[Transcript] – The “Fat Fueled Family,” Unschooling How-Tos, Montessori Education, Does Spanking Damage The Brain, Rites Of Passage With Danny Vega (Boundless Parenting Book Series)

Affiliate Disclosure


From podcast: https://bengreenfieldlife.com/podcast/parenting-book-danny-maura-vega/ 

[00:00:00] Introduction

[00:00:43] Podcast Sponsors

[00:05:55] Guest Introduction

[00:08:59] What is the Fat Fueled Family and how did it come to be?

[00:13:34] The importance of building structure around a child's passion and interests

[00:15:57] What Danny Vega's kids eat and what their meals consist of?

[00:19:48] Leptin receptor deficiency in children

[00:24:25] Skipping breakfast in lean, healthy adults and children can cause more harm than good

[00:26:16] Nonnegotiable foods that Danny’s children must (or must not) eat

[00:29:16] Podcast Sponsors

[00:32:14] The Urban Cottage school that Danny's children attend

[00:49:11] Danny and Maura's approach to discipline

[00:59:57] The importance of Rites of Passage

[01:09:27] Closing the Podcast

[01:10:49] End of Podcast

Ben:  My name is Ben Greenfield. And, on this episode of the Ben Greenfield Life podcast.

Danny:  If you have this in place, your child won't be deceived. They'll be able to make good decisions, they'll be able to make mistakes and they will make mistakes. It's so important. If they're only a child once, they're probably 70 to 80% of the time in their sweet spot, which is what really makes them like their eyes twinkle.

Ben:  Faith, family, fitness, health, performance, nutrition, longevity, ancestral living, biohacking, and a whole lot more. Welcome to the show.

Alright, it's time for you to start hacking your sleep. And, a big part of that is choosing the right equipment for your desired outcomes. That's where this company called Essentia comes in. It's an organic mattress that's the only mattress to score Best in Class on eliminating all sleep-interrupting stimulants. They have a patented beyond-latex organic foam technology, so you get these deep and REM sleep cycles that are unparalleled allowing you to wake up being recharged and ready for anything life's going to throw at you. They make these things in certified organic factories packed with technology that allows you to get performance sleep benefits unsurpassed by any other mattress tested by Johns Hopkins School of Medicine. These mattresses are allergen-free. They've got these packed technologies that allow you to experience things like active cooling, EMF blocking, accelerate recovery, and really good deep sleep cycles. A lot of pro athletes are sleeping on these things now just because sleep is so important to pro athletes, but it should be important to anybody who's concerned about central nervous system repair and recovery.

Now, they've even tested through something called dark film microscopy. The fact that these Essentia Mattresses reduce the amount of blood clotting that can occur in reaction to EMFs. So, they built an EMF barrier foam that allows the blood cells to be in their natural free-flowing state and allows oxygen to flow throughout the body naturally, which improves your body's nighttime recovery cycles and massively improves your sleep quality.

So, what Essentia is doing is they're going to give you a 100 bucks off your mattress purchase if you go to MyEssentia.com/BenGreenfield and use code BENVIP. That's MyEssentia.com/BenGreenfield and use code BENVIP.

You may have seen me or heard about me wearing this little haptic sensation-producing device around my ankle and around my wrist called the Apollo. It's wearable. It's a very unique wearable. I interviewed the guy who designed it Dr. David Rabin in my podcast a couple of years ago. I've been using it ever since. I love it for sleep and for naps and for relaxation and for meditation. But, you can also wear it for party mode to increase social ability, to decrease anxiety, almost as a social lubricant without drinking alcohol. The more you use it, the better it seems to work based on it training your nervous system to tune in to this little vibratory sensation that it produces more efficiently the more you use it; has no side effects. You don't take supplements or medications or anything. It also helps to support your natural circadian rhythm.

And, Apollo wearable users can get an extra 30 minutes of high-quality sleep per night. They're even doing some very interesting studies along with the Oura Ring, folks, on how good this Apollo works for decreasing sleep latency, how long it takes you to fall asleep, and the actual increase in deep sleep, 19% more time in deep sleep on average reported by the Apollo wearable users. And, they can access this data from the Oura Ring. They found 11% increase in HRV, 25% more reported focus and concentration, 40% percent less stress and feelings of anxiety. So, pretty cool device, pretty easy, just strap it around your wrist to your ankle and you can experience it. It's very cool. So, you go to ApolloNeuro, A-P-O-L-L-O, ApolloNeuro, N-E-U-R-O, ApolloNeuro.com/BenGreenfield and use code BG15 for 15% off of this cool, cool little device.

Alright, I've been drinking this stuff at lunch. Usually, I have bone broth with lunch, but I switched to this stuff. Super interesting. It's called Haelan. Haelan is spelled H-A-E-L-A-N. It might be Haelan. I don't know, Haelan, whatever, it tastes good. I think it's Haelan. Anyways, it's called Haelan 951. This is basically soy. And, I know all of you like soy. You're not supposed to consume that.

Now, understandably, there's lots of conflicting information out there. The short answer is yes, you should be consuming soy, but only if it's the right kind, which is pretty rare because genetic engineering and poor soil, and improper harvesting means most modern-day soy has some serious issues. And, try and save modern-day soy 10 times fast. I dare you.

I did a podcast with Dr. William Li from the Angiogenesis Foundation. We usually talk all about soy benefits, but this Haelan stuff, get this. It's a concentrated nitrogen-fermented beverage made from organic soybeans grown in the mountains of Mongolia. They have proven the species to be anti-angiogenic, meaning it doesn't feed cancer, antiviral, anti-inflammatory, and anticarcinogenic, enormously rich in vitamins and minerals, and a complete protein source. All your essential amino acids. People use this stuff now for energy, for better sleep, for detox, for longevity, for meal replacement, really great anti-cancer benefits as well. Now, it's fermented and it's soy and so it doesn't taste that good. I'll just come around and tell you. But, what they do is they ship out this mint powder that you mix with it that makes it actually taste really good. I just drink it on ice with this mint powder with lunch and it's really, really amazing stuff and I feel really good on it. But, I have a peace of mind that I'm drinking anti-cancer every day with lunch.

So, you get a special discounted package over there and free shipping on a bunch of bottles of this stuff. Here's how. Remember this for spelling because it's a little difficult. Haelan 951, H-A-E-L-A-N-9-5-1.com/Ben. I'm going to say that again. Ready? H-A-E-L-A-N-9-5-1.com/Ben.

Well, folks, it's time once again to feature one of the superstar parents who is in my book, my upcoming book, “Boundless Parenting” in which I interview a whole host of folks who I have noticed over the years have been doing a really good job raising impactful and resilient and free thinking and unique young human beings. My guest on today's show, unfortunately, isn't able to be joined by his significant other, but he is the leader of the Fat Fueled Family. That's literally what their business is called, the Fat Fueled Family LLC. His name is Danny Vega and I'm sure that he will get a chance to share with you more about why he calls it the Fat Fueled Family. But basically, he runs an entire movement, YouTube channel, blog, podcast along with his wife, Maura, dedicated to empowering families to eat better, to move more, to grow closer together. They have a lot of similar interests that I do including things like unschooling and emphasis on the importance of faith and family, rites of passages, and a whole lot more.

So, their chapter in the book, which is now available at BoundlessParentingBook.com is absolutely fantastic. And, in this interview, we're going to get into even more of the nitty-gritty details behind some of the cool things that they share in that chapter. So, I will link to everything that Danny and I talk about at BenGreenfieldLife.com/Vega. That's V-E-G-A. I'll link to his website and everything as well. So, BenGreenfieldLife.com/Vega.

