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.

What I DON’T do, every day, in my family

So I admit (on a regular basis, actually) that I’m not perfect. Anyone who knows me and sees the inside of my fridge, and what I do on vacation, knows that I “walk the talk.” I really do the stuff I teach, and I do it consistently. But I am also human. If I indulge, it’s generally going to be in a restaurant on the weekend, or on vacation.

That said, I’m good but imperfect at the “Do’s” but pretty great at the “Don’ts”. These are half a dozen things I NEVER buy:

  1. Soda
  2. Processed meat (or meat of any kind, except when I’m cooking for company and they expect it)
  3. Hot dogs (I know that’s redundant with #2, but really. REALLY! Please don’t eat hot dogs. I am not sure how they ever became known as food.)
  4. Fried foods
  5. Fast food (anything bought in a drive-thru)
  6. Refined oils and fake fats (shortening, margarine, vegetable oil, “fat free” spreads, etc.)

The “DON’Ts” are easier than the DO’s.  Just don’t buy them.

Joe Mercola and GreenSmoothieGirl on agave

In the natural health space, Joe Mercola is very much a Goliath, and I’m very much a David. Today’s topic: my affinities and differences with his philosophies.

Dr. Mercola responded to my blog posting and newsletter of a week ago, about agave.

I stand firm that drawing fear-based parallels between raw, organic agave from a reputable company and tequila or HFCS is “ridiculous” as I said before.

A raw agave plant is to agave is to HFCS—as an orange is to orange juice is to Tang.

I disagree with Joe Mercola on a variety of issues, including his promoting and selling whey protein, beef, tanning beds, and his metabolic typing theory with no real basis in science.

This whole agave controversy reminds me of something I remember from when my kids were little. There was a group of parents who were furious with the Barney show. The parents decided to form a coalition to fight the producers because they’d decided Barney was really the devil in a big purple suit, teaching kids about séances and witchcraft. The lawsuit, as I recall, referred to Barney the Dinosaur as promoting Satanism.

As a young mother, I remember reading about it in the paper and laughing out loud.

There are so many true evils in the world hurting children. Sweat shots, kiddie porn. Too-heavy backpacks full of textbooks. Let’s not forget McDonald’s products and marketing program. Just to name a few.

Why spend precious energy creating fear about a harmless TV show that has the dinosaur imagining things and disappearing?

That’s how I feel about the agave controversy. Again, I disagree with People Magazine calling it a “superfood” as much as I disagree that it’s going to hurt us when used in moderation.

I have interviewed experts as well. I feel confident that predicting nutritional catastrophe because someone adds a bit of agave to her green smoothie takes away from the real, more meaningful debate.

Let’s attack the true villains gaining traction in the food world: Monsanto; modern practices in raising beef/poultry; corn/soy products taking over the food supply; processed foods; fast foods; GMO foods; pasteurized and irradiated foods.

There’s plenty of evil without attacking the little bit of maple syrup, honey, agave, or stevia we whole-foods advocates use. (Each of those has pluses and minuses. Agave’s pluses are lower blood sugar impact as well as availability in raw/organic form.)

The whole debate takes away from the basic premise I reiterate here over and over:

Plant foods are good preventive medicine. We alter them to our detriment. We have to get back to our roots. Less processed is better, less concentrated sweeteners is better, more natural is better. Whole is good; fractionated and refined is bad.

And I want to say this about Joe Mercola. Some of the things he promotes seem oversold or a bit paranoid to me, and others are counter to what I teach on this site, like an incredibly expensive tanning bed being a good way to get Vita D. However, I respect him tremendously for being one of the first on the internet to start educating people about natural healing. He is smart and educated, and I believe he has good motives.

He and I have the same goal of educating people, empowering them, to eat natural foods and live a lifestyle that avoids reliance on medical solutions such as drugs and surgery.

I agree with Mercola about far more things than I disagree with him about. I appreciate his commenting here on my blog.

wrap-up: Education Week may offer “education” you don’t value, part 5 of 5

In a class I attended on single parenting, the teacher repeatedly brought up the “McDonald’s Effect” (which you may remember from the documentary Supersize Me):


McD’s is carefully, methodically creating its youngest generation to be its best customers ever.   Play Places beckon with bright colors and all kinds of free fun.   When you walk in the door, the smells are inviting and rewarding.   You buy a very inexpensive, easy meal in a brightly colored box, with a fuzzy stuffed-animal toy.   It’s exciting–you never know what it will be, but it’s always fun!   Nothing in the box has any nutritional value.   In fact, what’s in it will hurt your child.   But the child develops emotional attachments and positive memories of fun, good smells, good tastes, instant gratification, and comforting toys.   That, on top of the sensations in their mouth of high-fat, high-sugar foods, is virtually irresistible. For life.


I actually like sitting in classes where something false is taught. It gives me a chance to think through the logic of my own belief set, and craft responses in my head if not out loud, that are sensible and rational.


I would like to say that some dietetics professors at least two other universities I know of are 12 Steppers, learning and growing, changing curriculum with information outside the mainstream “bill of goods” sold to us by industry.   Not all nutritionists push animal protein consumption on people.  


But, do your own thinking regardless of the teacher’s credentials.


Many years ago I read a three-part Wall Street Journal series on inner-city nutrition.   The WSJ reporter went into a tenement building to interview three obese young ladies eating in front of the TV after school.   They were munching on the usual suspects: chips, Hostess products, sodas.   The reporter had found that in the inner city, most of the people are eating three meals a day of fast food. He had also gone into the grocery stores to find that most had no produce at all besides potatoes.   Store owners who were interviewed said no one bought it.


