Podcast Episode #137: Guest Sylvie McCracken: homesteading, unschooling, gelatin, good nutrition for kids, and balancing it all.

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1.  Introducing our guest, Sylvie McCracken [5:17]
2.  About the Hollywood Homestead [9:03] 3.  Talking about unschooling [11:27] 4.  Managing work/life balance [19:58] 5.  Entrepreneurship [25:35] 6.  Keeping the kids on the good food path [30:47] 7.  Making the transition and being ok with not doing everything at once [38:17] 8.  Gelatin as a superfood [45:14] 9.  The importance of nutrition in early childhood playing a role in health [55:36] 10.  Final words of wisdom from Sylvie [58:01]


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Liz Wolfe: Hey everyone! Welcome to episode 137 of the Balanced Bites podcast. It’s me; Liz. And I’m on with a fantastic guest today that I know you will love, but before I go there, let’s get the word out about our sponsors. First, Chameleon Cold-Brew. The smooth, fair trade, highly concentrated brew that you can enjoy cold or hot, and that Diane and I absolutely love. You guys know that. I got my mom a little addicted, too. Hi mom! Sorry that I got you addicted to the coffee of crack; the crack of coffees. So, trust me, everybody loves this stuff. Head over to the blog post for this podcast at for details on our current promotion with Chameleon Cold-Brew.

Next up, Pete’s Paleo, bringing fine dining to your cave. Chef Pete and his wife Sarah are two great friends of mine; two of my absolute favorite people. I love to support them, and believe me, they bring it when it comes to premade paleo meals sourced responsibly. Chef Pete is a trained chef; he works absolute magic, and we’ve got a promo with them running as well, plus Diane has some incredibly exciting new stuff in the pipeline with them, so head over to the blog post for this podcast at for the goods. And finally, a new sponsor, Rickaroons. They are offering 15% off with the code PODCAST. Again, checkout the blog post for this podcast at for more details, and to find them, and they always offer free shipping on all orders over $50.

So we actually have a little recording from the folks at Rickaroons, talking about when they eat Rickaroons, what they’re great for, why they created them, and why they love them. We like to give our sponsors a voice here on the podcast, if they’re up for it, so have a listen.

Janalyn Yanover: I eat Rickaroons every day. So I have three different jobs, and I love each one of them. I’m a wedding photographer, a San Diego lifeguard on the beach, and a yoga instructor. During weddings, I don’t have time to sit and eat, and so I’m able to carry something in my pocket or my bag that doesn’t have to be refrigerated, and will give me energy all day. When I lifeguard, I train so that I’m fast and I can save lives, and there are chia seeds and cacao nibs in our Megaroon that will keep me going all day long. In addition, it’s high in the good fats, so I’m never hungry, I’m always satiated. And then, as a yoga teacher, I’m not able to eat a full meal before practicing yoga. So this small bite of food has so much nutritional value that I will be clear and concise and happy throughout the entire time that I’m teaching either kids yoga, or stand up paddle yoga, or retreats. So, grab a Rickaroons, and you will find that no matter what work you’re doing, you will be sustained and happy the entire day.

Liz Wolfe: Alright, perfection. Now, a bit of news from my neck of the woods. I will be at Coach Rut’s gym in the Kansas City area, Bootcamp fitness, Kansas City. I talked about Coach Rut in Eat the Yolks. It’s where it all started for me, so on June 1 at 1:30 I’ll do a Q&A and a book signing. That’s a Sunday, the first of June, Sunday afternoon. I’m so excited. It’s open to the public. It’s free, unless of course you want to buy my book, which you’ll be able to buy it there, if you like. You can RSVP to hold your spot through the link in the sidebar of my blog. It’s going to be really fun, because my entire Kansas City family will be there, you guys know I’m from Kansas City originally. My husband will get to be there, which is so exciting because he hasn’t gotten to be at a lot of the stuff that I’ve done because most of it has been out of town. My girl Amy will be there, my boss/assistant, who is responsible for basically everything I’ve gotten done over the last few weeks with the launch of Good Food for Bad Cooks, and all that good stuff. So I’m not really sure when this podcast will air. I have launched, or have gotten prepared to launch Good Food for Bad Cooks, which is going to be a website all its own. It opens to the public for registration on May 5th, so watch out for that. Watch my blog and my Facebook page and all that for that big announcement. I’m so excited. It’s going to be amazing, and of course I’ll talk about it a little bit more on the podcast once it’s ready to go, and you all can go check it out.

1. Introducing our guest, Sylvie McCracken [5:17]

Ok, so now onto my guest for today. This gal is someone I’ve admired and even befriended, as in I made her be my friend {laughs}, from afar for several years now. She’s a mom of 3. She’s an entrepreneur, and she works full time, in addition to all of her entrepreneurial endeavors. Say that 5 times fast. She is a total against the grain type of gal in many ways, and not just with food. So we’ll talk about all of that today. I’ve just wanted to bring her on the show forever, because she’s such a fun and firm spirit, and I want folks to get to know her and get inspired by her and what she’s doing. I think she’s going to be someone to watch; she is definitely someone to watch. Diane has spoken many times about entrepreneurship, but we all know Diane is on another level. She’s leaps and bounds {laughs} beyond where I am, and some of us just need to hear things phrased in a bit of a different way for it all to click. The conversations I’ve had with my guest about all of this stuff has just always been really enlightening and really inspiring. So, networking with her has really changed the way I think about running a business. In short, I just really wanted you all to meet this gal and see what she’s about, and of course she’s got a few books you might want to check out as well, called the Paleo Survival Guide, and the Gelatin Secret. You can get both of those at her website. So, a huge welcome to my friend Sylvie McCracken of

Sylvie McCracken: Hot damn girl, I am blushing now! {laughs}

Liz Wolfe: {laughing}

Sylvie McCracken: I am really glad you can’t see me! Well, I’m glad my stalking techniques over the last couple of years have worked.

Liz Wolfe: {laughs}

Sylvie McCracken: I don’t know what drew you to me, but those little powers, I guess were working, so awesome.

Liz Wolfe: Totally worked.

Sylvie McCracken: I’m so, so happy to be here. I’m so glad you asked me on.

Liz Wolfe: This is going to be fun.

Sylvie McCracken: Yay!

Liz Wolfe: So, here’s what I want to talk about first. I’m going to let you tell your story, because you’re just really fun to listen to. We went out, folks, I didn’t tweet anything about this, because we went out to dinner and actually didn’t take pictures of our food.

Sylvie McCracken: Yeah, we didn’t.

Liz Wolfe: Possibly because I was eating a ton of rice.

Sylvie McCracken: {laughs}

Liz Wolfe: And my tail was between my legs, but it was at, where was it?

Sylvie McCracken: It was Thai Fresh, I think it was called.

Liz Wolfe: Thai Fresh.

Sylvie McCracken: In Austin, yeah.

Liz Wolfe: Yes.

Sylvie McCracken: And it was amazing. They had a bunch of gluten free things on the menu. That was a really cool place.

Liz Wolfe: That was an awesome place.

Sylvie McCracken: But we were hiding from the peeps.

Liz Wolfe: We were hiding.

Sylvie McCracken: Yeah.

Liz Wolfe: We have no proof of our meal together. But that’s ok. There was rice, and there was wine, and I asked you a million questions about your life and all of your cool stories, so it was a good day for me. {laughs}

Sylvie McCracken: It was fun. I loved it. I loved it. And my favorite part was when you said, “Sure, send me the kids!” and you don’t even know what you’re getting yourself into. I’ll put them all on a plane, send them to your farm in a hot minute.

Liz Wolfe: I’m so dead serious about that. Because we were sitting with Karen Phelps,

Sylvie McCracken: Mm-hmm.

Liz Wolfe: And we were sitting with Emily of Holistic Squid. A lot of folks know her as well. And you guys all have kids, and I was sitting there like, “so what’s it like? Would you do it again?”