And Danny, I'm sure you've been called out on this before. But, I mean, with the last name like Vega calling yourself the Fat Fueled Family, man, I think you'd go more of the plant-based route, kind of like Dr. Paul Saladino with the last name has salad and it should obviously be a vegetarian, right?

Danny:  Dude, I get people texting me all the time like “The Vega protein, the vegan protein,” I'm like, “Gosh.” They know it's kind of like a trigger.

Ben:  Oh, yeah, I forgot about that. Yeah, there's a protein brand, too, called Vega.

Danny:  Yeah. It's definitely ironic, especially with my wife, I wish you could be here. She's the superstar, but she's basically genetically just terrible to eat vegetarian and vegan diets. A lot of her SNPs are basically anti-vegan.

Ben:  Yeah.

Danny:  But, obviously she didn't know that back in the day when she tried to do that and she felt terrible.

Ben:  Yeah.

Danny:  But, yeah, it is kind of ironic.

Ben:  Yeah, it's interesting. I think a lot of people don't realize that genetic predispositions for things like methylation ability, for example, can dictate whether you actually feel good on a plant-based diet. And, some people actually do feel really good on a plant-based diet. Those are probably like, I don't know, the rich rolls out there who do just fine on it and then others just get screwed. But, anyways, that might be a discussion for another day because today, even though I do want to talk about nutrition and why you call your family the Fat Fueled Family and how your kids eat and everything.

But first, I'd love to hear about what exactly the Fat Fueled Family is, like how'd that actually come to be.

Danny:  Oh, yeah man. So, obviously, when I started the ketogenic diet, I've always been into nutrition and I played college football. I started off as a strength and conditioning coach in college but this keto thing sounded absurd to me. But, I was at a time where I had just dieted and I was open to trying something new and I just felt awesome. And so, my wife joins me on everything we do when we started paleo back in 2011. She was with me and I really just felt especially where I was and where I am now, my age, it's just the best baseline for most of the year. 

And so, we started to do what we always do, we just talk to people about it and share. And then, I started the Ketogenic Athlete Podcast with Brian Williamson in 2016 and we were focusing on the athletes. But, obviously, at home, we're just implementing everything we learned. And, I think a lot of parents, they come to this period where they're getting healthy, they're feeling better but there's a disconnect. And then, they realize at some point, “Oh, crap, I should do this with my kids. Why am I still buying them cereal? Why am I still feeding them the way I fed them before?”

Ben:  Yeah.

Danny:  And, a lot of people, we would just have conversations with them or whether we were having them over or just in passing these conversations and they were like, “Man, you should you should talk about that.” You should talk about how parents whether you're starting off, which is obviously ideal because you don't have any habits that you got to undo or you're dealing with a pre-teen or someone older like, how does that conversation change? How do you get your family on board to this whole lifestyle, which as you know, is never just about nutrition or about fitness, it's about all of these things kind of working together; your parenting style, education, the unschooling, the mindset aspect of it, getting your kids to understand. Maintaining that freedom and that autonomy that's so important to a child but also helping them understand the whys behind certain things. And, at times, limiting the options because, listen, at this point, you don't know any better. 

And, that's obviously we've evolved there because we used to be over the top like radical unschoolers, and then we realized it was too much, too little structure. And, there has to be a little bit more of a definition between who's the authority and who's not because it's something that we naturally do where we — well, obviously we do it a little bit too much where we trust the authorities, but if we have a relationship with our children where we've built their trust, we're honest with them, they should be able to trust us. But, we have to first establish that because kids don't know. They're just like, “I want this food.” Like, “It tastes good, why can't I have it?”

Ben:  Obviously, human beings will air towards the universe itself and natural air towards entropy and chaos without a little bit of structure and organization. And, we're the same way with our unschooling process. We do, as unschooling would dictate, allow our sons to follow their passions and their interests and desire and try to formulate an environment that allows them to do that but yet there is some structure. 

For example, this morning they had a Mathnasium class I think 10:00 a.m., and they had a meeting with the educational coordinator who we work with online at 11:00. And then, there are certain other elements. They have a Kumon workbook. They'll be out in nature later on this afternoon going through their Tom Brown wilderness-style course. And, it's not as though they wake up and it's just a free day to choose whatever they want to do, there is still structure, there is still timing, there still are things scheduled. There's still even the 12-core subjects that Washington State requires us to demonstrate core proficiency in that we have to put into spreadsheets and journals. 

And so, a lot of people, I think, think unschooling just involves like your kids outside barefoot in the dirt all day, I don't know, shooting bows at squirrels, shooting arrows at squirrels, but it is a little bit more structured than I think what most people would think. I think the lack of structure though is in that it's going to be different from child to child based on their passions and their interests and desires, but then structures built around that. So, it's more of the absence of a cookie-cutter approach rather than the absence of structure and organization.

Danny:  Yeah, it's funny because the initial thought is that unschooling is unparenting and they think, “Oh, I'd love to do that,” but it's almost like a humble brag like, “I can't leave that much to chance.” And, it's like, “Wait a second, I don't think you understand the commitment that it takes as a parent.” You have to know your child better than they know themselves. The amount of observation for you to be able to like — and then obviously the flexibility for both the child and the parent to be able to admit that, you know what, we thought that this was going to be a passion and we thought that this was going to be something that we can really throw ourselves into, but either they've conquered it and lost interest and now they're going on to something else or maybe they thought they liked it for certain reasons but then they realized that the process is not something that they would enjoy. But, it's so natural like you get this child, and obviously not every parent because a lot of parents wised up after 2020 and they started to take their kids out of school. Not all of them are coming with this pristine blank slate like we had where we were doing all the research before they were even born. 

And so, there has to be — I can't speak to that experientially but I can say that it's totally fine to be able to say, “You know what, either we were wrong because we do that in our own lives,” how many of us. We went to college and no one asked what we wanted to do, it was like, “What do you want to study?”

Ben:  Right.

Danny:  It doesn't even make sense. And so, a lot of us had to figure that out, but we didn't have the tools or the experience as a child where they're just these sponges in there and it's so fun. They haven't gotten jaded about learning and they're just like John Taylor Gatto says like, “Genius is as common as dirt.” 

Ben:  Yeah, John Taylor Gatto. Great author, by the way: “The Underground History of American Education,” and “Weapons of Mass Destruction,” and another one, “Dumbing Us Down.” He has some great, great books. I highly recommend anyone who wants it to take charge of their child's education should look at Gatto's work.

Now, back to the keto thing, not to spend our entire discussion talking about feeding your kids sticks of butter, but you start up this Fat Fueled Family and I guess it begs the question I'm sure other people are wondering if I am. How do your kids actually eat? Are they also — because I interviewed Brian Johnson, the Liver King, and his kids actually do have raw liver and bone marrow I think with all their meals of the day. I'm curious like, how do your children eat? I think a lot of people would love to hear like a few sample meals that you feed them or that they feed themselves.

Danny:  Yeah, yeah. So, first of all, we don't focus on keto, or we basically with them like it started off really early, we weaned them both, my wife nursed them both for a year and a half for the first one because he was eating steak like grabbing for the steak at six months. He was just such a monster. My second one, it was two years and four months and he was just so attached to her, but we weaned them both with raw liver and soft-boiled egg yolks. That's what the original foods that they had and you would see they'd eat it up. They had a huge mess on themselves. Actually, the first one a little bit more because we started to get that second child syndrome.

Ben:  Yeah, I got to ask by the way. How old were they when you started giving your kids liver and egg yolks?

Danny:  I would say anywhere from eight months to a year. If I got this right, this is why I wish Maura was here because she remembers these little details better. But, I — 

Ben:  That's alright, but pretty young. And, I'm sure that some nutritionists and folks who are dyed in the wool, USDA food plate, or food pyramid enthusiasts would claim that you might be risking a parasitic infection or something like that feeding your kids raw liver. Were you guys concerned about that at all? Were you looking at the sourcing of the liver? Did that ever cross your mind?

Danny:  100%, yeah. The sourcing was like, everything that I had read, we started with paleo but then we moved more to Weston A. Price, which for us and with the kids is for the most part is really how we do things with them.

Ben:  Yeah.

Danny:  Obviously, there's lots of times when they're probably in ketosis and they — well, I want to do a better job of this because of what I've learned with leptin the last year or so of having more concrete feeding times to really help establish their circadian biology. But, I mean, they're so insulin sensitive, they're both really lean and really active. They spend a lot of time outside. So, I'm not as concerned, but generally speaking, they'll start their mornings with always eggs and maybe turkey sausage. And then, they've been crushing paleo pancakes lately like my wife makes them with it's like banana and it's like two or three ingredients. I forget what's in there.

And then, for lunch, they'll have — Desmond is my oldest. He's 11 and my youngest Dean is 8. And, Desmond is like me. If you tell him something's healthy, he's really excited to eat it. He doesn't care what it is, he'll try it. He'll pretend he likes it because he knows it's healthy. That's kind of how I am. I'm not the biggest fan of liver, but I'll throw it in the burgers and stuff. And so, he'll take peppers to school and eat them like an apple; and avocados and turkey and cheese roll-ups and things like that. I hate to say school, but it's the only way we can describe when — and I'm sure we'll get into this, like what it is they do at Urban Cottage — 

Ben:  Yeah, yeah. I definitely want to hear more about Urban Cottage once we get off the nutrition bandwagon for sure. Yeah.

But, you brought up leptin dysregulation. I think that's important. A lot of parents, I think, are unaware of this concept like the role of leptin, the hormone. It's a hormone secreted by fat cells but it plays such a key role in energy homeostasis. And, a lot of people would associate leptin deficiencies or abnormalities to be something that you might have in an obesogenic individual. 

But, kids who have leptin dysregulation, you see low bone density, you see sugar cravings, you see low immune function, you see staving off of puberty like late puberty. And, I think people aren't familiar with leptin just the broad overview is not enough sleep like poor circadian rhythmicity in a child, too much stress, and then too much of the wrong foods, particularly high sugar foods that are fed at the wrong times or constant snacking throughout the day all results in this type of leptin dysregulation. I think it flies under the radar as far as a lot of the causal incidents for the health problems that kids have in adolescence. A lot of it can be tied back to leptin. So, I'm glad you brought that up. I know we didn't talk about it too much in the book itself but it's such an important hormone to pay attention to.

And, interestingly this is something that you might be familiar with from Dr. Jack Kruse, Danny, this idea of cold exposure for kids, like having your kids do cold showers, cold baths, go outside in the snow. My kids used to go out in their underwear and do snow angels as a dare before they'd start their school for the day. And, having a kid get used to hormetic stressors, both heat and cold but particularly cold can do a really, really good job at keeping them leptin sensitive. So, it's not just adults who benefit from this type of focus on leptin regulation.

Danny:  Oh, yeah. And, I mean, the other benefit of the cold exposure besides obviously the beiging of your fat cells but it's also like it increases at least transiently adiponectin, which is another one like low adiponectin and high leptin are both in and of themselves like risk factors. So, we've always from a nutrition standpoint, we've been beating this drum of like it's hard because a lot of people, they come into it at a certain point. But, if you can, if you're young enough or if you're in between children, get yourself right, get your nutrition on point, really focus on all these really naturally high bioavailable B vitamin foods like namely beef, grass-fed or ruminant meat. And, because that leptin resistance that an adult has that can get passed on to the child and that initial huge — I think while the child is in the womb, if I remember this correctly, leptin is causing them to eat more and be well fed. But, there's like a switch at birth where that initial surge of leptin sets up their life. And so, if those things are dysfunctional when the baby's born, it's just going to be harder for them throughout life.

So, I guess this whole conversation was about I've changed in the way — because I realize there's other benefits to eating meals together which Friday we always do, but there's always things going on, there's jiu-jitsu, there's playing outside where I don't even know where my kids are half the time, especially in the summer. And so, now I do like the idea which kind of goes into the importance of routines and schedules which we do have. So, it's not like we were completely doing something different, it's just bringing a little bit more structure on the nutrition side to where not only are their days predictable mentally for them so they know their expectations but at the same time, just biologically eating predictable feeding times like there's something to be said about having a good old 6:00 a.m., 7:00 a.m. breakfast, 12:00 p.m. lunch and 6:00, 7:00 p.m. dinner where the body is just less stressed, it has predictability. And, I know that with the keto community where I'm always having to like, “Guys, guys, wait, there's this too.” I mean, intermittent fasting is great but it's like, “What is your state?” Generally speaking, we are way overstressed and everybody's skipping breakfast, which to me I'm beating that drum like that's when leptin's lowest, get your food in the morning.

Ben:  Lean active individuals. I mean, it's been shown that breakfast skipping, frequent breakfast skipping, and excessive intermittent fasting results in a lot of adrenal dysregulation, which especially for kids is a problem. I think I have had some friends probably the most notable Dan Pompa who's a well-known fasting enthusiast and detoxification expert. He and his wife do a lot of fasting. And, their kids also did quite a bit of fasting. But, from what I understand with them, like a big reason for that was because some of their kids had gotten overweight. And so, they used it as a weight loss tool for their kids. But, just because that whole idea of longevity enhancing 12 to 16-hour intermittent fast seems to work well in some adults in both lean adults and in lean children, a lot of times, the cons outweigh the pros especially if someone's not eating adequate calories later on the day. I run into a lot of people who have issues with bone density and hormonal dysregulation, a lot of issues due to excessive fasting. So, it kind of depends on who you are. A lot of these fasting studies have been done to people who are not just normal weight but overweight or high body fat not to lean CrossFitters who sometimes are shooting themselves in the foot with too much of that, much less children.

Danny:  Yeah. And, like you said, it's people who are already relatively lean, for them, it's going to be a point of diminishing returns that happens much, much quicker and it's great. Try it out, do it. On my day off, which is Saturday, we do the sabbath, I tend to just naturally fast that day. But overall, especially a growing child where you asked about one of our cornerstones is animal protein is basically the cornerstone, it's the most important.

When the children are eating, it's like eat your food first, which is the meat, and then you can eat your other stuff after, like the rice or the veggies or the fruit that you're eating. And, we have our non-negotiables, which for the most part we stick to which is we really minimize grains but we do bring in some grains but we usually minimize them. We do a lot of sourdough. As of the last month, we're making sourdough everything; no food dyes and no processed seed oils. And, it just so happens that if you just buy real food, it's easy to stick to that. 

So, when parents are like, “Should I buy this or should I buy that?” I'm like, “That breaks all three of them.” It's a high grain low quality protein like a soy and it has seed oils in it and it has food colorings. So, all those things, because we've seen the downside to it. When your children usually eat healthy and they eat real food and you give them something like that, you really have no background noise, so they're very sensitive to it. So, I can say this one's going to get eczema, this one's going to bleed from his nose, this one's going to have — I lose eye contact when there's red 40.

Ben:  Yeah.

Danny:  And, obviously the medical community and just media and culture at large does not really put anywhere near the amount of importance behind what those things can do, even acutely let alone chronically.