One of the young women was quoted saying this:


“I know it’s good for me because McDonald’s sells it. They wouldn’t sell it if it weren’t good for me.”


Now you folks here on are, many of you, the “choir” that I preach to.   Already converted.   But some are newbies.   And whoever you are, you are surrounded by newbies.   You have the power to slowly, in a “drip” fashion, influence people to reject what they’re taught by pop culture.


Please do it.

Happy Meals: how happy ARE they?

Both my daughters are playing AAA (state-level) soccer this year, and I’ve driven 45 minutes north of home 4 times in the past 24 hours, for a tournament they’re both playing in.   Today as we watched a game, a team mom I’ve been friends with for many years walked up and started unloading a Wendy’s bag.

I laughed in delight seeing these tiny little cups of milkshakes, about as tall as an adult finger.   All her children and nieces she’d brought with her started to eat the tiny milkshakes.   Not   yet realizing my huge faux pas, I said, “How cute! I didn’t know they made milkshakes so tiny!”

The mothers probably thought they were being subtle.   They looked at each other, kinda smirking.   They were probably hoping I didn’t notice the unmistakable message in the glance they shot at each other.   The glance said: “IS SHE FOR REAL?!”

(Reminds me of when, years ago, I went to Super Saturday, a crafting event put on by my church.   I’d never been before, since I don’t “do” crafts.   I was walking around chatting, and I saw this basket of waxy-looking cylindrical-shaped things and said, “Weird! What are those clear crayons for?!”   I saw that SAME LOOK on the women’s faces, and one of them said, slowly, as if speaking to a very young child, “Robyn, those are GLUE STICKS.”   Right.   For the glue gun.   Something every person with an X chromosome knows.   Except me.)

Back to the story of the very tiny milkshakes. Melissa said (other mothers listening, highly entertained), “Uh, Robyn, these come with kids’ meals.”

I realized that I’d accidentally exposed my family’s ugly little secret: my kids have never eaten a fast-food kids’ meal.   Ever.   No Happy Meal.

Can you be a happy kid, without a Happy Meal?

This is my question for you today.   It’s deep, I know.

I didn’t even realize that my kids were kinda-sorta un-American until I heard the explosive reaction from my 15-year old son’s friends last year as he told them, “I’ve never eaten at McDonald’s.”   They refused to believe him.   I’ve written before on this blog that I’m highly offended at that allegation, since I’ve taken my kids to McDonald’s plenty of times!   (They have the cleanest bathrooms, when you’re on a road trip.)

I’m not saying this to brag or be elitist or separatist.   I’m just saying that if you NEVER GO to a fast-food restaurant to buy a lot of sugar and trans fats and other garbage to spike the kids’ blood sugar and insulin and clog their arteries . . . well, then you never get addicted to that convenience.   It can be done.   Honestly, I’ve just never THOUGHT to buy a Happy Meal.

It’s not that I’ve never failed to plan and been out and had to pinch hit.   It’s just that there really are better options.   Subway, with a veggie sandwich on wheat, for instance (get them to really load it up with extra bell peppers, tomatoes, and cucumbers).   I’m sure you have other ideas for when you’re out and about, or you could come up with them if you quit considering “Happy Meals” as an option.

I think my next book is going to be 101 Ideas for Eating Healthy While Traveling.   (I know, it’s not grammatically perfect–Healthy is an adjective and I need an adverb, but Healthily is so awkward. Help me with a better title.)

Anyway, please share with mothers of babies that if you never go the first time, you won’t get addicted to drive-thru convenience.

The Essential GreenSmoothieGirl Library . . . part 8

More important books for parents to own:


Denise Punger, M.D. is a GreenSmoothieGirl 12 Stepper and a brave new voice in modern medicine.   She’s a board certified doctor married to another medical doctor, but she’s also a mother who has breastfed for 12 years and delivered her last baby via home birth.   She’s an advocate of home birth, doulas, breastfeeding, and trusting a mother’s instincts.   Her Permission to Mother: Going Byond the Standard-of-Care to Nurture Our Children is an important book for young mothers to own.



Eric Schlosser’s Fast Food Nation and Chew on This: Everything You Don’t Want to Know About Fast Food are geared towards teens.   Give your kid an incentive to read one or both of these books.   My 11- and 13-year old kids loved these best-selling exposes and never wanted to set foot in a fast-food establishment again.   Okay, they never set foot in fast-food establishments anyway, except to make a bathroom stop on a trip.   They inspired my oldest daughter to become a vegetarian, and she later converted her sister.   Written for preteens and teens, this is an excellent education in why you want to avoid all fast food.   I overheard my daughter after she read Chew On This telling a friend regarding the friend’s sugar habit, “You know that children diagnosed with diabetes by the age of 8 shorten their lives by 25-30 years, don’t you?”   (Heh heh, my evil educational plot is working!)   Too bad the author states in the introduction that his favorite meal is a fast food burger.



Ron Seaborn’s The Children’s Health Food Book is a seriously weird book!   A friend recommended it to me, and when I picked it up at a health food store, my then-four-year old son went crazy for it.   I read it to him several times a day, because he begged me non-stop, until I just couldn’t take it any more and was making up my own words.   The antiheroes are the Starch Creature, the Dairy Goon, the Meat Monster, and the Sugar Demon.   Of course, the vegetable, fruit, and whole-grain superheroes come in and save the day.   This book is good for younger kids–just beware that the preschool teacher might call you and say your kid is scaring the other kids by pointing out how bad their snacks are (this actually happened to me).