Nutrition for pregnant moms, babies, toddlers…..part 5 of 5

Dear GreenSmoothieGirl: My little boy is so picky! He won’t eat healthy food! What do I do?

The first time a child is presented with a healthy food, he often will not like it. We have CREATED “pickiness” in our culture, because we introduce babies to refined sugar. Once you’ve had it, nothing else tastes good. We then bombard our child with ads, and opportunities to eat sugary and salty foods, everywhere they go in a day.

They aren’t defective kids. They’re little addicts.

(My least favorite question at green smoothie demo classes—and it comes from middle-aged and elderly adults, mostly—is, with nose crinkled as if they’re dealing with something very distasteful, “Does the green smoothie TASTE good?”)

The answer is, “If refined sugar and corn syrup are staples of your diet, NO, it doesn’t.”

When you eliminate those, everything tastes better. Get rid of refined salt, aspartame, and MSG too—those are the addictive substances that change your tastes.

Some significant research with kids shows that they need 10 exposures  to a food, to fully embrace it. That’s why I constantly talk about staying the course and being consistent and persistent.

Getting the junk food out of the house. When carrots and cucumbers are competing with Cheezits and Cheetohs? The Cheetohs are gonna win.

They’re easier to chew than carrots. They don’t oxidize or go bad. They taste salty and they melt in your mouth.

Of course, they’re also going to cause inflammation for every part of the body exposed to them.

Ten exposures mean that you COMMIT to a lifestyle where your home is stocked with real foods that nourish and build, protect and detoxify. Not a plastic, fake-orange, bright-yellow-drinks-in-a-can, caffeine-propped, processed hell.

Don’t be a parent who brings home a veggie, gets rejected, and quits. You don’t go to the store and bring home pretty bell peppers and split peas, instead of last week’s Oreos and Spagheti-O’s, and expect everyone to be jumping for joy, and then just quit already when you meet with some resistance. Steel yourself. Educate the kids. Plan and prepare for the long-term, not just this shopping trip. Focus on the light at the end of the tunnel (vibrance, health, the weight you love to be at)…..not the initial resistance.

It doesn’t work like a charm, overnight. Obviously, 10 exposures to a healthy food takes some time. It requires some patience.

And don’t underestimate the way eating corn syrup and cane sugar undermine your goals to raise a whole-foods family.

It takes a little time to find enough food you like, to replace all the junk habits. But you can really starve out all the bad habits over time. I know this because I did it.

Growing a garden puts your kids in touch with where food comes from, too. Far too many of America’s kids would have no clue how to explain to you what is in Chips Ahoy, and where it came from. (For that matter, I can’t explain some of those ingredients either!)

When kids participate in growing “real” foods, they are more interested in eating them. Most of America’s kids know nothing about the sources of their foods beyond the fact that apples grow on trees. Some urban kids don’t even know that.

Many kids love animals and have no understanding that the “chicken nuggets” on their dinner plate means that somebody trapped a bird in a tiny cage its entire life, hacked its head off, ripped its skin off, ground the rest of it up, mixed it with some chemicals, fried it in a giant vat of months-old grease (filtered once a week, whether it needs it or not), formed it into shapes in a factory and froze it for your child to eat months later.

My oldest two kids ate everything I gave them, no problem. The last two gave me a run for my money. They tried to be “picky kids.” Fortunately by then I had my nutritional “core values” firmly in place. I don’t indulge “picky.” Both of those kids eat giant plates of salad, daily green smoothies, and one of them even enjoys vegetable juices and wheat grass shots. Both have told me thank you for having a kitchen full of whole foods. Both have complained that there are often no healthy foods to eat at Dad’s house. I know they don’t want everything I serve. But I also know that I’m sending them into the world with good tastes for real nutrition, an awareness of which foods maintain health, and a knowledge of how to prepare them.