Ben:  Yeah, yeah. And, you brought up the Weston A. Price Diet also. I'll link if folks go to BenGreenfieldLife.com/Vega. I'll link to the dietary guidelines for that, but it is different than a strict paleo approach. There are whole grains, there's legumes, there's nuts, but it all involves soaking and sprouting and leavening to neutralize a lot of the phytic acid and the enzyme inhibitors. You see a lot of ghee and lard and full-fat raw cheeses as well many times you don't see dairy on a typical paleo type of diet. And, unlike a ketogenic diet, I mean, it allows for unpasteurized wine and beer obviously on kids. But, in adults, there's a great deal of some of these slightly higher-carb foods like berries and grains and legumes and nuts that appear in it. But, I think it's a very well-structured diet, especially for the average person. I think it's one of the best diets out there. As a matter of fact, most of the women who I've helped with their pregnancy diet, I'll have them on it some something very, very close to that, and all these big gorgeous kids, 8 to 10 pounds with nice teeth and hair that grows in nicely. And, that Weston A. Price diet I think works really, really well for the lion's share of parents and children, especially those who aren't restricting carbohydrates, for example.

I've worked to achieve many things in life, but my greatest yet most humbling work, I think, has been with my role as a father. Parenting is blissful. It's brutal. It's far beyond anything I ever could have anticipated. My sons are now teenagers. And, the people around us who engage with them often ask if I could write a book on raising children in education and legacy and discipline and all this stuff that goes into raising a good child, a good human. Now, I didn't feel that qualified to write a parenting guide, so I gathered a team of parenting superstars, dozens of my friends; entrepreneurs, authors, neurologists, psychologists, family coaches, a whole lot more. I got all their best tools, techniques, perspectives, habits on again, everything from education, to discipline, to travel, to rites of passage and beyond, and I put it all in one massive book that's like the guide to parenting. So, it's now available. It's at BoundlessParentingBook.com, and that's where you can pre-order your copy today. So, BoundlessParentingBook.com. It has been an absolute adventure putting this thing together. I think you're going to love it.

I'm pretty stoked because this is now something I can do when I'm on the go and it's based on this idea that the human body being mostly water. But, what you probably don't know is everything else in your body is 50% amino acids. That means basically water and amino acids are two of the most important things that you can have in your body. And, some amino acids are essential. You have to get them from food, from breaking down steak and chicken and eggs and everything else. But, this stuff called Kion Aminos is a plant-based full essential amino acids profile backed by over 20 years of clinical research with the highest quality ingredients; no fillers, no junk, rigorous quality testing, taste amazing with all-natural flavors. I got on the amino acids bandwagon way back when I was racing Ironman triathlon. Started with branch chain amino acids, realized those were wasted time, switched over to essential amino acids and it has been a game changer ever since.

Now, what did I mean when I said travel? Well, these Kion Aminos, which are the essential amino acids that I take, they have for the watermelon flavor, the lemon-lime flavor, the berry flavor, and the mango flavor, they got stick packs now, so you can take them on the go. I honestly have a couple packs in my fanny pack now. I can dump them in water when I'm at a restaurant, have that instead of a bread basket that comes out or a cocktail. They satiate the appetite. They accelerate recovery. They're amazing pre-workout or during a workout. The list goes on and on. Fact is if you haven't tried essential amino acid, you're a miss now.

And, you can save 20% now on any monthly deliveries and 10% on any one-time purchases if you go to getKION.com/Ben. That's getK-I-O-N.com/Ben to get my fundamental supplement for fitness. Kion Aminos, getK-I-O-N.com/Ben.

Now, we could obviously talk about nutrition until we're blue in the face. And, you get into more of your guys' nutrition concepts in the book but you also mentioned, and I'd love to kind of segue into this, this school that your kids go to. I think you called it the Urban Cottage. Tell me about that.

Danny:  Oh, man, I'm just so blessed to find this place. So, like I said before, we started radical on schooling. And, obviously over time, as a parent, when you homeschool or unschool, you got to deal with, first, your fears. So, that's where the research comes in, John Taylor Gatto, a bunch of really good articles and books that we've read. And then, the next thing is you got to prepare yourself for your family. And, that takes a little bit longer because you have no proof at that point when they're little. And, every time the child acts up, they're like, “Oh, you see, I told you.” And then, they always act like they're going to try turn on you like a pit bull at some point. But, we're able to learn and pivot and we realized that we didn't have enough structure.

And, here comes in 2019, [Kristina Kerp 00:33:28], a friend of ours she moves to town and is looking for a place because she needs to have some time to do content and she's a writer. And, she finds this place and she tells Maura about it and it's called Urban Cottage. And, this was in 2019. And so, Marisa, she's the owner, it's like this little house and very much completely in line with us as far as educational philosophy, but with a much more just robust background in pedagogy and the actual — because I used to be like, well, any parent can homeschool their child. And, to some extent, I still believe that, but it's an investment and you have to learn, you have to research. It's not that you're unqualified, but just like anything in life that doesn't require school, you have to learn. And, we did a lot of the parts that we liked but there were certain things that we didn't. And, we had certain things with unschooling that are still in place where generally speaking at Urban Cottage, they're probably 70 to 80% of the time in their sweet spot, which is what really makes them like their eyes twinkle but then they're still going to be that attention paid to, “Alright, your reading needs to be better, your writing is kind of sloppy.” And then, obviously, there's kind of a loose agenda where right now we're doing history. Well, they're always doing history actually, but last year, I think the big focus was on Egypt or this year's on Egypt, and last year was a lot on the American history, world, the wars, and Civil War.

But, Urban Cottage, so Marissa, she's very Montessorian and hopefully, she doesn't get mad at me if she listens to this about me pigeon-holding her because she was a teacher and she had a lot of passion and she homeschooled and she just had this idea to start this place. There's never more than five children in that place. They take the shoes off when they go in there. The environment is very Montessorian as far as having that really good — just setting them up for success — 

Ben:  Yeah, Montessorian, by the way, just a quick explanation for people.

Danny:  Oh, yeah.

Ben:  It emphasizes a lot of free physical activity, just basically mind-body awareness, a lot of informal instruction and individual instruction rather than everybody learning at the same pace as the rest of the classroom. Typically, a really good early emphasis on writing and reading, expression of thoughts, and the ability to rapidly assimilate information. And then, a lot of sense three motor training. So, people throw that term around sometimes. I think something might not understand what it means, but those are the basic principles of the Montessori method. And, it sounds like that's what the Urban Cottage is kind of following.

Danny:  Yeah. And, I think a lot of children like we keep as parents trying to — like I remember when they were younger, we already knew flashy toys, toys that are basically just crush the imagination whether they're making noises or they already have sounds or the character is already well-defined where you can't use your imagination. We knew that was wrong, but for the most part, we were like, “It's interesting, children are just so imaginative.” And, you give them these toys and they're like, “I want to play with your phone. I want to play with this box.” And, Montessori is very much — they understand that. Let's give them some smaller plastic knives or whatever, bamboo knives, and let's let them do these things. They want to do them. They want the responsibility. And, it does develop their motor skills, but they just — she's also Christian, which obviously that doesn't exclude anyone because they're all types of people that go there. 

But, she's just amazing in the sense that, number one, every time we pick them up, whoever's the facilitator at the time, which they're all very highly qualified, they came from some of the best schools, and they say this is ten times better than what I did. And, they get paid well, which is important, but they gave us a review of what's going on for this week. There's always a printout of what we're doing this week, what you can practice at home. And, we have regular meetings. There's a therapist, a licensed therapist that can diagnose things and can evaluate things that we have from time to time. And then, we also have book club where as it should be, parents are invested and will read like “Last Boy In The Woods” or we'll read things about the importance of outside play or interesting conversations that get all types of parents from different lifestyles to talk about subjects, which is just kind of a pet thing of hers as well because we've lost the ability to have a dialogue where everything is just so red or blue; blue pill or red pill, this or that. And, it’s like people don't understand that that's not how life is and we need to be able to — I guess, this is a good segue if we want to talk about it like the trivium and the quadrivium like — 

Ben:  Yeah, I noticed that you did talk about the trivium and the quadrivium in the book when you begin to discuss some of the failures of modern education, how you felt that it was a form of indoctrination. But, some people might not also be familiar with this idea of the trivium and the quadrivium. Can you get into that?

