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Interview with Barbara Reed and Paul Stitt

Paul and Barbara Reed Stitt



Andrew W. Saul Interviews



Barbara Reed served as an Ohio probation officer for 20 years. In 1971, she developed a program on the relationship of diet and behavior. A five-year study showed that over 80% of people on her program did not get back into trouble with the courts. Fourteen scientific studies have since proven that behavior is indeed affected by diet. Articles on her work have been in the Wall Street Journal, Science News, and The London Times. She has appeared on CBS Weekend News, Good Morning America, the McNeil-Lehrer Report, and testified before the Senate Select committee on Nutrition and Human Needs. In August 1982, she left the field of corrections when she married biochemist Paul Stitt.


Paul A. Stitt has a M.S. in Biochemistry from the University of Wisconsin, Madison, Wisconsin. He has conducted research for Tenneco Chemicals and the Quaker Oats Company, and holds five U.S. patents. Paul has authored a number of scientific papers, which have been published in agricultural journals and the Journal of the American Dietetic Association. He has appeared on the Phil Donahue Show and CBS' 48 Hours.


In 1997, they together started a whole fresh foods lunch program for the students of the Appleton, WI, Alternative High School. Results: Dropouts, 0. Expulsions, 0. Drugs, 0. Weapons, 0. Suicides, 0.


So this is one couple I just had to interview.


DOCTOR YOURSELF NEWS: How did your interest in real nutrition begin?


BARBARA: When I was 33 years old, I suffered with borderline diabetes, degenerative arthritis in my hands and spine, and a cancer on my left cheek. I was anemic to the point of transfusions for 24 hours, had strep throat 3 times one winter, diagnosed epileptic, had severe mood swings, depression, fatigue and headaches. Then told I was in early stages of menopause; that last one really got me to searching. I found a book by Gayelord Hauser called Look Younger, Live Longer” (Straus & Giroux, 1950. ISBN: 0374190720). I followed his advice and within three months ALL of the above symptoms were gone and I haven’t been sick for 41 years.


DY NEWS: Paul?


PAUL: Beginning in college, I discovered the main interest of food companies is to make foods so that people can’t stop eating them. The last thing they want to do is to make foods so that people are not craving more food all the time. Making foods to prevent cravings is difficult and expensive. Whole grain foods are inconsistent and difficult to work with. Trying to get 100% of the optimum level of all nutrients into 1,000 calories is a real challenge. But that is exactly what is necessary, because after people eat their healthy food, they want to have indulgent foods. We all do. Preventing obesity is a big challenge for sedentary people.


DY NEWS: Can you tell us some key events that led up to your marriage, arguably one of the finest anti-junk-food alliances ever?


BARBARA: In 1980 I was speaking in Fond du Lac, WI to the Natural Foods Association and Paul was the next speaker. My work as a probation officer in Ohio, correcting behavior by correcting diet, had hit the front page of the Wall Street Journal on June 2, 1977, and I was speaking all over the US and Canada. In Fond du Lac, Paul loved what I was doing, and gave me a loaf of his Sunny Millet Bread. I fell in love with the Sunny Millet and called up and told him he had to ship it to me as I could not give it up! Later, he covered my work in chapters 4 and 5 of his book, “Fighting the Food Giants” (Natural Press. Revised and updated edition: 1983. ISBN: 0939956004. also: Beating the Food Giants, Natural Press, 1993. ISBN: 0939956063).


When we spoke together again August 1981 in Valparaiso, IN, Paul gave me a copy of his book, and later a whole case of books which I passed out to friends. In August 1982, Paul went with me to Juneau, AL where I was scheduled to speak – and we were married! Solid partners ever since, we are much stronger together than separately.


DY NEWS: Barbara, can you tell us a few memorable case histories from your probation officer days? Some positive; some negative?


BARBARA: I worked as a probation officer from 1963 to 1982: 8 years with the Akron, OH Courts and the next 12 years as Chief Probation Officer in Cuyahoga Falls, OH. Correcting the diet was my number one tool. I checked our court, and four surrounding courts plus the FBI records. Nutrition worked so well that we followed people through our office for 5 years and 89% had not gotten back into trouble.


A 19-year old female was referred to probation for theft. She had been learning disabled from second grade and wonderful people had tried to work with her. I had her tested and she showed very high levels of lead. Plus she lived on sweets. We had the lead chelated from her body and corrected her diet. (Editor's note: More on lead poisoning at Within 5 months, her IQ had improved by 26 points, her energy soared and she began working for the first time in her life. The underlying problems would never have been detected in a typical probation department.


