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“After I eat chocolate cake, I want to die”

Robyn Openshaw - Aug 28, 2011 - This Post May Contain Affiliate Links

My friend Matthew recently sent me an email. He had just read this quote:

"When I eat chocolate cake, 20 minutes later I'm under my desk wanting to die. When I eat broccoli, in 20 minutes I feel good. But given the choice I always eat the cake."

Matthew asked, "Why do people choose the chocolate cake?

He went on to talk about kids who grow up learning that they have to eat all the food on their plates, even if they're not hungry for it, and how they deal with the consequences of that training well into adulthood. Matthew wrote, "The psychology of how to train yourself about what is okay and what is not okay is fascinating to me. I wonder if you might write some blog posts about how to train yourself and condition yourself to have feelings and opinions about healthy eating that are more useful."

I told Matthew that I was raised with the same rule: you must finish everything on your plate. I'm developing a meditation to go to the very root of why we sabotage ourselves nutritionally, allowing us to correct those subconscious beliefs. (I wrote about this in a blog series months ago -- "I love my body. It serves me well!")

What do you believe about yourself and food? Do those beliefs cause you to make poor choices over and over? What are the words you say in your head? Could you write them on a 3x5 card and think about whether they are useful or harmful?

What if you could write NEW beliefs and statements, ones that are more useful? What if you could exchange the old beliefs for the new ones? It would work only if you repeated those chosen beliefs over and over.

Do you "make" your kids finish their dinner? At my house, you don't have to finish anything except your green smoothie, fruits/veggies, or salad. You can skip the rest of the dinner.

Parents, or anyone with opinions, what do you think? I know it's no longer popular at all to "make" kids do ANYTHING. But I "make" myself eat 60-80% raw greens/vegetables/fruit before I consider eating anything else, so it isn't as if I'm requiring anything of my kids I'm not doing myself. I have done this for so long that I don't even think about it. It's not deprivation or neurotic; it's just habitual.

I have some rules for eating. All of them are based on common sense. All were developed by learning that I don't feel good if I ever break them. I've never written them down until now; they've just been in my head. Here are my 13 rules:

Robyn's 13 Rules for Healthful Eating

  1. Don't eat after 7 p.m. except on a very rare occasion.
  2. Always drink a pint of water as soon as I wake up.
  3. Never eat sugar on an empty stomach–always with lots of raw food and some good plant protein (like almonds, greens, or beans).
  4. If I eat any concentrated sugar (besides fruit), it's only once in a day.
  5. Never eat processed meat.
  6. After working out, drink only water for a while.
  7. Every meal or snack is 60% or more raw plant food (often 80-100%).
  8. Don't drink soda.
  9. Don't buy anything from fast-food restaurants.
  10. Don't eat anything with MSG in it.
  11. Don't add salt to food.
  12. If a meal is below 80% raw plant food, take digestive enzymes.
  13. If I eat too heavily for a weekend or more, I take a few days to detox. I might eat all raw food, two quarts of green smoothie instead of one, wheat grass juice, extra water–or even a couple of days of nothing but Meal Replacement.

Read next: 19 Sugar Substitutes: The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly of Sugar Alternatives

Photograph of Robyn Openshaw, founder of Green Smoothie GirlRobyn Openshaw, MSW, is the bestselling author of The Green Smoothies Diet, 12 Steps to Whole Foods, and 2017’s #1 Amazon Bestseller and USA Today Bestseller, Vibe. Learn more about how to make the journey painless, from the nutrient-scarce Standard American Diet, to a whole-foods diet, in her free video masterclass 12 Steps to Whole Foods.

Disclosure: This post may contain affiliate links that help support the GSG mission without costing you extra. I recommend only companies and products that I use myself.

Posted in: Green Smoothies, Relationships, Whole Food

15 thoughts on ““After I eat chocolate cake, I want to die””

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  1. I have a very strict diet. For me it is easy to say no to the chocolate.

    Not bragging, but I have excellent health. All my numbers, Total cholesterol, blood pressure, A1c, HSCRP are good.

    I wake up fit and ready to take on the day. Whether healthy or sick, each one is usually earned. But as we’ve all read lately, obesity is predicted to reach over 50% in the coming years if trends continue.

    With what is typical fare in US diet, I don’t see how that number is not much higher. Nutrition knowledge is woefully lacking along with the courage/discipline to pursue a healthy diet.

    My bro in law is a doctor who’s had hemorrhoids since 20. He told his son (because he has some problems) that they are caused by sitting on the toilet too long.

  2. Anonymous says:

    I ditto Matthew’s question. I do this over and over and am very frustrated with myself. Mindless eating. Argggg!!

  3. Anonymous says:

    I like all of your rules and abide by most of them myself. I’d also add:

    – Only eat one plate of dinner. No seconds.

