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

Dear GreenSmoothieGirl: My little boy is so picky! He won’t eat healthy food! What do I do?

The first time a child is presented with a healthy food, he often will not like it. We have CREATED “pickiness” in our culture, because we introduce babies to refined sugar. Once you’ve had it, nothing else tastes good. We then bombard our child with ads, and opportunities to eat sugary and salty foods, everywhere they go in a day.

They aren’t defective kids. They’re little addicts.

(My least favorite question at green smoothie demo classes—and it comes from middle-aged and elderly adults, mostly—is, with nose crinkled as if they’re dealing with something very distasteful, “Does the green smoothie TASTE good?”)

The answer is, “If refined sugar and corn syrup are staples of your diet, NO, it doesn’t.”

When you eliminate those, everything tastes better. Get rid of refined salt, aspartame, and MSG too—those are the addictive substances that change your tastes.

Some significant research with kids shows that they need 10 exposures  to a food, to fully embrace it. That’s why I constantly talk about staying the course and being consistent and persistent.

Getting the junk food out of the house. When carrots and cucumbers are competing with Cheezits and Cheetohs? The Cheetohs are gonna win.

They’re easier to chew than carrots. They don’t oxidize or go bad. They taste salty and they melt in your mouth.

Of course, they’re also going to cause inflammation for every part of the body exposed to them.

Ten exposures mean that you COMMIT to a lifestyle where your home is stocked with real foods that nourish and build, protect and detoxify. Not a plastic, fake-orange, bright-yellow-drinks-in-a-can, caffeine-propped, processed hell.

Don’t be a parent who brings home a veggie, gets rejected, and quits. You don’t go to the store and bring home pretty bell peppers and split peas, instead of last week’s Oreos and Spagheti-O’s, and expect everyone to be jumping for joy, and then just quit already when you meet with some resistance. Steel yourself. Educate the kids. Plan and prepare for the long-term, not just this shopping trip. Focus on the light at the end of the tunnel (vibrance, health, the weight you love to be at)…..not the initial resistance.

It doesn’t work like a charm, overnight. Obviously, 10 exposures to a healthy food takes some time. It requires some patience.

And don’t underestimate the way eating corn syrup and cane sugar undermine your goals to raise a whole-foods family.

It takes a little time to find enough food you like, to replace all the junk habits. But you can really starve out all the bad habits over time. I know this because I did it.

Growing a garden puts your kids in touch with where food comes from, too. Far too many of America’s kids would have no clue how to explain to you what is in Chips Ahoy, and where it came from. (For that matter, I can’t explain some of those ingredients either!)

When kids participate in growing “real” foods, they are more interested in eating them. Most of America’s kids know nothing about the sources of their foods beyond the fact that apples grow on trees. Some urban kids don’t even know that.

Many kids love animals and have no understanding that the “chicken nuggets” on their dinner plate means that somebody trapped a bird in a tiny cage its entire life, hacked its head off, ripped its skin off, ground the rest of it up, mixed it with some chemicals, fried it in a giant vat of months-old grease (filtered once a week, whether it needs it or not), formed it into shapes in a factory and froze it for your child to eat months later.

My oldest two kids ate everything I gave them, no problem. The last two gave me a run for my money. They tried to be “picky kids.” Fortunately by then I had my nutritional “core values” firmly in place. I don’t indulge “picky.” Both of those kids eat giant plates of salad, daily green smoothies, and one of them even enjoys vegetable juices and wheat grass shots. Both have told me thank you for having a kitchen full of whole foods. Both have complained that there are often no healthy foods to eat at Dad’s house. I know they don’t want everything I serve. But I also know that I’m sending them into the world with good tastes for real nutrition, an awareness of which foods maintain health, and a knowledge of how to prepare them.

About once a year, I write about picky kids. Here are some previous posts on this topic for anyone who wants to conquer this tough situation facing America’s parents, which is almost entirely our own fault, and within our control if we’re patient and persistent:

http://greensmoothiegirl.com/2010/06/18/what-do-you-do-with-picky-kids/

http://greensmoothiegirl.com/2009/09/01/so-youre-trying-to-get-kids-to-eat-right/

http://greensmoothiegirl.com/2008/01/18/eliminate-junk-food/

http://greensmoothiegirl.com/2010/11/28/picky-kids-followup-post/

what I do every day, in my family

In a couple of interviews I’ve done for people lately, I’ve been asked, “What do you do in your family to ensure a healthy diet with lots of enzymes and nutrition?”

I find myself thinking, “Really, you want that in a 30-second sound byte?” I mean, everything I do is about that. I’ve written whole books about it.

