Libby Goes Vegan

You know I don’t   promote any “isms”–vegetarianism, veganism, raw foodism.  I’m secretly a fan of all those movements. But I don’t adopt them as extremist positions because I think they send most people running for the hills. And I believe that sticking to the idea of eating MORE PLANT FOODS wins more converts.

But I don’t cook/serve animal flesh in my home. My older daughter, though, is a militant vegetarian.

The younger one, Libby, 14, struggles. She admires her sister’s “cause” orientation, and has “gone veg” several times but it doesn’t stick. She goes to her dad’s where meat is a staple, and she caves in, falls off the wagon. She has been looking at vegetarian vids on youtube and studying the issue.

Today she brought me this typed statement:

“I, Libby Pay, am going vegan. I will not eat anything with eggs or milk. Or meat. So I want to make  special veggie foods for myself since the rest of you drink kefir in the mornings. If I have to drink kefir I will be deeply hurt. Anyways, to make my special food I would like these ingredients. Some of them I have already, but just want to make sure I am allowed to use them. I want to be hardcore vegan. You don’t have to be. But I really want to.”

“Brussels sprouts, spinach, broccoli, asparagus, sweet potatoes, fresh kale (to try this one recipe I found), black beans, that seaweed stuff you buy, big carrots, garlic and onion, green and black olives (not needed, just somewhat wanted!), green beans, cucumbers.”

“I feel very strongly about this. If it gets too hard, I’ll just be vegetarian, but I really want to do this.”

A few hours later, she came in with a binder she’d made, with lots of printed material about cruelty to animals and nutritional support for a plant-based diet, in plastic sleeves. The cover page has this printed, in large text:

“WHY I DO NOT EAT MEAT:

“Yes, God may have put them on the earth for us to eat. But in the scriptures it says to eat meat sparingly in times of winter and famine. I don’t think our Heavenly Father intended for the animals we eat to be tortured, stuffed into tight cages for their whole lives, beaten, and to rarely see sunlight. Chickens, pigs, and cows have been chemically altered to grow way bigger than they are supposed to. They put steroids in the animals to make more meat. These animals can’t walk, and are tortured daily.”

I’m so proud of my kids when they stand for something. When it’s something that will benefit them and the world, even better!

Now if I could just get them to take a vigilante stand against SUGAR.

Are you fixing the plumbing, or building a mansion? Part 2 of 2

At church Sunday, someone was making an announcement about a care center that wants us to bring them snacks for the mentally handicapped residents: “The care center staff said they want HEALTHY treats, like fruit snacks and Gushers.” I don’t know what Gushers are, but the fact that they have a brand name is a bad sign. The person making the announcement turned to the side of the room where I was sitting and said, “Robyn would not approve of these ideas as healthy snacks, and neither do I, but anyway, that’s what they want.”

(I love how at church I seem to have a “rep” even though I never talk about food there.)

It’s a throwback to my days as a grad-school intern on the State Hospital Children’s Unit 15 years ago. I went to the director to plead for less sugar on the unit. I could see that the kids were constantly ill, incessantly fed antibiotics, most of them overweight, because the school and therapists rewarded them with candy, the hospital cafeteria’s nutrition was appalling, and after-school volunteers brought cookies and junk nearly every day. I was brushed off by the psychiatrist director who said, “Sugar is the only love most of these kids every get, and it’s not a big deal. We’re dealing with REAL issues here.” In other words, he was saying: nutrition doesn’t matter for these kids.

I don’t want to roll my eyes. I want to educate patiently. I hope I am always tolerant. I hope I always teach to the knowledge level of the audience. I hope I never act superior.

Whatever knowledge I have, I gained it as God was building a courtyard in my cottage, while I would have much preferred just a little cleanup. I lean on others in their areas of subject-matter expertise where I am shaky. (Computers. Applied math. Spatial puzzles and maps.)

God is making a mansion of me. When He knocks out a support beam, I want to grow from it instead of shake my fist at heaven.

