Friday, December 18, 2015

How Smoothies Saved My World (For Awhile...) (Guest Blogger Cathy Franklin)

One of my favorite group sessions to lead was Toddler Nutrition. I’d enter the room to find a half-dozen or so harried mothers busy redirecting their toddlers — “No crayons up the nose Josie!” “Give the baby back her binkie, Marcus!”

I would start, “Have any of you noticed that your child isn’t eating as much as they used to?” Nods.

“Have you noticed that they just want to eat one food over and over?” More nods.

“They loved spaghetti last week, but hate it this week?” They began to look at me as if I was a mind reader.

“They want grilled cheese sandwiches with the crusts cut off, every day, and it has to be on the Mickey Mouse plate or else it goes sailing across the room?” Vigorous nods.

“Congratulations, your kids are normal!”

Eyebrows would perk up and smiles would break out. I recall one mother sighing, “Thank goodness, I just thought she was spoiled!”

Picky-eating and food jags are a normal part of toddler development. It turns out these are normal parts of adolescent development, too. Just as Picasso went through his Blue Period, his Rose Period, and his Crystal Period, I think of my budding teen geniuses as going through theirs. The Coffee Period. The, “I am a Vegetarian but I Still Eat Hamburgers and Sausage Period”. And my favorite, the Smoothie Period.

My kids spend a week every summer with family friends in the San Juan Islands — a retired couple (this is key). When they came back last August my daughter waxed eloquent about the fantastic smoothies they made every morning. She described the organic kale and carrots lovingly grown in their huge garden and the six other fruits and vegetables (of course, organic) that made up this glorious elixir. I briefly considered trying to duplicate the effort, envisioned the daily shopping and clean up routine needed, and gave up the idea within minutes.

On my next shopping trip, I found smoothies in the refrigerated case near the produce section. I bought the one called, “Green Goodness.” It wasn’t organic, yet it had basically everything else. No added sugar. 100% juice. No preservatives. Slightly more than two servings of fruit and vegetables in each delectable serving. Plus this product has spirulina, barley grass, and Nova Scotia Dulse. Take that, retired friends in Bellingham! I bet your smoothies don’t have that stuff! Actually, I’m not sure what that stuff is, but still…

It was a hit! Compared to the time and hassle involved in making it, $6.00 for a bottle with six servings was worth it. I was pleased with myself. A serving or two a day that would provide four servings of fruits and vegetables seemed like good insurance in the teen world of skipping breakfast and lunching on cheese crackers and marshmallows at 3:00 (I kid you not).

However, just like Picasso, my teen genius went into frenzy mode. She was drinking one bottle a day. Ninety-one servings of fruits and vegetables per week. $42 per week = $180 per month for Green Goodness =Yikes!

I had to have a little chat with myself. Wasn’t I happy she was at least drinking Green Goodness for breakfast instead of skipping breakfast entirely? Did I ever think I’d have a chance of getting her to eat this amount of fruits and vegetables versus drinking it? What was she missing by drinking instead of eating? OK, I am a dietitian; I know the answer to that one. But still, isn’t this a good problem? Over-loading on fruits and vegetables?

PB&J - A Classic
I used the excuse of not shopping every day as a way to explain why there wasn’t more Green Goodness in the fridge to feed her addiction. There was some grumbling but like a typical teen other parts of life distracted her. She actually forgot about Green Goodness for a few days, and when she went to pour it, it had separated. I showed her how she could shake the bottle to mix it up again, but nope, that was the end of the Smoothie Period. 

The toasted cheese had sailed.