Mortality, goodbye to my grampa, and taking youth for granted

Last weekend my grampa was in a hospital with pneumonia, his blood pressure 70/30 and they were unable to get an IV needle in him. We talk every day, my aunt or my dad, and I, about whether it’s time to fly to Couer d’Alene (via Spokane) to say goodbye. The crisis seems to be averted for now. My grampa has had dementia for many years, and doesn’t know me when I see him.

I want to go with them, since there won’t be a funeral or memorial service, per Grampa’s wishes. He’s a WWII vet and has paid in advance to be cremated, and his ashes spread over the Pacific.

Glen Alfred Openshaw has lived till 93 despite many years of alcoholism and chain smoking. His first wife, my grandmother, put a bullet in her brain when my daddy was just 12. My dad was a crossing guard assigned by the school, and was standing in the crosswalk holding children back to safety with his arms when a neighborhood friend ran up to tell him his mother was being removed from the home by ambulance. My dad stayed another 20 minutes to finish his duties—this tells you about the kind of human being  he is. Loyal, hard-working, duty-oriented.

I imagine, with the addictions he developed, my grampa was running from ghosts. However, he did kick both of those habits when I was young, and saved his fifth marriage and probably the last half of his life, in so doing.

Before we got the word about Grampa, I was in the stands watching Cade pitch another 11-1 game, so close to being another shut-out, against Orem High. My two youngest brothers were there, Spencer and Ben, whom I refer to as Spennie and Bennie. They are lifelong best friends. Spencer arrived with Dill Pickle flavored sunflower seeds, and we had this convo:

Me: Did you get those because it’s a baseball game and all baseball players spit seeds?

Spencer: No, I actually just had them in my car.

Me: Well, I don’t want to ruin your enjoyment of them, but did you know that flavor is loaded with MSG?

Ben: We know! That’s why we buy them! In fact I am looking to buy some EXTRA MSG sunflower seeds. It is my favorite food, MSG is. [Both my brothers laughing and eating seeds.]

Me: Okay. Well. Informed decisions are good. Now you’re informed.

That same week, I had a convo with my friend Sam who is a golfer, basketball player, and 4.5 tennis player and coach, an R.N.—as well as a smoker. Not for the first time, I told him how much I wish he would quit.

Much like I begged my grampa to quit smoking, when I was a little girl, and flushed his cigarettes down the toilet—my grampa did quit and never smoked or drank again.

In response, Sam said, “Here’s the thing. Nobody loves their life more than I do mine. But I don’t want to be 70 years old! I want to die before then.”

I said, “Yeah, but remember when we were 20 and we thought 40 was old? We figured, who cares if we bake in the sun, or get drunk and eat junk food! We won’t care when we’re 40 because old people are just OLD and don’t care about anything.”

Sam laughs and says yes. “So,” I continue, “what if it’s the same way when we’re 70? We don’t know, because we’re not 70 yet. But what if you GET there and you really WANT to keep living—not only living, but living WELL, for another 30 years?”

“Why do you want to make that decision NOW when you might be just as in love with life, at 70?”

I love the way we rationalize our way out of the consequences of our decisions with silly logic.

There’s another problem with Sam’s logic: what if you DON’T die, but are just sick, and smell awful, and have a hacking cough and black lungs—emphysema or lung cancer for years and years? What if you don’t die until 70, but you wreck the life you could have been living in the meantime?

I love that my grampa has lived 93 years. I wouldn’t want the last 15 years of his life, for myself, though. I hope to keep my brain free of metals and junk, so I’m clear as a bell till the end.

I want to go out like a light switch, not on a dimmer bulb. I want that for my family and friends, all of you, too.

“After I eat chocolate cake, I want to die”

I got this email from my friend Matthew:

He had just read this quote: “When I eat chocolate cake, 20 minutes later I’m under my desk wanting to die, When I eat broccoli, in 20 minutes I feel good. But given the choice I always eat the cake.”

Matthew asks: “Why do people choose the chocolate cake?

“Have I ever talked to you about how Tony Robbins talked about training himself to push his plate away when he was full? He grew up in a home with the ‘doctrine of the clean plate’ (or something like that) and had to retrain himself. The psychology of how to train yourself about what is okay and what is not okay is fascinating to me. (I have taught my kids to waste food anytime they want for example, and that was SO WRONG in the tribe I grew up in.)

