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Creating Paleo Food Households for Kids with Bob and Andy Culbertson

By The Paleo Diet Team
February 27, 2014
Creating Paleo Food Households for Kids with Bob and Andy Culbertson image

Loren Cordain: I'm Loren Cordain, Founder of the Paleo movement.

Shelley Schlender: I'm Shelley Schlender. This is the Paleo Diet Podcast for August 2013. Coming up, Loren continues a talk with one of his favorite musicians, Bob Culbertson and Bob's wife Andy, who's a dietitian.

Bob and Loren will talk about creativity in music and in writing. Andy and Loren will talk about how they created Paleo food households for their kids.

Loren Cordain: Writing music is a creative gig, and writing literary stuff is a creative gig. You have to do it spontaneously, at least when you perform. I don't. I can sit down at the word processor, and I can fiddle around for twenty-five minutes with the exact word that I want to use here and make it work.

For you, you're on your instruments. You're strumming. You're doing this, you're doing that. You can't go back and look at, what's the correct word here.

Bob Culbertson: I find a lot of times when I play live, something comes out that actually, I think, I can't seem to get it on tape. It's really, really interesting because it seems like when you go into the studio and you record and you work things out like you would on your word processor, it seems like things come out a little bit stiffer.

Then when I play in my life performances, it's almost like the body has a natural way that it wants to kick it out. I'm even looking for maybe there's some people that know something about this, but how the mind can just come up with stuff at the moment. You have to have the tools. You have to practice to have the tool, but once you have the tools, it's a really fascinating process. I'll play a tune and improvise, and a lot of times I'll say, where'd that come from or how did I do that.


I'll hear a sound, and then my brain will go, I want it to go here. Because I have the tools to do it, I move my hands and whatever to make it go there spontaneously.

Loren Cordain: That analogy is like if I were talking on your end of the telephone in the interview, I would say that that's the same thing. It's like people ask me, your discipline and your background and where you came from, how are you making connections between these dots? You were the first person that said diet and acne are related. Blah, blah, blah.

It's like the repertoire of tools that you have as a musician are the same repertoire that I have as a scientist. I've read tens of thousands of scientific papers. Somewhere in my brain, I have that stuff still connected. Writing it, I'm trying to draw together this experience.

Shelley Schlender: Bob Culbertson, what's an example of a song where you just feel like you improvised as the way to create it?

Bob Culbertson: There's a lot of stuff on the AcouStick Dawn, Spanish stuff I improvise a lot.

Probably the tunes that are the originals on AcouStick Dawn like "Spanish Sun." "Mediterranean Nights" is a good example where I just get going and just, as I say, play. Rather than work it out structure.

Shelley Schlender: Andy Culbertson, you're a nutrition expert. How do you improvise all this Paleo stuff to help the people you work with? Have you seen people with acne or digestive problems or exhaustion where advice that you give them, they come back and say something's changed?


Andy Culbertson: Yes, absolutely. I'll say that I mostly see that when I'm teaching classes. That's one of the main things that I do is I'm able to take nutri-scientific concepts, nutrition concepts that are Paleo and transform them into a very, what I like to think of as interesting and engaging and colorful way of learning for the learners that's interesting and also very meaningful for them so that they can take the information an individualize and personalize it.

For example, I work with Tribal Health. I work with the tribal community that's local. Over the past two years have been bringing a lot of Paleo-based information into our hands-on activities and our discussions, our shared stories. This one gal, two years ago, she rushed into the classroom. She's in her seventies. She rushed into the classroom for the first time, and she said, "Is it usual to be eating twelve pieces of bread a day?"

I said, "We could do some work with your blood sugar."

She came to the class twice a month which no other medical intervention. She was hesitant to do that. Made changes over time by adding a lot more protein into her diet. Cutting way back on the grains and the dried fruit for her because she did have diabetes. Her A1C, her hemoglobin A1C, which is a good measure, one of several, but it's a decent measure of blood sugar control, went from 11.2 down to 6.6 with just those changes. I was so happy for her and also that she was taking the changes to heart. She was doing it, and she was self-empowered to do it.

Shelley Schlender: Hemoglobin A1C of 11 is way high.

Andy Culbertson: It's way high.

Shelley Schlender: A hemoglobin A1C of 6.7 is still a little high because normal is around 5, but it's way better.

Andy Culbertson: In the world of public health, the goal is to have about a 7 or less if somebody is diabetic, especially if they're making the changes gradually. Ideally, you want to get the A1C down to 5.3 or lower. That would be a sign of very great blood sugar control, along with the lipid panel and everything else that goes along with that to paint the story of what's happening inside the body metabolically.


