Nutrition and single moms, part 1 of 2

Today I’m going to tell some personal things about my divorce and raising children with a divorced co-parent who has radically different nutrition opinions than a GSG does.

This topic is something I normally don’t talk about. If it has the potential to offend you, please don’t read it. I write about it today because we get a lot of emails from people whose spouses sabotage their nutrition efforts. We also get a lot of email from parents who are divorced and concerned about what happens at the other parent’s house.

I am living in that “real world” too.

First, let me ask this: who are the people most open-minded about eating healthy?

Answer: Usually they’re the people whose mamas fed them healthy food when they were little. This should give you comfort if you’re doing pretty well, but you’re raising kids and you can’t control everything they eat.

Last year, I went into mediation with my ex-husband. I had my $250/hr. attorney, he had his, and a $250/hr. mediator’s bill was split down the middle. I thought it was stupid. I wanted to just sit down and talk it out ourselves. But he didn’t want to. So, several thousand dollars later…..

I lost big on just one issue.

I’d begged him to eliminate monosodium glutamate from my son’s diet because my son starting having occasional headaches accompanied by vision problems when we got divorced and he went to his dad’s one night a week and every other weekend. Generally I don’t ask what they’re fed there, because I don’t want to know. (There’s not a darn thing I can do about it.) Stepmom gives Tennyson Tylenol for the headache, and feeds my older son Ibuprofen for his shoulder after pitching a long game.

But even with my “don’t ask” policy, sometimes I see these things, and it’s painful. At ball games, I see my children fed snack-shack hamburgers and Skittles as a meal. It makes me feel like all my hard work is being undone. It makes me feel like I’ve failed to protect my children. I’ve educated myself far past the ability to stick my head in the sand about the consequences of that diet, even for the 15% of the time they spend eating it. Some of the consequences of eating that way are plain to the naked eye. My children’s father has gained about 50 lbs. since our divorce less than 3 years ago. I cannot help but worry about the effect on my kids of the fast food and junk food.

I have to wall it off and think about the fact that I’m blessed to have full custody and therefore I get to provide the food 85% of the time. I have a litany of other positives I go through in my mind, to survive it. I’ll tell you those tomorrow.

My daughters will sometimes walk over to my house from their dad and his wife’s house (they live five minutes away on foot) and ask for a green smoothie, or Hot Pink, some fruit, or veggies and hummus, or whatever I have on hand. A few of the kids have reported that there often aren’t healthy options to eat at their dad’s. At first he did green smoothies, homemade kefir, and a salad as the biggest thing on the plate. But six months post-divorce, especially after he remarried, those habits were gone for good.

You get the picture: our values and habits in the areas of nutrition and how to deal with health issues are very different.

I had learned that the kids were being fed MSG in Top Ramen and other foods.

In mediation, my children’s father refused to consider eliminating that deadly neurotoxin from his home–or even from Tennyson’s diet.

I had brought a letter to mediation from a pediatrician recommending elimination of MSG from Tennyson’s diet. The letter was accompanied by a half-inch-thick stack of that doctor’s research on the harm that can result from eating foods with MSG. Including headaches.

I won, in mediation, in almost all the issues I had brought, all of which were about my children’s welfare and best interests. But my children’s father was intractable about eliminating MSG, even under pressure from a skilled mediator.

To this day, I don’t know why feeding my son monosodium glutamate was and is important to him. I have had to wall it off in my mind because it’s so painful to me. Painful that I have no choice, every other weekend, about my kids being fed boxed mac-n-cheese, hot dogs, and/or neurotoxins that I feel are deadly — but which he feels are necessary to make them “normal.”

My point? How to survive it? That’s tomorrow.

(But p.s. My son has not complained of a headache in the 8 months since our mediation. I hope that even though he was not legally compelled to, my son’s father may have cut MSG out. Sometimes in the situation single moms are in, prayer is the only thing left! And even research bears out that it can be effective!)

