depressing foods

Researchers at University College London published findings that eating processed, fatty food increases the risk of depression.

One group in the study of 3,486 people ate whole foods (mostly fresh vegetables, fruits, and fish) and the other ate fried food, processed meat, dairy, and desserts. Researchers controlled for factors like exercise and smoking, and even so, they found those with a processed diet had a 58 percent higher rate of depression.

Findings were published in the British Journal of Psychiatry.

Why? The study doesn’t know, so this is me making educated guesses. A clogged digestive tract (eating a low-fiber diet) leads to lower energy, which leads to an inability to complete tasks and discouragement.

Sugar and other processed food taxes and burns out the adrenals needed for stable mood.

Lack of micronutrients starves cells all the way to organs (brain, blood, bone, and more).

As blood pressure, constipation, energy depletion, enzyme depletion, weight creep, and hundreds of other issues compound, depression seems an almost inevitable result.

Natural Ways to Deal with Stress

My friends, the past month has been one of the most stressful periods  in memory. Not “too-much-work” stress (the kind you can dig your way out of) but just “life-circumstances” stress (the kind you can’t usually solve–you just have to slog through it).

You know what I’m talking about. You’ve been through stuff too, huh.

So the very worst thing you can do is eat SUGAR. You burn out your adrenal glands quickly that way. (The vast majority of us have stressed, overworked, even partially destroyed adrenal glands. And you really need those puppies to keep your mood stable through trials.)

So guess what we want when we’re stressed? Comfort. Sugar.

Vicious cycle.

This winter, the “liquid coconut macaroon” has been such a godsend. I discovered this healthy hot cocoa that is so nutritious, at the beginning of the winter. My kids loved it so much, and I loved it AND its superfood ingredients so much, that I put it here in the store:

Healthy Hot Cocoa

All I knew when I first ordered it was that it had no refined sugar (just low-glycemic unrefined coconut palm sugar) and non-dutched cocoa. I was ecstatic, though, when I got it, that it also contains four different types of mushrooms that are used as superfood medicine in China for immune system repair, cancer treatment/prevention, and much more.

If I feel the need for a treat, I make a mug of cocoa. The coconut milk powder is low in calories, delicious, and high in lauric acid and other compounds that are anti-microbial, anti-fungal, anti-viral, and anti-bacterial. The cocoa contains the mushrooms and chocolate. The whole mug  is about 100 calories.

I seriously love this stuff and just went to make myself a mug, writing this–it’s been my treat almost every day. Not just because it’s yummy and healthy, and not only because it’s chocolate (which has chemical properties women sometimes downright NEED), but also because  there’s something very comforting about a mug of something hot.

I am blessed to report that through some difficult times this winter, I have still never gotten sick. There was one day I felt about 50% and didn’t go to the gym, but otherwise, that’s it.

Stress we cannot always control. But what do you do to remedy it? Yoga is another way I’ve gotten through the past 18 months–also prayer, time with good friends, and “me” time doing things I love (tennis, skiing). Melatonin before bed so my racing brain doesn’t keep me awake. Essential oils like peppermint.

Tell us your ideas. What natural things do you do, when you’re stressed? Let’s avoid “solutions” like Zoloft and Xanax that just cause other problems.

food obsession

I have worked out, almost every day, with a small group of women. I’m one of the oldest, and the youngest is 26. (You can see some of them in my facebook photos.)

We’ve known each other for years because of our mutual addiction to endorphins. We run, stairstep, kickbox, lift weights, play tennis, and twist ourselves into pretzels at yoga. We do things together outside the gym as well, because we have become very close as a result of the massive amount of time we spend together.

I’m 99 percent certain none of them read my blog. (Most of them drink green smoothies, though–at least if I make them one and bring it to the gym!) So I can feel safe that this story is between you and me.

One of the girls has an eating disorder (I’ll call her ED). Not one I am close to. One of the OTHERS I am close to (I’ll call her QT) just can’t stand it. My tennis coach (I’ll call her Shari) got a text from ED saying, “Why is QT so cold to me?” So QT wrote ED a long facebook message.

The message wasn’t something I would write or approve of (and I didn’t love the “we” in the message because I’m a big believer in “speak for yourself”). It was LONG. In a nutshell, it said, “Here’s why I’m cold to you. We love you, but we don’t come to the gym to talk about food. We get tired of listening to the Debbie Downer attitude and obsession with calories and what you ate and how long it will take to ‘work it off.’ We want to talk about life and positive things!”

Well, this story, on a human relations level, is sad. There are hurt feelings all over the place, and Shari and I (the bystanders) are a little at a loss how to solve the problems.

On the issue of food obsessions, though, I’ve been thinking. How true it is that no one wants to know what you ate! How many calories it had. How guilty you feel. Your self-loathing because you ate this or that.

