Episode 194: Susan Neal and Eating God’s Food

This week on “Books that Spark,” we talk with Susan Neal about health and helping our children choose to eat God’s food.

Our Guest: Susan Neal

Susan U. Neal, RN, MBA, MHS, is an author, speaker, and certified health and wellness coach whose background in nursing and health services led her to seek new ways to educate and coach people to overcome health challenges. Her passion and mission are to improve the health of Americans.
Her award-winning Healthy Living Series includes:

• 7 Steps to Get Off Sugar and Carbohydrates
• Christian Study Guide for 7 Steps to Get Off Sugar and Carbohydrates
• Healthy Living Journal (awarded “2019 Best Inspirational Gift Book”)
• Healthy Living Series: 3 Books in 1
• Solving the Gluten Puzzle

Her latest publication is Eat God’s Food: A Kids Guide to Healthy Eating. You can find Susan on SusanUNeal.com.

Susan’s Book:

Show Notes/Transcript with Links:

Terrie (00:07):

Welcome to “Books That Spark,” a podcast for parents and caregivers, celebrating books that help us with everyday discipleship every day, sparking important conversations with our children. Today, I’m so excited to introduce you to our guest. Her name is Susan Neal. She has a lot to share with us about our children’s health today. So Susan, thank you for joining us.

Susan (00:28):

Thanks so much for having me, Terrie.

Terrie (00:31):

Well, I’m really excited to talk about your book. How long has it been out?

Susan (00:35):

Since a couple years? Eat God’s Food: A Kid’s Guide to Healthy Eating.

Terrie (00:41):

Yes, I love it. It’s an interactive activity book. First, tell us a little bit about the book and how kids can use that. I think it would be great for homeschoolers especially to do a unit or semester on eating healthy. Tell us about the book first

Susan (00:55):

So it goes over God’s foods, not the USDA foods. God’s foods are vegetables. He gave us a hundred different vegetables. Then we’ve got fruits and nuts, seeds, whole grains, non-processed grains, and meat. Each section of the book goes through those categories of God’s foods. Then after the page that explains that, and some of it includes Bible verses where it shows that God planted the garden and the different food that he gave us to eat from the garden. Then the second page in each section is an interactive, fun thing to keep your child busy, whether it’s matching what the nuts look like compared to the name of the nut or what the seeds look like, or how many vegetables you’ve eaten? What ones are you going to try next? The third page in each section is a recipe for them to do with their parent.

Terrie (02:00):

Yeah, I love that. A very simple recipe keeps the food very healthy and not difficult for kids to do so. Why do you have such a passion about teaching children to eat God’s foods?

Susan (02:13):

About 13 years ago, I suffered a health crisis with 10 medical diagnoses and 2 surgeries. I could barely get out of bed and took me years to recover. I used my nursing and my master’s in health science background to recover. I got a passion for helping others improve their health and their weight. What I found is that the Center for Disease Control statistic of obesity increased from 40% to 42% in the past decade. I’m trying to make that statistic decrease and I thought, what a better way to do that than to teach children from 3 or 4 all the way up to 8, 9, 10, even about God’s foods and how to not be duped by the food manufacturers and their processed food. I wanted to impact the health of people positively.

Terrie (03:17):

I don’t like being a conspiracy theorist, but I tell you, it feels like our government’s trying to get us just to be unhealthy. I was just yesterday watching some of the ads on TV and I’m like, they’re touting these foods as healthy and good for you, and I’m like, they’re processed, they’re full of chemicals. I don’t think they’re good for us. I feel like our kids are bombarded constantly with the temptation to eat foods that are just going to set them up for failure in the health department. Would you agree with that?

Susan (03:52):

Absolutely. I included a section in this children’s picture book Eat God’s Food that says, “Why should you avoid junk food?”, and it explains why. Their activity is food label clues. Can you find these unhealthy ingredients? They have food labels there. They’re going to be looking for sugar, dextrose, preservatives, artificial flavors, colors, et cetera, so that they can become an investigator.

Terrie (04:27):

That’s good. Yeah, teaching kids to read labels. That’s so good. I love that. Well, I used to, because I’ve taught for years and years and when we would teach a class on health or nutrition, they taught us not to say that sugar’s bad processed food is bad, that it just needs to be eaten a little, not too much, and I’m not sure I agree with that, because I think it’s very addictive and gets you hooked on eating the wrong kinds of foods, if you start eating the sugar and the processed foods and the preservatives. I’ve seen too many kids just become obsessed with that. They don’t want to eat anything but processed foods. To me, there has to be an addictive quality to it would be my guess.

