It finally snowed here in Utah! In fact, it dumped a foot in the valley, in 24 hours. I shoveled my walks 3 times in one day. One day after Christmas, my kids Emma and Tennyson and I went skiing at Brighton with friends of mine, a pediatric dentist and a plastic surgeon.
These friends know next-to-nothing about what I do. On the ski lift, the dentist was griping to the surgeon about how he got “the runs” for 3 days from a pint of green smoothie I’d fed him. (He then wanted nothing to do with the green smoothie habit, and continued his diet of Muscle Milk and lots of packaged foods, the usual bachelor diet.) The dentist then asked the surgeon, “Have you ever had a green smoothie?”
Who replied, “Oh, there’s one in my freezer at work. I took two sips, and it was disgusting, so that was that.”
The conversation moved onto other topics. But in my head, I thought of something I say to Baby Boy, now 14, who is my “pickiest eater.”
(I always tell people, there weren’t any picky eaters until we gave the kids the option to eat fake, addictive foods.)
I often tell Tennyson, “Some foods we eat because they taste good. Some we eat because they’re good for us. This one is in the latter category. So, just eat it!”
It’s probably one of those quotes they’ll pull out in the eulogy at my funeral.
I’m not trying to say that food shouldn’t taste good. In fact, my whole mission is to help people realize that whole foods can be easy, affordable, and delicious!
However, if you walk into your first green smoothie from a lifetime of eating processed sugar, well, you might not like it at first. Not if that green smoothie is really green, like mine are!
But my point is, if we all had a goal to recognize food as fuel, serving an important function, then maybe HOW IT TASTES wouldn’t be the #1 consideration for absolutely everything we eat.
Very frankly, sometimes my green smoothies don’t taste that good. I drink them anyway.
Think of it as a badge of honor. You just did something really cool for your health.
I have a treat once a day. It’s almost always a pretty healthy treat, compared to what most people have. But the majority of what I eat is selected because I count the consequences. I want to have crazy awesome good health, and I know that the fuel I choose is possibly the #1 predictor of whether I achieve it on a regular basis.
It would be a great New Year’s Resolution. Eat food for the health advantages first, taste second!
(p.s. Congrats to nearly 5,000 GreenSmoothieGirl readers who just took the “Fitter Not Fatter” 31-Day Green Smoothie Challenge in December, to drink a quart of green smoothie a day in December!)
You can join it any time now! Commit to drink a a quart of 31 days and we give you free support and recipes the whole time!
GreenSmoothieGirl reader Kristen, from the east coast, sent me a story about her family’s improvement in health when they started drinking green smoothies and “cleaning up” their diet. Check out the chart that Kristen’s husband, Lee, made, showing how dramatically their healthcare costs went DOWN when their consumption of nutrient-dense foods went UP!
Kristen’s daughter’s health was declining, as a preschooler. An ENT doctor told Kristen that Riley needed tubes, as well as tonsil/adenoid surgery. Kristen began to study. She bought the Blendtec at Costco. The sales guy wrote GreenSmoothieGirl.com down, for Kristen, and told her to go there. Lee bought Kristen a 12 Steps to Whole Foods program several years ago, and she’s been devoted to increasing whole foods in her family’s diet. They cut out dairy. They dramatically decreased sugar. Within 6 months, Riley was off all drugs, including albuterol. She’s now 9 years old!
[Note from Robyn: Kristen is probably aware my oldest son was on albuterol and many other drugs, and that’s what we did–got him off dairy and sugar, and onto a diet of primarily greens, vegetables, fruits, legumes, whole grains, nuts and seeds, in their natural state. As with Kristen’s story, the drugs and underweight and mucous and constant viruses didn’t disappear overnight–but they disappeared over 6 months. I agree with her, that it takes a dedicated effort, and a willingness to watch and wait as changes show up!]
“I love our story. I love how God has directed our path to better health. Four lives are changed, right here!”
Kristen, thank you for sharing. Your story is so similar to mine, and I hope that for years, as people search this blog and find you, that you are a part of inspiring them to make nutrition part of their wellness journey!
If their mama raises them to love whole foods, they do! We’re inspired!
GSG reader Melissa H. wrote us:
I had to share this picture with you! For my son’s birthday, he requested a “chocolate oatmeal cookie cake.” I made the no-bake chocolate oatmeal cookies from your Junk Food Dude’s Yummy Healthy Recipes book, as a treat, and that is what he wanted for his cake! No sugary, food-dyed cake for this boy! I made a raw chocolate ice cream too that everyone loved. Thank you for helping this mom create a healthier home for her family!