Last Sunday at church, Carla, in our women’s organization, gave a lesson on the Word of Wisdom scripture. I attend a lay church, where the parishioners are also the teachers. She said my name three times during the lesson, as if she had no right to teach on nutrition because I happened to be there.

Fact is, as I told her later, it was the best lesson I’ve ever heard on the Word of Wisdom, my religion’s scripture about nutrition. I told her, “I don’t think I would have had the courage to be so bold.”

She’d researched statistics about the health risks associated with red meat, caffeine, carbonation. She indicted Utah’s prescription drug dependency (especially anti-depressants) as fueled by the culture, even reading a quote from our attorney general. She read stats about the benefits of whole grains, the benefits of drinking a lot of water.

She didn’t cover sugar, she didn’t cover the Word of Wisdom’s counsel to “eat meat sparingly,” she said that poultry and fish are good for you. But overall, I found the whole lesson to be starkly committed to the truth, relative to most lessons I hear on that topic.

She did cover the closing line of D&C 89, that if we eat whole foods, “I, the Lord, give unto them a promise, that the destroying angel shall pass by them, as the children of Israel, and not slay them.” This seemed to have a profound emotional impact on the teacher. No wonder, as her husband has battled prostate cancer this past year. Who doesn’t want to put that amazing promise to the test?

She was so stunned when I gave her a hug and told her I would probably have soft-pedaled the topic, myself. Why? I hate offending people. And, as I said to her, “People are more emotional and opinionated about food than they are about religion and sex.”

Anyway, thanks for the food for thought, Jennie, and the Word of Wisdom lesson, Carla.

Mid-life crisis? Forget that! Mid-Life Mojo, part 1 of 2

One thing that frustrates me is when people my age forget something, or can’t keep up with their kids physically or whatever, and they say versions of this:

“Well, I’m old!”

When did we come to accept that we are “old” in our 40’s? Please join me in rejecting this notion! There are accounts in the Bible of people living to be 800 years old. So obviously somewhere we went wrong. We have every living plant food on Earth available to us, in a market within 5 miles, and we all have a car to go get them. I think my writings and research to this point have shown that plant foods (plus breaking a sweat almost every day) are the fountain of youth.

So why start slowing down, some even screeching to a halt, in our 40’s and 50’s?

One of my favorite things is getting emails from folks who are 60 or even 80 years old. They tell me how dramatic their health improvements are, from following my program and enjoying the foods their bodies were designed to eat.

The point is, IT’S NEVER TOO LATE! You can turn it around RIGHT NOW.

I was friends with Kristi for years before she finally decided to try GS. Once she did, she was hooked. She still eats gobs of candy, but she’s noticed huge benefits from just the GS habit. She told me recently that last time she went to Oklahoma to visit her sister, she bought GS ingredients and made them during her visit. This time she was PMS-ing and just ate all the donuts and waffles and junk–and she was so sick she almost used the barf bag on the plane home.

I love how experimenting with good nutrition teaches us powerful things. Even if it took us YEARS, even DECADES, of rolling our eyes at the health-nut weirdos, before we decided to join them. (I have a number of friends who thought I was a weirdo 15 years ago and have since then joined me and even brought family and friends along.)

Do you have a bucket list? Put, “Start a daily green smoothie habit” at the top of that list. After that, add,”Shift to a whole-foods diet in one year.” Some of my bucket list, tomorrow.

Naaman: does the answer lie in simple things?

At church last week, the lesson was about Naaman in 2 Kings in the Bible. I have discussed this story in my book (the manual) 12 Steps to Whole Foods.

Naaman didn’t like what he saw as excessively simplistic advice, from the prophet, to go and bathe in the River Jordan to be healed of leprosy. His servants had to talk some sense into him.