“I wonder if you wrote some blogs about how to train yourself and condition yourself to have feelings and opinions about healthy eating that are more useful. How about Affirmations for Health by YOU?”

I told Matthew that I was raised with the same rule: you must finish everything on your plate. I’m developing a meditation to go to the very root of why we sabotage ourselves nutritionally, and correct those subconscious beliefs. (I wrote about this in a blog series months ago called, “I love my body. It serves me well!”)

What are your beliefs about yourself and food, that cause you to make poor choices over and over? What are the words you say in your head? Could you write them on a 3×5 card and think about whether they are useful or harmful?

What if you could write NEW beliefs and statements that you could replace those with, which are more useful? It would work only if you repeated those beliefs over and over.

Do you “make” your kids finish their dinner? At my house, you don’t have to finish anything—except your green smoothie, fruits/vegs, or salad. You can skip the rest of the dinner.

Parents, or anyone with opinions, what do you think? I know it’s no longer popular at all to ‘make’ kids do ANYTHING. But I ‘make’ myself eat 60-80% raw greens/vegs/fruit before I consider eating anything else—so it isn’t as if I’m requiring anything of my kids I’m not doing myself. I have done this for so long that I don’t even think about it. It’s not deprivation or neurotic; it’s just habitual.

I have some rules for eating. All of them are based on common sense. All were developed by learning that I don’t feel good if I ever break them. I’ve never written them down until now; they’ve just been in my head. Here are my 13 rules:

1. Don’t eat after 7 p.m. except on a very rare occasion.

2. Always drink a pint of water as soon as I wake up.

3. Never eat sugar on an empty stomach–always with lots of raw food and some good plant protein (like almonds, greens, or beans).

4. If I eat any concentrated sugar (besides fruit), it’s only once in a day.

5. Never eat processed meat.

6. After working out, drink only water for a while.

7. Every meal or snack is 60% or more raw plant food (often 80-100%).

8. Don’t drink soda.

9. Don’t buy anything from fast-food restaurants.

10. Don’t eat anything with MSG in it.

11. Don’t add salt to food.

12. If a meal is below 80% raw plant food, take digestive enzymes.

13. If I eat too heavily for a weekend or more, I take a few days to detox. I might eat all raw food, two quarts of green smoothie instead of one, wheat grass juice, extra water–or even a couple of days of nothing but Meal Replacement.

raw food in India? an interesting email from a reader

We get some really interesting email, and I’ve pasted one below that we got this week that I think you’ll enjoy. It corroborates what I have noticed being in 16 countries in the past 18 months. That is, the influence of American culture on the rest of the world has not been wholly positive, and has in fact been devastating in the area of nutrition. My country has helped many cultures previously eating close to the land adopt both a processed diet and all the diseases that come with it. Read what Anu has to say:

Dear GreenSmoothieGirl:

I am ecstatic reading your myths. I want to wave it in people’s faces saying “Ha! I told you so!”

I come from India, where the food habits is slightly better than USA, but just. Here are too people have become enamoured by soft drinks, burgers and pizzas. KFC and McDonalds in every city! Add to that, spicy and oily fried snacks that have become indispensable for every meal. Fried potatoes in any forms sells fast. I hate eating out because I am sure MSG is added in almost everything to make it tastier. There is a high increase in diabetes in the country and you don’t see any advertisement asking people to cut down on white sugar but a number of clinics have come up instead–diabetes is a huge health market here! It’s crazy.

My father-in-law who was a top athlete in his younger days is now confined to his chair all thanks to sugar, diabetes, and the diabetes doctor who just pushed pills on him. I have been telling my husband not to eat those vitamin pills, soy products, and processed products — all pushed aggressively by the industry — all waiting to form cancer in the body.

I’ve had fresh “cooked” food (rather than frozen) all my life, but not raw food.

This is the land of the thulasi and many other medicinal herbs and plants. Much before modern science and medicine and counting calories, entire systems of sensible eating has evolved here. The importance of eating the right food and its effects on your mental makeup have been given out in detail.

I don’t know where we lost this! I think, somewhere people got so poor, that they took the easiest thing to cook and they forgot about fruits which couldn’t be preserved with fridges.