They might laugh, but then they change their tune….part 2 of 2

Second day of his tournament that Ten’s team won yesterday, we had this convo on the way home:

Ten: “That wrap is soooooo good. All the guys on the team ask me if they can have some.”

Me: “Yeah. You know how you always think if you have healthy food people will make fun of you? Sometimes, though……”

Ten: “….they want it!”

We both laugh. It’s so true. (And the next day I buy that veggie wrap for one of the other boys and his coach. I love taking really delicious things that happen to be good for you, to people I like. They are always so surprised when nutritious food is delicious!)

It’s such an easy target, to make fun of the green drink, or the veggie this-or-that. It’s a way to use humor to distance ourselves from the guilt. (If I’m eating a veggie wrap, I’m not trying to make a statement about your potato chips, or be superior, I promise! But people think so, don’t they?)

It’s just mindless, making fun of someone who is eating really healthy when you’re not. So don’t take it personally.

Those same exact people will come out from behind that humor-shield, maybe even tomorrow–or next year when they’re sick of what potato chips have done to them–and ask you for some help, guidance, and encouragement towards better ideas of what to eat.

I know this only because I’ve seen it so many times. Long ago, I had a 40-something co-worker who ate fast food 3 meals a day. The only vegetables she ate were potatoes and corn. She was 200 lbs. overweight and always maxed her sick time and then had to find other, sneaky ways to stay home from work.

I quit and went to another job and saw her after a long period of time, and she was much thinner and healthier. I asked what happened and she said, “I suddenly lost my interest in food. It was like, I’ve been eating this slop for decades and it’s just not that interesting anymore.”

Even the hardcore junk foodies who make all the cracks about what you brought to work? There are days when the beautiful reds, yellows, and greens of your food look kind of magical to them, and they’ll feel tempted.

You just laugh with them when they make their jokes. Then keep eating it. Then show up for your friends when they’re ready.

Taking stock of progress…part 2 of 2

Once upon a time, my whole diet was Ben & Jerry’s, pizza, French bread, Diet Coke, and a fruit or salad mixed in to make myself feel better about it all. I started to change one thing at a time. Sometimes I’d have periods of big progress, and other periods of slight backsliding.

It was almost imperceptible, the forward motion, but now I find my whole kitchen is full of…..

A container of sprouted flax crackers on the counter.

Bags of buckwheat, quinoa, pumpkin seeds, sesame seeds, oat groats, currants, and homemade sundried tomatoes in the fridge.

Coconut oil and extra-virgin olive oil in my pantry.

Jars of homemade raw sauerkraut in my food storage.

Always a quart or two of kefir growing on the counter.

The top shelf of my fridge full of young Thai coconuts. And pints and quarts of green smoothies.

Today I stopped to take stock and chose NOT to beat myself up because of how long it’s been since I made sourdough whole-grain bread.

Instead, I chose to be blissed out today because (a) I did a perfect headstand for the first time, and (b) my daughter asked me last night if she could have a handful each of pea sprouts and fresh blueberries in the fridge.

(There are lots of things to do WRONG as a mom, and there’s plenty of reminders of that when you’re raising teenagers! But apparently I’ve got some things right, and today I’m going to live in that spot, bask in it. They’ve developed tastes for good food, and I know how to shop for,  grow, cook, and store the good stuff.)

Sometimes when something stressful happens, Kristin and I remind each other, “It’s PERFECT!” This is our code for, “What just happened might not be what you wanted, what you would have chosen. But it generally works out to be better than you think. And it teaches you really cool stuff. Maybe even provides you something you wouldn’t have thought to want. So, it’s PERFECT in its ability to instruct and shape you. At a minimum, it gives you a story to tell and something to laugh at.”

Please, today, congratulate yourself on your progress. Let’s spend today ignoring anything we want to do in the future that isn’t part of our current reality, and just BE. When I’m fully present in my NOW, I’m far happier.

I’m so proud of you for being here, on this journey, to being a better you. To influencing people in subtle and positive ways to raise the bar for themselves. I’m just brimming over with gratitude for PROGRESS! Congratulations on yours–wherever you are in the journey! Feel free to share your own here, today and always.