Danny:  Yeah. So, the trivium obviously it's a three-fold discovery methodology. It's how we discover truth. We have grammar, logic, and rhetoric. So, grammar is the information gathering, which is what most school is, which is indoctrination. It's like know these facts, but it misses that processing part, which is logic. We need to understand and have open conversations about how do I read that versus how do you read that. I mean, if I read a Bible verse, Ben, and you read a Bible verse, you'll get something and I'll get another thing. And, like the Jews call that midrashing, which is super cool. We're very much Greek where it's like the instructor like it's at western education that the instructors telling you what to learn, but having the ability to have the knowledge, the understanding which the logic is and then the wisdom, which is the rhetoric. The rhetoric is, how am I able to defend what I know? 

And, if you think about it, if you miss out on any part of that, the second one you can't do as well if you — well, the third one, you can't do as well if you don't have the second one. You're not going to be able to defend the knowledge that you have if you don't spend time understanding. Whereas, in the typical education, we have these just completely arbitrary guidelines and milestones where they need to do this by this age and this by this age. It's the idea of what does a school do, a school of fish. You can't be too out in the front, you can't be too far in the back and it's without even getting into the ethical part of it, just like the overall utilitarian side of this like, how is this going to work? It's a management system and the best you're going to be able to do is manage people. 

There will be people that thrive in that, but like you said, there are people like Rich Roll that do great with vegan diets but that's not everybody. And, the whole idea of having this education, it's like, “Well, I got to work and I got to work.” But, as a parent, we are committed to this lifestyle. And, to be committed to this lifestyle, there's certain sacrifices that we make because they're only a child once that develop all these different developmental stages. If you have this in place, your child becomes just, first of all, they won't be deceived, they'll be able to make good decisions, they'll be able to make mistakes and they will make mistakes. That's another thing that people are afraid of is danger or mistakes, but that's the trivia, man. And, I think it's so important.

Ben:  So, just real quick to summarize for people who may need a quick summary that the trivium is basically a three-fold process. It's grammar, logic, and rhetoric. And, typically the grammar is the knowledge component, the logic is the understanding component, and the rhetoric is the wisdom component. So, using modern terms, we might classify that as basically input, meaning the knowledge and the grammar processing, meaning the understanding the logic, and then output, meaning the wisdom and the rhetoric. So, essentially you're creating an information filtering and dissemination process that allows — this is very similar to Naval Ravikant's idea behind education that a well-rounded education that sets someone up for success anywhere in life would include some element of writing, the ability to clearly express one's thoughts, reading the ability to be able to digest and understand information, and then rhetoric, the ability to be able to express oneself. And, I think he classifies rhetoric as also persuasion, the ability to make a case or argue for something that you want to make a case for.

Now, Naval also highlights the importance of logic and/or computer programming, which is just basically logic applied to technology. And then, the final one is arithmetic, like basic processing of numbers and quantities. Now, the quadrivium is the other component of this classical education approach. And, from what I understand the quadrivium was arithmetic, what are the other three? Geometry?

Danny:  Geometry, yup, and music and astronomy.

Ben:  Music and astronomy. Okay. So, yeah, Naval Ravikant says arithmetic would be one. And, like I mentioned, logic or computer programming would be another. But, it sounds like the quadrivium says arithmetic and rather than logic or computer programming list geometry, music, and astronomy. So, basically, that's the quantification aspect or understanding the universe, like the science of the universe is split into in a quadrivium, arithmetic, geometry, music, and astronomy. And then, that's paired with the trivium, the grammar, the logic, and the rhetoric.

Danny:  Yeah. I mean, to have logic, to have understanding, the way “logic” is applied now is all subjective if you notice. Not all, but I hate to make generalizations but most of it is just here is our subjective understanding, and here is the explanation for this. Here's why this is happening, which confounds effects with causes. And, it's full of, what's the word, fallacies; whereas, if you're looking at how do we apply logic, like how are we — things, there's natural laws and quantity, there's no subjectivity like in quantity. And then, geometry is the shape, size, and proportion, spatial stuff. And then, of course, you have music, which is vibration like thermodynamics, like understanding how arithmetic goes through time. And then, of course, astronomy, which is why you mentioned how it's interesting how there's so many scientific principles that completely fly in the face of modern science. Everything is naturally — like the second law of thermodynamics, everything just leans towards entropy. 

And, I believe that to be true with human beings in general. I believe that back then because of we were less degenerated humans, we’re just better built, our minds worked better, and we focused on these what we call the seven lost arts, which is the trivium and the quadrivium. And, having the ability to understand the heavens, the stars, the arithmetic of space, of time and space, it's honestly it's so cool because it literally is a clock up there. And, children, you want to get a child just lit up, like I have a Nikon p900, like look for stars and see what stars actually are, how they actually look. They look like these vibrating orbs in some sort of liquid medium. It's amazing.

Ben:  Yeah.

Danny:  And, it also helps us with signs and seasons, which obviously the Bible says is we're able to predict the next eclipse. These are all — it's like clockwork. It's a perfect design. It's amazing.

Ben:  Yeah, yeah. It's interesting. It's always puzzled me why they don't just put the quadrivium and the trivium together and just call it the septivium or something like that. But, those really are the seven basic tenets of a well-formulated liberal arts education. As a matter of fact, both of my sons have expressed interest in attending a liberal arts institution up here in Idaho called New Saint Andrews College. 

And, although I'm disillusioned with many forms of modern university education, I've given them the green light thumbs up on that because again, I feel if they did want to go and do coursework after high school, studying those seven subjects prepares one for success in law, in medicine, in art, in writing, and in any career that they want to pursue. It simply helps to create a well-rounded human. And, of course, you don't have to wait until a liberal arts education in college to get there, you can weave this stuff into a high school or a junior high, or even a K-6 type of curriculum. If you are unschooling or homeschooling, I should note that I think a couple of the better resources out there for learning about the type of books and curriculums that could exist, that could be woven in or one book called “Unschooling to University.” That's a fantastic manual that goes all the way from [00:48:39] _____.

Danny:  I haven't read that one.

Ben:  Oh, man, it's good. It's relatively new. It's only a couple years old. I interviewed the author a few years ago when the book first came out. And, I'll link to that at BenGreenfieldLife.com/Vega, that interview and also the book. But then, also John Holt has a wonderful, wonderful list of resources on — 

Danny:  Oh, yeah, John Holt, that's another good one.

Ben:  Yeah, homeschooling and unschooling. That's John Holt, gws.com. I'll link to that one in the shownotes as well. And so, yeah, it sounds like you're doing a lot of right stuff. This Urban Cottage sounds fascinating. I may have to go check out their website and see some more of what they're doing.

I wanted to also ask you about discipline because this is something that you cover a little bit in the book. I think you guys have an interesting approach to discipline. So, tell me a little bit more about discipline whether you guys did spanking or some other form of discipline.

Danny:  Yeah. So, we started off just hardcore, anti, all of that. We were like, “It doesn't do anything and it was way too” — it was idealistic, to be honest, it was not reality-based, it was kind of something that we're always talking about on the mindset side, which is our perception was how we wanted things to be but not really how they are. 