Sylvie McCracken: {laughs}

Liz Wolfe: And you’re like, I’m sending them to you and you can figure this out yourself {laughs}

Sylvie McCracken: Yes. I was like, I’ll trade you a kid for a goat.

Liz Wolfe: {laughing}

Sylvie McCracken: Well I guess you call goats, a goat kid is a kid, huh? So there you go.

Liz Wolfe: Yeah {laughing}

Sylvie McCracken: I’ll trade you a kid for a kid, how about that?

Liz Wolfe: You’re so awesome that you make jokes by accident.

Sylvie McCracken: Yeah, I don’t even know. I don’t even know if that’s true.

Liz Wolfe: It is true. Well, honestly, I should probably be better versed on goat terminology, and I’m not.

Sylvie McCracken: Yeah, I know nothing. I was just like, I have a whole cow in my freezer! And my readers are like, that’s a steer.

Liz Wolfe: {laughing}

Sylvie McCracken: I was like, sorry. All I know is it’s hamburgers. I’m so sorry.

Liz Wolfe: {laughing} I’m sorry I’ve offended everyone.

Sylvie McCracken: Yeah.

2. About the Hollywood Homestead [9:03]

Liz Wolfe: Ok, so let’s just start. Tell us about the Hollywood Homestead. Tell us about your life, the kids, and what you’re about.

Sylvie McCracken: Yeah. So, basically started the blog; let’s see, I don’t think it’s been two years yet. And I renamed it Hollywood Homestead; actually, a blogger friend of mine helped me rename it because, you know, the irony was that I work in Hollywood, I’m a celebrity personal assistant. I’ve been doing that for over 10 years. And then, you know, we’re just sort of barefoot in the backyard hanging cloth diapers on a line while, you know, on calls with Marty Scorsese, you know. {laughs}

Liz Wolfe: {laughing}

Sylvie McCracken: It was just kind of a funny sort of juxtaposition of the “homestead”, which is really kale a few other things at this point {laughs}

Liz Wolfe: It’s better than I got right now. {laughs}

Sylvie McCracken: Yeah, I’ve got no goats. But I also have no ticks {laughs} so that’s the plus side.

Liz Wolfe: You win, right there.

Sylvie McCracken: I win. I win at homesteading. So, yeah, it’s sort of just that juxtaposition of working in Hollywood and kind of being around all this glamour, and that’s really not me at all. I’m much more happy to be barefoot in the backyard picking kale with the kids. So, that’s how the blog name came about. And I started the blog because my friends and family were basically sick of hearing me {laughs} talk about this paleo gig, and talk about nutrition and lifestyle, and why we’re fed such crap. Sorry, can I say that word?

Liz Wolfe: You can say crap. {laughs}

Sylvie McCracken: Oh, yay, ok. Good, because that would have been really difficult if I can.

Liz Wolfe: {laughs}

Sylvie McCracken: Yeah, so just kind of why we’re fed all this stuff as far as nutrition, and then also schooling, and education, we’re unschoolers. So we’re kind of just hippies, on every end of the spectrum. And, yeah, so I just started blogging about that, and then from that came a couple of eBooks, as well, that we put together, and that’s pretty much the blog right there.

Liz Wolfe: So tell me about your brood.

Sylvie McCracken: Yeah, so it’s a pretty diverse brood. I have a daughter who will be 16 at the end of the year who we just found out today passed the exam to finish high school. She’s unschooling, so she just had to take a test. I forget what it’s called, it’s CHSP or something like that. California something or other to finish high school, and she passed today! We haven’t told her yet.

Liz Wolfe: Woo-hoo!

Sylvie McCracken: We’re going pop it on her tonight at dinner. So, that’s super exciting. And then we have an almost 5-year-old, and we have a 3-1/2-year-old.

Liz Wolfe: My goodness.

Sylvie McCracken: Yeah, so it’s a handful. And then we’ve got a pit bull, as if that wasn’t enough. So, yeah it’s a bit of a handful. {laughs}

3. Talking about unschooling [11:27]

Liz Wolfe: Ok, so tell me about unschooling, because I think that may be a term some folks are not familiar with. Or at the very least, they don’t quite; when I first heard unschooling, I was like {gasp} people just don’t take their kids to school?! But then as you kind of learn more about the movement, you realize how kids learn is not always how school is structured.

Sylvie McCracken: Yeah. Yeah. And I’m definitely not the unschooling pro, by any means. It’s not my main focus, so there’s definitely folks out there that would know much more than me. Basically, one of the posts I wrote on unschooling on my blog, which is called “What is Unschooling and Why is it Awesome?” it’s basically; it’s funny because there’s a lot of dogma around that, kind of similar to in the paleo world you know where there’s the paleo police; well, there seems to be the unschooling police as well. So, it’s something I’m super sort of not even interested in getting into, but for me unschooling, really the only rule around it is not attending school. I mean, honestly. People will come out and defend that it’s got to be this, or it’s got to be that, or you’ve got to have no rules and the kids can swing from the chandelier if they want to, or whatever.

Liz Wolfe: {laughing} The “chandel-ie”? {laughs}

Sylvie McCracken: Yeah, exactly. {laughs} And it’s like, so we can debate all of that, but for me it was just this thing where paleo was like a gateway. You start reading; you know, for me it was the Paleo Solution, way back when, right.

Liz Wolfe: Mm-hmm.

Sylvie McCracken: And I was reading that, and I was like, holy crap, this makes so much sense, right? And then you start kind of, you become a skeptic. And you’re like, well the government told me this about food, and it turns out they were wrong. And then they’re telling us this about education, and well why? And so you just start questioning things. The book that really opened my eyes, if folks are interested in unschooling or what it is, really, and why you would even consider it, one of the books I really love is called the Teenage Liberation Handbook. And you know, if you have 2-year-old don’t think it doesn’t apply to you, because honestly, that one for me was super eye opening. The author, her name is Grace, and I’ll butcher her last name, Llewellyn, something like that, it’s two L’s and there’s a W in there and a Y. And she actually runs the Not Back to School camp in Oregon that my daughter goes to every year. And it’s just; that book is sort of super amazing. It’s kind of; man, I sound like such a fan girl.

Liz Wolfe: {laughs}

Sylvie McCracken: But, it just kind of walks you through. It’s definitely very radical. And at first; the first time I read it, I was like halfway through it, and I was like, oh, I don’t know about this. This is so radical, this is so not what I; I grew up in South America. So, I grew up, you know, my family and parenting that I was used to was very much a dictatorship. I mean, there was no sort of, the kids didn’t really have a say in anything. It was shut up, sit down, follow the rules, and go to school, and stay in school, and yada-yada. So, this is definitely not like that at all. And that was hard to get used to, but it’s just this concept of, why are teenagers so rebellious? Is it the chicken or the egg? Is it because we tell them to shut up and sit down and listen to us that they rebel, or is it… you know. It’s just kind of to get those questions flowing. Can we change this? Can we affect this behavior? And so it’s been an interesting couple of years of unschooling for us. We tried homeschooling in the past, and to me it was really the same as attending school, but it was at home. So now not only do I have to say, hey can you unload the dishwasher, now I’ve got to stay on top of her to study for the test. And that really wasn’t working. It was the same sort of dynamic. It was that yucky, parent-child struggle that I was so tired of.

Liz Wolfe: Mm-hmm.

Sylvie McCracken: So, this is a whole new gig. It’s really focusing on what the child is interested in, or the kid, or the teenager. It’s a very child-led sort of educational model. And I don’t know if it works for everyone or not, I can’t say. We’re doing it, right now, with all 3 kids. I don’t know that we’ll do it forever with all of them. I’m sure that the child’s personality has something to do with the success of it. But, hey, she’s 15-1/2, she finished high school, what more can I ask? You know, as far as I’m concerned, right now if she wants to learn to play the guitar, that’s perfectly fine by me.

Liz Wolfe: That is so awesome. And hey, you have 3, right?

Sylvie McCracken: Yeah.

Liz Wolfe: So, one of them might go wrong. {laughs}

Sylvie McCracken: Yeah, exactly. We’ll figure it out; we’ll let you know in 18 years how it went.