I am vegan by choice (with the exception of organic honey for medicinal purpose) and avoid the five whites in my food. I have always felt I must have fresh food, raw food.

This site is testimony to what all I heard about good sensible eating.

Reading about the benefits it has done to you physically, I’m hoping it’s the same for me, as I hope to run a marathon strong one day.

Thank you. I purchased the green smoothies ebook. We don’t get so many berries over here but otherwise, I will adapt this to what is available over here. And hey, this is coconut country, we get them easily here. I am exploring new options that I would not have otherwise. Oh my, I don’t think I am going to look at any vegetable the same way ever!

You may be interested in reading up about siddha and ayurveda. These systems are the pride of this country. They are more about prevention than cure.

Thanks for sharing Robyn. If you ever come to India, do contact me. Its a crowded, noisy and fascinating country and I love it.

regards,
Anu

Let’s talk about food and sex

No, this isn’t that episode of Seinfeld where George Costanza tried to combine the two in a feverish fantasy . . . and if you can’t handle some frank talk about an important part of your life, WARNING: hurry and get out of this blog and come back tomorrow.

Did you know that what you eat has EVERYTHING to do with your sex life? For you women who are having a hard time convincing your husband to get on board with your conversion to whole foods, this essay might be just the ticket.

Food affects your sex drive profoundly. And I can prove it. I now have over 175 respondents in my green smoothie questionnaire now, polling people who’ve undertaken a green smoothie habit for at least 30 days:

So far, 17 percent of my respondents have reported an increased sex drive as a result of drinking green smoothies. And keep in mind that not all respondents are sexually active, and some already had a very high libido so they ignored that question. Therefore, 17 percent is likely a lower number than what you can expect, those of you considering joining us in the Gospel of Green..

Guys, your wife isn’t as into it as you are? There’s no drug better than a quart of green smoothie a day (and kicking Hostess to the curb). Give it a try. You have nothing to lose and everything to gain. If you want even more sexual energy, toss some maca or bee pollen in the blender.

In my experience working with people on their nutrition, I have found that being even 10 or 15 lbs. overweight can dramatically affect your sexuality in a negative way. So, green smoothies are an aphrodisiac–and donuts and Doritos are very literally the opposite: a sex-life stomper.

How?

First of all, you don’t like how you look 10 lbs. overweight. If you don’t like what you see in the mirror with your clothes off, you aren’t likely to be sexually willing, confident, playful, adventurous, and energetic. And what is the best way to lose ten pounds? Dieting? No way!

Just start eating the right foods like you learn to do in 12 Steps to Whole Foods. No calorie counting or carb-gram-obsessing necessary. Eat whole plant foods (and stop eating processed foods) and you’ll naturally be satisfied with whatever you eat in the right quantities.

That’s because you don’t have endocrine disruptors, hormone inhibitors, and addictive chemicals in the form of refined sugar, MSG, food dyes, refined salt, and much more destroying your sex drive and your sexual performance.

Second, when your energy is depleted, as it always will be on the Standard American Diet diet, you lose the sexual interest and stamina you once had. Sexual dysfunction happens the same way all degenerative disease does: it is linked to lifestyle choices. Your reproductive system, after all, is affected by the same things your cardiac, circulatory, and endocrine systems are–they are are inextricably linked, as they are all part of one complex organism.

When you eat lots of raw plant food, and go easy on (or eliminate) meat, dairy, and processed stuff, your body has its energy reserves available for all the fun and rewarding things in life.

For an experiment, eat at Tucano’s or Rodizio’s (or a Brazilian restaurant where they bring around meat dishes and offer you some until you can’t eat anymore). How amorous do you feel that night? I’ll answer for you: you don’t want anything except SLEEP. And the sleep you do get is troubled, and you feel sick all night.

Now try eating 100% raw plant food for a day, or longer than that. Watch what happens to your libido. And a great sex life leads to a great relationship, from which all good things flow.

I hope you give this a try. I hope my bravest readers will let us know what your observations are after your experiment on these words. Blog anonymously if that’s what it takes!

HAVE FUN! (And I mean that in the wildest, most passionate way possible.) Have you forgotten what that means? Then start drinking a DOUBLE SHOT of green smoothies!

