Why people get upset when we eat right

Lisle and Goldhamer, in The Pleasure Trap, write about how to handle when people in our lives get upset because of our plant-based dietary habits.   Their claim that people get angry with us only because they are embarrassed (about their own eating habits) rings true to me based on my own experience.

If you choose to make good choices at a church or neighborhood barbecue, for instance, they know that you’re observing THEM make poor choices.   They fear losing status with you.   Lisle and Goldhamer suggest two ways of dealing with this issue.   I believe these suggestions are sound, and they additionally will strengthen your bond with those who would otherwise be upset by your choices.   These things are what I already do, and so I add to the authors’ suggestions a bit:

One, “bolster their status” by referring to the things you love about them, unrelated to their dietary choices.   This is easy to do and takes the awkwardness out of the situation of your drinking a green smoothie at the baseball game while they’re munching on beef jerky and Goldfish crackers.   I also make jokes about it: today at my son’s double header, when a mom asked her son if wanted some snack-stand nachos and Skittles, I said, “Or I’ve got a green smoothie here–you KNOW you want one, so don’t even deny it!”   (I’ve made lots of new friends at the ball fields and gotten them to try my green smoothies, only by being funny and casual about it, never by being dogmatic or pushy.)

Two, reassure them that you’re not “perfect” and don’t think you’re better than them because of your “superior discipline.”   Just show a little humility.

These authors claim this will ease the awkwardness of social situations that have the potential to make friends feel uncomfortable.   I would add, however, since I’ve been doing this for a very long time, that if you utilize these two principles, those same people may also come to you someday for help when they want to change their own lifestyle.   That can happen only if you’re loving and gentle.

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.

Childhood obesity epidemic . . . part 2

More from Levine and Stein of the Washington Post.   Read it and tell me if I’m crazy for saying in my last post that raising an obese child (by apathetically feeding him nonstop junk food) doesn’t qualify as abuse.   I realize that my words are strong, but I stand by them.

At least one study suggests obese children might tend toward lower IQs and be more likely to have brain lesions similar to Alzheimer’s patients.   Fat deposits in the chest wall push against the lungs and diaphragm, making it harder for the lungs to expand and bring in oxygen.   An obese child can feel out of breath while standing still, and obese children are twice as likely to develop asthma.

Excessive weight on children’s bone growth plates cause syndromes like Blount’s Disease and slipped capital femoral epiphysis, because bone and cartilage are not designed to support abnormal weight.   Legs bow and weak bones fracture and disintegrate.

Obese girls menstruate early, causing growth to stop early.   Obese teen girls have two to three times the risk of dying by middle age compared to normal-weight teens.   Liver disease now occurs in a third of obese children, causing abdominal pain, infection, and fatigue.   These kids are at high risk for cirrhosis of the liver, liver failure, and liver cancer.

Obese people’s gallbladders don’t function normally, and hospitalizations for gallbladder disease have tripled in children 6 to 17, in just 20 years.   The pancreas doesn’t work normally in obese children, either, and the massive insulin swings eventually cause diabetes.   Pediatric endocrinologist says, “Once you get Type 2 diabetes, figure you have 20 more years of life and then you are dead.   So if you get it at 15, you’ll be dead at 35.”

One pound of fat is about the size of a coffee mug.   Imagine that an obese child who is 50 lbs. overweight has 50 coffee mugs of greasy fat he has to carry around every day.   Go pick up a 50 lb. bag of rice or wheat and carry it around a while.   That’s what an obese child deals with 24/7.   The number of fat cells you have is determined by late adolescence, and although the child can shrink fat cells, they never go away.

Obese children are 37 times as likely to have high blood pressure, and more and more of them are being prescribed drugs to prevent heart attack and stroke.   Many will be on the drugs FOR LIFE.

Surgeon General calls childhood obesity epidemic a “national catastrophe” … part 1 of 2

[I’m out of the country until June 7, but my blogs will still magically appear here!]

Levine and Stein of the Washington Post pulled no punches on the front page of my local newspaper May 18, the first in a five-part series.   The pictures, sidebars, and article took up more than a full news page:

Being overweight at a young age appears to be far more destructive to well-being than adding excess pounds later in life.   Virtually every major organ is at risk.   The greater damage is probably irreversible.

“Doctors are seeing confirmation of this daily: boys and girls in elementary school suffering from high blood pressure, high cholesterol and painful joint conditions; a soaring incidence of type 2 diabetes, once a rarity in pediatricians’ offices; even a spike in child gallstones, also once a singularly adult affliction.   Minority youth are most severely affected, because so many are pushing the scales into the most dangerous territory.

“With one in three children in this country overweight or worse, the future health and productivity of an entire generation–and a nation–could be in jeopardy.”

