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The Hardship of Greens

20 J0000007UTC 2011

When I chat with people who come to me for help with nutrition and health, I make mental lists of things that are most difficult for them. The things I think will end up at the top typically have not. Giving up cheese danishes for breakfast, re-routing the pathway to frutarianism, understanding that a serving of steak is the size of a deck of cards– you know, the usual. All of this sifts to the bottom of the difficulty list compared to when I say, “I don’t see anything green on your food diary. I’d like to see you eat some greens.”

bok choy from

bok choy from

Listen, I don’t throw people into the deep end of greenery with sharks and nasty water snakes where they’ll surely get chewed to bits or drowned. I like the deep end, with every meal full of piles and piles of greens that take up half the plate. This helps fill the belly, calm the mind, and increase the nutrient stores. No one can eat that much green stuff and not think, “Wow, that was really good for me.” It’s totally impossible. But I don’t do the deep end. I hold a person’s shaking hand and we step onto the first shallow step where the water just covers the feet. I find this way a little frustrating, but it is a start, and I do like that.

I love the reports, along the lines of, “That wasn’t so bad after all!” or “I couldn’t even taste the kale in my smoothie!” or “I used to hate spinach when I was a kid, but I actually liked it!” or “I never heard of chard before but now it’s my favorite!” Wow, hooray! Discovery.

Sometimes, however, a person comes with shame, like I’m some mean dog owner ready to scold over a big poo on the rug. Well, I don’t do that, even if maybe I should. I hear things like, “I’ve been really bad this week. I haven’t been eating my greens.” The look is downcast. Or, “Well, I did eat carrot sticks every day…is that good?” The look is hopeful. Carrots are good, yes, but they are different than greens.

At the end of a session or a day, I don’t hand out points, cookies, or gold stars, so mostly people just have to manage their own decisions and move on. I always have to return to a principle that my husband taught me, long before we got together. It goes like this: “I can’t make you do anything.” I might be able to teach you something, influence you, or recommend something I find to be true or beneficial– but I can’t make you do anything. I’m not going to fix you a pot of collards or buy you a box of super greens or open your mouth with a screwdriver and shove it all down. You get to decide. Then you get to do it– or not do it– yourself. That’s that.

As for me, I was asked yesterday by a client what I eat on a “good day.” I think this person probably thought all this advice was nice, but what I ate as the consultant was where the rubber really met the road. I haven’t sent her the breakdown yet, but I was relieved to think back on my day and see that even though I ate some chips and salsa and some really nice dark Theo Chocolate I also had a mess of greens for breakfast, lunch, and dinner.

Here’s an awesome bok choy recipe from Steamy Kitchen. This lady knows what the heck she’s talking about! We use this recipe with wild salmon and brown rice with kelp flakes and Bragg’s liquid aminos.

Baby Bok Choy Recipe

Enjoy your greens…



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