San Diego, thank you! Part 2 of 2

Stacy emailed me a few days later that Sasha said to her, “Mommy, ya know me and the Green Smoothie Girl, how BOTH of us were wearing high heels? Yeahhhhh, I mean… she had boots on, but STILL– we both were wearing high heels!” Stacy wrote: “Sasha is all about the shoes. You got her with your green smoothies, and you’re keeping her going with fashion. WHATEVER IT TAKES!”

I’d had a little heart-to-heart with Sasha before the class about how her brother is watching what she does and he looks up to her as an example, so be the very best GSG you can be!

When I teach in your town, bring your little GSG to me and ask me to give her a pep talk and I’m ON IT!

A few came to the class who were there 2 years ago, last time I spoke in San Diego, and there were quite a few who are doing 12 Steps. I very much appreciate your support of the mission of GreenSmoothieGirl.com and for influencing your friends towards a way out of the American nutritional abyss.

Here’s a photo of me with darling Sasha. (The weird thing I’m doing with my hand, rather than hugging Sasha? I was making samples for the class when the camera came out, and I didn’t want green-smoothie goo to get on her shirt!)

Curtis, whom I used to date, brought his gorgeous new wife. A reader from Utah who says she can never get in to my classes here locally, came, as did someone who drove from Oregon. I’m honored and blessed than you come listen to my story. Here’s to many more opportunities to spread that message far and wide!

As usual, I heard exciting, inspiring stories after class about how whole-foods habits have changed people’s lives for the better. People who have lost 40 lbs. People who have ditched Lipitor. People who are no longer on insulin.

If you’re wondering, we are tabulating responses to the question, where should the HyperThrive Health and Superlongevity Tour go next. (Sometimes it’s just me, sometimes it’s me with “Avocado” D-Wolfe.) And we will take very seriously where the demand is, from readers. We will make every effort to get to the top response-getters!

I don’t have data yet, but I read a lot of Las Vegas, New York, Florida, Boise, California, North Carolina, and Utah.

So thanks for going to my Mar. 31 blog entry and commenting if you would attend a GSG / Avocado lecture in your city.

Are you fixing the plumbing in your cottage? or building a mansion? part 1 of 2

My high-school junior son’s photo is on the front page of Sports, rubbing the snow of the baseball before he pitches it on Tuesday. Brrr! And then the next day, I’m skiing in a t-shirt at Sundance. Gotta love Spring in Utah!

I was in warmer St. George last week with a lot of downtime, watching my younger son play baseball.

(Tips for traveling there? Café Rio, this is what I always order. Vegetarian salad, all beans/no rice, no fried tortillas chip-strips, whole-wheat tortilla, extra romaine. And Dixie Nutrition’s frozen yogurt with no sugar, one flavor has just stevia, $0.99 for a small.)

Some GSG readers were in the baseball stands in St. George. They talked to me through my son’s last two games–except the times I’d leap out of the stands as my son (shameless bragging alert):

–bottom of the last inning with two outs, score tied, got trapped in a pickle between 3rd and home but beat it (that’s where the catcher and 3rd baseman have the runner in between them trying to get back to either base), and then:

–slid face-first into home plate, beating the tag with a “SAFE!” call from the ump only after the dust cleared, with the other team’s coaches and parents screaming, “OUT!” — to score the winning run, 11-10.

One of the GSG readers is in her 70’s and pointed sadly at her adult son, who had just shown up, Coke in hand. She said, wistfully, “I wish I had an influence on that. I just don’t.” She’s already lost one of her 9 children to colon cancer.

Young moms, you have all the power in the world. Ghandi said, “Be the change you want to see in the world.” Your children are all yours, right now. They won’t be forever. Eventually the larger culture starts to own them. So walk the talk now–they will respect you for it always, even if they have occasional tantrums.

