In an unusual episode of "Red Table Talk," Will Smith called a family meeting with his wife and kids to discuss something important. Jada Pinkett Smith usually hosts the Facebook Watch show with her mom and daughter, Willow. But this time, the talk around the table involved the whole family — and a revelation about Will and Jada's son, Jaden.
First, the Smith family patriarch opened up about gaining some weight on a family vacation, to the point where his wife and daughter started calling him "pudgy." He said he decided to focus on his health and not only lost weight but stopped needing his blood pressure medication.
"I've been taking blood pressure medicine for almost a decade. So I was like, 'Do I have high blood pressure or was I eating myself into high blood pressure?'" Smith said. The actor said this was an epiphany: At 50 years old, he learned "you literally are what you eat," he said.
Smith admitted he loves to eat — it's like his drug — and the whole family began to chime in. Pinkett Smith then revealed she and her husband had staged an intervention related to their son's eating patterns.
"Will and I had a bit of an intervention with Jaden because he's a vegan now but we realized he wasn't getting enough protein. So he was wasting away," Pinkett Smith said. "He just looked drained. He was depleted, he wasn't getting the nutrients."
Smith said Jaden had dark circles under his eyes and looked gray, which concerned his parents. He added that his son is looking better now.
The 21-year-old said he's actually a vegetarian, though he often opts for vegan meals. As for the weight loss, he admitted he sometimes ate just one or two meals a day.
Vegan diets avoid all types of animal-derived products — not just meat and fish but also dairy products, eggs, and even honey. Vegetarian diets avoid animal flesh but include egg and dairy products. The CDC says a vegetarian diet is an example of a healthy eating pattern.
Vegan diets, however, may result in a B12 deficiency, since this vitamin is usually only found in animal foods, the CDC says. "Fortified breakfast cereals and fortified nutritional yeasts are some of the only sources of vitamin B12 from plants and can be used as dietary sources of vitamin B12 for strict vegetarians and vegans," according to the CDC's B12 fact sheet.
A B12 deficiency could cause "tiredness, weakness, constipation, loss of appetite, weight loss, and megaloblastic anemia," according to the CDC. It is unclear if Smith's limited diet caused a B12 deficiency.
However, Smith's preference for vegetarian or vegan foods may not be the thing that made him "waste away," as his parents described. The CDC also recommends average adult men should eat between 2,000 to 3,000 calories a day — a target Smith may not have reached if he was eating only one or two meals, as he said.
The Smith family acknowledged everyone has different relationships with food. Willow Smith said at one point she had irregular eating patterns when she was consistently working out and eating only for appearance. Pinkett Smith said she has a sensitive stomach and the amount of foods she can eat is limited — so she says she eats the same thing every day.
Will Smith explained that the purpose of this "Red Table Talk" episode was to encourage viewers to treat food as medicine and focus on health. He then brought out a nutrition expert to continue the discussion of health issues.