And so, we started off with like, it was very little discipline. And, with the first one, he's just naturally responded to the whole idea of living in partnership as parents and the child were like, “Okay, we're building trust.” And, it's very woo-woo stuff. And honestly, I don't really agree with it anymore, but we were thinking about the what does spanking do to the brain and all the stuff that we learned about that, it decreases brain matter and how — 

Ben:  You said spanking decreases brain matter.

Danny:  Yeah, there's actually — 

Ben:  Really?

Danny:  Yeah. You know what, I'll make a note to see because my wife knows that one, but it decreases gray matter. And, I'll look for that so I can give that to you. And also, by the way, wooden books. For the trivium and the quadrivium, I would also recommend Woodenbooks for those — 

Ben:  Woodenbooks?

Danny:  Yup. I think it's all one word. There's one of each and we have those. But yeah, I'm writing a note.

Ben:  Yeah. So, I've seen some research like trauma and child abuse may lead to alterations in neural tissue and a loss of gray matter. I'm not sure how closely that extends to a clear and defined discipline for something that a child has done that's obviously, well, for us at least, when we spanked it would be when our child was doing something that could potentially put their life or their help at serious risk or something that they were repeatedly engaged in that they obviously were not getting the message via consequential-based parenting or some other form of discipline that this was wrong or could harm them in the future. We've probably spanked our children. Gosh, they're 14 and I don't think we'd really spank them at all at this point. But, I would say probably I could count on both hands maybe like 10 times or less that we've ever actually spanked our children. We tend to use consequential-based parenting. 

But, I think there's a time in a place like slap a child's hand if they keep on going towards the hot stove or something like that. I would doubt that that would cause a reduction in gray matter versus emotional neglect or physical abuse, but it'd be interesting to see the data on that.

Danny:   Well, you know what, and I think we mentioned it when we answered that question in the book about how we were — generally, my wife and I, you get us both together, we're naturally very rebellious, very libertarian, and we had to reconcile that with our beliefs. And, we realized that I had a friend who's a pastor, who's a chaplain for the Dolphins, he's a great guy, he spanks his child. He does it the right way. And, we did actually bring in some spanking later on especially with the younger one and it seemed to be much better. But, like you said, in the right context, not out of anger and maybe we were reading into, and I just took my wife's word for it when she's like, “Spanking decreases gray matter,” maybe she was conflating spanking the child with all-out abuse, which could totally be the case, like you said. But, like I said and both of us when we answered this was we realized that really just focusing in on a biblical approach where in general like anything that you do needs to be grounded in really good principles, we started to see certain things where, like I said, bad perception. So, we basically added an emphasis on God's law because if you're teaching your child about natural law, natural law is God's love. Science is God's law.

For example, highlighting the Fifth Commandment, it says, “Honor your parents.” And then, in Deuteronomy 28, I've read this over and over to them. Obviously, I get theatrical with it when I read it. And, it's funny because it's all like, “If you follow these Commandments, you'll be blessed in the field, your oxen, the fruit of your womb, the fruit of your trees, you'll never owe someone, you'll always be the lender, you'll be the head and not the tail. And, everything, your enemies, they'll come running one way at you and they'll run away seven ways from you.” But, if you don't, and it literally talks about the curses — and those are things that aren't even in my control, they're natural laws that if you're not obeying your parents, you're not honoring your parents. If someone is listening to this and is like me who's just very libertarian-minded, I would ask to examine that a little bit and examine your beliefs because — 

Ben:  Yeah. I think that a lot of the concepts that you'd find in the Ten Commandments, for example, that are often misinterpreted as silly rules from on high, they actually lend themselves to a great deal of societal stability, whether that'd be monogamy or honoring one's father and mother or not stealing or taking something that doesn't belong to you. There's a reason that I think our forefathers were very wise in founding this country upon some semblance of these Judeo-Christian principles. Because again, let's take the fifth commandment, for example, this idea of honoring your father and mother. Well, there's a pretty distinct connection between honoring parents and maintaining civilization.

So, for example, we know the fatherless boys, they're more likely to grow up and commit violent crime and mistreat women and act out against society. We know that that girls who don't have a father to honor or to love, they're more likely to seek the wrong men or to be promiscuous at an early age, which can, of course, lend itself to things such as abortion or fatherless children. And, I think the other thing to think about is that if you look at a lot of totalitarian movements, one of the first things they do is they try to break the child-parent bond to shift the child's allegiance from their parents to the state. And, that tends to usurp the parents' role and also result in the ability for more totalitarian governmental control.

And then, finally, when you look at the issue of things like hospice, the way that old people are cared for, the way that we dishonor elders in our society, the way that traditions are lost and legacy is lost, a great deal of that comes down to not honoring one's parents. And so, you look at these laws, then you start to investigate how they produce these tendrils that extend into multiple aspects of societal stability and the light bulb goes off, you're like, “Oh, these are actually some pretty good rules for running society in general.” And, I think that the Israelites were a perfect example of how that did create a great deal of success for them to have these laws of absolute morality. And, I think that's one of the reasons that America became great is by being founded on these principles. And so, when you hear something like, “Honor your father and mother,” there's a lot more to it than just being nice to your parents. It's pretty important for society and legacy as a whole.

Danny:  Yeah. And, not to mention anything else in your lifestyle, like eating the right way so your child can eat the right way, you're modeling what you want for them, you're modeling this stable family structure that a developing child needs stability and needs nurturing and needs discipline. You're modeling that for them so that they can continue to pass that through their genes and pass that through their actions. So yeah, I think a lot of it is just our typical post-modern culture, which everything is like question everything. And, I question everything, I do, but at the same time, you look at even evidentially, like you said, I don't know if you've ever heard of Alice Bailey's Ten Point Plan.

Ben:  No.

Danny:  But, she's a big new age person from the 30s and it was literally everything that's happening now is that. And, it tends to, like always, lend itself to mind control and warped views and a perception and a view of life and just a way of being that is much more pliable to others and less individually like independent and honestly like effective and capable in different areas of life. 

So, yeah. But, in general, I'm with you, man. Definitely consequences, I think, are huge. It's the same way we say sharing. We don't force them to share because that's forced sharing, that doesn't make sense. Or, if we teach them that their bodies are their own, like your body is yours, if you don't want to kiss grandma today, you're not in the mood, I'm not going to say go kiss grandma. And, grandma's going get mad about that, I get it. But, at the same time, you want grandma, you want my child to be able to, especially if it's a girl which we have boys, but still your body's yours, you want them to know that their body is theirs, and you want them to have a strong sense of property rights like, “This is my property.” And, children tend to be a lot more graspy when they're afraid that their parents are going to take their toy away and give it to Johnny because Johnny wants his turn or the whole idea that like, well, Johnny's not sharing with me and now I need to go find the authority figure to make them share with me. I mean, how does that play out in adulthood? We've seen it.

Ben:  Yeah, yeah.

Now, in the time that we have left, I would love to visit rites of passage. This is another section that you talked about in the book. So, what rites of passage or I guess significant moments of maturation to adolescence or adulthood did any of your children experience? How did you weave that in if you did?

Danny:  Well, we definitely have, like I talk about the importance of it's not zero to a hundred, like you have to have increasing difficulty, increasing independence, and responsibility for the child. So, we do poppy days like our next poppy day is going to be really fun, it's going to be both my sons with me where we're just going to go ride Go Karts. But, we will do hikes. And, one of the things that I had years ago, probably five, six years ago, he was five or six, Desmond, my oldest, he was the original. And then, we were walking through, we were hiking and I heard him behind me telling his brother and teaching his brother because when it gets hard, the natural inclination is just to quit or just I'm bored, I want to go home, let's go eat some ice cream, whatever. And so, this was not hard for me to do because I have a terrible sense of direction, I was like, we went hiking with the goal of getting lost because I knew that it would be hot, it would be harder for him. 