Liz Wolfe: Yeah.

Sylvie McCracken: {laughs}

Liz Wolfe: It’s a numbers thing. It’s a numbers thing.

Sylvie McCracken: Yeah. It’s definitely N=1 at this point. I mean, I really only have one that is sort of fully cooked, so.

Liz Wolfe: {laughing}

Sylvie McCracken: I’m not sure I’m ready to write the unschooling book or anything, but it’s definitely something that’s been interesting. It’s been absolutely interesting. I just don’t see the point in her sitting in a classroom for 2 more years to be exactly where she is right now. I’d rather her learn to shovel chicken poop. I don’t know.

Liz Wolfe: {laughs}

Sylvie McCracken: You know, something more useful. Go to your farm, and help you shovel goat poop.

Liz Wolfe: I’m telling you, fly her out here. We’ve got room. Well, we don’t have a lot of room, but we have a little bit of room, and we have a lot of chickens, so.

Sylvie McCracken: {laughs} There you go. I mean, it’s like, I just feel like for me, I felt like, we spent most of college learning what we should have learned in high school, and it was so frustrating and so expensive, as well. Where I just feel like, I don’t know, some of those life skills are definitely missing in school. For a while there, it seemed like high school was all about just learning how to apply mascara.

Liz Wolfe: Mm-hmm.

Sylvie McCracken: And learning how to deflect the bullies. And I just don’t know that that’s enough of a lesson. Or enough of worthwhile time.

Liz Wolfe: I think it’s pretty cool that, there seems to be a movement, and maybe we’re just exposed to it more because of the space that we occupy with the paleo thing and the kind of against the grain literally, figuratively type thing, but there seems to be a movement toward, I don’t know. I don’t know what the word would be, but like more trade. Trade-based occupations, and it’s not necessarily like, oh you don’t go to conventional school, and you’re going to end up being a farmer, which, what’s wrong with that?

Sylvie McCracken: Right.

Liz Wolfe: But, this idea that you can get on the job training through life. I went to conventional high school; I went to regular old college, and like you said, for the most part I was learning to lie effectively to my authorities in high school. Put on mascara. College, I learned to live on my own while spending my parents money.

Sylvie McCracken: Right.

Liz Wolfe: And now, I’m in a profession that I basically crafted from skills I learned through life.

Sylvie McCracken: Right.

Liz Wolfe: Which was reading, and writing, and interacting with people. So I’m very pro-discovery as education, and I think it’s really neat that people are talking about it more. Because I really never would have been in this situation, being able to make a living the way I am if I had followed the path that was laid out for me initially. So it’s not right for everyone; nothing is right for everyone.

Sylvie McCracken: Right.

Liz Wolfe: But I think it’s a great concept.

Sylvie McCracken: Yeah. I think that’s sort of the a-ha moment I had, while I was reading the book. Which at first, I was reading it as a skeptic, and I was like, I don’t know about this whole not going to school thing. You know, we were always told to just stay in school, right? I just think that now, more and more, we’ve got college graduates, and they’re flipping burgers at McDonalds. The game is changing a little bit.

Liz Wolfe: Mm-hmm.

Sylvie McCracken: Just the plain old college degree for 100 grand is really not going to necessarily set you apart. So, I was reading this as a skeptic, and it was like, you know, debunking everything we’ve ever; it’s like when you read your first paleo book, where you’re like, wait a second.

Liz Wolfe: {laughs}

Sylvie McCracken: What about whole grains, you know, I’m eating oatmeal for breakfast every day, how is this wrong? But then after a while, I was like, well, crap I’m trying to be an entrepreneur, I’m kind of trying to bust out of the mold of all of these things, how can I, in good conscious, tell my daughter, but you need to sit down, shut up, and follow the rules, and go to school, and stay in school, and get a college degree. Because we’ve always done it was the only answer I could come up with, which, in my opinion, is an answer that needs to be retired for anything. So, whether it’s nutrition, or schooling, or circumcision, or whatever it is, I really find that that’s just not a good enough answer. We need better answers than that. So, yeah, I figured we’d give it a shot for a year, if we break her, then we’ll try and fix it next year.

Liz Wolfe: {laughing} I like it. Ok, so let’s talk a little bit about work/life balance, because you alluded to, first of all, you talked about your job, which is always kind of intriguing to hear about, but also how you are working on the blog, and being an entrepreneur, and also raising a paleo family. So, I would love to talk about how all of that has been managed, and kind of the flux among all things, and how you handle it.

4. Managing work/life balance [19:58]

Sylvie McCracken: Yeah, so that’s a good question. I get that question a lot, and it’s definitely, the way things are now didn’t happen overnight. It was definitely a transition as far as managing everything. I think the biggest sort of answer to all of that is, I have a lot of help. And it’s help that I’ve sort of gathered along the way. So, I’ve got a team that helps me on my blog, so it’s not just me and that’s super helpful, because there’s no way I could write as many blog posts, or eBooks, or anything as I do without a team, so that really helps. Same at my day job; I mean, I’ve been doing it now for over 10 years, and I’ve managed to sort of craft a little team that helps me. And I joke with them all the time that I’m just going to go sit in Panama and do nothing and have them do everything, because

Liz Wolfe: {laughs}

Sylvie McCracken: {laughs} there’s days where I just feel like, cool, I’m just kind of overseeing the show, but they’re doing a lot of the work. And also just kind of training the celebrities, too, to expect what’s reasonable, as opposed to, there’s nothing going to be happening at 3 in the morning.

Liz Wolfe: {laughing}

Sylvie McCracken: You know, I’m not 911, so don’t even bother calling me, because it’s not going to work. So, that’s something that obviously took 10 years to happen, but it’s just kind of creating that respect, creating those boundaries for yourself and teaching people how to treat you, which is super, super important, I think in just about every aspect of life. And you know, my husband is a stay at home dad. Luckily, my job kind of affords us that privilege of only one of us having to work, so he’s home with them. So he obviously is a big help as far as food getting on the table and the kids remaining alive, so.

Liz Wolfe: {laughs}

Sylvie McCracken: So, yeah, that’s pretty much it. As far as timing, as far as what a day looks like; I pretty much work 40 hours, 9-5. So, for instance, when the eBook was getting written, it was like 6-8 a.m. every day, and that’s just a matter of prioritizing it. I mean, things, you know, at a certain point, we all have 24 hours in a day, so you’ve got to look at those 24 hours and see, well what are you doing with it. Because I hear a lot of people saying, you know, ain’t nobody got time for that.

Liz Wolfe: {laughing}

Sylvie McCracken: Which is definitely one of my favorite phrases, but I feel like we do. It’s like, well if you have time to watch a TV show, and I know you’re a big Gossip Girl fan {laughs}

Liz Wolfe: Oh yes.

Sylvie McCracken: But I mean, at a certain point, for me it was ok, you can either watch Gossip Girl, or you can have a blog. It was literally, you have to choose. So, there was no competition for me. It was, if I want to do this blog, it means I’ve got to go to bed early, and it means the TV basically doesn’t exist for the most part. And that’s cool, and it won’t always be that way, but I feel like it’s just a matter of prioritizing.

Liz Wolfe: My life was really hard before I discovered binge watching.

Sylvie McCracken: {laughing}

Liz Wolfe: Because really, Andy Cohen has made things really difficult for me by continuing to create these housewives, you know, in different cities.

Sylvie McCracken: {laughing}

Liz Wolfe: And I was into one, and then I was into the other. It’s such an idol; no, it’s not an idol escape. It’s like an actively negative stress inducing escape that I’ve tried to get away from. But, it’s true, and I really didn’t start to get anything done until I plucked out those seemingly harmless time sucks. Until you really get rid of them, you don’t see how productive you can be. And now, I will record things, or access things. Like maybe one day a week, when I really, truly, I am done working, I need to put the work aside, I will watch this as an enjoyment treat to myself.

Sylvie McCracken: Right.

