Biography

  • Karen Knowler is “The Raw Food Coach” and has been dubbed “The world’s premier raw food coach”. A published author, popular speaker, raw food coach, chef and teacher, as well as trainer to the trainers, Karen has inspired millions of people around the world to experience the power of raw and living foods through her web site, books and TV appearances and has trained hundreds of raw food coaches, teachers and professionals worldwide.

    Karen is known for her “easy, simple and fun” approach to both food and business, as much as her deep insight, compassion and wisdom. Karen is former Managing Director of The Fresh Network, the UK's Raw and Living Foods organisation, founder and former editor of Get Fresh! magazine, founder and sole organiser of the Fresh Festival and author of a multitude of life-changing books, eBooks and articles, including “Raw Food Made Simple” and her latest book “Eat Right for Your Personality Type” published by Hay House in March 2012. Karen has been involved in the field of raw food since 1993 and is based in Hertfordshire, England.

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November 06, 2007

Comments

Brodie

Fantastic article. I completely respect your opinion. It amazes me that adults continue to give their innocent children copius amounts of unhealthy, non-nutritious food in an era of morbid obesity. It is our responsibility to educate them and nuture their health. I have just started my baby on solids and am constantly advised by people to cook the life out of food and add unneccessary sweeteners, and fats. My focus is to give our child the best nutrition for her development and allow her to enjoy the real flavour of food. Thank you for your passion and common sense approach.

Caitriona

I am a Mum of 4 and have one child with Type 1 diabetes we are on a raw path not 100% but integrating more and more into myself and my husbands diet and slowly into the children's lives. We have battled with the party problem and the party bag problem and I just can't get my head around it. I felt relief when I read your post that I am not alone because sometimes I feel like the neurotic parent following the kids saying 'not that this one instead' etc... and then I get the look oh she's the one with the sick kid! Its so frustrating, I would do anything for my child not to have this illness but the good thing that has come out of this is the knowledge that I have gained about diet since her diagnosis. Don't get me wrong we were always pretty healthy and would try and choose the healthy option when at home but when out we'd just do the same as everyone else in order to 'fit in' and now we won't, we can't, its just wrong a treat is poison and I can no longer poison my kids knowing what I now know. Continue to beat the drum and I'll continue to beat my drum its a battle but one worth fighting. Love and Peace x

janice

Karen, a beatifully written rant! Thank you! I love reading about this from another parent because I usually feel so very alone in the way I feed my son and what he has to deal with at school. He is going into the third grade now, so we've been dealing with school food stuff for a few years. Where we live, the teachers actually give the children candy, cookies and cupcakes for snacks and rewards in school. They give them pretzels and goldfish and cheese crackers and dorito chips for snacks, too. Then, anyone who has a birthday is allowed to bring only store bought cakes and treats to share with the class. That's right, nothing made at home can be brought to school for sharing. Every single day he has to turn down the treats that are placed in front of him during this class time. This actually doesn't bother him as much as when he watches an entire cafeteria of kids eat disgusting, processed lunches. There is sugary milk with additives and foods that look like they came straight out of a frozen t.v. dinner package. My son eats only organic, natural foods, some raw and some cooked. He doesn't eat sugar. He knows how to say no. I feel like he's got a skill that is preparing him to say no to other things like drugs and alcohol when he gets older and other kids are doing it because he's used to saying no now. He looks at those teachers and parents and says "no thank you" right to their face, and I'm so proud of him. I look forward to the day when I am not the only parent at the school whose child is saying no to the junk being offered to the children there. Thank you again for writing. I feel not so alone! Yours is the good, peaceful fight for our children's health,
Janice

Angela

Hi Karen,
Your comments so resonated with me. I did a teacher training course last year and I was appalled at what ALL school canteens sell, and couldn't believe the mothers working in the canteens couldn't see how damaging the foods were.
I have since often fantasised of creating something that would be healthy and acceptable for canteens to sell, so that at least the students had ONE really healthy choice. To my mind the green smoothies with a few additions come the closest. Would love your thoughts on it.
You're doing a fantastic job generally, thank you.

From Karen: Hi Angela. My thoughts... yes a green smoothie would be amazing, but most kids might be put off by the green (sadly). A good trick is to blend in raw choc powder as it hides all the green, but maybe you don't want to introduce the choc? Failing that, a very decent anti-oxidant rich fresh fruit juice or smoothie is a great route in. Maybe even use frozen fruit to turn it into a thick shake type drink. (Yum!) Children are naturally sweet toothed and it would be a very rare child who didn't love something like this. Good luck!

Karen Knowler - on behalf of Anonymous

Hi, Karen. As one individual reading your blog, simply searching for the truth, here are some of my own 'musings' re childhood illness....must stress that I am not medically qualified. If I can put it more strongly, work on the basis that I know zilch! These are just wonderings, nothing more...

From the moment we cajole our children into accepting 'baby rice' (or similar) we are introducing damaged food into their bodies. I think babies instinctively know something's not right - they rarely seem to welcome their first tastes of 'grown-up' (ie cooked) food. With my own children, I used to do the 'food as an aeroplane' thing, deviously 'hooking' the slop into their mouths, and rewarding them with lots of smiles and praise when they swallowed it, until they accepted the cooked food. In the years to follow, they consumed many toxic foods - I wanted them to fit in with other children, go to their parties...

I've been thinking....WHY is it that under-5s come down with so many coughs, colds, ear infections, chicken-pox, mumps, etc?
Since going raw, I've questioned what I used to think, feeling more and more that just about every illness we have can be explained as the body's desperate, valiant attempt to get rid of toxins. So, I'm thinking that children's bodies will surely fight extra hard to expel those toxins in their early years because their little bodies are relatively pure, their immune systems strong, their digestive systems vital and reactive.

I've been thinking about measles recently. Of course, children nowadays are vaccinated against measles. We're told that the measles 'virus' is a Bad Thing, and we are told that children have died FROM measles.

WHAT IF the measles virus is actually a 'good angel', a beneficial agent of detoxification? Realise many will think I'm barmy, but here's the rationale: I'm working on the basis that the spots, the fevers, the sickness, of measles, could actually be the body trying rid itself of toxins through the skin, and vomit, ie the measles virus might have been doing its very best to clean up the body! Without the measles virus the body might have been irreparably damaged in various ways. The more the toxins in the body, the more the damage. But, in the past, when doctors have identified the measles virus at work, they've done everything they can to stop the activities of the virus. In the Sixties (most of us had measles in our early years) various drugs were put into our bodies, to try to reverse the 'symptoms' of the virus. Mothers were told to sponge us down to 'bring down the fever' (reducing sweating thereby reducing elimination of toxins! - doh!). And, of course, when children didn't feel like eating (which raw fooders know is the correct response of the body when attempting to eliminate poisons) they were encouraged to eat more...cooked food (when I had measles my parents bought me a 'toy' shop - full of sweets!).

So...if my theory is correct, this would mean that in many cases the measles 'virus' just wasn't able to do its clean-up work properly despite its best efforts. In most cases the doctors and parents' efforts to stop those distressing 'symptoms' would have caused the body to give up its detoxing, and the 'nasty' measles virus would eventually leave the body - perhaps having achieved a partial-cleansing job. But, in some cases, the toxins in the body might have been at such a high level, and the efforts of the measles virus so stymied by 'treatments', that the body was left irreparably damaged by the toxins, resulting in blindness or death. And then of course, what did the doctors blame? The measles virus of course. Because...they saw that the virus was 'present' at the time of death.

I can imagine that many people would be appalled at the suggestion that perhaps toxic children should be 'allowed' to have measles and that above all the course of the 'illness' should not be interfered with, and I also realise that there might be a strong and very understandable reaction to my comment from anyone who has experienced the tragic event of a loved one dying from measles or similar, but I offer this as food for thought only and can only say in my defence that, since raw, I have found myself questioning things that I have always been taught were true...

jessica

Karen, an excellent and important post. so important to create more and more awareness.there is so much information available now about raw, vegan and healthy eating that if parents are not looking into it, they are being somewhat irresponsible.
when my children were growing up it was very easy to serve vegetarian meals. also, our Waldorf School I felt was easier to be involved with, with out lifestyle.
as time progressed, other ways of eating was tried at their friend's homes. also at grandparent's home, although they were respectful of our way, their way had to be seen and tried too. that was ok.
the children tried their path and you know it's wonderful to see what works for them. I feel they are quite balanced.....one of them is on and off vegan and often raw....on her own journey.
it is all well.

shine

brilliant blog karen...have you thought of using some of it like to a newspaper or mag,,its brill and came across not as a rant but as a article oozing with love and caring and compassion. my heart goes out to you and all parents...in the local paper where i live coucellors and parents have written in to complain about jamie oliver and the healthy school meals claiming kids are hungry and unhappy and food is being wasted but as you say the schools healthy meals are imo still junk...yes we get classed as these extreme healthy nuts and thats just for being raw.
im aware to of the issue of rebellion, i was brought up on homemade food which was i guess a step better from bought junk, and i hated being so different and as soon as i left home to buy my own food i was gorging on junk - even as a kid as soon as i was out of my parents eyes i was stealing junk to eat as i wasnt allowed it at home and i have seen my friends kids doing this too..

so whats the answer ..im not sure..but by being the change - by been seen to eat healthier tasty options, by offering kids tastey food can only be good....

is there a yahoo group for raw parents in your position to rant and talk about this..
lotsa love
shine

Mark

Karen,
EXACTLY! Thank you for the constructive rant :) I've had similar feelings as my daughter is growing up (6 now) and watching as all of her classmates eat mainly junk and processed food every day, let alone the feasts of sweets and junk foods during parties and holidays. So I'm not the only one that feels this way! :)

I echo some of the suggestions made so far here and know that instilling the values of knowing what's healthy and not in my child will make a difference later in life. I try not to make a big deal about it, more like 'loving education', reading books on raw health, offering her mostly fresh fruits and vegetables, creating fun raw recipes together, talking about things that happen with her friends (like why they get sick so often or act strange after eating sweets) and allowing her to see how she feels after eating 'less than healthy' foods.

Like Luke, my daughter often picks fresh fruits or vegetables over sweet snacks. If she does try something because of peer pressure or curiosity, she often realizes quite quickly that she didn't like it or didn't feel good afterwards.

I strive to let her learn on her own and be as good of an example as I can be. Our children watch us like hawks (even if we - and they - don't realize it) and I believe the example we show (as you seem do so well) will make a marked difference in their lives.

I also openly share with other parents that my daughter is mostly vegetarian and doesn't eat dairy or sweets when attending parties or play dates. The reaction I get is always positive and supportive to honor her eating habits (and my request).

Keep up the great work in spreading the healthy word Karen!

Peace,
Mark


Susan

Karen - I just came across this page in a recipe search...I totally understand your whole kid birthday party angst. My son is 7 & it's just unredeemable crap at parties he goes to. But it would be cruel to keep him away. We get such mixed messages in our society - we're supposed to watch what we eat & it's expected that thinking people will have some kind of exercise program, but then these same educated, caring, amply well-off parents commemorate the high points of their children's lives with food that gets them jacked up on sugar for the rest of the day to the point that they look like some weird variety of hummingbirds clothed by Lands End. Duh?

I am interested to read of all the ways people are getting better food at their schools. My son's school is reputed to be good but...when he was in kindergarten, the librarian arranged for a McTeacher's night. A nearby mcdonald's had the teachers - that's right, the people the kids look up to - get behind the counter & serve that food to those kids. They also had branded baseball hats. Is it me or is this insane? With all the talk of obese kids. If one read the fine print, the "portion of proceeds" donated to the library was very small. And now in second grade, parents are encouraged to bring in some kind of non-perishable snack & the kids get a snack midmorning. So people bring in vast boxes of cheese cracker sandwiches from Costco, that kind of thing. Remember - it must be "non-perishable." And you know that means tons of preservatives & dyes. Who was it that said they had fruit for school snacks? How did you ever get that to happen?

I have recently started the raw thing & I feel much better. I'm about 90 percent raw & son & husband are about 70 or so, as I can't get total buy-in there.