And, that's when I heard him starting to huff and puff and start and said, him and huh. And then, I said, “I did this on purpose.” Okay, now is the time where you have to think about there's times when things are going to get hard and what are you going to tell yourself. Because your mind is going to say, “I can't believe this” and get into this crazy pattern of victimhood or just not problem solving and not addressing the actual issue. And so, develop a mantra and I heard him behind me and he was just trying things out. And finally, he's changed this mantra since then because he says it's dumb now. But, he's like, “You can do this, nobody's better than you.”

And so, things like that. I got Desmond, when he turned 9, he went to two gun safety courses where they were each two to three hours and he shot a hundred rounds. So, shooting at 22, a handgun shooting a 9-millimeter, shooting a 22 rifle. He now has a 22 rifle. And, we do all types of stuff outside like we made a raised garden bed and he does the hoeing to take out the grass. And, we put in the dirt. He's an amazing horticulturalist. He's at Urban Cottage, his plants, and his fruits and vegetables, out of all of them, they live the longest, they actually the person who does. Because now there's a forest school aspect to it, which I didn't mention. But, there's two, three days a week, they have where they're doing stuff outside. And, all of these things have to build up to a point where I mentioned in the book, a book that was really transformative for me which was “Wild at Heart” by — 

Ben:  Yeah. A great book, great ministry, great website, great resources. John Eldredge.

Danny:  John Eldredge, yeah. There you go. So, like every man has that question, “Do I have what it takes to be a man?” And, you have three boys, right?

Ben:  Two boys, twin boys, 14 years old.

Danny:  Two boys, two boys.

Ben:  Yeah.

Danny:  Well, by the way, I failed to mention this. I got your raising superheroes like little PDF. Ten years ago, I was like, “Oh, this is awesome.” Nobody who talks about the importance of eating boogers, all this really cool stuff. But, I'm like, it's really important because every man has that question, “Do I have what it takes to be a man?” And, if we don't have that father figure, we see it in these cultures that are still connected to the traditions and still connected to the land and to their food, they have these rites of passage. And, they're never giving it to them is not going to work. You can't just say, “You're a man now, son.” Because even if he agrees, he's subconsciously going to say, “I didn't really earn this.” 

So, you have to increase the responsibility over time and make it a little bit more dangerous. Don't be afraid of things like we don't risk life or limb, but things that are more dangerous, doing survival type stuff like they were in Cub Scouts, both of them. We did tons of camping. And, increasing that because then when you say that, then it's going to mean something. And, that's how you avoid that false self-manifesting where it's either you become the tough guy or you become the workaholic or the ladies' man or the wimp. And, all of these are just a poor expression of your masculinity where the father is needed for that and you have to basically inculcate that and do those things. I think rites of passage are huge.

Ben:  Yeah, it sounds to me like you did from the learning how to shoot several types of firearms to some of the trips that you guys are going to be going on for hunting to these mantras that you did with your son on the difficult hike that you've implemented almost like many rites of passages throughout their upbringing. And, I've taken a little bit of a similar approach. Our next one is a free diving and spearfishing course that I have coming up with my sons for them to learn as little Inland Washington and Idaho boys how to deal with water and depth, and sharks, and fish, and darkness, and kind of fear of the ocean. Or, for example, we've gone on multiple hunts together where they've harvested an animal or we'll be going down and doing in a couple months the Warrior Weekend in near Encinitas, California where we have a couple of days almost like a miniature Navy SEAL hell week for fathers and sons. We've done the Father Son Wilderness Survival Camp.

But then, I think all also, and this is something I think is important, we've woven in two distinctly ceremonial rites of passage, one rite of passage into adolescence, which they completed when they were 13, which was backpack, wool blanket, knife, wilderness overseen by a wilderness survival instructor in which they were given the opportunity to survive in the wilderness and face their fears and they came out of that and there was a coming-of-age ceremony and a fire and a family and friends feast afterwards. 

And then, the second distinctly ceremonial rite of passage that they'll do when they're 16 is something similar, another rite of passage in the wilderness, but it'll be longer, five to seven days. Again, self-survival, facing fears, being alone. And so, I'm a fan of both like identifying times of a child's life where you have the opportunity to foster their entry into adulthood and help them to face their fears and then actually having this time where a child might know three or four years in advance when they’re 12 like, “Oh, when I'm 16, this is going to be when my rite of passage occurs, I better be getting ready for that right now,” be it plant foraging and fire making and shelter building. And, I think that both are good to weave in. 

But, it's interesting that nearly every parent who I interviewed for this book has either the casual approach of just identifying times and opportunities to teach a child about what it means to be an adult and to put them through typically a hard scenario, a hard mental, physically difficult scenario to do that or these ceremonial rites of passages that are clearly identified as, “Oh, hey, you're an adolescent now,” in which in the case of us they're given more responsibility in the home, more chores. We began to call them young men instead of boys, et cetera. And then, a rite of passage into adulthood after which they will be expected to contribute to the home's income. They will have two years before they're out of the house and not allowed to live in our house after that point. They'll be expected to have a job for themselves, et cetera. And, they know, they've known since they were 10 years old that that's what's coming down the pipeline. So, we give them plenty of time to prepare. But, I think that weaving these type of things intentionally into a child's upbringing is so, so important.

Danny:  Well, I mean, you think about the typical approach, the only real rite of passage is getting your license.

Ben:  Yeah.

Danny:  And, you go from — 

Ben:  For a girl sometimes, it's her first period or onset of menstruation. But yeah, I think we can be a little bit more intentional than that in many cases.

Danny:  Well, I mean, yeah, because you go from having to ask permission to go to the bathroom to either fighting in a war, God forbid, or deciding what to do with your life.

Ben:  Yeah.

Danny:  You need to have that stair-step approach like you're doing. And, a lot of it is fun like processing a chicken. My son did that when he was six, just dissecting animals, things like that. For boys, I know boys because God blessed me with two boys, I guess He didn't think I could handle girls and I guess I agree. And, I know boys and I know what's important for them. And, I think as a parent, we need to know specifically like what each gender needs. It's all like the education, it's that specific approach for each customized approach.

Ben:  Yeah, yeah, tailored approach. Yeah, exactly. Well, there's so much more that you get into in you and Maura's chapter in “Boundless Parenting.” I will, of course, link to the book or you can go to BoundlessParentingBook.com to check it out and hear more of Danny and Maura's responses to 31 different questions that I asked each of the dozens of parents that are featured within the book. But then, I will also put resources in the shownotes to everything that Danny and I talked about today, including books like “Unschooling to University,” the Weston A. Price dietary guidelines, more information about leptin if you want to learn about that, we'll include some of the research on spanking and gray matters, everything that you'd want to hear or read more about, I'll put at BenGreenfieldLife.com/Vega. That's V-E-G-A. And, when you go there, you can also leave questions, comments, or feedback for Danny, for Maura too even though she couldn't join us. She, I'm sure, can hop in and comment here and there. And, I'll also take a look at any of those. So, I love to keep the discussion going.

And again, Danny and Maura's website is fatfueledfamily.com. You can check out all of their writings, more resources on that website as well. So, Danny, this has been fun. Thanks so much for coming on and sharing all this stuff with us, man.

Danny:  Oh, man, this is my favorite thing to talk about. Thanks, brother.

Ben:  I can tell. Alright. Well, folks, I'm Ben Greenfield along with Danny Vega signing out from BenGreenfieldLife.com. Have an amazing week.