Liz Wolfe: I will watch a couple in a row, and then that’s it. But you’re right; you do have to find that time. There’s a book by, is it Steven Pressfield?

Sylvie McCracken: Yeah. The War of Art.

Liz Wolfe: Yes. The challenge is just sitting down and doing it.

Sylvie McCracken: Right. Right.

Liz Wolfe: I think it’s something like that.

Sylvie McCracken: Yeah. I mean, at a certain point, you’ve got all kinds of excuses. We tend to procrastinate, or we don’t have time, or we don’t have money, or we don’t have help. But at a certain point, it’s sort of like, I know you’re also a Marie Forleo fan.

Liz Wolfe: Mm-hmm.

Sylvie McCracken: One of her phrases that I really love is, some people have reasons, other people have results. And really the word reasons reads to me as excuses. And not to say, anybody out there that’s sitting on their butt watching TV is full of excuses and that’s why they’re not doing anything. I’m just saying, if you want to do something, you just have to find a way around it. You know?

Liz Wolfe: It’s encouragement more so than anything. You really can find time. It’s there.

Sylvie McCracken: Yeah.

Liz Wolfe: This is a good thing, you know?

Sylvie McCracken: Yeah. Absolutely.

Liz Wolfe: I’m with you. And that’s why we say valid reasons or not a good reason.

Sylvie McCracken: Yeah {laughs}

Liz Wolfe: Sometimes they’re invalid reasons, and sometimes they’re valid reasons. For a long time, I hid my affinity for {laughs} oh my gosh, this close to saying my affinity for elf culture.

Sylvie McCracken: {laughing}

Liz Wolfe: My affinity for Gossip Girl, Vampire Fiction, and all these silly things. I don’t watch them that much, but I do enjoy them, and I do enjoy some wine, and I do enjoy some of those treat type things.

Sylvie McCracken: Right.

Liz Wolfe: But they have their place, and their place is after you’ve gotten a few other things worked out, I think.

Sylvie McCracken: Absolutely. Absolutely. Or not.

Liz Wolfe: Or not.

Sylvie McCracken: Or you could just get a regular job, and just phone it in, and clock in, clock out, and watch TV all evening. And that’s fine too, that’s your prerogative. I think that’s what most people do. Which is fine, for them. I just knew it made me want to blow my brains out, so {laughs}

Liz Wolfe: {laughs} Not happy.

Sylvie McCracken: No. Something has to change here, because this is not working out. So. Yeah.

5. Entrepreneurship [25:35]

Liz Wolfe: So, this is kind of becoming a little bit of a conversation on entrepreneurship. Which I know, you know, Diane has had these conversations with JJ Virgin, and I think Diane is like miles and miles ahead of me on a lot of this stuff, and I’m like, beginner, beginner entrepreneur, and just now, even learning to start to think of myself as a business woman and as someone who has an imperative and a mission that I want to further with everything that I do. So, I think for me, kind of like entrepreneurship 101 has been little things like how you treat what you do as a hobby versus as a profession that you love.

Sylvie McCracken: Mm-hmm.

Liz Wolfe: Which I think for you, maybe it started as a hobby and then became a profession.

Sylvie McCracken: Yeah.

Liz Wolfe: But also, I want to go back to something that you said earlier about how you have help. And something that I have learned, and people that listen to the podcast have probably heard me talk about at least one, is that I finally hired my first person to help me with the blog. I’ve had Amanda working on Skintervention for at least a year. She’s an amazing part of the team, but for the longest time I refused to hire someone to help me with me. {laughs}

Sylvie McCracken: Yeah.

Liz Wolfe: I was such a disaster, and I think it was maybe a Marie Forleo thing, and something I kind of heard you allude to just now was, get help maybe even before you need it, and maybe even before you can afford it.

Sylvie McCracken: Yeah.

Liz Wolfe: Because a lot of times that’s the thing that you need to move forward.

Sylvie McCracken: Yeah, I was so excited when I heard your last podcast and you said you got help. I was like, high-fiving you in the air like a crazy person.

Liz Wolfe: {laughs}

Sylvie McCracken: But, yeah I know. I feel like, I equate it to sort of like, I guess because I live in Southern California. There’s an earthquake, and there’s rubble everywhere, and the glass is broken on the ground, and we’re sitting here trying to mop the floor.

Liz Wolfe: {laughs}

Sylvie McCracken: And I feel like until we start picking up some of these big boulders on the floor; there is no floor, until you move some stuff out of the way. And I feel like with entrepreneurship, there’s so many balls in the air, that I’m like, if I’m trying to share my posts and my fellow bloggers posts on Facebook all day long, I don’t have time to create any new ones. So you need some help. You need to outsource some of the tasks, otherwise; I mean, there’s 24 hours in a day, there’s just no way to get it done. I find that really imperative.

Liz Wolfe: And it’s surprising how many things you really can outsource.

Sylvie McCracken: Yeah.

Liz Wolfe: And Diane talked about this one, forever ago. I think she mentioned getting someone to come once a month to do some deep cleaning in your house. And I was like, that is completely impractical. That’s ridiculous, nobody is going to do that. But I see now the value in dividing up tasks, kind of dividing and conquering.

Sylvie McCracken: Yep.

Liz Wolfe: And one business being great at one thing, and then you’re great at one thing, so you can do that one thing, give some work to the other people that are good at their one thing {laughs}

Sylvie McCracken: Yeah, exactly. Absolutely. And half the time my team is better at me than whatever task it is their each doing. There’s just no reason for me to be trying to do it, it would take me 3 hours to do what she can do in 1. I mean, forget it {laughs}

Liz Wolfe: Mm-hmm. And that doesn’t even necessarily mean hiring an employee to work 40 hours a week for $25 an hour.

Sylvie McCracken: Right.

Liz Wolfe: It doesn’t mean that. It could mean hiring someone to do 1 hour of work for you once a week for, you know, a 10 spot. I don’t know.

Sylvie McCracken: Yeah. Yeah.

Liz Wolfe: But just being able to think of yourself, whether you’re a stay at home mom, or stay at home dad, or an entrepreneur on the internet, or whether you’re trying to build a business from scratch, a brick and mortar type of business. But just to really own the fact that you’re trying to make something of whatever it is you’re doing, no matter what Uncle Phil says or Grandma so-and-so has to say about what you’re trying to make for yourself, you can own what you’re trying to do, and once you really give yourself the respect of, I am a person trying to accomplish something, whatever that is, I think maybe you will be more inclined to open that door and say, I’m going to get help in this or that. I’m going to give up this television show so I can do one more hour of work before it gets dark and then I can put on my blue blocking glasses, or whatever.

Sylvie McCracken: {laughs} We’re so sexy.

Liz Wolfe: Oh my gosh, totally. So I totally went off the reservation just now.

Sylvie McCracken: No, it’s great. I think it’s great. I think it’s something that I’ve heard Diane talk about before when she had JJ on, and it’s something that in general we’re always talking about food and lifestyle and going to bed early, but I think people often ask about the business angle of it. So I’m glad you brought it up.

Liz Wolfe: I’m glad I brought it up too. Yeah, that was good of me, to bring it up, right?

Sylvie McCracken: {laughing}

Liz Wolfe: Pat on my back.

Sylvie McCracken: Yay!

Liz Wolfe: Yay! So, alright. Let’s talk about; we talked a little bit about your family, but I want to talk about how you keep your kids eating good food, like sardines, how you make that happen. {laughs}

6. Keeping the kids on the good food path [30:47]

Sylvie McCracken: Yeah, I know. It’s funny because when I first started doing that, and I would post a picture of them eating sardines or whatever, mostly just to inspire people or, you know, have them know it truly is possible, it truly is happening, and I got a lot of, oh you’re so lucky they’ll eat that stuff! Or whatever, and I was like, girl I am not lucky! {laughs}

Liz Wolfe: {laughs}

Sylvie McCracken: Let me tell you. But yeah, that’s kind of why I wrote the Paleo Survival Guide, and I’ve got a few blog posts on this stuff as well, on the blog. But basically, I realized that I had sort of taken for granted that there was a transition. There was an ugly moment there where the quesadilla junkies, as I called them before.