I think that for an entrepreneur to be successful they have to be in it for success and not for money. My mom is an entrepreneur; she started her own business and what drives her is the desire to be successful in everything she does.
She didn’t start her business because she wanted to get a bunch of money out of it. She didn’t need the money because my parents were married when she started it, and my father is an engineer; we had plenty of money.
She wanted to help people. She runs a health food site and travels around the world teaching people how to feed their families well. She sells many health products and books. She has always been driven by the desire to help people and to be successful.
Entrepreneurs have to be passionate about their business and not about the money. Entrepreneurs have to love their job or they will fail. If an entrepreneur hates their job and can’t handle the stress of running a business then they will fail.
They have to have the ability to stand up and brush the dust off of their shoulders and keep trying, and keep working when someone tells them that their ideas are stupid, or that they can’t do it. Being an entrepreneur is hard, hard work and it will take up time and effort and if they are willing to put everything into their business and never give up then they will succeed.
Not everyone is meant to run a business. Some people just don’t have the dedication and work ethic to maintain a business, and that is why they can thrive where others have failed, because they are willing to keep trying until they have succeeded. To be successful in the business world, one must be willing to work hard, and never give up, but they also have to want success for the right reasons.
Seven years ago, as I started this blog, I ruminated a lot on my family’s menus, the “in the trenches” work I was doing daily, raising kids from 6 to 13 years old.
Time has flown.
Now I find myself still parenting, but in a far more limited way. One teen lives with me, the other lives with Dad. The two oldest are adults, mostly on their own. I find myself mostly looking back and wondering, “Was it enough?”
I used to imagine myself, as a very young mother, raising up these immaculately pure vessels. Paragons of ideal health. When my first child was a year old, due to his illnesses and my own, I began to educate myself.
Suddenly I discovered I’d been asleep at the wheel! There were toxins everywhere, the food I’d been serving him was worthless and even harmful. I’d faithfully let his doctor shoot him up with whatever the current pediatrics schedules dictated. I was obedient, and fully in the mainstream of doing whatever everyone else does.
That’s where we all are. Until we aren’t. Information caught up with me and slapped me in the back of the head.
I imagined myself raising perfectly healthy kids. Taking the road less traveled. Protecting them from drinking water out of plastic. My kids would have their stainless steel. Or glass jars, when they were older. I’d make sure they never drank from the tap. Green smoothies for lunch at school, baggies of veggies! They’d be grossed out by the Cheetohs their friends ate. I’d have told them what that orange color really is. This would move them.
I’d buy nutrition books for them, give them summer reading rewards to complete them, tell the family about them.
I imagined myself running healthy treats to their schools, their teachers in church, the babysitting co-op.
Patiently talking to church leaders, teachers, school administration, sports league coordinators who want every kid to be fed a donut and a corn-syrup drink after every athletic event.
I pictured myself taking an alternative “treat” (like boxes of dried fruit, and fruit leather, and carob almonds in Baggies) around to the neighbors before my Trick-or-Treaters hit the streets in their costumes.
Pointing out the Why in everything that I did. So my kids’ education ran deep. Their habits and “comfort foods” as they reached adulthood would include knowing how to make quinoa in 10 minutes and do a variety of things with it, lickety split.
I imagined them as teens and young adults, whipping up a green smoothie before taking off for work. Always choosing a whole-grain option, and opting out of eating grains, where possible, if they aren’t sprouted and yeast-free and non-hybridized.
I imagined them tall and strong, acne free, without cavities or orthodontia, quietly eating a different diet than everyone else. Fiercely committed to it because they’d been educated so well.
Do you moms relate to this? Sure pure intent, such ambition. Had things gone the way I’d imagined, I’d be a “success” by my early definition. I’d probably also be insufferably self-righteous, not particularly compassionate to all the other moms out there mucking around just trying to get everybody fed. Trying to do better, with mixed results.
Where I am now, 20 years later, is a rather different place. Even writing all of that, I confess to feeling no small measure of pain. For all the ways I’ve “let go” of the need to be perfect, of the need to build a fence at the top of every cliff, I still notice, every day, my “failures.” I’m more at peace with them than I was before.
The main thing I rely on, to get me through the disappointments in parenting, is this thought:
“I’ve done what I can do.”
I tried really, really hard. I pretty much did every single thing I wrote, above! And more. It’s tempting to catalog every way I’ve failed in that essentially unachievable imaginary parenting Utopia. (The original plan failed to understand the power of choice—my kids, lacking maturity, with the pull of the world around them, make their own choices, and many, if not most, of them aren’t great, now.)
But then, I’d be depressed, and I’d lower everyone’s vibration. It’s easy to dwell on the fact that I was too “controlling” and less “sunshiny and education-oriented” many times. And beat myself up that I learned too late, how to mother most effectively.
