more tips and thoughts about feeding kids

So I was just hanging out with my friend Karl, a single dad to a 6-year old adopted son. He said his son has a very strong personality and he can’t “make” him eat anything. So Karl carefully observes what raw fruits and vegetables his sons likes, and leaves them around for him. As if he doesn’t care whether Jayden eats them or not. A bowl of carrot and celery sticks, left on the table–gone! A big bowl of cantaloupe–gone! It’s a great tip from an intuitive dad who watches for ways to help his son be healthy.

On Saturday, I had dinner with my friend Jennie before deciding last-minute to go to the BYU-U of Wash game where I paid a ridiculous sum for scalped tickets, for me and my sons.

I tease Jennie that for a really educated person with an advanced degree, she is surprisingly ignorant about nutrition. (But then, I have this reaction often, probably because I was blessed with a mother and grandmother who taught me well and were good models. Thus the genesis of this site and my books, to help fill that knowledge gap.)

As an example, my son came back from the salad bar and I told him I meant to suggest he get some FRESH pineapple, not CANNED. Jennie asked,

“Why, is the canned not as good for you?”

And so we were talking about her upbringing and how the reason she doesn’t know anything is that she simply does what her mother did. For instance, she asked, “Is Jell-O good for you?” (She really did ask me that.)   I told her it’s just sugar and a little gelatin and chemical food coloring, and she said, “When I make dinner for company, my friends ask why I always include Jell-O, and I have no reason except that my Mom always did. When I think dinner, I think Jell-O.”

This is pretty profound, if you take a minute to consider it. This should get us through those moments of discouragement when our kids complain, because habit and modeling are so powerful well into adulthood.

As for me, I simply can’t serve a dinner that doesn’t have a raw green salad. Even though I didn’t get along with my mom as I was growing up, she absolutely always served a huge green salad. So that is what I know and understand and copied.

Once again, I have this message for you: stay the course, teach them correct principles.

growth of GSG.com

Today I got auto-emailed by Alexa, which ranks GSG.com 154,101. I am told this is incredible for a site less than 3 years old run by an internet moron. (I was clueless about the WWW 3 years ago and, sadly, continue to be.)

It tells me we have achieved a google rank of 4, that oodles of external websites link to us, and that we had 166,300 visits in the past 30 days. That 1,100 people read this blog daily.

It kind of scares me. Exciting, too, of course–since I continue to pay exactly $0.00 for advertising.

My point is that with such rapid growth (600% growth in traffic in the past year), I find more evidence of what I always say:

“People want to eat right. They don’t know how.”

200 years ago, eating was simple because choices were limited and people ate close to the land.

With an increase in choice, and technology (allowing us infinite variety in taste, texture, and color), and economies of scale, we began to remove nutrition and add chemicals to our food supply. The impact on our health has been deleterious, insidious, gradual, and profound.

I want to thank all of you who arrive at this site, get lost in it for hours, and write me emails telling me all the people in your life you’ve sent here.

Thank you for sending the young moms here (dads too). They alone have the power to change the direction we are collectively going, to reverse the childhood obesity epidemic and the trending upward of diabetes, osteoporosis, asthma, and more.

I’m humbled by what has happened to this little site and blog. I’m overwhelmed by all the information I want to develop to address the questions, needs–cries for help, really–that I and my little team get every day.

I love running this site. I love hearing from you. There are frustrations, too, like the fact that I can’t consult personally to everyone who writes. That I can’t write back to every personal email.

Please keep asking your questions. I will address them as I can on this blog.

Thank you for caring not only about your own health (strap the oxygen mask on yourself FIRST!) but also your children, your parents, your friends, your community.

Thank you to those who ask me to come speak. I am getting a bit more organized and am making a list of the requests I get, so I can watch for an opportunity to speak to your group when I’m in that area. My goal is always, first and foremost, to help you get enthusiastic about returning to the way your body was biologically programmed to eat. That is, less refined/processed/animal foods, and more whole/raw/plant foods. And learn quick and inexpensive ways to do that.

Please write support123@greensmoothiegirl.com if you have a location (seating 75 or more) and would like me to come. We’ll keep you on a list and I very much hope to get to your area.

Stand by for details we are finalizing on upcoming classes in Ogden, Lehi, Layton (all Utah), and New York City.

XOXO,
Robyn

A nutrition book for kids. What do you want in it?

Were any of you on GreenSmoothieGirl.com early enough to remember this photo of my daughter Emma, then 11 years old?

It used to be the concept the site revolved around. My original intent was to support moms in their quest to feed their families good nutrition even as the world they live in has made that very difficult.

My daughter was the “green smoothie girl” poster child I had in mind. She is now 14 and taller than I am at 5’9″.  Still lovely and healthy and enjoys green smoothies. She plans to try out for the soccer team of the state championship high school this fall.

As traffic on the site (and feedback) grew, I wanted to be more inclusive, as the moms on the site were joined by single people, grandparents, couples without children, and so many others whose health would benefit from a natural, mostly raw and plant-based diet. Others working with me convinced me to put my own photo up.