Susan (05:11):

Yeah, you’re right, and that’s what’s contributed to 19% of children from 18 years younger are also obese and exactly what you’re saying is contributing to that non-alcoholic fatty liver disease is really increasing greatly in the United States. It’s exactly right. What’s contributing to that is high sugar foods and drinks in the processed foods that turn to glucose. I also wrote the book for adults, Seven Steps to Get Off Sugar and Carbohydrates to then go ahead and help people understand you don’t want to eat anything with white flour, because the manufacturers removed the God-given nutrients in the whole wheat berry grain. They removed the ingredients that caused the flour to go bad. Well then that food is dead food. It’s no longer God’s food because it was stripped of its God-given nutrients, whereas a whole wheat berry that God gave us was perfectly fine. It goes bad, it’s an alive food, but it’s going to be milled and then it would go rancid after some time sitting in your pantry. Whereas so many foods today, they sit on the grocery store shelf or in your pantry for months. Those foods are dead foods and they are not healthy for the human body.

Terrie (06:50):

Yeah, and that’s a real simple test. If it’s going to go bad in a short amount of time, you know it’s alive. If you can keep it for a year, you probably don’t need to eat it. That’s an easy test.

Susan (07:01):

Right?

Terrie (07:02):

I heard someone say, throw this food out on the yard. If it grows something or molds, you know it’s got some life in it. If you throw a corn flake out in the yard, it’s just going to sit there.

Susan (07:13):

That’s right.

Terrie (07:15):

That keeps life really simple.

Susan (07:18):

So kids really get addicted to those refined carbohydrates. I’m going to read a sentence or two in my book and it says, once you stop eating junk food, something very interesting happens within a couple of days, your taste buds return to normal and God’s foods begin to taste good again.

Terrie (07:41):

That’s true.

Susan (07:42):

Kids are so smart. I just think it’s wonderful to teach them this. Knowledge is power.

Terrie (07:51):

Yeah.

Susan (07:52):

Another fun thing that I’ve had grandparents do and even moms or dads could do is go through this book and like go through the section, bring it with them to the grocery store and it’s like, okay, you get to choose the vegetable for this week. Then have them make the choice and they can go into the list in the book that has like over 50 different vegetables listed. “Let’s try one that you haven’t tried before,” then they could choose the fruit. “Let’s do a fruit for dessert,” and I did this one summer with my three daughters. Every week we would try a new vegetable and a new fruit. It was so much fun. It’s like the star fruit, you cut it and it’s this gorgeous star or a dragon fruit on the outside it doesn’t look as appealing, but on the inside it’s white with all these black dots and stuff and it’s just intriguing. Many times we get into the habit of eating the same foods over and over again, so trying a variety of foods that are in season at that time is best for the human body.

Terrie (09:03):

That’s good. That’s an easy thing to also remember. I love now that we can get star fruit and dragon fruit and all of those here in the states, cause my kids grew up in Taiwan, so that was normal fare. We could get it anywhere, but you didn’t find it in the states as much and now we have access to so many fruits we didn’t used to have and vegetables we didn’t used to have. That’s so cool. I do have a question about a couple things. Two issues that I am concerned about are GMOs and then the other thing is three of my four children are on the autism spectrum, so textures are very difficult for them and mixing foods are very difficult, so a lot of times I deconstruct things if we’re going to do tacos or anything like that, we deconstruct it and they add what they want from the different vegetables and different things instead of making them ahead of time because they have their issues. Texture has been a big deal with the autistic children I’ve worked with to the point that they will gag if the texture bothers them. Do you have any pointers for people who have kids who are very sensitive to textures? How can we help them try a variety of foods and be able to swallow them and not, you know, gag? Do you have any pointers for that?

Susan (10:20):

You’re just going to have to try different types of foods. My daughter, she just can’t handle the chia seed pudding or different textures, so I completely understand, okay, well let’s try instead of the mushiness of one item, try a strawberry or try a blueberry. Another thing is I would freeze fruit. She loved the frozen blueberries. What I would do is I would put them on a cookie sheet to where they’re not touching each other. I would freeze them for an afternoon, I’d pull them out, and I would freeze them in mason jars because you don’t want to freeze in plastic. Plastics are not good for us. Freeze them in mason jar, then you can pull out a few of those blueberries at a time so that you can create a different texture when you freeze.

Terrie (11:16):

I like that. How about GMOs? Should we be concerned, should we shop for organic? That tends to be so expensive nowadays. What should we do? How can we protect ourselves?