Rex D. Pinegar said this: “Are we not sometimes like Naaman, looking for big or important things to do and bypassing simple things which could change our lives and heal us of our afflictions?” (Ensign, Nov. 1994)

Similarly, remember God sent fiery flying serpents, who bit the people as Moses led them towards the land of promise. And then God made a very easy way to heal them. All they had to do is look on his rod. But “because of the simpleness of the way, or the easiness of it, there were many who perished.” (1st Nephi 17:41)

This is what I am constantly teaching, the application of this principle to lifestyle and nutrition. It’s mass insanity that millions of us gulp handfuls of ACE inhibitor and statin and beta blocker drugs, while we cruise through the In ‘N Out drive-thru, blissfully oblivious to our ever-shrinking and hardening blood pathways.

I watch people continue to bang their heads on concrete to solve their lifestyle-induced health problems.   They try this drug and that, shopping specialist doctors, considering another surgery, undergoing another CT scan or MRI . . . when they aren’t trying the simple, clear (boring?) answers.

We don’t need the acai or goji or some other exotic berry from worlds away at $50/lb. We need the bulk of our diet to be colorful, raw plant foods that are grown nearby and cost less than $1/lb.

If we aren’t eating simple, inexpensive greens, vegetables, fruits, legumes, whole grains, nuts and seeds (in that order) every day (and avoiding processed foods and heavy animal proteins), then we shouldn’t be buying every expensive supplement or beautifully packaged fancy food made glamorous by skilled marketers.

At church they said, “How come we keep having the same sermons on the same basic principles? Why aren’t we aren’t diving into deep, obscure doctrines?”

Well, duh. Because we aren’t living the basic principles. Faith and repentance. Charity, loving each other as Jesus did and taught.

The very same principle applies to what I teach in my books, site/blog, classes, about health and nutrition. Constantly refocusing us on the basics. We’ll move on when we’ve mastered those.

God created the Earth. Who created HMO’s?

My friend Claudia sent this to me two years ago and I just stumbled on it again:

In the beginning, God created the Heavens and the Earth and populated the Earth with broccoli, cauliflower and spinach, green and yellow and red vegetables of all kinds, so Man and Woman would live long and healthy lives.

Then using God’s great gifts, Satan created Ben and Jerry’s Ice Cream and Krispy Creme Donuts. And Satan said, “You want chocolate with that?” And Man said, “Yes!” and Woman said, “and as long as you’re at it, add some sprinkles.” And they gained 10 pounds. And Satan smiled.

And God created the healthful yogurt that Woman might keep the figure that Man found so fair. And Satan brought forth white flour from the wheat, and sugar from the cane and combined them. And Woman went from size 6 to size 14.

So God said, “Try my fresh green salad.” And Satan presented Thousand-Island dressing, buttery croutons and garlic toast on the side. And Man and Woman unfastened their belts.

God then said, “I have sent you heart healthy vegetables and olive oil in which to cook them.” And Satan brought forth deep fried fish and chicken-fried steak so big it needed its own platter. And Man gained more weight and his cholesterol went through the roof.

God then created a light, fluffy white cake, named it “Angel Food Cake,” and said, “It is good.” Satan then created chocolate cake and named it “Devil’s Food.”

God then brought forth running shoes so that His children might lose those extra pounds. And Satan gave cable TV with a remote control so Man would not have to toil changing the channels. And Man and Woman laughed and cried before the flickering blue light and gained pounds.

Then God brought forth the potato, naturally low in fat and brimming with nutrition. And Satan peeled off the healthful skin and sliced the starchy center into chips and deep-fried them. And Man gained pounds.

God then gave lean beef so that Man might consume fewer calories and still satisfy his appetite. And Satan created McDonald’s and its 99-cent double cheeseburger. Then said, “You want fries with that?” And Man replied, “Yes! And super size them!” And Satan said, “It is Good.” And Man went into cardiac arrest.

God sighed and created quadruple bypass surgery.

Then Satan created HMOs.

