15 Common Themes from Parents Weighing in on “How to Raise A Healthy Eater”

Cliffs notesFor a few months, I’ve been researching and writing, and talking with GreenSmoothieGirl readers about their experiences. How to Eat Right In the Real World is my next book to come out January 1. Why write exclusively from my own experience, when I have thousands of genius readers whose ideas just jump off the page?

Of course my book will have lots of recipes and ideas from many of my readers. One of the subjects the book covers is how we get our kids to buy in, so that we’ve done our job, and they leave our homes with solid nutrition habits.

What I learned from reading these parents’ many ideas and experiences are these 15 common themes, your “Cliff’s Notes” for that section of my book:

  1. Start when babies are weaned. Don’t feed them sugar or even lots of fruits. To help them develop a taste for the best nutrition, feed them greens, vegetables, legumes, avocados, and whole grains.
  2. Be an example.
  3. Let kids have choices, among the broad variety of amazing whole foods options.
  4. Let them participate by planning, choosing, and preparing meals.

    Start young, involve your children, help them to choose healthy snacks.
    Start young, involve your children, help them to choose healthy snacks.
  5. Be consistent in your nutrition teachings and practice.
  6. Be creative and develop a great repertoire of healthy-eating recipes, habits, and games.
  7. Make healthy meals and snacks yummy. Find great recipes.
  8. Make mealtime fun and positive, and speak enthusiastically of your own love of all things nutritious.
  9. Assume kids want to make good choices and educate them–often, with variety, with good videos and books, with love and humor, telling them what’s in it for them.
  10. Make connections between health/energy, and good food–let consequences (for them and others) be the teacher, and point them out.
  11. Don’t have junk food in the house. Period. There’s junk everywhere outside the home, still far too much.
  12. Grow a garden, to give children ownership of their diet and a connection to their food sources.
  13. Find a support group! Having friends who are on the same path to whole foods and whole health, is half the battle, since we tend to do what those around us do.
  14. Before they go to a party, fill them up with nutrient-dense foods (like green smoothies or salad), and/or outright bribe them to skip the cake and ice cream!
  15. Let love for your children be your motivating force and top priority, guiding you towards balance and peace in your home as well as excellent health.

Your child is truly blessed, if you take the time to feed her excellent nutrition, explain often why you’re doing it, and model good habits to her.

hugging mom and child

Your child had a green smoothie in class today!

adventures-junk-food-dude-720x720This is a letter our reader Christy Li, copied us on, when she sent it out to her daughter’s whole classroom. One of my favorite things EVER is when GSG readers reach down to the kids, to educate them about healthy food choices!

Hi Parents,

I am Alexandra’s mom, Christy Li. I wanted to share with you what we did in the classroom today, so that you know what your child is talking about if/when they come home and say, “I want to be like Green Smoothie Guy.” (This means they want more fruits and vegetables in a smoothie!)

I read a book to them today and then demonstrated how to make a yummy smoothie. They were all invited to have a sample. I got lots of this request: “Can I have some more?” My brain is thinking, “Yay, they want more spinach and beets!”

My children and I have been drinking green smoothies for years. So of course, I got super excited about sharing this book I recently purchased, “The Adventures of Junk Food Dude” by Robyn Openshaw. As a mom and as a personal trainer, I love Robyn’s (Green Smoothie Girl’s) website and this children’s book because it provides the education about why and how we can eat & drink healthy food for fuel throughout the day.

strawberry morning smoothieMorning Strawberry Smoothie:

  • 1 scoop chia seeds
  • 1/4 red beet
  • 3 cups spinach
  • 1/2 small cucumber
  • 1 large banana
  • 12 frozen strawberries
  • 1 squirt raw, organic agave nectar
  • 2 cups organic coconut milk
  • 10 ice cubes

avecado ice creamBlend in a quality blender until smooth.

Please let me know if you have any questions and/or if you would like me to come again to have the children sample another smoothie or our ice cream filled with avocado and chard. My kids love their “Peppermint Chocolate Chip Ice Cream” that is really healthy!

Christy Li

 

 

CONTEST! I’m giving away $50 to 5 people!

Eat rightI am writing a new book. It’s called How to Eat Right In the Real World. On a budget, if you’re raising kids, if you work full-time, if you travel, if you have a big social life.

In 2014, I will undertake an ambitious lecture tour that includes more than 75 cities, to speak on that topic. (In January, then, I am retiring the green smoothie show!)

I will not be selling my new book! However, everyone who comes to any of my 2014 lectures will get the book FREE! In it, I’d like to publish GSG readers’ ideas to add to my own–giving you credit, of course.

Stand by for an announcement of the itinerary of the entire year of classes. I’ll announce that in a few weeks when we have it all put together and ready to start ticketing.

Meantime, tell me YOUR best ideas for how to eat right ON A BUDGET.  Please write support123@greensmoothiegirl.com, or just respond here on the blog, with as many tips as you like. By doing so, you’re giving me permission to print your idea (whether or not you’re one of the 5 winners), to help others. So, let us know your name, and hometown, to give you credit. (Give me whatever form of your name you’re okay with seeing in print.)