I was thinking how odd it is that, as a bystander in the drama playing out between my girlfriends, I completely relate with not wanting to hear obsessing about food. (I want to enjoy mine!) Don’t you think that’s weird, since I write books about food, I develop recipes, and I have a web site that is all about food?

I kid you not that none of my very close girlfriends ever hear me talk about food. I just don’t.

I bet you’re surprised.

My point is that I put GreenSmoothieGirl up to SUPPORT. Teach if that’s appropriate. Give ideas and encouragement and helpful information not readily available in the mass channels. Only to people who want it, and no one else.

But food obsession is NOT what I want here. Food is a means to an end–oh, and it can be fun and enjoyable on its own. But as the new year approaches, be thinking about your attitudes towards food.

Do you love food? (It’s okay, even good, if you do!)

Do you hate yourself in relationship to food? (If so, I hope you get clear with yourself about that and gently begin to correct it.)

Do you obsess about food? (That’s no fun. So many other subjects in life are interesting too!)

What do you do when you eat something that’s bad for you? (I hope you don’t tear yourself down and feel worthless. That isn’t helping anything or anyone.)

Learning more about whole foods, and raw foods, is exciting and fun–or it can be! If it’s a way to demoralize yourself, compare to others, or set an unachievable bar way up over your head . . .

Well, look at the psychological issues and try to break them down with logic. Because food is a blessing. It’s necessary, but it’s also good and enjoyable!

Just some things to think about. I’m interested in your comments.

some thoughts on young mothers

Thank you for all the emails, and I’m so sorry I haven’t had time to respond to them all.   I have returned rather somberly from my cousin’s funeral in Northern VA, where I grew up.   She got the stomach flu and we don’t know why she died.   We are all devastated by the loss of this young mother of three  young sons (plus another one who died), and watching them sobbing right before her casket was closed is very possibly the most tragic and devastating thing I have ever seen in my life.   Little boys’ hearts breaking and nothing we could do about it.

Shawnie  comes from a wonderful family, and her parents were my “other parents” growing up.   It was a sweet experience to celebrate the life of Shawnie Romney Tull and I am  privileged that  I knew her.

So I have been more reflective than ever on the power of a young mother, because very frankly that was a more tragic funeral than even the funerals of small children I have attended.   Because a young mother is SO DESPERATELY NEEDED.   Mothers change the world.   They control more than they realize.

It’s a conversation I have with my business partner over and over . . . we discuss the needs of everyone who reads   And we try to figure ways that everyone is included, because of course I care very much about the health of everyone–the single people, the teenagers, the elderly–I get emails from all these demographics and more.

But as I try to decide where to spend my time in content development, though, my soft spot is always for the  moms.   I very much want to support them.   If you are one, please take care of yourself first.   Remember that on the plane, you can’t put the oxygen mask on your kids until you have your own on.   Remember that you’re  not helping anyone by neglecting your own mental, physical, emotional, and spiritual health.   Remember that children learn more by example than anything else.

If you have young mothers in your life, not just this Sunday but today, too, give them a hug and tell them that the work they do is important.   That its rewards aren’t always obvious, but they are in fact extraordinary.   Give them  some extra  love.   A friend said to me yesterday, “Everyone should go to a funeral every six months.   That’s how you remember what’s important, and what kind of person you want to be.”

I totally agree.

Green Smoothie Testimonials, part 7

I have endometriosis and ovarian cysts and have suffered with cramping, heavy menstruation, and low back pain for 20+ years. I have had numerous surgeries to help correct and alleviate the problem with no success. I finally reached the point that my doctors determined a hysterectomy would be my next surgery. I am in my early thirties and was not ready for that so I spent a lot of time researching nutritional options. I discovered green smoothies and they have helped tremendously (I have been drinking them for a year now).

My cycles have improved dramatically and the majority of the time I feel like a normal person.That has never been the case because of this constant pain that was always with me. Thanks for all of the info on your site. As I have changed my eating habits I have also discovered trigger foods that cause ovarian pain, spotting, and bleeding. I am grieving the loss of chocolate but the smoothies have almost taken any cravings for sweets away. Once again thanks so much for helping to change the quality of my life.

–Becky Flannery (Sandy, UT)

I started drinking green smoothies two months ago.I use a large amount of organic leafy produce and I use kombucha as the liquid, with a small amount of fruit or fruit juice. Then I follow it up with a handful of spirulina and chlorella tablets.This combination rocks.