Weston Price Foundation versus The China Study

A yahoo group I belong to, “Natural LDS Women,” is having a debate about the “science” of the Weston Price Foundation, versus The China Study.” A recent poster said that with scientific “facts” so conflicting, you really just have to pray about it and go with your gut. “LDS” means Mormon (my religion), and in this post I refer to the famous before-its-time scripture known as the Word of Wisdom, as I have in other places in my writings, about nutrition:

I rarely have time to respond to yahoo groups even though I follow some threads, but this morning I responded with this posting, about the two research titans, about research in general, and about navigating the “science” versus “gut” decision making tension:

The first people to tell you there are no scientific “facts” are scientists themselves. We have evidence, but not proof. Good science is hard to come by. In the modern world, the vast majority of our “science” (not even qualifying as “facts”) is bought and paid for. That is, the science looks objective but is funded by someone with a profit motive.

Industries paying for lots of research such as pharmaceuticals, dairy, meat, or processed foods (four huge industries that are very powerful) may have sifted through a lot of data and cherry picked whatever makes them look good, for promotion and publication.

Studies begin to become compelling when they are valid and reliable, the two highest standards in research. Briefly, VALID means the study truly measures what it purports to measure. (If a study saying wine consumption reduces heart disease is valid, it will have controlled for the fact that wine drinkers are more affluent than beer drinkers–so they also eat more fruits and vegetables. That’s hard to do!) RELIABLE means the research study was repeatable with consistent results.

The China Study is one of the most reliable studies I have ever encountered. Colin Campbell (PhD, Cornell) conducted the original animal studies, but other researchers all over the world copied them with the same results, over and over. Then he found similar findings in humans–in a huge study of 6,500 people spanning now 30 years (so the study is also longitudinal–that’s expensive and very rare in research, but one of the ways to achieve validity).

When you see a study saying oatmeal prevents heart disease, you don’t run out and buy all the oatmeal you can and knock every other good thing out of your diet. You watch and wait until you see lots of OTHER studies showing the same thing. You have a healthy skepticism about what you read–open minded, keen eye looking for more data. You are waiting for further light and knowledge. And you use your common sense. (For instance, in this case, “Well, I know that UNREFINED oats have bran and germ–vitamins, minerals, and fiber–so it’s good. But other grains have the same thing, so I’ll keep using them, too.”)

Vitamin D is one of those issues. The first time I read a study that those getting more sun get vastly less cancer, I was intrigued but skeptical. Now, more and more research is coming out with consistent conclusions, and I am beginning to believe strongly that getting more Vitamin D is critical to the strength of our immune systems, to our ability to minimize disease risk, to our ability to build and maintain bone mass. And it’s hard to get enough D in places with long winters, or for people who aren’t outside much–without supplementation. It has given me pause, since I have not been much of a fan of taking vitamin supplements in the past. Now that it’s cold here in Utah, I can’t get sun. I took a Quest Diagnostics baseline test during my peak of sun exposure in July, and now I’m supplementing with Vitamin D tablets and will test again in Feb. or Mar. I want to know if my synthetic Vita D consumption actually is utilized in my own body.

Double blinded, placebo-controlled studies are the best. Peer reviewed articles in journals are the best. Even they are not foolproof, though. Plenty of flawed research has been published in the most prestigious journals of the world. Studies that have had to be pulled back when their flaws are revealed. Good research is extremely hard to achieve. It’s meticulous, it’s difficult to isolate one factor, and above all, it’s time consuming and expensive.

This is not the place to go into why I vastly prefer the more recent, more thorough work in The China Study to the much older, much more flawed, much more biased work the Weston Price Foundation has done.

But let me say this, briefly: the findings of China Study match the LDS Word of Wisdom that we discuss in this yahoo group and are a fan of. Campbell’s studies weren’t meat eaters versus vegetarians. They were meat eaters (20%, matching the Standard American Diet in that respect at least) versus eating meat sparingly, in times of winter, cold, and famine. (Language culled from D&C 89, The Word of Wisdom.) Following the Word of Wisdom wins–with more than 200 statistically significant findings. (That means that the margin of error is NOT the reason for the finding.)