So with more free time than usual, I had some long convos with friends I’ve been neglecting and needed to catch up with. My friend Jennie, as I was driving home for 4 hours, reminded me in a long philosophical chat, about this quote I’d forgotten about, from C.S. Lewis in his book Mere Christianity:

“Imagine yourself as a living house. God comes in to rebuild that house. At first, perhaps, you can understand what He is doing. He is getting the drains right and stopping the leaks in the roof and so on; you knew that those jobs needed doing and so you are not surprised. But presently He starts knocking the house about in a way that hurts abominably and does not seem to make any sense. What on earth is He up to? The explanation is that He is building quite a different house from the one you thought of–throwing out a new wing here, putting on an extra floor there, running up towers, making courtyards. You thought you were being made into a decent little cottage: but He is building a palace. He intends to come and live in it Himself.”

Jennie and I had been talking about two subjects, switching back and forth. One was religion, and the other was nutrition. Comparing C.S. Lewis’ comment to religion, she said this to me:

“Robyn, you take for granted all your knowledge about nutrition. You sent me to Dr. Rodier, and I did this cleanse, and I had no idea what to eat, for so long. I still don’t. I obsessively read labels. You might roll your eyes, but that’s because two months ago I was that girl you blogged about once who asked if fresh fruit is as good for you as canned fruit. The one who thinks there has to be Jell-O at every meal, because that’s what my mom did.

“I’m still celebrating that I ate whole-corn tortilla chips with my lunch, because it’s better than the Doritos I ate before. And that won’t make any sense to you. But you have to know where I’ve come from to celebrate where I am.”

I’ve been thinking of Jennie’s words for days. She’s so right. I have become aware over and over, recently, that many of us start from a very low point, knowledge-wise, regarding nutrition.

More tomorrow….

testimonial from Tina in Colorado

Dear GreenSmoothieGirl:

A close friend of mine has cancer and researches health quite a bit.   She recommends lots of greens, which I don’t get much of, due to overdosing on salads at one point in my life.   I prayed that if I needed more greens, God would show me how to get them into my diet enjoyably.   I wasn’t sure if I’d get an answer, but I did!   I found out about GreenSmoothieGirl.com from a customer that I hadn’t talked to in years and may never see again!

I thought the smoothies would be nasty, especially since I was a pro at making all fruit smoothies, and I thought I couldn’t take the green color, so I put a bunch of berries in to make it ANY other color.

I was very surprised when my first smoothie was edible, not great, but definitely okay.   I played around a little and found they could be really good!   I have been doing the smoothies for three months now, and I love it!   I love using homemade yogurt, avocado, and kefir for flavor and consistency.

My favorite greens are spinach and chard, but I add in various lettuces and other greens, too when I can.   I really enjoy my smoothies, and drink them almost every day.   My 4-year-old girl LOVES them most of the time and drinks quite a bit if she likes the flavor.   Strawberry and mixed berries are her favorites, but she likes most anything I make.   She doesn’t like traditional salads, so I’m very glad she likes the smoothies most of the time.

It really makes me feel like I’m doing a good job nourishing her growing little body when she’s getting so many raw fruits and  greens plus the yogurt or kefir, too.   My one-year-old still hasn’t acquired too much of a taste for the smoothies unless they are chocolate or of a thin consistency and only one flavor.

My husband still prefers my regular fruit smoothies, but I can sneak a handful of spinach in and blend it really finely, and he doesn’t seem to notice, which is very cool.   I’m very happy with my new habit of drinking green smoothies and expect to continue.   Once I got the hang of the flavors, the habit has been easy to keep up because it is so delicious and easy, especially when I’m looking for a snack and I have a smoothie ready to grab in the fridge.   That’s helped me eat well more than anything else I’ve tried, and I have tried A LOT of different things.

I just want you to know how much I enjoy the smoothies and how grateful I am for them.   I feel better, have lost some weight, and enjoy giving the smoothies to friends and family.   Some friends are talking about maybe having me do a little demonstration for our church some time soon.   A close friend of mine makes them quite a bit and gives them to her kids in an opaque glass, and they love them as long as they can’t see the color.