But I want to get back to the roots and possibly co-author a book with my teen daughter.   Any title ideas? I’m thinking something like this:

20 Reasons Why Kids Who Eat Right Kick Butt

Would you want your tween (age 10-15) to read a book focusing on the motivations compelling to that age group? A separate, illustrated book for the younger kids, may end up on my to-do list.

Obviously I have a lot of ideas of my own, but imagine this book containing the things you want YOUR kids to know. (Or grandkids, or any children in your life.) More and more dieticians/nutritionists are approached by desperate parents, saying, “Please help me teach this to my kid–she won’t listen to me!”

Those of you who have studied child development know that after the latency period of childhood (ending about age 12), the parent is no longer usually the pivotal influence. The peer group is. This, of course, makes me very motivated to reach the young moms who have the most influence, as well as control of the diet. But as kids leave home more often and are eating at school, friends’ homes, and social events, what might motivate them to choose natural, whole, raw plant foods? We can’t give up on nutrition just because a headstrong child has reached 13. Many parents are watching helplessly as their children slide into weight problems in middle school.

So imagine the book as an extension of your own pure motive to help your child eat a healthy diet. What should it cover?

You are always so helpful when you comment on my blog, so thanks so much for any feedback!

I love Texas, Texans, and Whole Foods Market, part 1 of 3

So I am just back from my spring-break trip with my kids to Cancun and then Dallas. I got to see my really cool brother Russ and his family. (I am the oldest of 8, and he is the third.) And I also taught two classes that were packed with truth seeking, self-improving, completely awesome GSG Texans. LOVED meeting you, signing your books, hearing your stories.

Two GSGs, who didn’t know each other before, got together on my facebook fan page and put the Colleyville event together. Pamalee and Joni are now fast friends: Christian homeschooling moms, and two amazing women who are ALL about helping others. I think you are both wonderful, thank you!

Many of y’all brought your friends and family. Have I told you lately that I LOVE PEOPLE WHO SHARE WITH OTHERS??! Remember that in my research on green smoothies, 84% of people who undertake the habit are SO EXCITED, SO HAPPY about their positive health results, that they teach it to friends/family/co-workers.

Hope you’re not only getting back to basics in your own diet, discovering vibrant, colorful, delicious whole foods . . . but getting other people pumped about STEP 1, 10 minutes a day, 15 servings of raw, fresh greens and fruit daily.

Friends from facebook came from Oklahoma City and got a hotel room overnight. Folks drove from Ft. Worth. Wow. I am so humbled, and I dearly hope that in exchange for the time and travel in your busy life, you got some inspiration, some good GSG lovin, some info . . . that helps you take the next step to a whole-foods lifestyle. That’s why I do this.

Shout-out to Leslee. Front row. With all her girlfriends. Had all the right answers to my q’s because she reads and thinks and practices. She’s been blogging here SINCE THE BEGINNING. Since back when nobody had ever heard of GreenSmoothieGirl and for all I knew, I was writing to myself out here in cyberspace. One of the very earliest 12 Steppers, Leslee subscribed when I was head down, developing recipes and writing a chapter a month, at the beginning of 2008, releasing them as I finished them.

Love you, tsitsifly girl. Love the journey you are on. You are the best.

My parents grew up in El Paso and I forget until I go to Texas how much I love that place! It feels like home! (Maybe I should move south. Sure, I’d have to give up skiing, but I’d give up being cold too.) Me and a rental car and a downtown hotel and some printed MapQuest directions, kinda scary. But every time I even THOUGHT about getting lost, friendly, helpful Texans rescued me. That’s what Southerners are all about.

(I should say I’m sorry for saying, a year ago, that San Antonio was the most unhealthy place I’ve ever been. Even though it’s true. Heh.)

Anyway, it was a blast, and Suzan at Whole Foods Market Preston Forest rocks out loud – she is a TRIP and “got it” like 30 seconds into my call to her explaining what I do. Suzan, thanks for making that class happen despite the fact that bureaucracy is always daunting in a big corporation. Other WFM management folks have contacted me wanting to do a show and then quit because of the approval process.

You care about your customers, about whole foods, and about the health of the former using the latter! You’re my newest hero.

Cool tip tomorrow from an attendee of my Whole Foods Market class, and how I want to come to your town.

How much plant food does America eat?

Check out this story from USA Today, below. Go ahead and gloat that if your child is drinking even a pint of green smoothie daily even with NO other fruit and vegetable intake, he is ahead of at least 90.5 percent of American teenagers.

(My guess is that you’re outpacing more like 99% of teens, since kids were self-reporting in this study and counting things like pasteurized fruit juice, which don’t rate next to a raw apple and stalk of celery.) YOUR child is getting nutritional standouts like kale, spinach, and collards in her 7.5 servings in a pint of GS. That’s instead of lightweight French fries, ketchup, and iceberg lettuce that “count” in these studies.

Way to go, GSG parents. Thank you for changing the way America’s children eat. You’re a force for good. You’re up against a LOT of opposition, I know! (Read the comments on this blog over the past two years, for people’s horror stories of how tough it can be to do the right thing when family, friends, and the culture oppose you. Be strong.)