Liz Wolfe: {laughing}

Sylvie McCracken: You know, they were like, I’m sorry, we’re eating what?! You know, they were oatmeal for breakfast, quesadilla for lunch, and then whatever we were having for dinner which was probably pasta and then maybe beans and rice. That’s what they were eating. And now of course, the little ones are full paleo because they basically have no say in what they eat at home, and the teenager is as paleo as it gets when it’s at home, and then when she goes out with her friends, she just comes back with acne. {laughs}

Liz Wolfe: {laughing} Yup.

Sylvie McCracken: Yeah, so that’s her penance. So, as far as how we kind of transition them, we did it slowly. We just started first not having the same thing every day, so instead of oatmeal 5 days a week; we went gluten-free pretty much right away. So like the quesadillas, we switched out the tortillas for a brown rice tortilla right away, and for a minute they were like, what is this? And I was like, that’s your quesadilla, eat it.

Liz Wolfe: {laughs}

Sylvie McCracken: So, I’ve got 3. I’m tired. I am not about to be a short order cook, you know what I mean?

Liz Wolfe: yes {laughs}

Sylvie McCracken: It’s like, this is what’s for dinner. If you like it, that’s awesome. If not, I don’t know what to tell you. There’s kale in the backyard, feel free to forage.

Liz Wolfe: {laughing}

Sylvie McCracken: That’s basically the short end of it. But then it was like, ok, there’s eggs for breakfast, perhaps not 7 days a week, but we were just kind of trying to introduce that idea. And you know, the first time they’re like, I want my oatmeal with honey, and raisins. I mean, can you say sugar spike?

Liz Wolfe: {laughing}

Sylvie McCracken: So we were just kind of trading it out. At one point, we just told them that we had run out of oatmeal, and there was no more oatmeal, and they threw a fit, on the ground complete with crying, kicking, screaming, all kinds of stuff. And eventually they get hungry and eat the eggs. I don’t know, it’s not necessarily revolutionary. I’m sure I went into more detail on the blog post that I can’t even remember at this point because it seems so far away. But you know what, I have yet to see in the developing world a child die of starvation. I mean, it’s just not going to happen. And I’m a little hard core like that; I just don’t have the time for the whiney stuff. I don’t know if you were at the talk that Kyle Maynard did at Paleo(fx) this last weekend, but his topic was First World Problems and the Lost Art of Grit. Well, I feel like we can apply it to this. I mean the kids, it’s like, you want your oatmeal but you’re not going to have it anymore. Sorry, it’s just not {laughs} compelling enough for me to care.

Liz Wolfe: {laughing} You mean you don’t say, “I acknowledge your feelings about the oatmeal, I understand them, but there is no oatmeal today.” {laughs}

Sylvie McCracken: {laughs} Yeah, no. I don’t. I just never learned that. I’m like, kid I don’t have the time for this. Eat your food.

Liz Wolfe: I think that’s part of what has drawn me to you is how direct you are and unapologetic, it’s something I’ve learned a ton from your approach, and I mean that as a compliment, because for a long time I think I felt my mission was to coddle. You know? Just to give people a soft place to fall. And I like that, I like being kind to people, but I think in my practice, when I had an open nutritional therapy practice, I think was maybe doing people a disservice by being a little bit less firm than would have been actually helpful for them.

Sylvie McCracken: Yeah.

Liz Wolfe: So, I like it a lot, and I like the direction that you {laughing}

Sylvie McCracken: {laughs}

Liz Wolfe: That you went there. So, I think it’s good.

Sylvie McCracken: Yeah, well you know, for me it was also something that I knew that this was totally the way to go.

Liz Wolfe: Mm-hmm.

Sylvie McCracken: I had started paleo for myself for health reasons, and then when I started reading about kids and sort of this ADD/Autism/Asperger’s/whatever other disorders, and I was like, oh man this sounds like my then, 3-year-old I think she was. And she was just completely unmanageable. And granted, I’ve had 3 kids, so I know what a 3-year-old is like, but she was uncharacteristically unmanageable. And I thought; and my husband, who was skeptical at the time, I was like, just do me the favor. Let’s remove gluten out of her diet for 30 days.

Liz Wolfe: Mm-hmm.

Sylvie McCracken: And then, you know, worse case it’s a bunch of crap and it doesn’t work. So, once we did that and we could actually reason with her, I was like, ok, sorry, but I’m going hardcore now. Like, there’s never going to be another piece of gluten in this house ever again.

Liz Wolfe: Mm-hmm.

Sylvie McCracken: And the few times she’s gotten gluten since then, I joke that we have to call the exorcist, because we’re back to 3 days of thrashing on the floor and completely unmanageable. So, anyway, because I had all of that in mind, I was like, you’re going to eat XYZ. And the sardines, just because you asked about that; that wasn’t one of those things that I was like, I’ll take away their oatmeal, and here’s your sardines for breakfast.

Liz Wolfe: {laughing}

Sylvie McCracken: It wasn’t like that. I mean, that probably would have been pretty shocking. But it was one of those things where I was like, I realized after a while, of course as I was eating sardines out of a can, that the kids were looking at me like, oh, why is she eating that? The toddlers, right, because the teenager rolls her eyes.

Liz Wolfe: Mm-hmm.

Sylvie McCracken: But, the toddlers were kind of interested. And I was like, do you want some? And they see that you kind of act like it’s delicious, and they’re completely open to it. Because their palates are really not as, you know, I guess as messed up as ours are after eating nothing but pop tarts and beer for however long. So, they were open to it, and they love sardines. I just tell my husband, you’re not allowed to make a face {laughs}

Liz Wolfe: {laughing}

Sylvie McCracken: And then they never know.

Liz Wolfe: You don’t want that conditioning.

Sylvie McCracken: No, exactly. And you know, when I’m drinking bone broth, I’m like, do you want bone broth? And then they do. Just because you’re doing it. So if you show them by example, they’re sort of into it, you know.

Liz Wolfe: Mm-hmm.

Sylvie McCracken: And they drink kombucha that’s pretty much vinegar. That’s what they know, so. I don’t know, I feel like your palate adapts over time, and it’s really random, the things that they find delicious. It’s really crazy, so.

Liz Wolfe: So you talked a little bit about starting slow. Now, I’ve talked in past podcasts about how I’m not necessarily a fan of yes/no lists, and 30-day challenges and stuff like that, and then recently I acknowledged that I could have been mistaken about that, at least for some people for whom that works best.

Sylvie McCracken: Mm-hmm.

Liz Wolfe: But, when I talk about how I wasn’t firm enough potentially in the past with clients and people that had come to me for help, I don’t so much mean, I didn’t rip off the Band-Aid and change everything immediately for them, but maybe I was not as firm as I could have been in pressing them to embrace change. So, I want to make that distinction before I ask you about starting slow versus immediately clearing out the cabinets. You know, no more quesadillas, only sardines. No more oatmeal, only cod liver oil. So you do, and well I guess in the Paleo Survival Guide you probably talk about this.

Sylvie McCracken: Yeah.

7. Making the transition and being ok with not doing everything at once [38:17]

Liz Wolfe: How to make that transition and feeling ok, not maybe doing everything at once. So, what would be the top 3 changes to start with for families?

Sylvie McCracken: For me, the thing I was in a hurry about and the stuff I was throwing out right away was the gluten. So, it was tough because we did eat a lot. I’m from Argentina and I was a vegetarian, which is another horrific story.

Liz Wolfe: {laughs}

Sylvie McCracken: But all I ate was pasta and pizza, rinse and repeat. I mean, it was like that’s it. So the no gluten thing was sort of shocking enough as it is, but I figured that was a huge enough step for my family that it was like, ok I’m not getting rid of quesadillas, but I am getting rid of that whole wheat organic tortilla, and I’m going to replace it with the brown rice from Trader Joe’s and do that for a bit. So that was huge. And then just starting to introduce new foods. Again, not switching to eggs every single morning, but switching to some days there’s eggs for breakfast. And now that is pretty much what they eat every morning. But in the beginning, it was like, why are we eating this yellow stuff.

Liz Wolfe: {laughing}

Sylvie McCracken: You know, you just kind of take it easy. It’s also, how much patience do you have, because you’re going to have to deal with some tantrums. So some days, keeping that oatmeal in there was like, oh thank god I don’t need to fight with them today!

Liz Wolfe: {laughing}

Sylvie McCracken: And it’s also not necessarily the worst thing in their diet that they were eating, so. It is a little bit about priorities. And then just kind of introducing new things at dinner. And then, the next thing for us was dairy, because my middle daughter, she was still having a little rash and whatnot, and even the organic full-fat dairy that we were having; it wasn’t raw or grass-fed, which we had no idea what it was when we started this whole journey.

Liz Wolfe: Mm-hmm.

Sylvie McCracken: It was still giving her a reaction, and also it was a hell of a lot of cheese, really. So, just kind of transitioning out of that. The quesadillas had to go. You know, they had to go at a certain point. So it went from 7 days a week quesadillas to zero. But obviously doing it cold turkey would have been probably a huge battle, number one; it might have been too much of a detox for them, I don’t know. A little bit of, I don’t know, herxheimer reaction or something.

Liz Wolfe: {laughs}

Sylvie McCracken: You’ll have to ask the pros about that. But yeah, I just figured taking it slow. And also my daughter at the time was in school; my oldest. So what we did with her was, I was like I’m not even going to bother with the lunch thing. Let her do whatever at lunch; she was towards the tail-end of the school year, and so we were just doing paleo dinners, of course, and we were transitioning her breakfast along with the other two, and she was also giving us a little bit of a fight. She would be vegan if we let her.

Liz Wolfe: Mm-hmm.

Sylvie McCracken: She’s not thrilled about eggs, not thrilled about meat. That’s sort of changed now, but in the beginning, it was like, why can’t I just live on oatmeal. And then eventually, when she was home for the summer, she was just eating lunch at home, and there was what there was. And then when she went out with her friends, and would eat at the food court at the mall, she’d feel like hell. {laughs}

Liz Wolfe: Mm-hmm.

Sylvie McCracken: And that sort of ended up being its own thing. Because, again, with this unschooling sort of thing, this is her journey, and she’s got to come up with these things. I don’t want her to do it just because I tell her to, or because I say it’s the best thing for her, or whatever. There are some things that kind of self regulate. She’s read the Skintervention Guide because she’s got some acne. Her acne practically clears up when she’s eating at home, and then when she goes to Cinnabun or whatever it’s called, then she comes home with acne a couple of days later. So, anyway. It’s just one of those things where it’s like, you just kind of have to let them figure it out a little bit.

Liz Wolfe: Yes. I think that, it’s really interesting that you should say, I can’t remember exactly how you phrased it just now, but sometimes maybe it’s too much to try and do all of the things all at once.

Sylvie McCracken: Yeah.

Liz Wolfe: It made me think about the interview that I did on KCTV 5 out here, where I’m talking to this guy for 2.5 minutes with no saliva in complete fight or flight, evacuate bowels type mode.

Sylvie McCracken: {laughing}

Liz Wolfe: On top of everything, but he is talking about, well, I mean I always eat the yolks, but it’s not that I’m eating 12 of them a day, I’m not saying that because of the fat and the cholesterol.

Sylvie McCracken: Ugh.

Liz Wolfe: And I’m thinking Iiiiiiiii don’t know if I should make this a conversation right now. Then he mentions quinoa, and I’m like Iiiiii… at least he didn’t say whole wheat, you know?

Sylvie McCracken: {laughs}

Liz Wolfe: So you do kind of pick your battles.

Sylvie McCracken: Yeah.

Liz Wolfe: And I think a lot of us; I think I personally lost a lot of self determination just over the course of 3 decades being always told what to do, what was healthy, what I should and shouldn’t eat, what I should and shouldn’t learn. You know, we’re indoctrinated from the time we’re very young with instructions from other people. And I think we forget that kids, and adult, we can very effectively self determine. We can say, wow when I eat this it gives me this.

Sylvie McCracken: Yeah.

Liz Wolfe: And so maybe I won’t do that.

Sylvie McCracken: Yeah. And even that has taken us, a lot of us, a long time to figure that out. So why would we expect kids would be any quicker than we are. I mean, you know. So, I think that’s important. And the other thing is to not sweat it sort of when we’re out. I mean, even with the toddlers, they know that they are gluten free and dairy free, and so my oldest now, she’s had enough episodes with; not my oldest, sorry, my middle one, the oldest one of the two toddlers, she knows. She asks, does this have gluten in it? Because she knows that she’ll be sick for days.

Liz Wolfe: Mm-hmm.

Sylvie McCracken: So, that’s good. But I don’t really sweat; I mean, they’ll get their hands on a juice box if we’re at a party with friends, and I’m just like, eh, what can I do?

Liz Wolfe: {laughs}

Sylvie McCracken: You know, red dye #40 in there, and probably some high fructose corn syrup, and I hate it.

Liz Wolfe: Some beaver butt, something.

Sylvie McCracken: Yeah, exactly. But you have to kind of pick your battles. I try to do my best to just take paleo cupcakes with me for when the cake comes out, and kind of be prepared on that end, but there’s a few things that we just concede on, and it is what it is, and we know they’re going to be kind of cranky later from the sugar crash, but whatever. You just deal with it and move on.

Liz Wolfe: Mm-hmm. So you mentioned earlier that when you’re having bone broth they’ll want a little sip. And it’s funny, I’ve actually heard that a lot from parents who are trying to get their family on more nourishing food. A lot of times, the kids are most into the bone broth.

Sylvie McCracken: Yeah. Yeah.

Liz Wolfe: Which is crazy! I thought would be crazy, but I guess it’s not. I think sometimes kids have that instinct where, they’re getting what they need and they want more.

Sylvie McCracken: Totally.

Liz Wolfe: So, you wrote The Gelatin Secret, and I feel like I’ve got a ton of questions about gelatin, like how it helps the different parts of the body. I’m a huge fan of it for the skin and as kind of a skin care nourishing food.

Sylvie McCracken: Yeah.

Liz Wolfe: But I want to hear more from you as the gelatin expert why you’re so gung-ho on it, I guess?

8. Gelatin as a superfood [45:14]

Sylvie McCracken: Yeah, I think part of it is we’ve done damage for so many years, you know, in my case for over 3 decades’ worth of damaging our bodies with, in my case, no meat, no fat, and just a ton of processed foods, that it’s really time to pay the piper. So I feel like it’s sort of, and I see the paleo movement kind of trending towards this now, where it’s not that, don’t eat gluten, and just eat meat and vegetables, but rather seeking nutrients.

Liz Wolfe: Mm-hmm.

Sylvie McCracken: And eating the most nutrient dense stuff we can eat. And I think while we’re at home and cooking our own food, that’s sort of easy to do, and then when you’re out you just kind of order the chicken and the vegetables and do your best. But while you’re eating at home, why not sneak bone broth into everything. Basically anything that calls for water of any kind, as far as when you’re cooking, if you need to put a little water in the pan, just do it with bone broth instead, why not? I mean, it will evaporate but those minerals will stay behind. And we know how healing it is to the gut, which basically, if it did nothing else, just healing the gut alone basically will heal the rest of your body. But I think the reason I got so addicted to both the broth and the gelatin was because my oldest has scoliosis. She had scoliosis surgery a year ago now, and we’ve been dealing with it for a few years before that, so that’s when I really became kind of obsessed with researching bone health and regeneration of bones, and of course I was putting gelatin in all the things, smuggling it into the hospital.

Liz Wolfe: {laughs}

Sylvie McCracken: And just kind of putting the collagen one, the collagen hydrolysate, if I’m even pronouncing that right.