My parents have fallen in love with them.   Mom  wants way  more spinach and greens than I like.   She says it just feels so nourishing she  can hardly get enough.    She was very excited to attend one of your seminars recently where you told your story and was looking into buying your book when I last spoke to  her about it.   Your stuff has been of great help to us, and I want to thank you for it!

Tina

two readers tell me how they feel, eating better

Just want to share two emails I got on the same day. Not just to show how fun my job is–hearing about how people are getting healthy and overcoming challenges–but also so that YOU, reading this, can feel the enthusiasm of Nina and Elise as they have begun to truly feel better by ramping up whole foods in their diet:

Thank you for these emails [she is referring to the GSG newsletter]- In spite of my shopping traffic on your site the past month, I’m not much of a spender. HOWEVER…. Getting back to basics with a great blender and wheat grinder as well as new ingredients has been really neat. Although weight loss wasn’t really my objective, I am losing weight and feeling better AND I’m accidentally converting others to “green smoothies” this has been a life-altering discovery for me and I just wanted to send a quick thank you!

Nina

Hello Robyn!

I just had to write and tell you thank you for writing your books, creating your web site and videos. My husband and I were introduced to green smoothies by a Naturopath who we have been working with. She has been working on a protocol for us but we do not have the money to pay her right now so having your book has given us the information we have been wondering about in the meantime.

We have been making the GS for about two months and have seen the weight fall off and we feel great! We are trying hard to learn how to move to a raw diet. With a three and one year old it is a perfect time to learn together!

We have been publicly drinking the GS and have shared the recipe and your web site with MANY people! We are in a church of about 60 families many with young children and we have converted about 1/4 so far. It has been shared on our Facebook page and trickled to some out of state friends. My husband is in the Navy and is getting some of the sailors that he works with to drink this goodness too!

I am passionate about learning about better nutrition and how it affects our body. I have been sharing with my friends about our changes and how they have helped so far. I have a few friends whose children are affected with allergies and other sicknesses that the doctors are just guessing at. I wish that I could transfer my brain to them so they could grasp what we have learned and just try eating that which God provided from the earth for us.

Thank you again for sharing your information! We would love to have you come visit us in Maine -I will do a bit of digging to see if there is a spot big enough to host you.

Blessings!

Elise G.

more tips and thoughts about feeding kids

So I was just hanging out with my friend Karl, a single dad to a 6-year old adopted son. He said his son has a very strong personality and he can’t “make” him eat anything. So Karl carefully observes what raw fruits and vegetables his sons likes, and leaves them around for him. As if he doesn’t care whether Jayden eats them or not. A bowl of carrot and celery sticks, left on the table–gone! A big bowl of cantaloupe–gone! It’s a great tip from an intuitive dad who watches for ways to help his son be healthy.

On Saturday, I had dinner with my friend Jennie before deciding last-minute to go to the BYU-U of Wash game where I paid a ridiculous sum for scalped tickets, for me and my sons.

I tease Jennie that for a really educated person with an advanced degree, she is surprisingly ignorant about nutrition. (But then, I have this reaction often, probably because I was blessed with a mother and grandmother who taught me well and were good models. Thus the genesis of this site and my books, to help fill that knowledge gap.)

As an example, my son came back from the salad bar and I told him I meant to suggest he get some FRESH pineapple, not CANNED. Jennie asked,

“Why, is the canned not as good for you?”

And so we were talking about her upbringing and how the reason she doesn’t know anything is that she simply does what her mother did. For instance, she asked, “Is Jell-O good for you?” (She really did ask me that.)   I told her it’s just sugar and a little gelatin and chemical food coloring, and she said, “When I make dinner for company, my friends ask why I always include Jell-O, and I have no reason except that my Mom always did. When I think dinner, I think Jell-O.”

This is pretty profound, if you take a minute to consider it. This should get us through those moments of discouragement when our kids complain, because habit and modeling are so powerful well into adulthood.