Susan (11:29):

So the four crops that are primarily GMO, like 80-90% of the crops are GMO in the US. This is what you would want to buy. Organic is wheat, oats, soy, and corn. I really don’t buy any of those products unless they’re organic. Let’s say you go to a farmer’s market and you’re buying some corn. I just look at the very tip of the corn and a lot of times you’ll see where it’s a little black stuff, where worms had been. If you have that, it’s good. It’s healthy because it’s not genetically modified. The corn scene has been genetically modified to where Roundup or glyphosate and herbicide is sprayed on it on all four of those crops and it doesn’t harm the crop, so what happens is then we end up consuming that carcinogen residue from the herbicide that was sprayed on the plant. Those crops are the most important to buy organic. Next, if you’re going to eat the skin: berries, apples, peaches, plums, nectarines, all those are important to buy organic, but you don’t need to necessarily buy organic for an item that has a larger peeling, like a melon or avocado or a banana.

Terrie (13:01):

Okay. I love that you’re giving such simple ideas that we can easily follow. The education you’re giving is so accessible to the young children as well as two adults who need to be reeducated. So I appreciate that, that you’re giving us such simple, easy things to follow. Thank you for that. That’s really good.

Susan (13:19):

You’re welcome. One thing I did with my daughters when they went to the grocery store with me, they would like want something and I’m like, “Okay, look on the label on the back, how many grams of sugar?” We were only allowed to buy something with 10 grams of sugar. They would look, “…It’s 27 grams of sugar, Mom.” That’s three times. No, we can’t buy that. So they would find another. “It’s nine grams of sugar, Mom.” That’s fine. Throw it in the cart.

Terrie (13:49):

That’s great. I love it. Well, I think we can encourage parents that shopping with our kids and helping them to read labels and help make the decisions about food are an excellent thing. I love the idea of changing the texture by freezing something or cooking it a little differently. That’s an excellent, excellent idea. I just think you’ve given us a handful of things we can immediately implement into our diets, into our families, and into our shopping. Thank you so much for sharing with us today.

Susan (14:21):

You’re so welcome.

Terrie (14:23):

Again, your book is Eat God’s Food. It’s a kid’s activity book. It’s available on Amazon. Like I said, I think it would be an excellent book for homeschooling parents to use as well as those who aren’t homeschooling, but if you’re wanting to do a health class in your homeschool, I think this would be an excellent resource to start with. Alright. Anything you’d like to add before we go today?

Susan (14:48):

Kids are smart. They can figure this out. They can be the detective in the grocery store and figure out what is not healthy.

Terrie (14:56):

That’s great. Alright, well thank you again and I’ve enjoyed talking with you today.

Susan (15:01):

Thank you, Terrie.

Terrie (15:03):

Thank you for joining us for “Books That Spark,” where we encourage each other to grasp those teachable moments sparked by great books and great conversations and to live out everyday discipleship, helping to equip our children to follow Christ with their whole hearts. If you enjoyed this episode, please like and share so people know we’re here or leave comments on the podcast host sites or on our blog. We truly appreciate you and we love that you were here today. If you would like to connect with me, you can join my mailing list or comment on TerrieHellardBrown.com. We love to hear from you and we respond to every comment and question. We pray you feel empowered to walk by faith and to embrace everyday discipleship every day with the children in your life.

Your Host: Terrie Hellard-Brown

Terrie Hellard-Brown writes and speaks to help children and adults find God’s purpose and plan for their lives. She teaches workshops and writes devotional books, children’s stories, and Christian education materials.

Her newest book, A World of Pancakes, just launched and is available at terriehellardbrown.com. Her devotional for families, Building Character through Picture Books: 25 Family Devotions Based on Favorite Picture Books, is available on her website and through Amazon.

Her podcast, Books that Spark, reviews children’s books that spark imagination, emotion, questions, and discussion leading to teachable moments with our kids. Her podcast posts each Tuesday morning.

Her blog posts discuss living as a disciple of Christ while parenting our children. She challenges us to step out of our comfort zones to walk by faith in obedience to Christ and to use the nooks and crannies of our lives to disciple our children.

Terrie uses her experiences as a mother of four (three on “the spectrum”), 37 years in ministry (15 in Taiwan), and 32 years teaching to speak to the hearts of readers.

Her motto is “Life doesn’t have to be perfect to be WONDERFUL” and keeps her childlike joy by writing children’s stories, delighting over pink dolphins, and frequently laughing till it hurts.

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