About once a year, I write about picky kids. Here are some previous posts on this topic for anyone who wants to conquer this tough situation facing America’s parents, which is almost entirely our own fault, and within our control if we’re patient and persistent:

http://greensmoothiegirl.com/2010/06/18/what-do-you-do-with-picky-kids/

http://greensmoothiegirl.com/2009/09/01/so-youre-trying-to-get-kids-to-eat-right/

http://greensmoothiegirl.com/2008/01/18/eliminate-junk-food/

http://greensmoothiegirl.com/2010/11/28/picky-kids-followup-post/

Why we developed the Menu Planner

I spent all of 2008 developing 12 Steps to Whole Foods, in response to many readers discovering GreenSmoothieGirl.com and asking for a step-by-step plan to learn the lifestyle I was advocating for.

In the 1990’s, my little boy had nearly died of severe asthma and allergies. In eliminating sugar and dairy, and converting to a whole-foods, 60-80% raw diet, we eliminated all-night wheezing and suffering. We eliminated steroids and bronchodilators and antibiotics. In the process, I lost 50 lbs. and regained my deteriorated eyesight. I regained my ability to run and play sports, dropped my cholesterol to 100 and blood pressure to 98/56, and eliminated eczema and allergies. I never again had debilitating migraines or TIA (mini-strokes) that plagued me in my 20’s.

I became preoccupied with wanting others to be able to do what I’d done, but without all the frustrating bumps along the way. I’d made countless recipes that no one in my family liked. I’d bought hundreds of dollars of ingredients that were hard to find and expensive, with limited or one-time uses.

I’d made recipes that took several hours in the kitchen. I’d wasted time chasing down nutritional bunny hills with little or no gain, and I’d read a lot of useless books about food cults. Along the way, I did find many invaluable nuggets of information and good practices that enormously impacted my family’s life for the better, and others’ as well, when I taught them.

I like the free-form nature of 12 Steps to Whole Foods. You can eat whatever salads, whatever dressings, whatever main dishes you want. Feeling free to explore new foods, learn new habits, try new recipes, anytime you want.

However, in working with thousands of people the past few years, we found that many were trained in how to “diet.” I resist the idea that 12 Steps is a diet. The word itself connotes “temporary”  and “restrictive.” What I am teaching here is a lifestyle that I intend to bless your life and minimize your disease risk, forever. It’s about abundance, since the world of plant foods has nearly infinite colors, textures, tastes, and combining potential.

However, there is value to making things simple and easily planned, and as a planner and list-maker myself, I understand the value of living from lists!

Our just-released Menu Planner tool was highly requested, so we’ve spent well over a year developing it!

It is an effort to help your initial foray into the whole-foods lifestyle be as predictable as possible! Many thanks to Desiree Ward and Tina Huntsman, who assisted in developing the menu plans and shopping lists and counted every penny to give you budget predictions. They found that feeding a family of 4 with these menu plans cost $100/week.

According to my research, that’s what families spend who budget very strictly and have to live on a young, single-earner income.

Anything new can be frustrating in the beginning. There are a number of habits to change, and at first, you may feel out of your depth, like you have no idea what to eat. (Especially for the overachievers, who try to do 6 steps at a time!)

Before now, you may have eaten prepared and processed foods, or fast foods, but you had a routine, you knew where to buy everything, and how to get or make it. Now that you’ve committed to a change, of course, you have to re-learn those things. Keep in mind when I suggest Costco as a source, and you don’t have a Costco membership, there are other places to obtain the same item in your hometown. Having a health food store, a buying club, an Asian market, and a regular grocery store with a good produce section, you’ll be just fine. Even if you’re missing one or even two of those, you can definitely do this!

If you stay the course, your new habits will become as easy and habitual as your old ones were. Those new habits have the power to nourish you, energize you, and endow you with health, lovely skin and hair, and ideal weight. Your old habits were likely clogging your digestive system, draining your energy, and causing your weight to gradually creep upwards.

To the end of nourishing you well and providing the benefits you seek, I hope the plans and lists in our new Menu Planner are helpful on your journey to amazing health!

Idaho Falls, traveling and eating right, part 2

I love my five-mile run on the Snake River in Idaho Falls. It’s quirky. Thousands of geese of all ages, everywhere, and apparently it’s illegal to scare or chase them, Tennyson was informed. A shrine to a 16-year old girl who died three years ago. Man-made waterfalls. Saturday flea markets with people selling really weird stuff like homemade dog food.