My children’s other parent doesn’t approve of my practice of letting the kids trick or treat and then paying them $20 to dump all the candy. He believes an open-cupboard policy with lots of candy and junk food is part of a happy childhood, and that it’s all good as long as you serve a salad at dinner with your meat-and-potatoes main dish. (Refer to my recent “Oprah” blog entry about how we believe at a very fundamental/emotional level that the way we were raised is the RIGHT way.)

By the way, my kids do have a choice. They always make sure they KNOW they have a choice, but in the end they have always chosen the cash, without exception! Why? Because they know the candy makes them sick and isn’t worth close to $20! (They know this because I explain it every year and remind them what $20 buys.) And I do let them have a couple things before dumping it.

Not only do you parents rock out loud for doing the GS thing, but I know that many of you are doing more than just green smoothies. I’m on record many times saying that the USRDA recommendation of 5 servings of fruits and vegs is woefully inadequate. Setting the bar that low leaves far too much room for eating antibiotic-injected, sickly animal carcasses, processed flour and sugar, and other inferior “food.” The USRDA reqs are the nutritional equivalent of “dumbing down” our education. We should be getting 20+ servings. Those serving sizes are so small–I routinely get 20-27 servings of fruits/vegs daily.

Here’s the link to the story, and the full text below it, in case your link doesn’t work:

http://www.usatoday.com/news/health/2009-09-29-fruits-veggies-high-school-kids_N.htm?csp=24&RM_Exclude=Juno

Only 14% of adults eat the recommended number of servings of fruit and vegetables a day, says a report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

About 33% of adults meet the recommendation of two or more servings of fruits a day; 27% eat the recommended three or more servings of vegetables.

Washington, D.C., leads the nation in eating fruits and vegetables: 20.1% of adults report they meet both daily recommendations. Mississippi sits at the bottom with 8.8%.

Three of the top states are in New England, and three of the bottom states are in the Southeast. The disparity could be a result of the lack of farmers markets in the Southeast and policies that promote healthful foods in schools and communities, says Heidi Blanck, senior scientist for the CDC.

High school students fare worse than adults: 9.5% report they eat two or more fruits and three or more vegetables a day. About the same number of students (32%) as adults say they meet the fruit recommendation, but only 13% say they eat at least three servings of vegetables a day.

The Healthy People 2010 objective from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services aims to have 75% of the U.S. population meeting the daily fruit recommendations and 50% meeting the daily vegetable recommendations.

“At the current rate, the goal won’t be met,” Blanck says.

To raise the percentage of people meeting the goals, the CDC suggests grocery stores increase their stock of “high-quality” fruits and vegetables and encourages states to form food policy councils that evaluate the access to fresh produce.

It also suggests schools provide more fruits and vegetables in cafeterias and vending machines.

Oprah, raw food, and parenting (part 1 of 2)

When my girls and I were on our way to California for me to teach classes in San Diego and Fullerton recently (see photo below of the Fullerton class at BellySprout), one of my daughters brought Oprah up. “Mom,” she said, “Oprah is really amazing and accomplishes so much. But she keeps gaining weight. She loses it, but then she gains it all back again. Why is that?”

We puzzled over it as we drove and I realized something very important related to the Introduction to 12 Steps to Whole Foods where I address parenting children to eat well at some length.

That is, we tend to go back to what we learned as children. Oprah can avoid ever spending time in her kitchen and can dictate exactly what she wants to eat, because she’s been rich enough to pay a full-time cook for many years. So the #1 and #2 reasons I’m given to avoid shifting to a high-raw, plant-based diet don’t even apply to her. Those are (1) “I don’t have time to cook” and (2) “I can’t afford to eat right.”

But she was powerfully influenced by the Southern U.S. diet she was raised with: fried everything and lots of animal protein. Even having tremendous advantages of money and a hired help hasn’t been able to overcome that programming!

So it is with us. Let’s look at the positive side of that. If we raise our children to eat mostly vegetables, fruits, legumes, whole grains, nuts and seeds, they certainly may stray. (I did for the first half of my 20’s, and you can read my story on the site.) But our children will always have the positive associations that came with eating according to correct principles throughout their childhood. (If you start now despite your children being half-raised, that’s still so much better than NEVER providing those learning opportunities.)

For me, the positive associations weren’t about those healthy foods I was raised with being comforting–my mother wasn’t a “food is love” person like some moms. She spent minimal time in food prep, wasn’t a good cook by anyone’s standards, and didn’t bother with artful presentation.

But I learned that I had energy and a positive mood, avoided illness, and stayed at an ideal weight back then when she fed us lots of raw fruits and vegs and legume/whole grain main dishes–and dessert only rarely, made with whole wheat and the sugar/butter cut in half. I feel sorry for people who never learned that in their childhood as I did! And so, after deviating for a number of years and not liking how I felt or looked, I came back to the “straight and narrow path” of eating simple, whole, plant foods. It’s a lot easier to RETURN to it than it is to INVENT it from scratch as an adult.

audience in Fullerton CA