It’s easy to focus on the can of corn-syrup drink, or the wadded-up McDonald’s bag, that I see in my son’s car. It has happened. I know what happens to people who eat genetically modified foods, and fast foods. I talk to these folks all the time: I read their emails, I meet them at my lectures. They’re figuring out how their diet has impacted them and contributed to so many disease states.
Not my boy! Please, not my boy–not after the price I’ve paid to be different. To get him out of his hellish health problems early in life, before his immune system was fully formed. You can imagine these are thoughts running through my head.
What if, right now, I think on a few very good things that have made it all worth it–despite the failings.
First, my kids don’t have “positive associations” with “Happy Meals” and drive-thrus and candy and soda and bags of salty snacks. Hopefully this matters a lot.
Second, their brains are grooved to know what almond bars, and green smoothies, and huge plates of salad and kefir, and fruits for snacking are. They have a thousand memories of homemade whole foods. Childhood programming is powerful. Regardless of what they do now, they have a place to come back to. If declining health starts to teach them a lesson. I talk to people in their 60’s all the time who have never practiced any of these good habits. Maybe, despite the sketchy choices I see my kids making now, when they’re away from home, this alone makes it all worthwhile?
Third, following the Pottenger cat study, maybe having outstanding nutrition while they were growing up, is why none of my kids needed braces. All have lovely teeth. Both of their parents required orthodontia! (The Pottenger cat study showed how you can rehabilitate genetics with a strong diet.)
Fourth, all of them are tall and strong. Baby Boy asks me every day to stand back-to-back with me to see if he’s taller than me, yet. It will happen this summer, as he turns 14.
Fifth, I catch them talking their friends into drinking a green smoothie, asking for one of my books for someone they know who wants to improve their diet, or speaking favorably about the health-nut home they were raised in.
Sixth, aforesaid boy with junk-food wrappers in his car? He texted me, recently, “Mom, I’m dying.” I drove to his apartment, shoveled all 6’4” of him into my car on a Friday morning, and took him by to my house. For 2.5 days, I took him to my massage therapist, and I had him spraying ACS in his mouth every hour. I took him home Sunday night, all better, and ready to go to work Monday morning.
I’m not sure I would even get a passing grade, if the fantasy parenting-Utopia list that began this blog were the requirements of a college class. I’m holding a space for it to all turn out okay anyway. I have done all I can do.
It’s turned beautiful here in Utah, just in time for baseball season.There’s nothing I love more than a double header, sitting in the sun, cheering for my boy and his buddies, booing bad ref calls, and trying to get Tennyson to drink his base-running green juice. The superleague Mojo has been winning tournaments (and losing, too), in a tournament every weekend in March and April all over the Western states. I’m tanned and tanked up on Vitamin D from all the watching. Baby Boy is my last baseball player, and I don’t want to miss any of it!
When I got to the fields for the first game of this tournament, a parent was feeding his little kid Pepsi and this bag of pork rinds. I have never seen pork rinds actually being consumed, though I have seen them in grocery stores. I had always wondered if people actually eat them!
I sat right next to this open bag of “Chicharrones,” dying of curiosity for 20 minutes, before I finally got up enough courage to take a photo of it. Then I laid low, no one having seen the stealth photography, and, when no one was looking, picked up the bag and read at the ingredients on the back. I’d been betting myself that I would find monosodium glutamate.
After all, if someone is going to eat the fried, hairy skin of a pig (a bag is only $2, boasts the packaging! Well, yeah–it’s the SKIN OF A PIG)…….why would they know or care if it was seasoned with some neurotoxins that can do frightening damage to the brain and nervous system?
I was curious, grossed out, outraged, and then sad. That there are companies who actually make this crap.
Sure enough, monosodium glutamate is on the ingredient list. They didn’t even try to cover it up calling it “hydrolyzed vegetable protein” or one of many other things that are really the poison, MSG, whose main function as an ingredient is to create addiction. Why hide anything on this particular label? People who eat pork rinds aren’t exactly health nuts. They’ll never know the diff, I guess, is the reasoning.
After two wins, my son had a quick meeting with his team where he randomly announced, “LOOK HOW FAST I DRANK MY GREEN SMOOTHIE!” So the boys celebrated that, and their advancement in the tourney, with a cheer to Tennyson’s almost-drained pint-‘o-love.
The best part? Believe it or not, I had nothing to do with this toast to the green revolution. I didn’t even take the photo. I saw it happening, and a coach said to me, “You are wishing you had that in a photo for your blog, aren’t you?” I grinned. Yep. He hollered at the boys to come back and do it again.