I’ve run many times in so many places—the streets of downtown Paris, along many stretches of California and Hawaii and Florida beaches, through packs of dogs in Urubamba, Peru, last weekend along Lake Michigan. But truly the Snake is one of my all-time favorites.

When I travel, I take more stuff if it’s a road trip, and less if it’s on a plane. Lately on planes, I’ve been taking frozen pints of green smoothies and vegetable juices, packed in double Ziploc bags, and rolled up in jeans in the middle of my suitcase. It makes it to the hotel fridge before it thaws.

Here’s my road trip list, which caused us to never purchase food from a gas station, and never set foot in the hotel “Continental” breakfast. (Thank you to GSG readers who manage Le Ritz—beautiful suite overlooking the river, great value, we always stay there!)

(We did eat salads for lunch and dinner at a couple of restaurants, and once we splurged on spinach/artichoke dip and chips—I’m not promoting it, I’m just being truthful here.) So here’s what was in the cooler:

—Cooler with quarts (me) and pints (Tennyson) of green smoothie, and veggie juice from my Norwalk (beets, cukes, celery, greens, carrots)

—Gallon Ziploc bag of granola, with a pint of soaked/drained raw sunflower seeds, to add to the granola. With cups and spoons and a box of organic rice milk from Kirkland (Costco)

—a big tub of cut-up watermelon for the drive

—whole-grain crackers from Good Earth that Tennyson likes

—some maltitol-sweetened chocolate that I like (which won’t cause me to have to pay Matthew $10,000)

—apples, baggies of celery sticks, baggies of baby carrots

—pistachios

—dried fruit

—a cooler of alkaline water

—Ormus Greens and a shaker cup (I drink a pint of water, with greens in it, when I wake up)

Tennyson and I eat at Subway a lot when we travel. Whole-wheat bread, veggie sandwich (push them to put more, more, more spinach, bell peppers, onions, tomatoes, sprouts, and cucumbers, till it’s a big fat sandwich!), no condiments except brown mustard. We both eat a 12″ sandwich! Remember Colin Campbell, PhD from Cornell discovered, to his shock, published in The China Study, that those who eat 95% plants can eat 200 calories a day more than meat-eaters, and stay lean!

In Idaho Falls, after teaching a class where people bemoaned that they have no health food store, I found Scoresby Farm’s Market, with two locations. I bought a flat of strawberries, bags of cherries, pints of blueberries to add to our granola every morning, and a watermelon.

I had them wash all the fruit for me. Unfortunately they wouldn’t cut the watermelon because the law now requires them to ACID WASH knives and cutting boards with only certified acid wash, to cut melons. I guess there was some problem with melons recently, so as with so many other food issues, our government decides to overreact with chemicals and processes that take the life from our food. (Like pasteurizing all of California’s almonds and the federal government’s goals to irradiate much of our produce.) I ended up bringing the uncut watermelon home.

I took the flat of strawberries into the dugout and the whole team ate it. It’s the first whole food I’ve ever seen in a dugout, in 14 years of being a baseball mom. Except for what my boys are eating, of course, or what I occasionally send in there for everybody. Whatever Tennyson is eating is ALWAYS a big curiosity. Usually what you see is nachos, hot dogs, sodas, Gatorade, burgers, and candy. At the end of the game, with all the strawberry tops on the ground, it looked like somebody bled to death in there.

Scoresby Farm’s Market isn’t a health food store, at all. But there’s lots of produce, much of it locally grown, and I asked the manager,

“I’m an health activist from out of town. I spoke to 250 people last night in Idaho Falls, who say there are few options to get nutrient dense food around here. Would you be responsive to my readers asking you to find things for them and stock them? Like young Thai coconuts, for example? If I wrote about you on my blog?”

“Sure,” she said. “In fact, that’s how we ended up with the kale in here that you just noticed—our customers asked for it.”

Go, GSG readers! I have a feeling you had a hand in that. Muah! I love you! Bunches of kale are only $0.69 there!

