Susan Neal and Eating God’s Food (Part 1)

John FarrellBy John Farrell9 Minutes

John Farrell: What was your inspiration for Eat God’s Food: A Kid’s Guide to Healthy Eating?

Susan Neal: Ten years ago, I lost my health, and I had ten medical diagnoses and two surgeries. I’m a nurse, I have a Master’s in health science, and I had multiple doctors, but I still had to use alternative methods and really work on healing myself. Five years later, I wrote a best-selling book that won the Selah Award at the Blue Ridge Mountains Christian Writers Conference called 7 Steps to Get Off Sugar and Carbohydrates.

My mission is to improve the health of the body of Christ, and I want to lower the Centers for Disease Control statistics of 50 percent of Americans suffering from a chronic illness and 42 percent experiencing obesity. What better way to do that than influencing children through a picture book that is geared for 4- to 8-year-olds? So, I moved from the adult setting to the children’s setting to help educate them.

JF: When it comes to the advice you provide adults about healthy eating, how does that advice vary from what you would tell a child or a parent of a child?

Susan: Well, for children, you do not want to put them on a diet. My 7 Steps to Get Off Sugar and Carbohydrates is not a diet either. It’s a lifestyle change. So, the message for both is similar. It’s a lifestyle change.

You want to move from eating the foods that the food manufacturers created to God’s foods—and when I say, “God’s foods,” I simply mean looking at the plate and did the food come out of a garden or off of a ranch. If the food resembles the baked potato, eat it. If it has been processed into the potato chip, do not eat it. So, you want to eat God’s foods and not the food manufacturer’s.

JF: That’s a great way to look at it. What is the main piece of advice or main thing you want parents to learn or take from this book?

Susan: That God gave us a wholesome variety of food and it’s just as easy to cut up a green apple or put together a bowl of berries or nuts as a snack for your children than it is a bag of potato chips or a box of crackers. Those items have been stripped of their nutrients. They don’t even resemble the form that God created—the grain or the potatoes. It doesn’t even resemble the items that God created. So, let’s move from the food manufacturer’s foods to God’s foods.

The food manufacturers do not have our health in mind. They want to expand their profits at the expense of our health.

JF: The book features recipes, educational activities, and biblical advice that applies to healthy eating. Can you share some of the things that readers can expect to find in your book?

Susan: I wanted to make it fun. Kids love activities. I have a list of all the different nuts and all the different grains and then I have pictures of them. There are some grains, buckwheat, and some other nuts that they may have never seen or never heard of. They get to match the picture with the grain or the nut.

They have fun activities like finding fruit in a playground with seek-and-find. I wanted them to understand and realize God gave us a hundred different vegetables. So, let’s draw some. Do you know what they look like? Do you know what color the fruit is? And then count how many vegetables you’ve eaten and count how many you need to try. Which ones are you going to try?

One grandparent said that when her grandkids got this book, they went to the grocery store. One of the activities is to write down the color of each fruit. So, they were going through the store asking, “What does a dragon fruit look like? What does a pomegranate look like?” They made it a fun activity at the grocery store.

Healthy Eating Options for Children

JF: For children who are struggling with their weight, what is one food that they should learn to embrace more?

Susan: I would say any fruits or vegetables and nuts or seeds. What happens is that we get hooked on the food manufacturer’s foods because they add sugar—even almond butter will have sugar in it—they add salt, they add colors, dyes. They add different things to make it more enticing to get us hooked on it. We want to move away from those items, and we want to move toward, “Let’s get a bowl of berries. Let’s try some macadamia nuts or pistachios. Let’s open up the pistachios.” That’s kind of fun with opening the shell. You want to eat one good fruit a day, and you want to eat lots of vegetables.

JF: Outside of the standard answer of vegetables and fruits, what are some other healthy snacks that families should have on hand?

Susan: Green apples and either almond or cashew butter. That is a healthy, sweet, delicious, and nutritious snack. It has protein because of the almond butter or cashew butter. Green apples are a low-sugar fruit, but you could use a different type of apple. You just slather each slice with the almond butter and it is so delicious. It curbs the sweet tooth. It’s really satisfying because it has fiber and protein.

Another fun snack is making organic popcorn. Don’t get regular popcorn. It has to be organic because 90 percent of corn in the United is a CMO Roundup Ready crop that has residue of glyphosate on it. Glyphosate is a carcinogen, and it is what kills the weeds. You want organic popcorn and then put coconut oil on top instead of butter. You pop your popcorn on top of the stove just like our parents did when we were young. Don’t put it in the microwave. Then drizzle it with coconut oil and sea salt. It is so delicious. That’s another great one.

One of the activities I have you do is making a recipe. One of the recipes is homemade granola that’s made out of organic oats because non-organic oats are also a Roundup Ready crop and contain the carcinogen glyphosate. So, you want organic oats, and you make a delicious granola. Another recipe in the book is to make snack bags of trail mix. There’s a trail mix recipe and this activity is to make a bunch of snack bags to keep on the pantry shelf to grab when you’re headed out. You can have those ready and available.

Order your copy of Eat God’s Food: A Kid’s Guide to Healthy Eating by Susan U. Neal