    – Never snack out of a bag or box. Always decide on a serving size and put the rest away.

  4. Anonymous says:

    Thanks for your 13 Rules, Robyn. Your beautiful figure are the results of those rules in action. Speaking of action, I think that comment about Tony Robins pushing the plate away is significant. Physical actions can be very powerful to re-train our minds that are so quick to regress to negative self-talk. Also, regarding the affirmations, I have found that saying affirmations OUT LOUD gets a completely different–and much better–result. It’s like night and day, actually. I recommend people try it!

    For those of us getting our kids back to school, try this one: “I am such a loving mom! I ENJOY making healthy food and snacks for my kids to enjoy”

  5. Anonymous says:

    Any suggestions about what to do with a kid that says “Dad, I know we’re vegetarian, but I just don’t like vegetables?” My other kids think broccoli is a reward, eat raw tomatoes like apples, and ask for spinach salad. I blame the oldest’s temperament on baby food. He was the only one that went through his early developmental years eating nothing that wasn’t puréed. We even gave him baby formula (ack!). Started the transition to whole food when he was two, but I think the damage was done.

  6. Anonymous says:

    There’s this great book called “The End of Overeating” that helped me with a lot of re-thinking how I eat. He addresses this directly–why people come back again and again for the bad stuff. There are entire industries built around getting us to do think that way, so it takes a concerted effort & some understanding of the mechanisms to get away from it.

  7. Anonymous says:

    Thank you for your list of rules that really helps me with a lot of questions that I had. I love number 3 I always tell my husband that if he must give our son a treat not on an empty stomach he used to laugh at that suggestion but I think he gets it now. I think I am going to write my own!

    thank you so much for this post!

  8. Put the cake down and back away!

    I just had one of those moments…where I contemplated making cookies to drown my sorrows…I read this blog post and made a purple smoothie (I’m out of greens)…and all I had was purple cabbage and blueberries (and frozen bananas). Its good, good for me, and I’ll have a natural energy boost in about 15 minutes or so…and it lifted my mood!

    Always go the green route before you go the sugar route!

  9. Anonymous says:

    After eating the 12 Steps way for the past 6 months I threw caution to the wind while with my family who was visiting for a weekend. I felt so sick from falling back to the SAD diet! I took a 3×5 note card and wrote on it WHAT foods I want to eat and WHY both the good reasons and the bad. I made one for my pantry and one for my fridge. Every time I am tempted to make a SAD diet choice I remember how awful I felt. It has been a great motivator for me. I also enjoy the community support on your blog and FB page. Thanks for all your work!

  10. Anonymous says:


    Any ideas how to convince teenage boys that meat isn’t the only source of protein and sustanance for their growing bodies? Also what about meats like sliced turkey and ham that say they are all natural with no nitrates or nitrites added, are they ok or just as bad?

  11. Anonymous says:


    I have been following your 12 Steps for a few months now, and am really enjoying how great I am feeling. Do you have any wisdom on belly fat? I had to babies in 15 months and am having a hard time getting a flat tummy? Some say it is my mommy badge, but I would rather that my mommy badge be my happy, healthy, very active little ones.

  12. Anonymous says:

    That is two babies.

  13. Anonymous says:

    I go in deprivation mode when I’m not allowed to eat foods. I am pregnant and have gained way more weight than I should. I eat GSG standard (though I do eat organically, farmed raised meats) and exercise religiously. My midwife has asked me to cut my carbs and to not eat my treats (raw fudge and your no cook cookie balls). I feel so deprived! I don’t want processed junk, I just want some raw fudge. So, I am feeling quite deprived and then I find myself overeating my dinners so I can feel somewhat more satisfied.

    So, I have no positive answer at the moment. Well, I guess my only positive answer is… I do no eat gluten, because I remember oh too well how badly I feel after I eat it, so that is a constant reminder in my head.

    I struggle with my son because he has stopped drinking green smoothies (he is 5). I have tried to MAKE him, but it doesn’t work. I do not make him finish his plate.

  14. Anonymous says:

    Meghan, If you are exercising regularly AND eating balanced whole foods, I find it hard to not let a pregnant mama eat some treats. And if you eat some, don’t feel bad about it–that makes it much worse than just eating it. And perhaps you have a need for the carbs… or the cocoa (energy? Cocoa does have caffeine… but other great stuff, too) I’m no expert, but be good to yourself. Aside from a blood sugar issue (I imagine you have had that all checked out), it would seem fine as long as you are eating well balanced otherwise. That’s my 2 cents. Try to not be too hard on yourself. Enjoy your special time being pregnant 🙂

  15. Anonymous says:

    THANK YOU, Stacy! I really try to listen to my body in what it wants/needs, but I get stressed out with the scale. I do need to relax- I exercise and eat balanced whole foods.

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