Yes, pray and receive revelation to guide your journey through what is admittedly a CONFUSING path in nutrition and health. But also be smart, savvy, educated consumers of information. Some research–though NONE of it qualifies as “fact”–is better than others.

That’s my $0.02. With that and a quarter, you can buy a phone call.

Robyn
GreenSmoothieGirl.com

Thoughts after BYU’s Education Week, and hope for young moms

Part 2 of 5

In a very huge curriculum across all topics, I found next to nothing on nutrition. I should really teach at Education Week. Somebody make that happen and I’m there.

 

On Friday, though, I went to a class called Stocking A Healthy and Convenient Pantry.  Please make careful note of the way that title is phrased, for my later comments. I had low expectations of the class, since the LDS (Mormon) people attending the campus event (at the Mormon university) have adopted all the ways of the larger culture, in terms of the Standard American Diet.  We embrace processed food and a heavily meat- and dairy-dominated diet, despite counsel against that in both ancient and modern scripture. (One of these days, LDS friends, I’m going to start posting loads of public comments from the prophets and apostles over the past 150 years on diet.)

 

My low expectations went even lower when I walked into the class and saw the teacher, an older lady who is about 80-100 lbs. overweight. Please know that I love everyone (I am already bracing for the responses to this blog entry), but I say that only because I prefer classes on health to be taught by people who are healthy.  Just like I expect a class on Old English to be taught by someone who has read Beowulf, and a class on dance to be taught by someone who can cha-cha.

 

Before I go just all-out nuts on what was taught in this class—representative of what’s being taught in America—let me tell you the two interesting and valuable facts I learned from the highly academically qualified source:

 

First, in the 1940’s (before Betty Crocker and prepared foods), guess how much time women spent in food-related activities, and guess how much time they spend now? 

 

1940’s:  6 hours a day

Now:    20 minutes a day

 

Sure, we have more pressures now.  More of us work.  But wow.  We could do better.  We don’t have to spend 6 hours.  But maybe we could commit to spending a bit more than 20 minutes?  Remember that includes shopping and drive-thru time . . . ALL food-related activities!

 

And here’s the other interesting fact.  Google “food neophobe” about children who are very “picky,” a new phenomenon that I’m sure is also a spawn of the Standard American Diet and its addictive chemical “foods.”  Children who won’t try new things need 9 to 10 exposures, according to research, to embrace a new food.

 

So don’t give up if you gave them green smoothies three times and it didn’t go over well! Be patient and persistent.

I am teaching a 12 Steps class in July, and final comments on the Word of Wisdom

On Friday, July 17, from 6:30 to 8:30 at Classic Books and Gifts in Lehi, I have been asked to teach a 12 Steps to Whole Foods class.   Here’s the link to sign up:

http://classicbooksandgifts.ning.com/events/12-steps-to-whole-food-eating

I have taken some time off of teaching classes but am getting back into it, with my new book coming out next month.   I’ll post in the next few days that we’re preselling the book in the GreenSmoothieGirl.com store, so stand by.   I’ll also let you know if classes I have coming up are open to the public.

My final thoughts on that revolutionary scripture known as the Word of Wisdom, that was far (200 years, almost) before its time.   I long wondered why we are counselled not to drink “hot drinks” (coffees and caffeinated teas, we assume from historical analysis),  and  only minimal  animal flesh, but nothing is said about refined foods like white flour and white sugar that are currently destroying America’s health.   And LDS people provide  those foods  in abundance at EVERY SINGLE CHURCH EVENT, including the ones for children.  The Primary handbook asks teachers not to feed kids junk food, but teachers routinely do it anyway.  We don’t drink or smoke, but we experience the same obesity rates as everyone else and we’re infamous for making up the difference in what we DON’T  smoke/drink . . .  in sugar intake!

I have two theories about this.   First (this one is a no brainer), at the time of the revelation in 1833, white flour and sugar were virtually unknown.   More importantly, we cannot be given a higher law until we’re living the lower law.   Bluntly: we are  not living the lower law.