Another gentleman was arrested for threatening with a firearm – he had threatened to kill his own family and the family of his girlfriend. He was loaded with toxic aluminum. After treatment to eliminate the aluminum and diet correction, he became the nicest person. (More about aluminum at


There were hundreds and hundreds of cases. One young man was charged with Discharging a Firearm because his girlfriend would not press charges. He really should have been charged with attempted murder with a .57 Magnum. Both he and his girlfriend lived on junk food. He had become very moody and personality changes during 9th grade. He was very hypoglycemic ( With that corrected by diet, that young man ended up later hanging some of his paintings in the very city building that he was almost charged with Attempted Murder.


DY NEWS: And failures?


BARBARA: There were about 11% of the people that I simply could not reach for various reasons. Out of the many prostitutes referred to my office, I am only sure of one that was changed. I followed her for 9 years and there was never another indication of an arrest or any further activity.


DY NEWS: Please tell us about your more recent work in schools.


BARBARA: Because of the success I'd seen with diet and behavior when working with the courts, we decided to work with students and try to prevent problems. By providing fresh whole foods to the students their behavior improved, and their learning ability improved – a winning combination. ( and We demonstrated the

difference by requiring the teachers have a "junk food day" every 7 to 8 weeks – and within two hours they had lost control of the class. Some students became hyper, others lethargic, others angry and violent in some cases. The pulse rate of 2nd and 4th graders actually doubled on junk food day! We required this to allow the children to understand that it was what they were putting in their mouth that was causing the problems in how they felt and behaved. We are now (2004) in our 11th year and the results have repeated themselves every single year.


DY NEWS: What have been some of the major obstacles to your work?


BARBARA: The major challenges have been in guiding schools into HOW to change the foods in schools. They have been accustomed to receiving money from the two big Cola companies and from the fast food industry by allowing them to furnish the “food” for the students. We produced a “Roadmap to Healthy Foods in Schools” that gives them step by step instructions as to how it can be done. The packet contains about 75 pages of information plus a DVD of our six successful years in the Appleton, WI alternative school that led to healthier food for the entire school district of 15,000 students!


DY NEWS: So what foods do you yourselves eat?


PAUL: The center of our plate is whole grain food, complemented with tasty vegetable dishes with fruit as an appetizer. Soup, salads, and breads make for very nutritionally complete meals. Meat is for flavoring.


DY NEWS: Sometimes the people closest to us are the most resistant to change. How "hip" to natural nutrition are your families?


PAUL: Our families are on natural food diets, but not all of them are dairy-free as we recommend. In time they will learn.


DY NEWS: What is the story of the Natural Ovens bakery?


PAUL: Natural Ovens was started in 1976 with no business plan, no mentor, no recipes and no customers requesting whole grain foods. But we had a personal mission: make the best foods humanly possible. In 1976, I had 5 employees. Still have 2 of them; they are vice presidents. Now we have 330 employees doing direct delivery to over 1,200 supermarkets in 7 states. We serve all 50 states by mail order. Our goal is still to bake the most nutritional, best tasting whole grain bread product possible.


DY NEWS: Would you like to comment on the FDA, and the action against Natural Ovens that is still posted on the Internet? (  and


PAUL: The FDA is totally unfair. In the last 12 years FDA has published 10 articles involving the use of our flax. Then, they pick up a loaf of our bread, send it to a lab that has no idea how to measure omega-3 and publish on the Internet that our bread has no Omega-3 in it. So we send them analytical results from 3 different labs, invoices showing we use a million pounds of flax a year, at great expense. Then they say, in a private letter, that they made a mistake, but they refuse to put it out on the Internet. Then they accuse us of understating protein and overstating fiber. We find that what chemist says is protein in grains is biologically unavailable, so it acts like fiber in the body. Analytical chemists that are hired as consultants by the FDA tell me that high fiber whole grain food contains many different types of fibers, and that several types are destroyed during the analysis! So of course, total dietary fiber is a misnomer because it is nowhere near the value of non-digestible matter in the whole grain product. FDA is working on revising their analytical system, but in the meantime, they shoot me in the neck.


DY NEWS: Given all you've seen, what remains your most important, most enduring message for readers?


PAUL: Always do what you know is best for your body.


BARBARA: Feed your children fresh whole fruits, vegetables, legumes, whole grain breads and cereals, nuts, seeds, water, and lead them into good exercise – so they can be healthy and have a long productive life. The artificially colored, sweetened cereals, soda, sweets and products made with enriched white flour and sugar will all cause the children to be ill, and unable to behave and learn. Obesity, diabetes, heart disease and behavior problems are rampant with our youth. This is truly criminal.


For further reading:

Reed, Barbara. Food, Teens and Behavior. Natural Press, 1983. ISBN: 0939956047.


EAT, EXERCISE, EXCEL is a how-to video for you and your school, by Hugh D. Riordan, M.D., available from




Andrew Saul is the author of the books FIRE YOUR DOCTOR! How to be Independently Healthy (reader reviews at ) and DOCTOR YOURSELF: Natural Healing that Works. (reviewed at )

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Interview and comments copyright 2004 by Andrew W. Saul.


Andrew W. Saul


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