Liz Wolfe: Mm-hmm, mm-hmm.

Sylvie McCracken: Just kind of sneaking it into tea, sneaking it into anywhere where you wouldn’t want it to gel, and then making gummies and Jell-O, which is a super easy sell with the kids. It’s like, they think that you’re giving them cake, and

Liz Wolfe: {laughing}

Sylvie McCracken: You’re actually totally nourishing their gut and their skin and their bones, and everything. And the kids are growing so fast. When I see my daughter shoot up 2 sizes within a year, my 5-year-old, I’m just like, wow. Those bones and joints and everything are growing along with it, why not feed it exactly what it is, basically, bones.

Liz Wolfe: Mm-hmm.

Sylvie McCracken: So I kind of got obsessed with the research, and I wrote The Gelatin Secret, and half of it is just telling you how it nourishes each part of your body. Obviously, gut health being a huge part of it, and then skin, and bones, and joints, and everything else. And then half of it is recipes because the same old gummy recipe can get old. But it’s both recipes for using bone broth and how to make bone broth, of course, and then recipes for gelatin. It was sort of awesome. It was fun to put together. I’m still sort of obsessed with it. {laughs}

Liz Wolfe: I am too. I actually didn’t realize that your daughter had dealt with scoliosis. I get actually quite a few questions about that. I don’t think I have ever; I’ve always thought of that as just a structural issue. But did you see a lot of improvement in her mobility and what she was able to do by nourishing her differently?

Sylvie McCracken: Well that’s the interesting; I actually have a few series of posts that we’re working on for the blog very soon, because I feel like I’ve got to get all this information out there. But it was funny, the doctors were actually pretty amazed at how easily she recovered. The fact that she would, the next day, she was able to walk to the bathroom by herself, which is unheard of because she’s got 2 giant rods in her back.

Liz Wolfe: yeah.

Sylvie McCracken: And they split her open and what not. So I think that the diet, and also Crossfit before the surgery, the fact that she had these abs of steel where her back muscles were just completely out, shot, you know, not able to function. She was able to kind of use her abs to lift herself out of the bed and all of that, that was really, really helpful. And then the nourishing; I mean, if you think about it, we have the funniest surgeon. And when he was explaining the surgery to her, he was like, well I’ll do a big incision, and then I’m going to break your bones as if you were in a car accident, which is of course exactly what they do, and then he said, and then I’m going to put the rods in, and then I’m going to pour in bone croutons, he said

Liz Wolfe: {laughing}

Sylvie McCracken: Which, from a very bad motorcyclists is what he said, right. So they have this donor bone that they put in there and they basically trick the body into recovering and healing from a bone fracture.

Liz Wolfe: Mm-hmm.

Sylvie McCracken: Which is an intentional bone fracture. And so, if you think about it, and the bone crouton thing was hilarious to me, but it’s sort of kind of what it is, and isn’t that sort of kind of what gelatin is, except it’s

Liz Wolfe: {laughing}

Sylvie McCracken: I was like, what better if you want to grow bone than to eat bone. I mean, don’t we always tell people, if you have a liver problem eat liver, if you have a heart problem, eat heart?

Liz Wolfe: Yep.

Sylvie McCracken: Well then if you have a bone problem, why wouldn’t you eat bone? Except we can’t, because we’re not dogs {laughs}. So, this is how we consume it. We drink bone broth, and we eat gelatin. So, I don’t know. I found it really did help. We’ve been many, many times since, the poor girl has had so many x-rays it’s not even funny, but her bone healing has been sort of off the charts. Now, it could be coincidence, N=1, but I don’t know. I don’t buy it. I think there’s plenty that we can do.

Liz Wolfe: I think if you have a problem with X, consume that same.

Sylvie McCracken: Yeah.

Liz Wolfe: We don’t talk about that enough.

Sylvie McCracken: Yeah.

Liz Wolfe: I think in a recent podcast I encouraged someone looking for help with liver support to actually eat liver, and it’s not some hokey hippie, oh take on the essence of the beef heart or whatever.

Sylvie McCracken: {laughs} Diffuse liver {laughing}

Liz Wolfe: Yes! {laughing} Oh, hold on. Good idea alert right there.

Sylvie McCracken: {laughing}

Liz Wolfe: But it’s like, the reason heart is good for your heart, liver is good for your liver, and bones would be good for your bones, because they are actually composed of their own building blocks, obviously, as well as the nutrition that is needed to keep them strong. So liver would be rich in B vitamins, which we need for all kinds of bodily processes, but it’s also rich in the same amino acids and building blocks that we need for a healthy liver.

Sylvie McCracken: Yeah.

Liz Wolfe: I forget to talk about that, and I think that’s really important, and I think it’s also part of the reason that bone broth is so good for the skin and just for all those structural, good strong structural support.

Sylvie McCracken: Well, the thing about scoliosis that really bugged me was the diagnosis, which is a very common diagnosis, it’s called adolescent idiopathic scoliosis. And idiopathic just means that they don’t know the cause of it, and I was like, BS! This is, I think at the time, 2013. I was like, I don’t know, the docs were like, there’s nothing you can do. You can just kind of cross your arms and wait, and when it gets bad enough we’ll do surgery. I was like hell no, I’m not going to cross my arms. So of course Dr. Google and I got on a task, and it just took me down a rabbit hole of, there’s plenty we can do. There’s fat soluble vitamins, there’s this and that, micronutrient deficiencies, and then plenty and plenty of gelatin.

Liz Wolfe: The rabbit hole is kind of where I ended up when I was putting together Skintervention. It was like, wow this was so profound for me, how did it work?

Sylvie McCracken: Yeah.

Liz Wolfe: And just started to put all the pieces together. It’s just crazy. And of course, Dr. Google has all of the information out there for free, but I always found a lot of comfort in people that had already put everything together in one place.

Sylvie McCracken: Yeah.

Liz Wolfe: Which is why I like that.

Sylvie McCracken: Yeah, if I find reputable sources and all of that, it’s something that takes a lot of time. That’s why, even though I’m sort of over and done with the scoliosis bit of our life, I feel like I have to put it out there for other people, because when I was in that position of, your kid has scoliosis, and she probably won’t be able to breathe, or her heart will have trouble beating pretty soon, I was freaking out. So I really want to be able to put it out there and help people, so I’ll be doing that very soon.

Liz Wolfe: That’s awesome. So, one of the things that always kind of bugs me about diagnoses is that they’re kind of, not a dime a dozen these days, but it’s almost like, idiopathic, we don’t know why, but here’s a fancy name for what you came in and told us you already had.

Sylvie McCracken: Yeah.

Liz Wolfe: My stomach, gastritis!

Sylvie McCracken: Yeah.

Liz Wolfe: All that means is that your stomach is inflamed.

Sylvie McCracken: Yeah, you go to the doctor and you tell them that, and they spit it right back at you {laughs}.

Liz Wolfe: Exactly, but then what? They tell you you have this –itis, or they tell you you’re dealing with this, and you stop there because what? The medical profession has put a name to your symptoms, but really all they’ve done is renamed your symptoms, and then after that, you have to go and seek and find these ideas for yourself. And I think it’s so hugely important component of patient care is to actually integrate what the patient might know about themselves, and what the patient’s family might now about your history with food.

Sylvie McCracken: Yeah.

Liz Wolfe: And how well nourished you are, and whatever. That’s a whole nother rabbit hole I could go down. But you can’t just stop at, hey I’ve got this -itis. I’ve got this idiopathic, whatever it is, and we just now we watch it. No. You go and find out more what can you do at home, etc.

Sylvie McCracken: Exactly. Yeah, of course one of the things I asked was, is there anything I can do diet wise, or is there anything, whatever.

Liz Wolfe: Mm-hmm.

Sylvie McCracken: And as I did the research, and then I did some testing on her, I was like, oh, coinkydink that’s deficient in D and K2 and all these things that we know are vital for bone health.

Liz Wolfe: Mm-hmm.

