thoughts on “that other door”…..and leaving doors open

Kincade age 4
Kincade age 4

After my Mesa class, a young couple talked to me. Georgia had gastric bypass but had gained the 150 pounds back, with many health problems, and Kyle was also overweight. They were looking for answers.  Georgia said,

“As you were telling your story about your little boy on so many drugs, including Prednisone, we couldn’t help but think how awful the alternative would have been.”

Her eyes filled with tears.

“My sister died at the age of 23 after continuing down that path, for years. When she was little, she was on tons of antibiotics and steroids. I don’t know if my sister died of asthma or of Prednisone. When she died, she weighed over 500 lbs., so bloated from steroids.”

I have said, many times, that my readers’ stories haunt me. They very literally haunt me. Often I fall asleep mulling over the stories I’ve heard. Beautiful, miraculous ones. Terrible, tragic ones.

I occasionally get emotional, when I speak, telling my son’s story. About how he was a Failure to Thrive baby, on one course of steroids after another, in hospitals, in breathing tents, a gas mask strapped to his face every four hours, constantly sick and on antibiotics.

He’d been born at almost 9 lbs., and by 15 months had fallen below the 5th percentile for weight. He was blue and listless and coughed non-stop, and he was constantly choking on green and yellow mucous.

The photo here is of Kincade’s 4th birthday, just two years after we eliminated dairy, processed meat, white flour, and white sugar. After we made greens, vegetables, fruits, legumes, whole grains, nuts and seeds our new staples.

Last June, my 6’3” baby boy, Kincade, pitched a 5-inning near-shutout (12-1) against Skyline in a huge stadium with a thousand screaming fans, in the state tournament. He was named MVP of the team, he led the state of Utah in RBI’s, and he lived his destiny.

So I had all of this on my mind. I lectured in Boise, Tucson, and Mesa in less than 48 hours, and when I flew home, my baby boy picked me up at the airport. As I put my stuff in his car, I noticed the wadded-up McDonalds bag on the floor.

emotionalbankOne thing I figured out a long time ago is that when I walk in the door from work, and haven’t seen my kids all day, even if the first thing I see is that they didn’t do their chores—I spend some time enjoying them and talking about what matters to them. Bring up whatever’s frustrating me, later. (Or never.)

Really big research studies have shown that solid marriages have five positive interactions for every negative ones. That makes sense, right? Stephen Covey made the concept famous of making deposits in the emotional bank accounts. You can’t make a withdrawal if you’ve got no money in the bank.

So Cade and I enjoy the ride home, and I learn all about his date the night before. We listen to his favorite songs. Kinda loud, but I tell him they’re awesome.

Shortly before we get home from the 45-minute drive, I tell him, “You know Cade, it’s weird that you don’t even know how many people have heard the story of what happened when you were a baby. I have told it to tens of thousands of people.

“How terribly sick you were. How many, many nights I thought you would die. How many times I prayed to God to just let you live through the night.”

I told him about Georgia’s sister, and how chilled I was in Mesa, to think about that other door. The door I DIDN’T walk through. The one where I would have just continued blindly feeding my baby chemicals to eat, instead of addressing what was causing his problem in the first place.

medicine xBuying into Dow Chemical’s marketing slogan begun a couple of generations ago, which is the biggest lie ever: “A BETTER LIFE THROUGH CHEMICALS!”

I tell my boy that I am so thankful I didn’t go that direction. That instead I dug deep for answers and made changes to save his life that seemed radical and hard, at the time.

I said, “Kincade, when you were a baby, I learned that you have a fragile immune system. I know this. I was there. You were too, but you don’t remember. You don’t come to my lectures, so you don’t know this:

“But sometimes after I explain how desperately ill and underweight you once were, and I get to the part about you being interviewed by TV stations and offered a baseball scholarship—a room full of hundreds of people break into applause!

He says, quietly, “I came to your lecture once, Mom. Remember? You had me stand up in the audience when you told the story.”

“Yes,” I say. “They are so excited that you didn’t turn out like Georgia’s sister. They are hopeful that their own scary health problems from eating junk food, can go away too.

“And I am telling you, kid, that after all you and I have done to give you the health you enjoy now, if you go to a lifestyle of eating food from a drive-thru? You will be sick. You will suffer. It’s pretty much a guarantee.”

“I have done everything I can to build and nurture your immune system. But the hormones in the burgers you eat at McDonald’s? They will mess you up. They will change your hormones.”

Cade says, “Aww, Mom. I eat fast food, like, twice a month! I eat a salad every day at work. I really do eat healthy. When you go out of town, I hardly eat any food at all!”

open door[That’s a whole other topic. How if I’m not there to feed him, he just goes hungry. What the….? I resist the urge to Go Squirrel and chase down THAT conversational bunny trail, towards another Lecture.]

That’s really the end of the conversation. I don’t feel the need to drive the point home any more. I resist the urge to move onto what ELSE was probably in that McD’s bag—french fries are on my mind.

For today, though, I have said enough.

There’s always another conversation to be had. I try to think carefully, with an adult child. How to talk about it so he won’t be offended or oppressed. How to talk about it so the door is open with him. For a later convo about his health and his nutrition.

And just in general: open doors are good.

PLASTICS: which ones to avoid, and why!

You’re likely aware that plastics are harmful to your health. They have phenomenally long half-lives, and don’t break down in the body, causing ongoing damage.

Look on the bottom of your bottle, and see the number in the little triangle. Look carefully at this graphic, because the  numbers aren’t consecutive. The worst grades of plastic are 6, 3, and 7.

A 7 is the worst grade of plastic, and most labeled 7 contain the most infamous chemical in plastics: Bisphenol A (BPA).

Water and other liquids leach BPA. This endocrine-disruptor chemical can do crazy things to your hormones. The U.S. finally banned the chemical in baby bottles, after the European Union and Canada did. Wiki says a study found BPA in 96% of pregnant women. It’s been linked to obesity, breast and prostate cancer, and ADHD.

Please don’t use old baby bottles or any other plastic that isn’t BPA free that comes into contact with your food or water. More and more companies are making their plastics without BPA, including Blendtec’s blender jars. But our FDA continues to support the use of BPA in cans, including drinks, and infant formula!

Another chemical to avoid is PVC (polyvinyl chloride), known as vinyl, which contains phthalates, known to cause birth defects in baby boys, testicular cancer, infertility, and asthma. PVC plastics are labeled with the 3 triangle.

So, anything you use that’s plastic, make sure it’s labeled 1, 2, 4, or 5.

Our GreenSmoothieGirl bottles, of course, are BPA free, vinyl free, and phthalate free.

Nutrition for pregnant moms, babies, toddlers…..part 1 of 5

Dear GreenSmoothieGirl: My baby is breastfeeding, and doing great. But I know I have to make the transition. Besides blending cooked vegetables, what else should I do?

Answer: Please share this blog series with anyone with a baby, or anyone thinking about starting a family.

What I’m about to tell you is worth more than money could buy. I wish I’d had this information before I even conceived my oldest son.

I must make this disclaimer first: My comments should not stand in for competent medical advice. Talk to your naturopathic medical doctor or other qualified, holistic practitioner before implementing these or any other strategies.

In my opinion, the information I want to share with you in this blog series is worth more than the four-year degree I got before going to grad school. I’m crushed that I spent a year feeding my son crap (on the advice of a pediatrician!) before I studied hard (many sources), learned the truth, executed on it, and forever changed my entire family’s future, for the better.

What I’m going to write here is a digest of what I learned during years of intensive study, when my first child was very ill with asthma. He was constantly choking on yellow and green mucous coming out of his nose, which meant it was all over in his head, throat, and throughout his body. No babies or children who have yellow and green mucous are healthy.

The mucous made his tiny body the perfect acidic, sluggish, anaerobic environment for getting every little virus that came down the pike. Which led to more asthma. Which led to more drugs. Which led to more mucous production, along with the dairy and sugar and chemical-added “foods” I fed him. You get the idea?

But I didn’t know that, then. I was a deer in headlights. A young mother with little information. Overweight and struggling with my own major health problems.

I’m even more crushed to think that not only did I lose a year to total ignorance, as I began my career as a mother, but there are women everywhere who would do anything for their kids, but they have no clue about the devastating consequences of following their pediatricians’ nutritional recommendations. And they follow bad counsel from doctors who are untrained in nutrition, for years.

(Mine said to pump my little guy full of pus- and bacteria- and steroid- and antibiotic-tainted milk of another animal. Of course he didn’t call it that. That’s me being sarcastic. He said to feed him lots of milk. And if I couldn’t get enough bottles of milk in him, I should just add a few scoops of artificially colored, sugar-sweetened NESTLE QUIK. When my son’s weight fell precipitously, he said to feed him lots of ICE CREAM.

A grad student I met after one of my lectures in Arizona last year told me she’d interned with that same pediatrician. And she told me he’s still giving people the same awful advice. She said he tells his patients, “Vegetables and fruits are just fiber. All babies need is milk, for strong bones. Lots of it.”)

What happens when we follow standard pediatric advice?

I turned my oldest son from a 8 lbs. 9 oz., 23” healthy newborn, to a Failure to Thrive, barely breathing, blue, constantly ill baby so underweight he fell below the 5th percentile. Following his pediatrician’s advice.

And then I stopped doing what the pediatrician said to do. I stopped buying what the pediatrician was feeding his own family. Baby formula made from dairy, then dairy milk and cheese and popsicles and white bread and chicken nuggets, hot dogs. Peanut butter and jelly. Maybe some cooked veggies now and then, a banana and an apple each day, just to feel better about my parenting.

And when I STOPPED doing what my culture’s parenting standards dictated, and started following true principles in nutrition, all the problems disappeared. My boy became strong, robust, healthy, 6’3”.

He went on to lead the state in RBI’s (runs batted in) his senior year of high school and pitch in the final two games of the state playoffs.

If he doesn’t achieve his destiny, it’s damn well not going to be because I failed him.

What I’m going to write in this blog series is worth many books I’ve read, and lets you just dismiss a lot of the OTHER books and web sites I wasted time on.

Most published nutrition advice is heavily influenced by the industries who created the mentality that there’s a dairy product for every nutritional need, and a drug for every medical problem.

What I’m about to write could mean that your family never uses an antibiotic again. (We haven’t, for over 17 years.) That you use M.D.’s only if you break an arm or get in a car accident. Isn’t that the ideal? Where did we get the idea that we have to lean heavily on doctors, because we’re so often sick, and cannot problem-solve our family’s own minor issues?

My next post reviews breastfeeding versus the alternatives. How long to nurse your baby, and what to do if you can’t.

Home from AZ

Kristin and I are back from our trip to Arizona, and soon, I’ll share with you a video or two of interviews with a couple of readers. The drive is long and boring. We stopped and toured the spectacular Glen Canyon Dam. We prowled around Orderville, UT, gawking at polygamists and whispering about our little fantasy to kidnap their daughters. We busted up the 11-hour drive with my iPod. I yell, “ARE YOU READY?!” and Kristin yells back, “I’M READY!” and I blast a Poison, Heart, Van Halen, or Aerosmith song from her speakers.

I named my senior thesis, in college, after a line from an Aerosmith song: “Live and Learn from Fools and Sages.” (We learn from the wise people in our lives–but we miss out on learning opportunities if we don’t learn from the people doing stupid things, too.)

A beautiful blonde physical therapist about my age talked to me after the Glendale class. Her eyes brimmed up with tears when she said, “Thank you for giving me my lungs back.” I didn’t give her back her capacity to train and run races without tightness in her lungs, of course. Eating whole foods did. (When I made the shift, my autoimmune problems reversed themselves, too–no more seasonal allergies, eczema, or occasional asthma attacks!)

She told me her problem is her kids: after some initial successes, they’re currently resisting the new healthy menus. I suggested that she not panic, consider that they probably don’t want her to suddenly turn into a Little Caesars mom, regardless of the way kids overstate their opinions. (They aren’t geniuses at communication. And remember, even junk-food moms’ kids complain if they don’t get the food they want.) This mom abandoning her principles would be inconsistent and confusing for the kids. They’re probably fine with her being the health-nut mom, just need to know she can let her hair down, be a little flexible.

Every once in a while I invite all the friends of one of my kids over, for a pizza party. This is so my kids know I can lighten up, even if the rest of the time we are really very consistent. (On those rare instances, I am also very nervous that a GSG reader will see me at Costco buying things I normally never would–any remainder of which will go in the garbage after the party.)

I don’t, however, EVER have junk food in my house for the kids to snack on. (Kristin says people always talk to her after my classes to find out if I’m the “real deal.” She assures them that she spends about 60 hours a week with me, with our work-from-home, and travels, and our “social life,” what there is of it. Feel free to grill her. She says, “I’ve never once seen her have junk food in the house for the kids.”)

My kids know what the snacks are, and I find that if someone is complaining, it’s because I need to pay a little more attention to having things on hand that they like. (When moms talk to me about their “picky” and “resistant” kids, they also always name for me the nutritious foods the child WILL eat.)

To that end, it’s helpful to have a list of the food foods that each child seeks out. Making a list on paper will help you realize there are more things than you think, and it’ll motivate you to discover new ones to add to the list. Put it on the inside of a cupboard.

Paying attention to that may go a long way toward helping them eat right. Add to the list when your child discovers another healthy food she likes–praise her when she does.

This is part of a list I have that helps my kids feel there’s enough to eat, and something to look forward to, at home:

Tennyson, Libby, Emma: fresh blueberries

Libby: raw sweet potatoes, cucumbers, raw chocolate in her green smoothie, nori sheets, prunes

Tennyson: Naked juice, wheat grass juice, sprouted “candied” almonds

Cade: pink apples, Raw Melissa spring rolls, bell peppers eaten like an apple

Emma: carrots dipped in hummus

Cade, Libby, Ten: cases of Costco mangoes

I find any complaining at my house stops, as long as I tune into what the kids want that is good for them and make sure I stock those foods. And as long as on a rare occasion, I “lighten up” for a party.

Sorry if you’ve read this before, but my grandmother told me: “It’s not what you do 5% of the time that’s going to kill you. It’s what you do 95% of the time that’s going to save you.”

“Best Day Ever” stuff

I have a group of friends I play a game with called “Best Day Ever.” When something good (or bad–that you decide is Perfect in its learning opportunities!) happens—we find that moment in every day that makes it the Best Day Ever—we text each other.

It makes your day so great, looking for that funny or cool spot, and hearing about them from people you love. It’s a reminder that truth is stranger than fiction. (One day last week my BDE moment was seeing Orem High School’s boys’ track team do the Macarena on State Street, shirtless. I have no idea why. Maybe they lost a race?) Playing this game is a reminder that there are gold nuggets even in hard days. Here are a couple from last week.

Wednesday. The checkout employee at Good Earth told me I should go to a really great site called GreenSmoothieGirl.com. (Is this because I have returned to my natural hair color? Cracked me up.)

Thursday. I was walking out of BlendTec’s offices after doing some filming with their crew. This gorgeous 25-ish woman’s eyes got big and she grabbed my arm as she passed me. “Are you…..?”

I told her I am GSG, and she introduced herself:  Elona, originally from Albania. She has a 2 ½ year old son with severe asthma, and her friend Heather, the wife of BlendTec’s founder (Bev, whom I have not met), and a small group of friends sent her to my site.

She said, “We have gotten him off dairy. We’re still working on sugar.”

I said, “Know what the easiest way to do that is? Don’t have it in your home.”

That sounds hard, but once you know some good alternatives and you start filling your diet with greens, vegetables, fruits, legumes, whole grains, nuts and seeds (in that order), it’s easy.

He won’t be deprived of treats. Unfortunately they’re everywhere at church, Grama’s house, preschool, after sports events, neighborhood and family parties, and his friends’ homes. (If you’re not willing to police those sugar sources as I confess to doing when my children were younger. Now I stick to getting them to drink a big green smoothie before they go to the party, and requiring that they have a big helping of salad before they eat the other junk. And I draw the line at soda and processed meat.)

Anyway, Elona said, “Do you have two minutes that I can tell you how my life has changed since I started all this?”

She said her little one hasn’t had his constant Pulmacort spiked with Albuterol, and frequent liquid steroid prescriptions, in three weeks. A first for him! She described the doctor’s and nurses’ guilt trips, bordering on bullying….she said it’s scary because everyone around her places so much faith in doctors.

I literally got chills listening to her–took me back to that “fear spot”  of the day it became clear to me that my doctor’s authoritative statements and prescriptions to cure my extremely ill child were of little value. As I say when I speak, I became aware that the entire medical model is like Oz. We’ve built it up in our collective consciousness to be something it isn’t. It has some value. Much more limited value than what we’ve invested in it.

And it wasn’t gonna save my little boy. I was going to have to start at Square A and look for other answers.

Elona ‘s eyes filled with tears and she threw her arms around my neck. I’m so happy for her.

Drugs are an expressway to hell. I’m not saying everyone should go off them, cold turkey, immediately when they figure out that something more is needed. I’m saying that you have to go to the BOTTOM of the pyramid and deal with what’s at the root of the problem. If you’re weak, mucousy, acidic, with a beaten-down immune system, more drugs isn’t going to solve that.

Paul Leatham, my original mentor, taught me 60-80% raw. He was my beginning. Or my renaissance, since my grandmother and mother originally mentored me–but until Paul Leatham taught me the connection between my son’s illness, and nutrition, I was floundering.

Paul taught me, “If you have a swamp full of alligators, what do you do? Throw a pill in the swamp to kill the alligators? IT’S STILL A SWAMP! More alligators are gonna show up.”

You have to DRAIN THE SWAMP.

That is what we are doing. We are not putting mucous-forming foods in our mouths to burn out our tissues with acidity. We don’t want our body spending its precious energy fighting being swamped with thick goo that is a breeding ground for bacteria, virus, mold, fungus, and the waste products of all those ugly creatures.

Green food and other raw plant foods DRAIN THE SWAMP.

Off topic, Elona said this to me:

“I watch all your videos. I thought you couldn’t be older than 35. I mean, you look so amazing, for how old…..” (Her voice trailed off….)

I cracked up. “For how old I am?” I said. “Um, my English isn’t that good,” she said, weakly.

What an adorable girl. I laughed all the way home.

Happy Mother’s Day! on prenatal vitamins……

Mothers do the greatest work in the world! On this day, I’d like to say how thankful I am that Kincade, Emma, Mary Elizabeth, and Tennyson made me a mom, starting nearly 18 years ago. I love you guys so much.

And thank you to anyone who reads this blog who does that work every day. It’s hard work and sometimes it feels thankless. But there is nothing else like it–in its highs and lows and its impact on human beings and the world.

If you’re a mom, or if you might be someday, or if you participate in nurturing others, I honor you every day, and especially today!

Here’s an email I got this week about PRENATAL VITAMINS, from Sashleigha:

Dear GreenSmoothieGirl:

My doctor prescribed prenatals . These are the “other ingredients”:

hypromellose, beeswax, pyridoxine HCI, Zinc oxide, magnesium oxide, d-calcium, pantothenate, microcrystalline cellulose, cupric oxide, thiamin mononitrate, dibasic calcium phosphate, titanium dioxide, FD and C Red #40, shellac, and cyanocobalamin.

What should I take?

Answer:  Zinc oxide? They put it in paint, batteries, batteries, and plastics, because it’s insoluble in water. Shellac? That’s paint/glue! Titanium dioxide has been classified as a carcinogen if you breathe it, proven to cause lung cancer in rats, so perhaps eating it isn’t a good idea?

Red dye #40? Pull up the Materials Safety and Data Sheet on it. This is just part of what it says: “Harmful if swallowed, symptoms may include nausea, vomiting, pain and diarrhea. May cause central nervous system depression; liver and kidney damage based on animal data. Use of this product may aggravate preexisting skin, eye, and respiratory disorders including asthma and dermatitis. Causes skin and eye irritation: symptoms may include pain, redness, and swelling.”

I am so frustrated by medical doctors telling people to eat those synthetic pills. At a minimum, please don’t take the iron pills they sell in pharmacies. That form of iron is not useable by the body, and it will make you constipated.

Food is the best prenatal. All of the nutrients that are found, in synthetic form, in those pills, are found in natural form your body can use in greens, vegetables, and fruits. Also seeds, nuts, legumes, and whole grains (especially sprouted).   If you must take a vitamin (probably a good idea to avoid falling below minimum thresholds, if you’re eating the S.A.D.), at least get a brand at your health food store, not in the pharmacy.

Dear GreenSmoothieGirl: p.s. I was totally blown away by your email! Not only that, I decided to open one of them up and squeeze out what I thought would be powder.  I got a dark sludge that smelled like foul fish!!! THAT’S recommended to go in my body to harbor a healthy place for a potential fetus?! NO THANK YOU! I was so ANGRY!

-Sash