This month, I had the privilege to interview Andrea Donsky, in preparation for my Surf Sweets post. We had such an interesting conversation that I thought it would be a great idea to kick off my new interview series, talking with leaders in organic, natural health and allergy friendly products, tools, and resources about their businesses. Andrea is an author, Registered Holistic Nutritionist (R.H.N.) and the Co-Founder and Editor-in-Chief of The Healthy Shopper Inc. and Naturally Savvy Media. NaturallySavvy.com is dedicated to teaching readers about organic, whole foods and how to integrate nutrition into your life.
Q: How did you get interested in serving your children clean foods?
I was raiding my children while I was in school to become a nutritionist. I had a “mom inclination” that neon colored and artificial foods were just “wrong.” Then I did some research and discovered that one of the biggest problems in kids’ foods is artificial food coloring.
Q: Why is that?
It comes down to how they act after they’ve eaten foods with artificial dyes. They would act out and I would see their eyes flicker when they were at the movies, for example, after eating these foods. My husband and I have both noticed this – we call their acting out “the crazies.” When I did the research, I discovered that artificial dyes were linked to hyperactivity. These dyes are made from petroleum. I can see that it’s doing something to them from a chemical standpoint.
Q: What do you do to safeguard your children?
I live in Canada, where companies don’t have disclose what’s in the color. They can simply write “color” on the label – you can’t tell what’s in it or whether the dye is artificial. So we look for options where we know how the colors are created – there are so many great options nowadays. Surf Sweets was one of the first candies we came across that are so clean. And their products taste good – some kids even think they taste better than brands that use artificial dyes.
Q: How do you help parents?
Books like ours, “Label Lessons” or my own “Unjunk Your Junk Food” are helpful tools, as is the NaturallySavvy.com website. They teach people what healthier options they can choose and what chemicals are in foods. Parents and kids can also retrain their taste buds. I had a friend give up Diet Coke. When she tried it again months later, she found it tasted like chemicals! It’s the same with candy and other foods full of artificial ingredients.
Q: How do the kids respond to these changes in their foods?
My son is 11 and is very in tune with his body. If he has cake at a party and eats too much icing, he may throw up – so now he’s leery of junk foods. He’s learning how food affects him. My younger daughter knows about this stuff but has not quite made the connection yet. It takes time but they’ll learn.
Q: I talk to a lot of parents and many of them think that feeding kids real, organic food is difficult. As a holistic nutritionist raising 3 children, what advice do you have for parents?
When people are just learning, baby steps are important. Don’t do everything at once. Ask yourself “What’s best for our children?” Learn by using resources that make it easy, like our books. It is hard, initially, but once you see improvements in your kids, you will catch on. Don’t give up – persevere! You just need patience.
Also, take an interest in educating yourself. Be proactive; don’t wait until it’s too late to make a change. Just switch out for healthier versions of things like candy.
Q: As founder and editor-in-chief of Naturally Savvy, book author, entrepreneur and mother, I’m sure you know it’s impossible to be perfect in all things. How do you embrace imperfection to live a good life?
Kids are not perfect. They will eat junk but they have to learn to make the decision to eat properly for themselves. We’re not perfect – that’s real -but we embrace this life because we have to and because of our kids. If people don’t want to change, it’s about getting to a place of “no judgment.” They can come to my site and ask questions but then it’s their choice.
At the end of the day, I love what I do. I’m not perfect, but we’re all here to make a difference.
Thank you Andrea for a great interview! Check out Naturally Savvy to learn more about good nutrition and even how to make your own natural food coloring! Be sure to visit them on Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest!