
Doyle Melton also suffered from Lyme disease, which means she has had a big dose of gut-deadening antibiotics.
So it seems that Doyle Melton is consuming a typical American “healthy” diet, probably eating plenty of vegetables, but using toxic vegetable oils and avoiding animal fat, zapping her food in the microwave, and keeping herself going with coffee (and possibly diet sodas). It’s no stretch to suspect adrenal fatigue brought on by malnutrition (especially a shortage of vitamin A), constant caffeine stimulation and damaged gut flora. This kind of diet can make anyone feel awful and unhappy—with brains starving for the things we get from animal fats—vitamins A and D, cholesterol and arachidonic acid, to name a few. We need these compounds to make feel-good chemicals, to deal with stress, even to get pleasure from completing tasks. As I have often said, when these nutrients (especially vitamin A) are low, every little thing—even finding matching socks—is stressful; when we are replete with the nutrients we need, especially vitamin A, when our brains are well nourished, stress is exhilarating, and we are able to get pleasure from the little things in life—like outings with children and cooking a healthy meal (in a regular oven, not the micro-wave).
Doyle Melton expresses justifiable concern when her daughter worries about becoming “too fat.” A main cause of unhappiness in women, she argues, is the impossible standards of thinness and beauty that girls are exposed to in the fashion magazines. I agree that these are impossible standards, but remain skeptical that these images are the main thing ruining our young women. Wanting to be attractive and worrying about being slender enough are concerns that teenage girls have shared for centuries, long before the fashion magazines. All young people want to be attractive and in a perfectly nourished world they would be attractive.
No, it is not the presence of impossible standards in the magazines that causes so much havoc in the life of young women, but the awful dietary advice they get from the same pages—namely that to be attractive, they need to avoid animal fats. The soulless diet young women end up eating—skim milk, vegetable oils, dry vegetables, diet sodas, skinless chicken breasts, butterless bread, breakfast cereals, processed juices, with the inevitable splurges on ice cream, cookies, donuts, etc.—is a recipe for depression, addiction, unhappiness and—for many—weight gain.
My advice to Doyle Melton—and this comes from the heart—is to get yourself and your family on a diet of nutrient-dense food before it is too late. Splurge on butter, egg yolks, cream, cheese, sausage and bacon, and take some cod liver oil (a scary thought, I know, but you will get used to it)—and you will be amazed at how much better you feel, how the coffee will not be necessary, how a feeling of contentment will creep into the little things you do. And your children will mellow out as well—whining and arguing less. In order to feel really good, add raw milk, bone broth and lacto-fermented foods to your diet.
What happens when women continue their “healthy” American diet as they age—after the children are gone—this will be the subject of a future blog. Stay tuned.
The Weston A. Price Foundation has led the way in teaching the importance of animal fats and the fat-soluble vitamins for health and happiness. See this fascinating article by Chris Masterjohn. Consider becoming a member to support the work we do.