But it’s a good exercise to have to boil it down. Like you, I have times when I’m better, and times when I get a little lazy or at least busy. But these are quick-n-dirty habits that “stuck” with my family, that I do every single day without fail. They involve a snack, breakfast, lunch, and dinner:

  1. Always the green smoothie. Make it in the morning, put a pint for each kid in the fridge, follow up to make sure he/she drinks it after school. Automatic 7 servings of greens/fruit for each kid.
  2. Homemade kefir for breakfast. Sometimes I just blend a banana in. I add pea protein powder for my 17-y.o. Occasionally I add frozen strawberries. This ensures a healthy microbial population in the gut, against all the nasty critters we’re exposed to throughout the winter.
  3. A raw vegetable and a raw fruit in the brown-bag school lunch. My mom always did it. I always do it.
  4. Big green salad of some kind for dinner. Most often it’s romaine and spring greens, with whatever veggies are in the fridge. Bell peppers, cukes, and tomatoes are staples. On our busiest nights, dressing might be as quick as pouring a little EVO and raw ACV on the salad and tossing it. Automatic guarantee that dinner will have enzymes supplied, for whatever other main dish I might serve.

Those ideas are detailed in Steps 1, 2, and 10 in 12 Steps to Whole Foods. But they’re the things we never slide off the wagon on. They go a long way, even if we are not perfect on vacation or in someone else’s home. I sometimes feel awkward about people who seeing me as GSG instead of just . . . me. (Regular girl next door. Single mom. Doing my best but with good days and bad days.) I feel like I need to say, occasionally, hey, I’m not perfect either. I always mean to have a fermented vegetable on every dinner plate, but sometimes I forget. I know my kids eat crap at school and their dad’s house sometimes, and if I told you I’d never eaten a brownie with ice cream, I’d be lying. Remember how I always quote my Grama, who was my original inspiration:

“It’s not what you do occasionally that will kill you. It’s what you do 95% of the time that will save you.”

Those four things I’ve just listed, I can tell you with confidence, we ALWAYS do them. With those four things in place, 60-80% raw is almost assured. With those four things, we’re far, far ahead of our culture’s low standards.

Despicable Me

My baby just turned 10 years old. (I can’t believe it.)

And I took him on a date last night to dinner (Jason’s Deli salad bar) and to see Despicable Me.

I got him and his sister (turning 13) really nice bikes for their birthdays. All four of my kids were born (as made semi-infamous on primetime television) within 3 weeks of each other. My oldest son is getting a date with me to some MLB Rays games (his favorite team) in Tampa. My oldest daughter is getting scuba lessons and a trip to Catalina to dive with me.

Rather selfish gifts, I know—all of them time with Mom doing something fun.

So Tennyson had asked me if when we got home (at 10 p.m.!) if we could go for a bike ride. (I will tell you later about my new Cannondale carbon-frame road bike I can lift with one finger–I am in love with it. Ten and I have been itching to ride, ride, ride.) I said “Sure, if you change into a white shirt.”

We rode in silence for a few minutes and he said, “Mom. I have a weird feeling in my stomach.”

Not something I’ve ever heard from him before. I said, “You’re worried about something.”

“Yes.”

“Well,” I probed, “shall we skip the bike ride?”

“Yes.”

“Does that make your stressed tummy go away?”

“Yes.”

We’ve been discussing how Momof3 finds her mother-in-law’s visits stressful because of their very disparate ideas about what is good for Momof3’s children, nutritionally.

What’s important and what’s not? It’s smart to sometimes let go of the need to CONTROL and remind yourself, “It is just food, after all.”

I know, that doesn’t sound like something I would say. But there is that occasion when grace and larger issues (such as relationships) dictate just “letting it go.” I’m not at all convinced that Momof3 should “just let it go” every time her in-laws come for a week. Only she knows that for sure. But my point is, your gut tells you things.

Does it matter? Or doesn’t it?

I trust my intuition as a mom. I have 17 years of experience and therefore more confidence in what my gut tells me, than I did 15 years ago.

One of the most important things I would tell moms is to TRUST INSTINCT. It’s valuable. After all we can read and ponder academically, I love that intuition guides me and you. It’s God-given and it takes us the rest of the way.

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

When Grandma Comes to Spoil the Kids, part 1 of 3

This is edited for length, from “Momof3.” It was a response to one of my recent blog postings and I re-post it here.

I often get long emails like this from readers, asking what to do about the older generation’s visits to our children, filled with junk-food “spoiling.” Parents feel that their hard work to provide good nutrition is being un-done by Grandma.

Today, read her comments. Tomorrow, read my reply:

“I needed a pep talk! The in-laws will be staying for 8 DAYS.

I wish I was making it up when I say my mom in law (when she came after the last baby birth) feeds my kids chocolate chip cookies FOR BREAKFAST. (I came down from nursing baby and sleepless night and the kids had milk and cookies sitting on the table at 7:00 am. Grandma just smiled and said, “I’m spoiling them.”) Maceys giant ice cream cones FOR DINNER!

I asked if she would buy spinach at the store and lemons for a wonderful whole wheat pasta spinach dish. She came home with a chocolate ice cream kong cone at 4:30 pm and Cheetohs.

What adult thinks that is a good dinner for a 2- and 3-year old? Again, she smiled and said, “Grandma is spoiling them, and I’m not that hungry either.” I was not amused. I confronted her about it and she just said, “Grandma spoiled them.”