The article points out that while obesity has doubled with parents and grandparents nowadays, it has TRIPLED in children.   These children will be disabled in their most productive years, since almost all obese children become obese adults.   Our surgeon general is calling child obesity nothing less than “a national catastrophe.”

But we turn a blind eye to parents abusing their children by feeding them nothing but processed food, even while the kids are clearly gaining weight and unhealthy.   Feeding children daily sodas, hot dogs (“cancer in a bun”), fried fast food, ice cream, and dozens of chemicals and dyes we can’t pronounce, is abuse, even if it has become commonplace and its root is in ignorance or apathy rather than malice.   The parents of one of my children’s friends, good and nice people who love their kids, feed their daughter nothing but processed foods and then call her fat (which she is), grabbing her rolls of flab and belittling her. (Both parents are themselves overweight.)   I know this only because she cries to my daughter about it, who is appalled and heartbroken for her friend.

Murder I or manslaughter, somebody innocent still dies, right?   Intentional abuse or abuse from ignorance/apathy, a child still suffers.   This has to stop.   If a parent doesn’t care about the physical health effects reviewed in tomorrow’ post, surely he or she cares that the child is tormented by peers and ends up with a self-loathing problem.

You can’t walk up to people and verbally assault their parenting, but you can refer people who genuinely want to learn and change to GreenSmoothieGirl.com or a great book on nutrition.   See who you can influence TODAY, because YOU can change this in your sphere of influence.   Obese children start in utero, with an overweight pregnant mother who doesn’t know better.   These women are the key to our future.   I have dedicated GreenSmoothieGirl.com to them and the people willing to influence them.   More eye-opening stats from this series by the Washington Post tomorrow.

thanks, Mom

I would just like to take a minute at the end of this Mother’s Day to honor my own mother who is halfway across the world in Milan, Italy, serving and teaching people there, with my dad.   My mom and dad are the epitome of health and work long days doing meaningful things they love, not slowing down a bit just because they’ve retired.    My mom is  always learning and growing.   Last year,  she  digested 17 books on the pharmaceutical industry and the way it has controlled and harmed the public’s health.   Then  she went on radio shows and presented to community groups to teach people to put their faith somewhere else besides mainstream medicine.   She is an incredible reader, teacher, and presenter.   I wish you could hear her speak: before she left for Italy, she studied Italian on her own so intensively that she gave part of her farewell speech in Italian!

My dad can (and has!) beat me running races, despite the fact that he is 64 years old.   He owes my mom a big thank you for helping him be so healthy, feeding him a plant-based diet for the 43 years they’ve been married.   He has plenty of risk factors, including having worked as a young adult spraying Malathion in his grandfather’s cherry orchards, not even wearing a face mask.   But he is crazy healthy, and his love of running and his good diet must be the reasons!

I want to be like them when I grow up,  I want to make them proud, and I want to raise my children to be worthy of the great legacy they’ve given us.   Thanks for setting a great example to me, Mom!   Happy Mother’s Day!


setting a bad example

Yesterday I went running on the jr. high school track by my home, which I often do.   I saw the most astonishing thing—and unfortunately, it’s the second time I’ve seen it.   The kids came out to play flag football, followed slowly by their P.E. teacher.   Think about your own P.E. teacher when you were a kid.   This one was not like yours, I can almost guarantee you.   He had a kid carrying a chair for him, and he proceeded to sit in it, on the football field, and remain seated throughout the breakout games of football.   He was obese and had difficulty walking up to the field.

Last year, I  saw an obese female P.E. teacher at the same school do the same thing (but the kids were running sprints).    About that same time, I sat on the founding board of a charter high school, and we were looking to hire a  P.E. teacher.   An experienced applicant came to interview us who confessed to severe cardiac disease and was clearly going to be the chair-sitting variety of teacher/coach.   After he left, I informed my colleagues that I do not want to hire an obese P.E. teacher.   They seemed offended and one told me that is “discriminatory.”

I said, “If we were hiring an English teacher who hasn’t read the classics and can’t write, I’d ‘discriminate’ against her, too.   I’m going to resist hiring a math teacher who can’t calculate algebraic equations.   So why is it too much to ask that the P.E. teacher be able to jog a lap, or do a layup?”

We are setting such a bad example for our kids.   If they look around them, they could easily get the idea that life is more or less over by the age of 40 for the majority of us.   How many of their teachers (P.E. or otherwise) are teaching from their chairs?   This is a travesty.   Even if we’re okay with our virtually chair-bound lives limiting us from doing much of anything fun by the time we hit 40, we should make massive lifestyle changes even for just the ONE REASON of setting a better example.

I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again here.   You moms and dads reading this who are willing to buck the larger culture, you are CHANGING THE WORLD for the better, one green smoothie at a time!   Obesity and heart disease will be a thing of the past when we return to a whole-foods diet, and we get out and enjoy moving around.