I asked about organics, and the manager was able to tell me which produce was unsprayed (not organic certified) and “minimally sprayed.”

I hope that helps. Check out Scoresby’s, my I.F. friends!

FROZEN DESSERTS

These days, there’s no excuse to not eat healthy! You can get virtually ANYTHING you like in the junk-food world, in a vastly more nutritious version. You just have to know where to look! I’m not a big ice cream eater, but I was in my 20’s. I wish I’d known this stuff before I ate gallons of Ben ‘N Jerry’s!

In this video, I’m showing you really delicious alternatives to ice cream that won’t damage your health like dairy and sugar will. You can get them at your health food store–and if you can’t, you’ll at least get a sense of what I look for when I read labels, to evaluate the selections where YOU shop.

the healthiest shopping cart in Costco

I was in Costco a few days ago and the lady behind me in line said, “That is the healthiest shopping cart I have ever seen!”

I told her I write books teaching people how to eat whole foods and I have a site called GreenSmoothieGirl.com. I told her about GSG because she looked like a young mom. And you know how I feel about young moms–I see them as having tons of power to change the world, and I want to know them all! Before their kids are McD’s addicts and so much harder to change.

And it turns out her name is Marla and she is already a GSG reader. I don’t know if the camouflage shorts I was wearing actually WORKED, or if it’s the fact that my hair has morphed excessively blonde, that she didn’t recognize me as GSG.

That’s one thing that isn’t entirely “natural,” my need to change my hair color. Also. I do weird things sometimes. A couple of weeks ago I wanted to make a gift basket of “favorite things” for the guy I am dating. I would love to tell you that his favorite things are green smoothies and sprouted hummus with flax crackers and wheat grass juice. But alas, I had to go to the grocery store and slink out of there . . . ducking my head, hoping not to be recognized . . . with a six-pack of MOUNTAIN DEW. Then I went somewhere else to find really good, made fresh daily, CHOCOLATE CHIP COOKIES. (He has been telling me that he could blackmail me with that info, should he ever need to–”GSG was seen buying Mt. Dew!” he guffaws. Might as well pre-empt that by coming out of the closet.)

I was also “in and out” of an In-N-Out Burger last night. This is because my children asked their father what he wanted for Father’s Day, and he wanted a gift certificate and t-shirt from there. Even though I have never eaten their food, and I would not eat in that establishment unless I were completely without other options (notice I didn’t say “wouldn’t be caught dead”), I aim to please. He can eat what he wants. (Sure wish he wouldn’t feed it to my kids, but again–no use fighting unwinnable battles.)

I also ate at Texas Roadhouse Grill last night. Okay, I ordered the vegetarian platter for both me and my son! But I’m just sayin. I ate there. That’s where my friends and sister-in-law wanted to eat after we watched Ten’s baseball game.

I seem to be rather cavalier with the nutrition of those close to me who are not my children. Here’s why: people will eat right when they want to, and not a minute sooner. So I’m not going to expend my energy trying to change anyone else’s diet or feeling frustrated about it.

He, Dixon, of the Mt. Dew, started drinking green smoothies even before he read my book. He said when I asked a couple weeks ago, on Day 17, that he notices no health benefits. (I told him that a green smoothie doesn’t cancel out the deleterious effects of the Coke and Mt. Dew. And he is still making and drinking GS because he knows academically that they’re good for him.)

A couple of other close friends, though, who have finally taken the plunge, told me this month they notice more energy and no need for caffeine, less than a week into the new habit.

It’s philosophical for me: I won’t wreck relationships over food! I was talking this week to a certain person who is a huge presence in raw food, on the internet. She and I bonded a while ago in our common mission and in our single-mom status. Sometimes we talk about world domination via raw food. I asked her what happened with the last guy and how it’s going with the new.

She said, “Turns out the raw foodist had no personal ethics. Now I’m with a meat eater and I think I’ll keep him.”

True enough, that. Let’s live our healthy life, speak up when it’s appropriate, shut up when it’s appropriate. In general, be as “normal” as possible while doing what’s right.