Tips and Trickswin prizedThe 5 best ideas (or collection of ideas) sent to us in the next WEEK will be awarded $50 in your choice of GreenSmoothieGirl loot!

So be thinking, what tips and tricks have YOU developed, over the years, that have helped you with a whole-foods diet even though you must carefully manage your dollars? Super-quick, super-easy recipes are also helpful–your mainstay habits that help you eat a lot of plants.

As Joel Fuhrman, M.D., says, in his book Eat to Live, there is now more evidence that a plant-based diet prevents all our degenerative diseases, than there is evidence that smoking causes lung cancer. So tell me…..how do YOU pull it off? No idea is too small! It’s the small things that make the difference!

By the way, my next blog series is an interview with a doctor on natural infertility treatment, but then we come back to this topic. I do a three-part series next week on How to Eat Right While Traveling. Stay tuned!

How I Beat My Sugar Addiction

sugar enticingDear GreenSmoothieGirl: Please do an article on the dangers of artificial sweeteners. I am trying to stop eating sugar, but am SO weak!  I’ve been reading some recommended books, and trying to exercise willpower, and I still struggle.   I’m curious what your process was, that led to success, and how you’ve been able to stay off sugar.  I could do it before I had kids, but now it seems SO much harder. I’d love to hear your tips of how she was able to enjoy family time, birthdays, holidays, etc, without the sugar.

–Dixie

Answer: You got it, Dixie. First, today, the “how I did it” part of your question. Then, tomorrow, some data download on the artificial sweeteners and why they’ll kill ya. I’ll review aspartame (Nutrasweet), Truvia, Splenda, saccharin, maltitol, and stevia.

HOW I BEAT MY SUGAR ADDICTION

I really believe that to truly kick the sugar addiction, you have to go off it permanently, cold-turkey. Can an alcoholic just “cut back?” Can a cocaine addict do lines “just on the weekend?”

no sugar pleaseI’m not saying you will NEVER eat sugar again. (I can’t handle that thought either. I have come further than most, though, to say, “I will not eat it for a year.” Don’t think too far in the future. Think about a long period of time, though. Something that hurts your brain a little. Something challenging.)

What I AM saying is, as long as it’s going to be a casual indulgence, it’s going to be an addiction.

It doesn’t work like that, casually. Addiction to chemicals hijack the brain. It makes us less than we are. It makes us feel we have no “willpower” and aren’t in control of our weight, our life, our health.

Is it worth it? Is sugar worth the price we pay? Academically, we all know it isn’t.

One day, I got completely out of the sugar rat race. It was Sept. 11, 2011. Matthew Flinders and I bet $10,000 that we wouldn’t eat sugar for a year.

When the option was off the table, I stopped thinking about it. It’s so incredibly rare that I even think about sugar now. Seriously. It takes a matter of DAYS before you just quit thinking about it. (Why think about it? Is there a cookie that’s worth $10,000? There isn’t, right?)

comboI have other treats I *could* have. I love COCO MOJO in hot water with COCONUT MILK POWDER. (So much that I put it in my store.) I have a mug full at my computer nearly every day in the winter. After I have my green smoothie or veggie juice.

I have agave-sweetened coconut-milk “ice cream” in my freezer, and a fruit-juice sweetened dark-chocolate hot fudge in my refrigerator. It’s legal, I could eat it every day if I wanted, but sometimes it’s there for months and gets freezer burned. Ditto a case of maltitol-sweetened cookies that are in my closet, haven’t touched them in months.

It’s important to know I COULD IF I WANTED. I just don’t really care, most of the time.

“Ah,” you’re thinking, “now you’ve lost me. You’re not like me. I really don’t see the point in living, if it doesn’t involve my daily treats.”

sugar thoughtsNo, listen. I get it. I don’t know if anyone was a bigger sugar addict than me. Writing that treats sit in my freezer and closet are a big triumph, since I was a lifelong sugar addict. I have deep fillings in all my molars to prove it. Did I fight it more successfully than most? Yes, by sheer will. Like a daily arm wrestle. But in MY OWN RESEARCH, 65% of green smoothie drinkers have fewer cravings for sweets and processed food.

I, my friend, was in the 35%. I still wanted my damn treat.

But here’s something true. A weird thing happens when you get off REFINED sugar. All sugar seems less interesting.

I’m just not interested in brownies anymore. (OMG! Thank you for asking me this question, Dixie! I’ve been thinking about so many MORE INTERESTING THINGS THAN BROWNIES the past 18 months, I hadn’t even realized…….brownies aren’t interesting anymore, and my brain is occupied by better stuff now!)

At first, I’d go to a family birthday or Christmas or any number of other holiday parties, and just not dare LOOK at the dessert table. Now it doesn’t matter. I might look, but I don’t feel the cravings. Now when I look at mint chocolate brownies (my former favorite), it looks like a bunch of chemicals and food colorings and stuff. While I do have lots of memory of pleasure associated with that food, it isn’t particularly tempting.

readers-favorite-healthy-recipes-vol-1-350x350I enjoy celebrating, still. I eat the dinner, just not the dessert. If I were still in a place of feeling deprived, I’d take my own (raw, yummy, chocolately) treat. You can do that. Get our READERS FAVORITES books, or check out Ch. 11 of 12 STEPS TO WHOLE FOODS.