–Robyn

BINGE EATING

Dear GreenSmoothieGirl:   I definitely have a binge eating disorder. This has been going on since I’m 13; I’m now 50! My husband, also 50 is very overweight and my daughter, 20 and in college is very overweight. I’m very interested in getting my family on track. What can you tell me about binge eating?

 

Answer:   Two things are usually at work when it comes to eating disorders.   One is emotional and one is physical/chemical.   Of course, you can’t entirely separate the two.   But let me talk about one for a minute and then the other.

 

First of all, we often “reward” ourselves with food because we feel low, or we are bored, we feel insecure or unloved, or maybe life just feels empty and food is the only thing we have to look forward to.   It’s helpful to know when we begin to eat something damaging to our health what it is, exactly, we’re hoping the junk food can do for us.   Is it going to ease the boredom?   If so, it may help to talk to yourself about that: “For five minutes while I eat these Cinnabon cinnamon rolls, I’ll enjoy them, but then I’ll have a blood sugar crash and be unable to do my work.   And I’ll hate myself because I was going to eat healthy today and then ate a box of donuts after lunch, instead.   Then my self-esteem will be lower, not higher.”

 

I find self-talk isn’t usually enough, though.   I also have to find something else to do to make myself NOT BORED.   (That’s my emotional trigger–boredom.)   Some people eat when they’re feeling criticized or ignored by someone they care about.   Some eat to cover up their sexuality because of intimacy issues.   There are so many reasons to overeat or indulge in processed foods that cause weight gain and health problems.

 

Second, when processed foods are in our daily menu, they screw up our tastes for other foods.   They change our ability to detect where the “off” switch should be in eating, because MSG, NutraSweet, sugar or corn syrup, and salt cause a chemical chain reaction of symptoms that lead us to not understand or tune into being satisfied by a small to moderate amount of food.

 

Those who eat to assuage their emotions AND have chemical addictions to processed food are doomed to overweight if they don’t tap into both sides of that equation.   I wrote 12 Steps to Whole Foods to address the chemical issues.   And Ch. 11 on healthy treats helps in the transition away from eating junk treats all the time.   Starting there–with nutrition–also helps on the emotion side, because even if unaddressed, you have much better options when you DO soothe yourself with food.

Educate kids about nutrition

Sometimes I wonder if my teenaged son is absorbing what I teach him about health, or if he’s just too annoyed with me and absorbed with “fitting in” to care.   Yesterday after double header baseball games, one of the coaches ranted at the boys about the huge mess they’d made in the dugout, with all their candy wrappers and trash from snack-bar nachos, hot dogs, and sodas.   Cade had, at the game, a green smoothie and two whole-grain sandwiches (as usual).

On the way home, Cade was telling me about the dressing down the team had received.   I said, “What they SHOULD have gotten is a dressing down about what effect their eating habits are having on their game.”   That would never happen, of course, because adults don’t want to lecture kids when their own health habits are terrible.   And of course, it’s a taboo subject.   But some boys on the team have recently had surgery for rampant, years-long infection, some have seriously stunted growth, and several keep breaking bones including growth plates.

The week before, I had talked to Cade about the sunflower seeds he’d been eating, week after week, for several years.   You’re thinking, but sunflower seeds are good, right?   Not the kind the baseball players eat.   And I hadn’t said anything much because my son already feels like a bit of a sore thumb in the dugout, eating the stuff I bring him.

But my son has recently developed some seasonal allergies, and he has a bit of acne.   I told him that his massive refined-salt consumption eating those salted seeds every week is contributing to these two problems that are making him miserable.   Furthermore, I explained that MSG is in those packages of Dill Pickle and BBQ flavored seeds.   No wonder all the kids and coaches are addicted!  

I never buy the seeds for him, but he’s always eaten handfuls of the ones in the dugout, purchased by others.   He stands out in right field spitting seed shells.   But yesterday, my son told me he didn’t eat ANY.   I’m really happy that he listens to and values what I say, since my other kids “get it,” but I sometimes wonder about him.  

Keep talking, and do it away from the situation (I didn’t march up to him in the dugout and lecture him).   Someone once said, “Teach people correct principles and let them govern themselves.”   They make mistakes, but they come around if you keep teaching.