Shelley Schlender: How about your children? You not only share this with your clients and in education classes, you have a grade school child and also a child in middle school.

Andy Culbertson: We home school, and so I think that they're not exposed to the same level that a lot of children are that are schooled to the junk food and junk drinks that are out there. Many of our friends, they have an idea of what healthy eating is even though sometimes it's Paleo, sometimes it's not. They're definitely gluten free.

My younger son who's five, our younger son, he's been Paleo for most of his life, whereas the thirteen-year-old, we've made some changes these past couple years. He's doing well with it. We call him the master chef, so at home, he's using lots of avocados. Lots of vegetables. Lots of herbs and spices. Local grass-fed meats.

He does sometimes wish he could have other foods. He does here and there, which is fine. I've seen changes in his ability to think and to move his body. All good changes with him.

Shelley Schlender: You personally, you had some health problems. Paleo helped you, and it helped Bob. It helped your kids. It helps your clients, and then your music helps Loren.

Bob Culbertson: It's like a full circle.

Andy Culbertson: It is. It's a full circle.

Loren Cordain: It's really cool the way people have come together. There's that cosmic connection. I'm not sure how Andy and I and Bob have connected, but it's been very cool. I've enjoyed my relationship with them and so many people across the United States and around the world that have adopted this.

For Andy to talk to you personally about her kids, that's a personal deal. You don't have to. I think that's neat that she does. I put that on the record as my family and me and my wife, we will show that to the world.

Like Andy and Bob, we have three children, and we've raised them Paleo. We're not [00:08:00] 100% Paleo because we live in the 21st-century world. It's really impossible. I think it makes restrictions upon growing children that are untenable. We're like Andy and Bob. There's avocados and tomatoes and olives and grass-produced beef at every single meal, but we don't stock Kellogg's Corn Flakes. You can't find that in our house. We don't stock soda pop. There's no refined sugars.

They can get around it a little bit. We have cheeses. We occasionally have potatoes and root vegetables, this and that, whatever. If a kid wants to go to a birthday party and partake in white bread and sugar, fine. They don't do it all the time. I think that's really the issue with Paleo is that it's what you do 85% of the time that's the most important.

Andy Culbertson: Loren, if I may bring in your mention of connecting the dots as an artist. You're a literary artist and scientist and Bob's as a musician, a musical artist. The word that came to mind was creativity. It's the power of creativity that's there. It's a wellspring. It's pretty amazing what you've done and what Bob's accomplished as well. You’ve brought the concept of peaceful in describing his music.

That is a concept that I also want to bring toward some nutrition education materials I've developed that are called Wake Up Your Health. If you look at the educational materials, not only is there great information that's Paleo-based, they're also very natural in their field. The colors are natural. They're gentle and connecting, if that makes sense in educational materials, which we don't see too often out there.

I also wanted to mention that, that they are excellent tools for people who are new to Paleo or who need inspiration. They want to stick some great information on the refrigerator or share with others, so I wanted to mention those. and is a way to take a look at those to, again, support [00:10:00] the movement and to continue the wonderfully strong ripple effect and the momentum that's happening from all of your Paleo research.

Loren Cordain: Thank you so much, Andy. I appreciate that stuff. You know better than anybody that your husband's music is, it's creative, and he's got all different genres. He goes from jazz to Celtic. Bob is a very creative person. Much of his music is very relaxing.

When I do a PowerPoint presentation, I don't have electric blue and yellow in my background. I have earth tones. I have greens and browns. Here in Colorado in summer when everything is green and shades of brown. We have these pastels from flowers. Around the world, we have that. The sky is blue in the early morning, and it's very, very peaceful. We don't have these disruptive sounds. We have soft sounds. We have birds singing. We have people's voices that are soft and unamplified. That's what I get with Bob's music.

I have this 20 minute commute from our home to Fort Collins, Colorado State University. I listen to all of his stuff because it is, it's so soothing and peaceful.

Bob Culbertson: Music is just basically a world language.

Andy Culbertson: It is, and it's so fundamental. Just like food. Food is so fundamental. It's so unifying. It's such a main element of us.

Loren Cordain:That's all for this edition of The Paleo Diet Podcast. Visit my website, for past episodes and for hot links to the experts and studies that we talked about today.

Shelley Schlender: Our theme music was written and produced by Chapman Stick Soloist Bob Culbertson.

Loren Cordain: If you want to send me questions or comments, the place to go is

Shelley Schlender: For The Paleo Diet Podcast, I'm Shelley Schlender.

Loren Cordain: I'm Loren Cordain.

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