Sylvie McCracken: So, of course we start supplementing and whatever, but it’s just frustrating because they’re just telling you, no, all you can do is have this surgery, that will be 50 grand, thank you very much. {laughs}

Liz Wolfe: Mm-hmm.

Sylvie McCracken: It’s just a little tough, but we’ve got to put that information out there. And at the end of the day, the patient really is responsible for their own health. You’ve got to kind of take it into your own hands. I’m grateful for the surgeon, he did an amazing job, and it definitely got to the point where that was our only option.

Liz Wolfe: Mm-hmm.

Sylvie McCracken: But I think there’s a lot we can for prevention and for the next generation, as well.

Liz Wolfe: So do you feel like, you’re little ones, because there’s about, what, a decade in between?

Sylvie McCracken: Yeah, there’s 10 years.

Liz Wolfe: Ok, so do you feel that early childhood platform of nutrition; do you see that reflected in your oldest versus your youngest where they’ve kind of been on this train for a couple of years now?

9. The importance of nutrition in early childhood playing a role in health [55:36/b]

Sylvie McCracken: Yeah. It’s unbelievable the difference. They definitely had their health things in the past, which of course now they don’t. And as you know and you’ve written about before, too, maternal health and health during pregnancy and all of that, and diet during pregnancy is crucial as well, and my diet was junk for all 3 of them, so they have that in common.

Liz Wolfe: {laughs}

Sylvie McCracken: But for my oldest, actually, my diet was probably 90% vegan, so, you know. I am fully cognizant that that could be a very big reason why she had these troubles, and a lot of moms wouldn’t want to take on, necessarily, that pile of guilt or whatever, but I feel like it’s important, because if that’s the case, I want to write about it, and I want to talk about it, because I don’t feel like, you know, a vegan diet during pregnancy I feel like is very detrimental to your fetus, your baby. So yeah, there’s definitely a difference there. And I do think the early childhood sort of diet is crucial. I mean, just look at the little tiny size of their head which will become the size of our head.

Liz Wolfe: {laughing}

Sylvie McCracken: That’s their brain developing. Everything is growing! Their bones, their brain, their everything. They need that fuel now more than ever. I noticed that with my mom and I, for example. She is vegan now, she has been for a very long time. And her health is definitely not great, but it’s not as bad as my health is, and for me, even though I’m not vegan and I haven’t been for a couple of years, I grew up pretty much vegan/vegetarian, mostly vegetarian but some years a vegan, and I feel like that did a lot more damage during my childhood than it’s doing for her now as an adult who has her teeth and her bones and whatever sort of fully developed.

Liz Wolfe: Mm-hmm.

Sylvie McCracken: I can definitely see a huge difference in that. So, yeah. I think that putting your kids on a vegan diet would probably be the worst thing you could do.

Liz Wolfe: {laughing}

Sylvie McCracken: And I’m sorry. I get a lot of hate mail from vegans on my website, but I just feel like, as a former vegan and as someone who was vegan during pregnancy and whatever, I really feel the need to kind of talk about that.

Liz Wolfe: Like I said, I appreciate how direct and bold you are, and I’ve learned a ton {laughs} from you. I appreciate it greatly. Ok, so let’s kind of put a bow on this.

Sylvie McCracken: Yeah.

10. Final words of wisdom from Sylvie [58:01]

Liz Wolfe: Ok. First, I’m going to ask you your number one piece of advice for parent/entrepreneurs. People that are trying to build something from scratch while doing everything else; the kids, the full time job, and all of that.

Sylvie McCracken: Hmmm. That’s a good one.

Liz Wolfe: And you can think about it for a second, because I can cut out any long pauses.

Sylvie McCracken: {Laughing} No, it’s ok. Interestingly enough, I think my advice would have nothing to do with either the parenting or the entrepreneurship, it would be to carve out some time for yourself so that you don’t become psycho. Because I think that when you’re kind of carving out every minute of your day for either your career or your kids, you’re really not taking care of yourself. Sarah Frogoso gave a talk at Paleo(fx) last year, she called it put your oxygen mask on first, I think, and that basically sums it up. If you don’t take care of yourself, there will be no one there to take care of your kids or your business. So you do need a minute to go to the gym, or go for a walk or go get a manicure, or whatever it is that you like to do. That’s the crucial thing, I think.

Liz Wolfe: Ok, so family advice. Top 1 or 2 things that you have implemented in your family life, it doesn’t have to be about food. About anything, that has made your life easier.

Sylvie McCracken: Yikes. Ok. Getting the hubby to do stuff. I mean, I think it’s a very not traditional thing, where sort of women are supposed to do everything. We’re supposed to go to work, we’re supposed to come home, make a martini for the dude.

Liz Wolfe: {laughs}

Sylvie McCracken: And cook dinner. And I just don’t buy it. I mean, I’m sorry, It’s just like, having him do a lot of the traditionally female stuff really has helped. It’s crucial. So, I think that women, we kind of need to ask for help.

Liz Wolfe: Mm-hmm.

Sylvie McCracken: We’re pretty good at multitasking; it doesn’t mean we have to do it all the time. So, I think kind of taking that approach, and making sure you ask for help and you get help is crucial as well.

Liz Wolfe: Secure your martini before securing the martini of your husband.

Sylvie McCracken: Exactly {laughing}

Liz Wolfe: Yes.

Sylvie McCracken: Crucial.

Liz Wolfe: Crucial. Ok. So, how about if you’re willing, give us maybe one or two sneak peeks into Paleo Survival Guide or The Gelatin Secret; whichever or both.

Sylvie McCracken: Yeah. Ok, that’s a good one. The paleo survival guide; I think some of the more interesting feedback I’ve gotten from it has been sort of, how on earth can you get on a plane with the kids, travel food, how do you do it when you’re on the go. How do you attend birthday parties and survive birthday parties? Stuff like that. So, I guess my biggest sort of tips there, I have some recipes in there on things that are sort of defaults for us, you know, taking the cupcakes to a birthday party, making sure that, even though it’s a little bit more work, making sure that you kind of ask the host what you can bring. I just bring a protein, a vegetable, and a dessert pretty much everywhere I go. And it might be a little more work, but it will save you the headache of having to jump over tables to steal the biscuit out of your kids hand. So, that’s definitely a tip I would recommend. And also travel food; I don’t even remember what I put in there as far as travel food at this point because we haven’t gotten on a plane in a couple of years, but just having the usual. Hardboiled eggs, and Larabars, and anything that your kids like that is easy and portable I think is crucial. You will have delays, and hungry, cranky kids. So, that’s on that end.

And then The Gelatin Secret, basically it’s such a broad book. Because if you’re struggling with joint pain or bone issues or skin issues or gut health and digestion, it’s something that I think you can benefit from. And then the recipes as well. You know, they get sort of boring, the same old gummy, and the same old soups, and I kind of went into all the different things that you can put broth int. My daughter was not a huge fan of drinking it by the cup like my little ones do, so I did find it a challenge to, I was like, ok where can I sneak this in where she won’t even know it is. I just write about all these things that you might not think about, where to sneak it in. And same with the gelatin; anywhere where powder can go undetected, I’m putting that collagen in. Because when she was healing, especially those first 5 days in the hospital, I really found that there’s no way that she could overdose on that. So, I think that’s pretty much it.

Liz Wolfe: Fabulous. Ok, so this is a trick question, but what is your favorite paleo book out there right now that you didn’t write yourself? {laughs}

Sylvie McCracken: Eat the Yolks! {laughing}

Liz Wolfe: Wo-hooo! Ok, perfect. Alright, well we’ll wrap it up there. Thank you so much for coming on, Sylvie. You are like the consummate badass, and I’m so excited I got to force you into being my friend and having dinner with me.

Sylvie McCracken: Thank you for doing it. You have to come to Los Angeles.

Liz Wolfe: I would love to. Alright friends. That’s that for today. You can find me, Liz, at You can find Sylvie at And of course, you can find Diane at Thanks for listening.

Diane & Liz