Green smoothies have saved my life! I had been in a state of depression for the past 4 years. I was put depression medicine but it never helped. I discovered green smoothies in December of 2008 and decided to give it a try in January 2009. It has been two months since I started making a green smoothie everyday and I feel AMAZING, WONDERFUL, and FULL OF LIFE. I have not felt this good in a long time. I have had tons of energy, I can fall asleep faster at night and feel rested when I wake up, I don’t feel the need to take daily naps, I have had less cravings for sweets and processed foods, my motivation is back, and I have lost 8 pounds in 2 months. Green smoothies are here to stay!

–AB from IL


I love the green smoothies; they have made a world of difference in my life. I know I am a happier healthier person because of them. I am so thankful for them; I love them so very much.They have given me so much drive. It is easier to drink your greens.I have been eating healthy greens for years. I like the kale in a smoothie rather than eating it daily as I have done. It is much easier to get down in a drinkable form. Thank you!


What my research says about how green smoothies change lives!

I once blogged 20 different astonishing ways my health improved when I began drinking green smoothies and eating a whole-foods diet.   Here it is: What Changed, When We Switched To Whole Foods, Part 2

But I wanted to get more scientific when I wrote The Green Smoothies Diet and find out precisely what a newbie can expect!

The results of my poll of 175 regular green smoothie drinkers yielded some interesting results that suggest quite definitively that it’s a 10-minute habit worth adopting!   To participate in the questionnaire, one had to be drinking green smoothies for at least 30 days, a pint a day for 4 days a week.   Many were drinking more, up to my recommended 1 quart daily.

The vast majority, or 97 percent, said green smoothies noticeably improved their health or quality of life.   Wow!

Very exciting to me is the fact that 84 percent of those drinking green smoothies are so enthusiastic about the positive health benefits that they’ve told others about or taught them the habit!

These are the positive health effects people experience, listed in order of their frequency among the research respondents:

85.4 percent experience more energy.

79.2 percent experience improved digestion (more regular and/or complete bowel movements, no straining, soft/formed stool, etc.).

65 percent experience fewer cravings for sweets and processed foods.

52.3 percent experience a more positive, stable mood.

51 percent experience an improvement in skin tone, or fewer blemishes

50 percent experience weight loss.   The average reported pounds lost is 17.3 lbs.!

(Keep in mind when considering this very impressive statistic that some of the respondents had been drinking green smoothies only 30 days, and some of them did not have any weight to lose!

48.5 percent experience an increased desire to exercise.

44.6 percent experience improved sleep (need less of it, decreased insomnia, more alert in the mornings, etc.).

41.5 percent feel less stressed out.

40 percent experience blood sugar stabilization.

39 percent experience people telling them they look better.

35 percent say their fingernails are stronger or grow faster.

26 percent say their hair is shinier or their dandruff gone.

18.5 percent experience a decrease in PMS symptoms.   (Consider that some of the respondents in the survey are not females of menstruating age.)

17 percent report an improved sex drive.

Other positive health benefits reported by survey respondents include these:

7 people said: Arthritis symptoms/pain gone or reduced

3 people said: Hyperthyroid condition improved (reduced or gone off meds)

2 people said: Seasonal allergies gone or decreased

2 people said: Reduced asthma symptoms

2 people said: Migraines gone or reduced by 80 percent

2 people said: Acne improved or gone

2 people said: Eczema or dry skin cleared

2 people said: Gray hair returned to original color

Decreased blood pressure

No more hypertension

Was able to go off cholesterol meds

Was able to go off Prilosec

Haven’t gotten sick in a year like I always do

Moles disappeared

Deep facial wrinkles “barely noticeable”

Less nasal congestion

Lump on leg getting smaller

Liver spots fading

Tendonitis gone

Muscle soreness gone

Hypoglycemia improved

No more bloating, gas, indigestion, constipation

Avoided a hysterectomy, lifelong menstrual problems returned to normal

Easier to breastfeed

Don’t sunburn any more

Gallstones gone

Depression symptoms gone

Lifelong bad breath gone in two weeks

Ended coffee addiction

Just feel better

The risks of a new green smoothie habit are limited to an 18.5 percent chance of a short-term, uncomfortable cleansing reaction that include the following symptoms:

headaches, skin breakouts, diarrhea, nausea, bloating, intestinal gas, cramps, constipation, vertigo, dizziness, fainting, lethargy or weakness, runny nose, mucous in the back of the throat, liver pain, mood swings, depression, emotional crisis

The top six benefits that people experience when starting a green smoothie habit are, in order, more energy, improved digestion, fewer cravings for sweets and processed food, a more positive/stable mood, improved skin, and weight loss.

It’s hard to look at this data without being compelled to give green smoothies a try!

Jump in with us and let us know here what your experience is after 30 days:


To Your Health,

–Robyn Openshaw

p.s.   Join us in 12 Steps to Whole Foods to get on the path to achieve all these health benefits. Step 1 is all about the why and how of green smoothies!