Many of our children are on drugs.   Utah (the highest LDS population) abuses prescription drugs more than any other state in the nation.   We eat tons of animals and ignore and rationalize away verses 12-15 of D&C 89 (see the part on God approving of eating animals  sparingly in times of winter, cold, famine).   We eat to excess and have obesity rates  similar to the national average.   All of these are gross violations of the law that is supposed to be for the “weakest of the Saints.”

I personally am ready for a higher law. I don’t say this to be arrogant.   I say this because I crave further light and knowledge; I have a lot of questions.    I wonder, what would God tell us regarding lifestyle and diet, IF WE WERE CLEARING THE VERY, VERY LOW BAR He is currently holding for us to clear?

Apocryphal texts of John refer to not eating any animal flesh and living very close to the Earth.   I’d love to know what God really wants for us . . . a Word of Wisdom 2.0, if you will.   (Oh, and hey, that reminds me: I will announce here very shortly a Green Smoothie 2.0 video I did, part 1 and 2.)

Let’s live the lower law so we can be given more light and knowledge on our path to a truly abundant life rich with divinity.

the rest of the Word of Wisdom

Here’s the rest of the body of scripture known as the Word of Wisdom.   Tomorrow I’ll comment on my theory about why  the scripture  doesn’t talk about soft drinks, sugar, refined foods, etc. (beyond the obvious fact that the scripture predates the invention of those  “foods”).   And I’ll comment on some of the interesting things you all have said, especially about conspiracy theory and Tina’s great response to my last  post  about “conspiring men.”

Here it is:

“All grain is ordained for the use of man and of beasts, to be the staff of life, not only for man but for the beasts of the field, and the fowls of heaven, and all wild animals that run or creep on the earth;

“And these hath God made for the use of man only in times of famine and excess of hunger.

“All grain is good for the food of man; as also the fruit of the vine; that which yieldeth fruit, whether in the ground or above the ground–

“Nevertheless, wheat for man, and corn for the ox, and oats for the horse, and rye for the fowls and for swine, and for all beasts of the field, and for mild drinks, as also other grain.

“And all saints who remember to keep and do these sayings, walking in obedience to the commandments, shall receive health in their navel and marrow to their bones;

“And shall find wisdom and great treasures of knowledge, even hidden treasures;

“And shall run and not be weary , and shall walk and not faint.

“And I, the Lord, give unto them a promise, that the destroying angel shall pass by them, as the children of Israel, and not slay them.”

Great promise, right?   Seems to me that we’d be unwise to blow off the parts of this that we don’t like much, saying that it’s “straining at gnats” to examine our meat consumption, for instance, when an incredible promise hangs in the balance.   Would you like to run and not be weary?   Would you like to not fear destructive forces felling everyone around you?

 

more on the Word of Wisdom

I have this secret little hobby at church.   I love to hear the lessons on this scripture, the Word of Wisdom, and  mentally collect all the ways that, almost invariably, the teacher or people in the class find ways to rationalize their way out of having to actually adhere to those last two verses.   You know, the ones that say God gave animals for our use, but only sparingly, in times of winter, cold, or famine.

There is NO way to justify the way most of us are eating, against this counsel.   But I’ve heard some  really interesting rationalizations.   A really good one is this: “That counsel was for people in 1833, not us, because they didn’t have refrigerators or freezers like we do.”   Yesterday in church, it was about how the comma in that verse was added by church administration to make it clear that we’re actually being ENCOURAGED to eat meat.   Well, that’s a comforting interpretation for those who don’t want their testimony of the  Gospel of the Standard American Diet shaken in any way, but . . . I don’t think so!

I’m going to make a strong statement and welcome your comments about it:   I think that  the vast majority of  LDS people are not living this scripture for the “weakest” of the Saints.   Someone at church yesterday made the comment that worrying about those two verses is “straining at gnats.”

Tomorrow, the rest of that section of scripture, including some good stuff about whole grains.