I’m over halfway through Year 2 on the Sugar Bet. Matthew did Year 1 with me as a test of his willpower–he loves games and contests–and didn’t want to do it forever. So I had to get Natalie Harris to do it with me as my first bet ended.

This year, I’m allowed to have sugar one day a month. Honestly, in 2013, thus far, I haven’t seen anything I wanted to eat enough to “use” my day. I’m banking them.

happy without sugarI’m not saying I’ll never eat sugar again. If I go to Las Vegas and get to the Wicked Spoon at the Cosmopolitan? Totally worth it. Ditto a five-star all-inclusive resort in Mexico, on a vacation.

But I am saying, it’s the nicest feeling in the world to (a) have sugar cravings no longer intruding into my thoughts, demanding my brain functions I need for higher things, making me ridiculously obsess about WILL I OR WON’T I TODAY?

And it’s the nicest feeling in the world to (b) discover that not only is life worth living without sugar? It’s just better.

My life is so much better without sugar.

I didn’t lose weight when I ditched sugar. (I ate little of it anyway. But I spent far more time THINKING about wanting to eat sugar and BATTLING it, than actually DOING it. This might be the definition of ANNOYING.)

I weighed 135-137 then, and I weigh 135-137 now.  I don’t really feel any different. I felt great then, and now.

incharge(I had learned MANY years ago to never, ever do it on an empty stomach. That made me sick from the time I was a hypoglycemic kid. I finally wised up and stopped doing it by my mid-20’s. Then I had a long phase of still eating sugar, but only after a healthy meal. Then a long phase of not eating sugar regularly, but still sometimes.)

So why am I still THRILLED that I’ve been totally “off sugar” for 18 months, if I didn’t lose weight or feel any different?

Because now I am in charge of my life. Only after getting free of the sugar demon am I able to look back and realize how CONTROLLED I was by Sugar’s pushy, interruptive, bossy presence in my life.

It was a gradual process, to realizing that I don’t hate my life without sugar.

You won’t either. Promise.

 

 

 

If you get the chance, tell my kids what good nutrition means to you

I won a singles league tennis match at another club a while ago. After the match, I was tanking up on water and talking to my son Tennyson, who came to watch me play. I said,

“Want to go to Good Earth and get some wheat grass juice?”

My opponent was looking at me strangely, so I said, “Yeah. I know. It’s weird. But he LOVES the stuff.”

She said, “I don’t drink wheat grass juice. But I do drink green smoothies. I just read a book called The Green Smoothies Diet.”

Haha, I love my life! I guess my photo isn’t on that book’s jacket.

Then there was the day I was pumping gas in my car and two different women, both named Carrie, came up and gave me a hug.

And recently, someone at the gym told me that Holly Mendenhall, who has attended a few of my classes, turned her onto green smoothies. She said, “Do you know Holly?” (Nope.) She said, “She’s the wife of Bronco Mendenhall.”

BYU’s football coach! (What a great man, who has done great things in this community.) YAY! Does that mean that Bronco Mendenhall’s family is doing 12 Steps to Whole Foods? I can only hope.

That was all awesome, but maybe even better is what happened the night before, at Kincade’s baseball banquet. One of his friends and his mom got out of their car in the parking lot with us. So since Cade was talking to his buddy, I chatted with the mom all the way in to the banquet.

While we listened to the awards ceremony and ate dinner, two women came over to my table to say that green smoothies, or my whole-foods course, have been transforming their energy and health. One said, “I no longer get tired training for my marathon—I love it!”

But best of all, both women turned to my son and said, “I feel so great drinking green smoothies—do you drink them, Cade?”

He said, “Every day of my life. My house is the Vegetable Capital of the World.” No sarcasm….just kinda proud, actually, of his own healthy habits–because what else are you going to do in the face of such ardent enthusiasm?

And they gushed to him with such enthusiasm about how positive their nutrition changes have been. I acted cool, I hope, but secretly was SO THRILLED.

THANK YOU SO MUCH, if you ever have any interaction with my children, and you give them a third-party endorsement of the principles I teach!

Then as I went to leave, the mom I had walked in with came rushing back up to me. She said, “Oh my gosh, you are Robyn? I just figured that out! I just read your book and now I’m studying 12 Steps to Whole Foods with my co-workers and I love it!”

And my son sat there and listened. Three times in one night, and I didn’t even have to pay them. (hehe)

I am always trying to give the parents following a whole-foods path some endorsement with their kids. By writing The Adventures of Junk Food Dude, by doing readings for kids, then writing the recipe book Junk Food Dude’s Yummy Healthy Recipes, by encouraging readers to bring their older kids to my events, by talking to kids whenever I get the chance.

So, WHAT AN AMAZING BLESSING when it comes back to me and someone returns the favor!

I need others to confirm the truth of these principles, for my children, as well.