Who you gonna call, Part V top-secret advice!

So I just wrecked the pedestal underneath the Fat Diet Docs and celebs, the personal trainers, the network marketers’ pills, potions, and juices, and the blood type and metabolic typing docs.

I hope you’re not feeling without answers.   Moms write me and tell me they read about nutrition and go to bed in tears because of all the complexity and confusion, and that’s heartbreaking.   Who can blame them?   There is no subject wherein the most educated among us are more confused than the field of WHAT TO EAT.

But answers are usually easy and pure.   Remember the Biblical story of the man Jesus told to go and wash his eyes in the river?   The man cost himself a cure because it was too simple.  In an age of technology, complexity, and an excess of information and opinion, we expect the answers to be hard.   But the answers, when it comes to what fuel to put in our body, are so simple that they’re (ironically) hard for a modern mind to comprehend!

It’s hard, I know, to let go of the idea that you have to eat a bunch of pills every day. The calcium! The fish oil! The hair-growth formula! It’s endless, and it’s just a variation on the drug approach to health, really.  Here’s the secret:  

Eat simple food that grows in the dirt.   Wash it first.   Cook it as little as possible.   Drink lots of clean water.

An orange is better than a two-ounce drink of magic juice (pasteurized, in a really sweet-lookin’ bottle that costs $30) from the tip-top of a mountain range some peasants climbed barefoot to harvest, in a remote part of a country you’ve never heard of.   If you are going to pay for foods not quite in their original form, as much as possible, make sure they’re

not heated above 100 degrees

not changed, concentrated, or adulterated in any way

devoid of chemicals, sweeteners, and fillers

That makes  a rather short list of things that are worth your hard-earned money.

tips for eating right inexpensively

Q:   Dear GreenSmoothieGirl, I can’t afford to eat the way you suggest. Any ideas?

A:   Most people base their purchasing decisions on taste, convenience, price, appearance, and shelf life.

Of course, what tastes good is dictated by our addictions, and you know if you read my blog that sugar is the most addictive substance on the planet.   Having to wash fruits and vegetables can’t compete, for convenience.   Organic produce doesn’t always look shiny and pretty.   And produce and most whole foods don’t last long on the shelf.   Nutrition is the loser in most buying criteria and decisions!   (If you don’t believe me,  take a peek at  what’s in virtually all grocery carts next time you’re in the store.)

I do have 11 tips for you to save money (and many more are in 12 Steps to Whole Foods):  

  1. Plan meals ahead of time and keep a shipping list to avoid impulse buying.  Along with your shopping list, keep a list of what constitutes “good” prices, as well as a calculator to take along on shopping trips. 
  2. Quit buying chips, soda, and packaged cookies and candy. Quit buying meat.   Quit buying fast food. These things are costing you more than you may realize.
  3. Instead, buy grains and legumes, which are higher in protein than people expect, inexpensive, and they keep in storage for years.   Try serving grains/legumes most nights a week instead of meat.      
  4. If you have a family, invest in a big freezer.   Put it in the garage.   Buy it used if you need to.
  5. Start learning what things cost, and buy larger quantities (5# or more) of produce, nuts, seeds and grains when they’re in season and on sale.
  6. Freeze on-sale fruits in small bags in the freezer.   Put greens in the freezer for green smoothies, if you can’t use them before they will go bad.   Freeze bulk-purchased nuts and seeds in freezer bags.
  7. Ask around and find the buying co-ops for local produce and health-food items.   Get on email lists for those co-ops.   You don’t have to buy huge bulk amounts for Azure Standard and other co-ops.
  8. Dig a cold-storage hole in the ground against your home, if possible, line it with plastic or wood or straw, and put a wooden lid on top.   Store potatoes, onions, carrots, homemade sauerkraut, nuts, seeds, and oils through the winter.
  9. Grow a garden.   Even if all you have is a patio or tiny backyard, you can grow a surprising amount of produce.   This will give you organic produce, and you can freeze whatever you’re not able to use, for fall and winter months.
  10. If organic produce is really expensive, buy conventional and just wash it well, with a veggie soap.   I use Shaklee Basic H.   A gallon of it lasts me a decade.
  11. Go shopping when you’ve just eaten, not when you’re hungry.   Then planning and intelligence informs your shopping decisions (not cravings and addictions).

how to buy yourself diabetes for only $0.50 a day

You know drinking soda is bad for you.   Perhaps you and I talking a bit about  WHY will be just the trigger you need to kick the habit—or get your kids to do so.   Have  a kid you care about  read this.   According to the Nutrition Research Center (Oct. 2007), here’s what you can expect in the first hour after drinking one can of Coke:

Within 10 minutes, 10 teaspoons of sugar, 100 percent of your recommended daily intake, shoots to your bloodstream.   (Keep in mind that nowhere is refined and acidic corn syrup or sugar actually “recommended.”   Good sugars don’t come from a can of Coke.)   Phosphoric acid cuts the flavor—otherwise, you’d throw up from the overwhelming sweetness.   That same phosphoric acid is draining calcium from your bones and teeth.

Within 20 minutes, your blood sugar goes through the roof, and your liver responds to the resulting insulin burst by turning massive amounts of sugar into fat.

Within 40 minutes, the enormous caffeine stimulation causes your pupils to dilate, your blood pressure to rise, and your liver to dump more sugar into your bloodstream. Dopamine stimulates the pleasure centers of your brain (just like street drugs do).

After 60 minutes, you start to crash.   You’ll feel shaky and desperately crave more sugar and caffeine.   Run to the machine for another can of Coke, and do it again daily until you develop diabetes.   Shouldn’t take too long.   Then you’ll have daily blood testing and insulin shots to look forward to, plus a shortened life expectancy and a host of very unpleasant  risks, like  limb amputation, for instance.

Teach Children About Healthy

Nutrition is no different than any other topic, and we have to teach children about healthy.   Would you allow your 9-year old to opt out of her least favorite subjects in school—say, math and science?   Just quit, not participate at all from kindergarten to high school graduation?   Why would we knowingly allow our children to opt out of the most important food groups they need for growth, development, energy, and disease prevention?   Yet this is what most parents do: they leave all food choices to the child, and throw up their hands, saying, “She just won’t eat any vegetables!”

As parents who embrace being in charge, you can certainly be your child’s friend, just as long as you know that you’re a parent-leader first—and sometimes your child will resist the structure you provide and even not “like” you for a short period of time.   I avoid fighting with my children about food, and I use firm but positive phrases, with a smile, such as, “This is what we’re having tonight,” or, “I’m sorry this isn’t your favorite–sometimes we have to try something a few times before it appeals to us.”   Or, “I think you’ll like this better mixed into your salad—you’re welcome to have a small helping.”  

Sometimes I point out that I don’t always get to eat my favorite foods every night, but if I did, they probably wouldn’t be my favorite foods any more.   To drive these points home, and teach about nutrition on a level even a young child will understand, I read two of my favorite books to my children about food choices:   Bread and Jam for Frances by Russell Hoban, and The Children’s Health Food Book by Ron Seaborn.

I don’t plead, beg, guilt trip, wheedle, cajole, or whine at my children about food, and I don’t reward those behaviors in them, either.   The rules are clear (after you state and enforce them the first 20+ times): they can have what is served or skip the meal.   They rarely, if ever, choose to skip a meal after that initial period of testing limits.   Teach children about healthy!

Avoid Soft Drinks

One of the most important statistics, I believe, related to the obesity epidemic, is this one:


Teen boys are drinking three times as much soda as they did 30 years ago, and teen girls are drinking more than double.   I hope parents will avoid soft drinks, because of two critical factors they may not be aware of:

First, almost half of peak bone mass develops during adolescence.   This is critical to development, because by our 30’s, bone is broken down faster than it is rebuilt, making that period of childhood and adolescence very important.

Second, soft drinks are very high in phosphorus, linked by many studies to robbing the bones of calcium.   Kids who drink sodas are four times as likely to break bones as those who don’t drink sodas.

Dr. James Beaty is president of the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons.   He says, “There’s some early data showing that even a 10 percent deficit in your bone mass when you finish your adolescent years can increase your potential risk of having osteoporosis and fractures as much as 50 percent.”

 The first goal of my 12 Steps to a Whole Foods Lifestyle is to get the family to avoid soft drinks and start drinking green smoothies.   That way, you stop robbing your body of critical bone-building minerals, and start giving your body what it desperately needs in childhood and beyond.

A Halloween tip for moms

My kids have all the usual fun trick or treating.   I wouldn’t deny them that.   Then, when they get home, I bribe them.   Twenty bucks buys a big bag of sugar from each kid, which then gets upended into the  garbage in the garage or handed out en masse to those scary teenagers  who show up after 9 p.m.   Best money you’ll ever spend.   And the kids are happy when they get to buy fun stuff at WalMart the next day, stuff that lasts longer than a sugar rush.

If I haven’t convinced you on green smoothies YET . . .

I did an experiment just now that is really quite astonishing.

I went to my BlendTec with a list of fruit and vegetable serving portions according to the USRDA.   I made myself a green smoothie for tomorrow with 11 servings according those portions—that’s right,  11 SERVINGS, of fruits and vegetables.   You are imagining a giant blenderful of stuff.

Nope.   It yielded THREE CUPS of smoothie—that’s one cup less than I drink every single day—I would still be hungry if that’s all I ate.   And consider that’s just ONE meal (I eat three, FYI), and I usually have some flax crackers, sprouted-wheat tortilla with almond butter, a quick raw-food bar, or manna bread,  with my smoothie for lunch.   Also consider that 3/4 cup of that smoothie is water!

So yes, your government says that 5 servings of fruits and veggies a day is enough, and I am telling you that 11 servings, liquified, make a meal that liquifies to just over ONE PINT (without the water).   That would not satisfy even my 7-yr. old for more than an hour or so.

Here’s a quote from the 5-a-day website:   “These portion sizes are for adults. Children under five should also eat at least 5 portions of a variety of fruit and vegetables a day, but the sizes may be smaller.”   My goodness.   How much smaller can  they get?   A portion of blackberries is 10 berries, and a portion of cucumber is 2 inches!

Apparently, according to the portion sizes, my kids and I eat  20-25 fruits/vegs a day.   I really want to say that the USRDA serving sizes and nutritional recommendations are pathetic.   In fact, yes, I will say that.    They are dumbing down nutrition curriculum and standards because only a small percentage of Americans are getting even 5 servings (I wonder how many that would be if  they quit counting  french fries, which should happen *yesterday*).   So,  friends, they’re telling you need  MUCH  lower quantities of fruits and veggies than you really do—lower than any truly healthy population on earth eats—because they don’t want to HURT YOUR FEELINGS.   They don’t want anything to be  hard for you.

Green smoothies are EASY.   This is what’s in my too-small green smoothie that I just made and will have to add to, tomorrow, to survive my day at work:

3 servings of 10 blackberries, 1 serving of a medium apple, 1 serving of a medium banana, 5 servings of  one cereal bowl of raw spinach, and 1 serving of three celery sticks.   A pinch of stevia, 3/4 cup water, and VOILA!    Yummy.   Sixty seconds in the BlendTec and I’m outta there.   Do not try this with an Oster blender or some old thing you got at WalMart unless “CHUNKY green smoothie” sounds appealing.