More than ever these days, people like you and me need a fresh entertaining, well-informed, and often outside-the-box approach to discovering the health, and happiness, and hope that we all crave. So, I hope I've been able to do that for you on this episode today. And, if you liked it or if you love what I'm up to, then please leave me a review on your preferred podcast listening channel wherever that might be and just find the Ben Greenfield Life episode. Say something nice. Thanks so much. It means a lot.



Danny and Maura Vega are two of the superstar parents featured in my upcoming Boundless Parenting book.
They are the founders of Fat Fueled Family LLC, a blogpodcast, and YouTube channel dedicated to leading a movement that empowers families to eat better, move more, and grow closer. In addition, they offer consultations and individual/group coaching through their Fat Fueled Physique program.

Danny, who I interview in this podcast, is the author of the children’s book series Unexplainable Adventures, the first fictional, character-based series of growth and development books geared specifically for children. After working as a basketball strength and conditioning coach, Danny spent ten years in the medical device industry before starting Fat Fueled Family LLC.

Maura is a classically trained dancer in ballet, jazz, and contemporary. Her experience overcoming eating disorders in her youth, along with dealing with postpartum depression, has made her a passionate advocate for mindful eating and supporting mothers. Danny and Maura live in Tampa, Florida with their two sons, who have their own Instagram channel @fatfueledkids, on which they share how they eat as well as their projects and homeschool adventures.

During our discussion, you'll discover:

-What is the Fat Fueled Family and how did it come to be?…9:00

-The importance of building structure around a child's passions and interests…13:20

-What do Danny Vega's kids eat?…16:05

  • Fat Fueled Family
  • Both children were breastfed for 1.5-2 years
    • Weaned with raw liver and soft-boiled egg yolks
    • Well-sourced liver and eggs due to concern for parasitic infection
  • The effects of leptin imbalance
  • Concrete eating times to establish circadian biology
  • Lean and active kids
  • Breakfast:
    • Eggs and turkey sausage
    • Paleo pancakes
  • Lunch:
    • Bell peppers and avocados
    • Turkey and cheese
  • The Urban Cottage

-Leptin receptor deficiency in children…19:50

-Skipping breakfast in lean, healthy adults and children can cause more harm than good…24:25

  • Kids shouldn't skip breakfast
  • Can cause hormonal dysregulation and low bone density

-Non-negotiable foods that Danny's children must (or must not) eat…26:10

The Urban Cottage school that Danny's children attend…32:17

-Danny and Maura's approach to discipline…49:15

-The importance of Rites of Passage…60:00

-And much more…

Upcoming Events:

  • Six Senses Retreat: February 27, 2023 – March 3, 2023

Join me for my “Boundless Retreat” at Six Senses from February 27th, 2023 to March 3rd, 2023, where you get to improve on your functional fitness, nutrition, longevity, and the delicate balance between productivity and wellness. Complete with a healthy farmhouse breakfast, yoga spa sessions, and sound healing, you learn how to live a boundless life just like me, and I'd love to see you there. Learn more here.

Resources mentioned in this episode:

32 Questions For Boundless Parenting

The following questions were posed to Danny and Maura Vega, and the rest of the wise parents interviewed for my upcoming book, Boundless Parenting.

  1. How many children do you have, how old are they, what is their profession or passion, and why, in particular, are you proud of them?
  2. Are there any elements of your parenting approach that you would consider to be particularly unique?
  3. What books, systems, models, or resources do you rely heavily upon or consider to be indispensable in your own parenting?
  4. What traditions, habits, routines, or rituals are most important, memorable, or formative for your family?
  5. What rites of passage or significant moments of maturation to adolescence or adulthood have your children experienced, if any?
  6. Who do you look up to as parenting mentors?
  7. What have you taught your children about raising their own children?
  8. Do you have any philosophies or strategies for educating your children outside of traditional school, such as homeschooling, unschooling, self-directed education, or other alternatives, creative, or “outside-the-box” forms of education?
  9. What has been your proudest moment as a parent, and why?
  10. What do you wish you had known before first becoming a parent?
  11. Have you ever experienced imposter syndrome as a parent? If so, how have you coped with that?
  12. How have you achieved a balance between mentoring and passing on wisdom without “living vicariously” through your children?
  13. Have you ever faced any big parenting decisions that kept you awake at night worrying or that you feared you would mess up?
  14. What do you regret, if anything, from your experience as a parent?
  15. What is the biggest mistake you have made as a parent?
  16. What, if anything, from your parenting experience would you go back and change or improve?
  17. If you had multiple children, what did you think was right at the time with one child that you then went back and changed with the next child or future children?
  18. Have you ever sensed or feared that your children would grow up too different or weird as a result of any “outside-the-box” parenting approaches you used? If so, how did you deal with that?
  19. Have you ever differed from your spouse on parenting principles, techniques, or approaches? If so, how did you manage that?
  20. Warning: This question is long but important: As a parent, have you ever felt conflicted about wanting to share a book, teaching, resource, or method with your children as a means of impacting their future success, but feared that it might “overload” them, especially at their age? If so, how did you balance bestowing this valuable knowledge to your child without causing them to worry too much about adult concerns? How did you decide when to just “let a kid be a kid” versus nudging them towards responsible adulthood and the attainment of valuable wisdom?
  21. How have you balanced being a present, engaged parent while preserving your own identity, taking time for your own self-care, tending to your career, or pursuing other interests that did not include your children?
  22. How have you engaged in one-on-one time or created space for dedicated time with your child, especially if you have more than one child?
  23. If your children have grown up and moved out of your house, what strategies have you found most helpful for maintaining and building your relationship with them?
  24. If your children have grown up and moved out of your house, do you often miss them, fear for them, or think of them? If so, how have you coped with any loneliness or desire for their presence?
  25. Do you have non-negotiable rules for your children?
  26. How have you disciplined your children, if at all?
  27. How have you helped your child to establish responsibly, moderated, or conscientious consumption or use of books, media, entertainment, screen time, and social media? This is not my favorite question because the focus on “limiting screen time” seems a bit blown out of proportion these days and I think causes kids to get obsessed with the “forbidden fruit” of screen time, but it seems to be on the minds of many parents today, so I’d be remiss not to include it.
  28. Have you emphasized or encouraged any health, fitness, or healthy eating principles with your children? If so, what has seemed to work well?
  29. If your child or children could inscribe anything on your gravestone, what would you hope that they would write? What would you most want them to remember about you?
  30. What do you most want to be remembered for as a parent?
  31. What do you think your child or children would say is their fondest memory of being raised by you?
  32. What message for parents would you put on a billboard?

Click here for the full written transcript of this podcast episode.

Resources mentioned in this episode:

-Danny & Maura Vega:

– Podcasts:

– Other Resources:

Episode sponsors:
Essentia: Essentia organic mattresses are the only mattress to score best on eliminating all sleep-interrupting stimulants. Experience Essentia for yourself and save an additional $100 on your mattress purchase using code BENVIP at myessentia.com/bengreenfield.

Apollo: Apollo is a safe and non-invasive wearable that actively improves your sleep. Head over to apolloneuro.com/bengreenfield and use code BG15 for 15% off.

Haelan 951: Haelan 951 is a concentrated, nitrogen-fermented beverage made from organic soybeans grown in the mountains of Mongolia. Go to haelan951.com/BEN and use the promo code BEN to get free shipping.

Boundless Parenting: Everything you need to know about family, parenting, and raising healthy, resilient, free-thinking, and impactful children. Go to boundlessparentingbook.com and pre-order your copy now.

Kion Aminos: Aminos are building blocks for muscle recovery, reduced cravings, better cognition, immunity, and more. Go to getkion.com/ben to receive 20% off on monthly deliveries and 10% on one-time purchases.

Ask Ben a Podcast Question

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *