what do you do with picky kids?

I was driving far away to a tennis match with my team, this week, and picky eaters was the topic of discussion.

If you think this blog entry is going to fix your picky kids, let me lower the bar right now. Your picky kids will still be picky when you finish reading this.

Sorry.

You can read my more complete (and hopefully much more helpful) thoughts on the topic in the 12 Steps to Whole Foods intro. But what I’m writing today is kinda just for laughs.

My kids have the delightful habit of giving me an uncensored stream-of-consciousness regarding what I make/serve. This is partly my fault because I was soliciting their feedback while developing recipes, for a couple of years.

Now what I want is for them to just shut up and eat it. But it’s too late: they think they are food critics.

My mother (AKA “MomPam”) didn’t indulge opinions on food. Didn’t much care what you thought. You could have ONE food you hated. (You still had to EAT it, but you were allowed to hate it. Mine was this store-bought spinach soufflé she liked. My choice came down to a tossup between that, creamed corn, and mushrooms. Like I said, you just got the ONE.)

(Later, when she quit buying the soufflés, I switched to creamed corn, which makes me convulse. If they served it in the Cannon Center when I was a freshman in the BYU dorms, I walked in the cafeteria, stopped dead in my tracks, and wheeled around and walked out. Skipped dinner. My roommates would look at each other, sniff the air, and say knowingly: “CREAMED CORN.”)

We weren’t allowed to say “hate” or “don’t like” (let alone “gross,” “nasty,” etc.). My mom once helpfully offered “I don’t care for that” as an acceptable dinner-table statement. The eight of us said that, in an exaggerated, proper British accent, well into adulthood.

My longtime friend and tennis partner Laura always has a way of making stressful or annoying parenting situations funny. For instance, we were discussing kids looking at porn on the home PC, and she said she told her 3 boys, “If you look at porn, I will see it in the Google history, and I will call you in and we will look at it TOGETHER.”

If Laura’s kids tattle on each other, they have to do it SINGING.

She said her kids are allowed to say anything at all about what is served, as long as it is followed by,

“And that’s just the way I like it!”

So, imagine this:

“Mom, this is a slimy, disgusting insult to the human palate and it makes my intestines revolt. And that’s just the way I like it!”

Your own tips for dealing with picky kids will be highly appreciated by GSG readers!

When Green Smoothie Girl Meets Red Meat Boy

One of my favorite subjects (I might write a whole book) is how to get the kids or spouse on board, eating whole foods.

I get notified via Google Alerts daily about what people are saying about GSG on the web. I don’t usually go into most of them, but here’s one today I think is pretty great called When Green Smoothie Girl Meets Red Meat Boy:

http://www.sheddingit.com/2010/03/18/marriage-relationships-eating-habits/

Her 10 tips include

10. Make two versions of meals
9. Make green smoothies purple with berries
8. Don’t be a martyr
7. Don’t be a bitch
6. Go grocery shopping together
5. Give in where it doesn’t matter
4. Find out the limits
3. Share your knowledge
2. Don’t be a soup Nazi
1. Have him watch Food, Inc.

How much plant food does America eat?

Check out this story from USA Today, below. Go ahead and gloat that if your child is drinking even a pint of green smoothie daily even with NO other fruit and vegetable intake, he is ahead of at least 90.5 percent of American teenagers.

(My guess is that you’re outpacing more like 99% of teens, since kids were self-reporting in this study and counting things like pasteurized fruit juice, which don’t rate next to a raw apple and stalk of celery.) YOUR child is getting nutritional standouts like kale, spinach, and collards in her 7.5 servings in a pint of GS. That’s instead of lightweight French fries, ketchup, and iceberg lettuce that “count” in these studies.

Way to go, GSG parents. Thank you for changing the way America’s children eat. You’re a force for good. You’re up against a LOT of opposition, I know! (Read the comments on this blog over the past two years, for people’s horror stories of how tough it can be to do the right thing when family, friends, and the culture oppose you. Be strong.)

My children’s other parent doesn’t approve of my practice of letting the kids trick or treat and then paying them $20 to dump all the candy. He believes an open-cupboard policy with lots of candy and junk food is part of a happy childhood, and that it’s all good as long as you serve a salad at dinner with your meat-and-potatoes main dish. (Refer to my recent “Oprah” blog entry about how we believe at a very fundamental/emotional level that the way we were raised is the RIGHT way.)

By the way, my kids do have a choice. They always make sure they KNOW they have a choice, but in the end they have always chosen the cash, without exception! Why? Because they know the candy makes them sick and isn’t worth close to $20! (They know this because I explain it every year and remind them what $20 buys.) And I do let them have a couple things before dumping it.

Not only do you parents rock out loud for doing the GS thing, but I know that many of you are doing more than just green smoothies. I’m on record many times saying that the USRDA recommendation of 5 servings of fruits and vegs is woefully inadequate. Setting the bar that low leaves far too much room for eating antibiotic-injected, sickly animal carcasses, processed flour and sugar, and other inferior “food.” The USRDA reqs are the nutritional equivalent of “dumbing down” our education. We should be getting 20+ servings. Those serving sizes are so small–I routinely get 20-27 servings of fruits/vegs daily.

Here’s the link to the story, and the full text below it, in case your link doesn’t work:

http://www.usatoday.com/news/health/2009-09-29-fruits-veggies-high-school-kids_N.htm?csp=24&RM_Exclude=Juno

Only 14% of adults eat the recommended number of servings of fruit and vegetables a day, says a report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

About 33% of adults meet the recommendation of two or more servings of fruits a day; 27% eat the recommended three or more servings of vegetables.

Washington, D.C., leads the nation in eating fruits and vegetables: 20.1% of adults report they meet both daily recommendations. Mississippi sits at the bottom with 8.8%.

Three of the top states are in New England, and three of the bottom states are in the Southeast. The disparity could be a result of the lack of farmers markets in the Southeast and policies that promote healthful foods in schools and communities, says Heidi Blanck, senior scientist for the CDC.

High school students fare worse than adults: 9.5% report they eat two or more fruits and three or more vegetables a day. About the same number of students (32%) as adults say they meet the fruit recommendation, but only 13% say they eat at least three servings of vegetables a day.

The Healthy People 2010 objective from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services aims to have 75% of the U.S. population meeting the daily fruit recommendations and 50% meeting the daily vegetable recommendations.

“At the current rate, the goal won’t be met,” Blanck says.

To raise the percentage of people meeting the goals, the CDC suggests grocery stores increase their stock of “high-quality” fruits and vegetables and encourages states to form food policy councils that evaluate the access to fresh produce.

It also suggests schools provide more fruits and vegetables in cafeterias and vending machines.

Oprah, raw food, and parenting (part 2 of 2)

I have started meeting with a good friend of mine this week whose wife asked for my help with nutrition counseling. My friend is a regionally renowned musician whose family is going through some seriously tough times. He is amazingly well read, brilliant, educated with an advanced degree, a church leader, fantastic dad, and one of the finest human beings I know. And still, his wife says he is like most of America in one sense at least. He knows nothing about nutrition. He did the Atkins Diet religiously for a long period of time before suffering the consequences of that regimen (health lost, weight regained). He was raised in a fairly chaotic environment and simply doesn’t know.

What a gift we give any child who is raised with a whole-foods, plant-based diet, even while the larger culture around him has gone insane. (Even a child will be gripped by the very visual and easily documented results when quasi-vegetarian Morgan Spurlock, in the documentary SuperSize Me, eats at McDonald’s for 30 days. But unfortunately you have to access the child-friendly version of the movie that they showed at my kids’ school, since the regular version inexplicably contains the F word.)

I got a very long email yesterday from someone who read my intro to 12 Steps and told me that my attitude toward children is “disrespectful” because I state that children generally need adults to help with their nutrition because they make choices based on what tastes good rather than what’s good for them. (Feel free to sound off on this blog about your opinions on that, which are welcome!) The writer said that her children always choose vibrant whole, raw foods and loathe any processed junk food.

When she writes a book about how exactly she achieved that (if in fact she didn’t just get lucky with perfect children), I do hope it outsells 12 Steps. I’ll be the first in line to buy it, because that is not my observation of the vast majority of American children. I speak positively about whole plant foods in my home and attempt to make appealing dishes, and two of my children are vegetarian by choice. However, most of my children will eat fruits and veggies but otherwise make poor choices if left to their own devices at food-related events outside my home.

I wish they wouldn’t, just like I wish I wouldn’t have ever made bad choices. But I honor their choices even if I “require” things of them (and make no apologies about it, while you, reading this, are free to reject my way of thinking and doing things). For instance, when I buy them dinner at Sweet Tomatoes, their first plate of food has to be a giant green salad. In the long run, I trust that their tastes have been “set” to enjoy green and raw plant foods, and their experience with good health because of their diet will be a powerful motivator in the future.

California trip: sometimes you just have to punt (part 1 of 2)

When I went to CA last week (Thurs. through Mon.) with my daughters, I was hard pressed to get all my work done before I left. I was up very late the night before we left for the airport and consequently didn’t have any time to think about how to get through five days eating well. (If I don’t eat well, I lose my energy and my digestive system shuts down. As long as I’m eating 60-80% raw and 95% whole foods, I have energy and to spare, wherever I go!)

Car trips are conducive to taking lots of frozen pints of green smoothie, but plane trips aren’t. And our hotel room had no fridge, something I usually try to ensure by booking online where you can see the hotel’s amenities. (I had booked the hotel awfully late.) So, besides taking a bunch of VitaMineral Green, buying two boxes of snack bars from Costco which I will review tomorrow, and bringing my BlendTec in the suitcase (which I did not have a chance to use after a day of teaching in San Diego and Fullerton), I was on my own.

The Costco Bora Bora bars and Trio bars helped a lot. That and the oranges my daughter stuffed her backpack with, from the hotel, got us through lunch before we headed to a buffet with a salad bar at the end of each theme-park day. Breakfast at the hotel, sigh. You know how continental breakfast is. What I do when I have to punt like that is scout out what the best thing is to eat. I don’t touch donuts/pastries, ever. I don’t drink juice–too much concentrated sugar. Cold cereal, no. So every day, after my run, for breakfast we ate oatmeal (instant, unfortunately–you made your own with really hot water) and two oranges. Not wonderful but not too bad.

You probably don’t believe me that I’ve never fed my kids at McDonald’s, but while I’m telling you outlandish tales, here’s another one: we’ve never eaten a meal inside a theme park, even though we vacation at them about once a year.

Tomorrow I’ll do a product review to compare the healthy snack bars at Costco that got us through, since planning for our California trip was minimal at best.

I’ll also post some photos of the class I taught in Fullerton, if I get them from Christy, which was lots of fun.

New content I’m working on

Dear GreenSmoothieGirl: Can you tell me more about organizing a high-nutrition co-op?

Answers: I will work on this content, so watch this site for that in the future, good ideas.   I blogged earlier this week on that topic, but will try to write an entire report on how to organize a co-op, step by step. Then I will share that info on the site and in the GSG free newsletter.   Those of you with ideas, who have started your own co-op, please post your thoughts and tips here or email me.

I get asked constantly what my family eats.   At first it seemed pointless to tell what we eat, since you will find your own repertoire of dishes/ingredients/favorites.   But I have come to realize that people want a SYSTEM as much as possible, even if you will eventually deviate from it.   I did post several days of exactly what we ate, a year or so ago, but this is a good idea–I will work on it.