She also bribes them w/ Smarties to ‘be good’ at the store, I looked over at my son in church and he had a mouthful of Skittles and was munching on ‘fruit by the foot’. Grandma had a list of fast food places w/ takeout every night for dinner and brought it home, then tried to give my babies pop and “diet juice” with artificial sweeteners to wash it down because “diet juice” is “healthy.”

Plus, I guess, my freezer full homemade smoothie bars did not seem to be a good summer treat because grandma decided they needed a huge gigantic bag of popsicles instead. (I had made smoothie bars before going to the hospital and pointed out there were lots in the freezer along with all my other healthy snacks.)

I will get through this. I can do it. The kids WILL thank me someday. I KNOW I am fighting the good fight! I can do this even if my in laws (not to be rude, they are good good people and loving grandparents but they are morbidly obese) will try to sabotage me where I live. In my own home with my babies. I WILL be strong. I will not cave. I quietly will go about my ways and quietly do my thing with my babies and self and hubby and the world will stay right. I will do right by my family. I will do it as kindly as possible, but I will be kind but firm. Any suggestions?

What happens when I’m outnumbered 3 to 1? (Hubby and parents against me? especially when hubby’s mom is making all hubby’s ‘favorites?’) When it’s not just pop culture trying to sway our children…but loved ones too? The kids see the Twizzlers, soda, Captain Crunch, potato chips, Cheetos, big pink Grandma cookies, pimento olive bologna loaf, white bread, big greasy Costco muffins, hot dogs, M&M’s, milk, fake peanut butter, Cream of Chicken soup casseroles. This is what my in-laws buy and make and eat at our house. Of course that is what my kids want instead too.

It doesn’t work to have meals and menus ready and food bought and planned. They SHOP for ALL their favorites when they don’t find them in my cupboards because they won’t eat what I make. (They say it ‘messes with their digestion’ to eat whole grains, legumes, greens, and so much fruit and veggies.)

Even when I plan it all out, “cookie salad” (nothing salad about it) gets whipped up or something like it and stuck on the table. Unfortunately, if it’s in the house (or in Grandma’s purse) it finds its way into my children. It’s such a sporadic encounter because they live out of state that it’s difficult to just go off about how EVERYTHING they buy and eat for the 8 days is just unacceptable to feed my kids.

But, the BIG no-no’s for me Grandma tries to feed to them on a large scale: processed lunch meat, artificial sweeteners, soda, milk and ooooodles of sugar constantly. I don’t want to feel like the bad guy for 8 days, but they really are over the top with their terrible eating habits while staying at my house and feeding my children. More pep talks please! I’m in serious anxiety mode. Family pressure is intense!”

Independence Day, part 2 of 2

So I told you my dad is the most rad dude ever. He is unfailingly positive. In fact, if you’re grumpy, he just gets MORE peppy and smiley. He epitomizes the idea that work is a blessing, because he embraces hard work.

Forgive me if I’ve told this story before. As a teenager, my dad sprayed his grandfather’s cherry orchards in the summers, in Santaquin, Utah. Back then they didn’t even wear masks! And they were spraying Malathion, a pesticide so carcinogenic, so deadly that the U.S. banned it many years ago. Dad told me a story once of turning, as he was spraying, and getting sprayed full in the face accidentally by his brother Ron–into his mouth and eyes, even–with those deadly, now-illegal chemicals.

So why doesn’t my dad have cancer? Instead he’s a 67-year old runner (even if I kicked his trash last Monday in a race) enjoying retirement. No knee issues.

For that matter, I am fairskinned and have basically refused to stay out of the sun (because of tennis/running) since I was young. From 16-20, I sunbathed in a bikini almost daily, from April to October every year. I’d burn and burn and burn, until I finally tanned. So why have I never had any skin cancer?

The answer to both questions, I think, is LIFESTYLE. My dad eats mostly plant foods. My parents’ diet isn’t as stellar as it was when I was young. But they eat little animal protein and processed food. They eat homemade kefir and drink alkaline water.

With massive raw plant food in the diet, you are mopping up free radicals instead of letting them grow into cancer.

Remember in The China Study (Oxford/Cornell), all of the mice and rats were injected with aflatoxin, a very carcinogenic compound (mold). But only the rodents fed a 20% animal protein diet actually developed cancer. Those fed a very low animal-protein diet (5%) were lively and healthy past their prime. Enzymes, vitamins, minerals–found abundantly in raw greens, vegetables, fruits, sprouts–prevent cancer from growing.

So my dad had off-the-charts Malathion exposure, and I had 100+ sunburns before age 20. This is very similar to the animals’ carcinogen exposure in the Oxford-Cornell project. Carcinogens can be neutralized effectively if the body’s natural weapons are in place.   You must FEED your body’s natural defenses, not burn them out.

Eat plants. It helps the earth, since your consumption of resources is 1/20th what a meat eater’s is. But if you know someone with cancer, you know that disease is hell on earth. And eating plants is your best cancer prevention.

(p.s. How much is 5% of your diet? As an example, for me, since I burn 1600 calories per day without exercise, that’s 80 calories. 80 calories is ½ cup of low-fat yogurt or 4 oz. of fish/chicken. That’s the average for a 5’8″, 130-135 lb. woman.)