As for me, I simply can’t serve a dinner that doesn’t have a raw green salad. Even though I didn’t get along with my mom as I was growing up, she absolutely always served a huge green salad. So that is what I know and understand and copied.

Once again, I have this message for you: stay the course, teach them correct principles.

Emma makes soccer team, Tif off sugar, Megan stung by swarm

Highlights from yesterday at my house.

Emma was the original Green Smoothie Girl on this site when she was 11. (Anyone been here long enough to remember when she was the face on the site, not me?) She’s 14 years old, and yesterday she made the Timpanogos High School soccer team despite more girls trying out than ever before, because of last year’s state soccer championship. YAY EMMA, GO TIMBERWOLVES!

Here she is getting a congratulatory attack-hug by her older brother, who pitches on the baseball team for the same school (that has won state in baseball three of the last 10 years).

And here is that same, mullet-wearing older brother and his cute girlfriend Tiffanie, for whom I’d just made a Hot Pink Smoothie (Ch. 11) when Em walked in with her announcement. Tiffanie has just given up sugar, which she says comprised about 100% of her diet. I couldn’t talk her into carrots and hummus, but she loved the smoothie. Then Cade asked me to inform her what is in it, for the shock value. (It’s beets and carrots.)

He said, “My mom does that. She makes stuff that tastes really good but has all this crazy stuff in it that’s good for you.”

A bit later, I made this whole-wheat penne thing, with summer squash and baby tomatoes from my garden, and served it outside on the deck table. Everyone sat down and started eating just as about 20 wasps came up from a nest under the table, all around my daughter’s sweet little friend Megan. By the time we all got up and ran inside, she’d been stung 7 times.

I share this in case you don’t know how to treat bee and wasp stings: I immediately made a paste of baking soda and water and put it on the stings. Takes the sting out, works like a charm. Here’s a photo of Megan with soda paste. No tears, no swelling.

When Grandma Comes to Spoil the Kids, part 3 of 3

I don’t know if this draft of a letter helps anyone, but please feel free to use any of it for your own purposes. I think the point is to be both CLEAR and COMPASSIONATE. Not CONFRONTATIONAL, which will just cause defensiveness.

Dear Mom,

I love you and I know that you love my children. There are only a few people in this world who love my kids as much as you do, and I will forever be thankful for that! I want to talk to you about something that’s really important to me.

I spend a lot of time, effort, and money studying, buying, and preparing whole foods for my family. If you’re interested, I can tell you more about what I’ve been learning and why I’ve been changing our nutrition.

I know it’s different than what everyone around us is eating, but I feel strongly as a mother, that for MY family, it’s important to take another path, back to the kind of nutrition we had before fast food and processed food. I feel strongly that for my children’s health and their future, that it’s critical we avoid sugar and other processed foods and dairy and meat products. Our diet isn’t “perfect,” but I believe that what we do 95% of the time will determine whether we are healthy and fit, or sick, overweight, and miserable. We have had many improvements in our health because of these changes, and I don’t want to go backwards.

I know that for you, candy and treats are a way to show love. Again, I so appreciate you and your love for my babies! For me, good nutrition is a way to show love. These two things have the potential to come into conflict while you are here.

I feel that candy is not an appropriate reward for children, and it creates a habit, into adulthood, that high-calorie foods are “earned” by good work or good behavior.

It’s very important to me that when you visit, you not use the desire to “spoil” my children as a reason to feed them foods I feel jeopardize their health. Could you “spoil” them in another ways, like reading to them, playing with them, or making a healthy treat?

I would love to provide you with a healthy cookie recipe and buy the ingredients. I will have healthy treats in the fridge and freezer so you don’t have to wonder what to give them.

I would like us to be friends, and not have any strain between us. I know that the way we view diet and nutrition is different, but I am asking for your support while you are here in something that’s very important to me.

We are all very excited to see you! Thank you for honoring this request.

I love you!

Momof3