I get my son to eat raw by not pointing out that there's anything special about it. I just hand him food. And when he has friends over, I do the same thing & they eat it fine. The b-day party scene makes me groan, but I know full well that no parent is inclined to hear my rapturous pro-raw speech in the days leading up to the party. For Reid, I fill him just before the party with a hemp protein drink & other tasty things, then let him do what he wants.

For the bigger picture, I'm getting ready this week to put up my web site which contains among other things my suggestions on being as raw as you can when family members aren't totally on board.

And I'm inspired by some other responders to look into how to make snacks better at his school. Thanks.

Melissa

Children will walk their own path in life and, more often than not, will end up with many of the same morals and habits that their primary caregivers demonstrated. Back in the early 80's, I got teased bc all of my lunches were always on wheat and not white bread. I always shrugged it off, telling my peers, "So, I like wheat bread." My parents raised me on healthier choices and to be proud of who I am. Today, I am a vegetarian and leaning towards a more raw foods diet and I credit much of that to what was taught to me as a child. They were never radical about it, but lead by example. I also eat healthier than my parents and sometimes I now even influence them towards healthier choices.

Bottom line, Luke will try things that his peers do, but he will have your morals and ethics as the basis. And that's a good thing! :)

amanda

Hi Karen,
I totally empathize with you on the madness of children's party food, and that strange surreal feeling you get when world around you seems more than a little crazy.

My son's school takes part in a county wide 'fruit break' scheme which works well. All the children take in a piece of fruit for their morning break, and get another free piece of fruit (or veg) for their afternoon snack. He (of course)likes to take the same type of fruit as his best friends.

Good luck with your mission.
love
amanda

Fro Karen: Hi Amanda and thank you for writing. Actually, there is one good thing about Luke and school and food, now you come to mention it... He actually gets given a piece of fruit or vegetable slices at break, instead of the milk that I used to get as a child. Some progress has been made after all!


Liv Khoury

Coming from the states. It is hard to teach our children to eat healthy when society is not for it. I figure though if I am able to praise my child for making good choices (like an orange over a sticky bun) then I am raising a leader and not a follower. I will not need to worry about them (as much)doing what others do or say. I feel I have succeeded in giving them the confidence in being true to themselves. Through my actions I am teaching them better choices.

As far as educating parents, maybe you should invite his classmates parents over for a kid friendly cooking class. Maybe you could put together some smoothie and kid friendly recipes (cookbooks) and give the out to lukes class for holiday parties instead of candy and "junk". Maybe Luke can decorate them to get him involved.

You are teaching Luke that the rode less traveled is sometimes the road to success. I have noticed when we have my girls friends over (ages 10,8) and they pick fruit there friends pick fruit.It amazes me to see how much children are influenced by their enviroment. I know when kids come to my house they are getting a good healthy meal.

From Karen: Great stuff Liv, thanks!

Isabel

Keep up the good work, you are making a difference. It is people like you that raise the awareness in this world. Don't EVER give up.

sarah

Karen if anyone can get this message across it will be you, especially with your down to earth approach and your ability to understand how far a stretch 100% raw would be for most of these people. Yet you still see a way to make a positive difference and I love you for that. Speaking as a relatively new mother - my daughter is 16 months old now - I am beginning to experience everything you've written about. It makes me weep to see people I consider friends feed their little ones sugar-laden rusks, commercially produced "juice" and jars of nastiness - I can hardly contain myself. You've got my support all the way.

From Karen: Thanks Sarah, it is really good to hear from you again! It is a big job, but since I made this post I have had a rather odd feeling that I'm going to be pursuing this more than I originally anticipated...

Lauren

Good for you, Karen! As you know, man is the only "animal" who cooks his food, and we've all seen what processed foods are doing to much of the population around us. Never have obesity and cancer been so rampant. If everyone ate predominantly raw and put all those efforts into organic gardening instead of packaging and carting home chemicalized garbage, what a far healthier world we would be living in from EVERY perspective!

Manmade chemicals are a sad mockery compared to the wisdom and goodness of nature.

Shaun

You come across as a very nice and very healthy person, not “that annoying Healthy woman” lol

For the School Parties – Just offer to take some of your food, the best way to go about this would be to say hi to the concerning parent a few weeks before saying “your doing a food event the day before the party and will have some food left over would you like me to bring it along” (even if your not doing an event) I do know the kids and adults will love the food, just don’t put a raw title on it ‘straight away’.

Luke at School, it’s all to do with Alpha Male. He is a cool, confident and likeable Lad, so other kids will watch and listen to him. That does mean him eating health/raw has to show beneficial in his life and he has to be sound in all ways not just food, which I’m sure he is!

I’ve got loads of examples if anyone would like me to elaborate….

Cheers
Shaun

From Karen: Thanks Shaun... I can't believe I have never thought about that "I have some extras" idea before... That's a very cool idea : ) By all means share more...

Helen McGrath, Kindergarten Teacher

Can you volunteer to plant a garden or grow sprouts with your son's class? We have 2 kindergarten classes at our school and have a garden unit as part of our kindergarten curriculum. The children watch pole beans, tomatoes, corn, carrots, basil, rosemary, broccoli, green peppers, sunflowers and marigolds grow. We celebrate Thanksgiving with a feast of vegetable soup using items from our garden (and some things from the market). This year we grew sunflower sprouts and the children took home little bags of sprouts to their family for their dinner salads. We took apart lima beans and discovered the food source, the little plant inside and the seed coat. We visited a local organic garden for one of our field trips. There's a wonderful book called "Tops and Bottoms" that we read to the students. For our Halloween party we served bottled water, popcorn, apple slices and grapes. No candy. When I pick up our weekly vegetables from the farm co-op, I bring bok choy, collards, beets,carrots or some other vegetable into class so the children can have a small taste and decide if they like it. We never force anyone to eat anything they don't want, but most of the chidren enjoy the adventure of trying something new at school. We request that the parents not send in candy or colas for the chidren's lunches. Our hot lunch program isn't great--we're still working on that. For my granddaughters first birthday we made a raw carrot cake with cashew frosting. She loved it and so did all the adults. Your web site is great. Keep up the good work. I look forward to coming back and reading more about helping children make better choices about the foods they eat.

From Karen: Thanks Helen, that's very inspiring! I'm not sure if Luke's school has veggie patch or similar, I'd be more up for doing demos... smoothies, juices and sweet treats, that's my bag! But you've given me some ideas, some great ones, and your time and effort in doing so is much appreciated! It's parent's evening tonight, a perfect time to raise this issue. Thank you : )

fatma

Karen, thank you for your thoughts.
I am a Mum of 3 and though my family is not raw, they eat healthy and organic at home and have lots of fruits and vegetables. I totally agree with the statement, be the change you want to see. And trust me homeschooling is not necessarily the answer. I used to associate with a homeschooling group who would celebrate every little occassion with junk food. I also think that children need to walk their own journey and learn from the contrasts of this world. We are there on the sidelines to inspire and empower but we have to let them experience life and learn to make their own choices and get in touch with their own intuition and wisdom. Just realising that alone lessens the pain that most parents feel on behalf of their children. And as you know food is just one issue. On a daily basis we deal with so many choices that our children need to make. The feeling I most encourage my children to feel is joy, love and gratitude. And to live a conscious and meaningful life for the greater good. That is what I focus on. Experiencing contrast on this earth school is part of their learning as well as ours. I am learning every day. Everything we experience is helping to bring us to our greatest expression. I send my love and a big hug to all Mums and Kids. A bear hug to you for all that you are.

Love
Fatma

From Karen: Wow, what a great philosophy. Bang on! Right from the word go we said Luke would be encouraged to walk his own path. I think the pain comes from these more formative years where they are too young to make informed decisions and yet freedom is still required. As you say, dilemmas and challenges abound. Thanks for the hugs : )

Sara

Hip Hip Hooray! I don't have kids, but I feel the same way when navigating my way through lunch here in the states, or traveling. When Panera Bread is the 'healthy' choice, and they only have 2 vegetarian options, it makes me sad. And even those options are cooked. It's not surprising that 20.8 million people or 7 percent of the population have diabetes. I love what your doing keep it up. Rant and all!

Bob Bush

Not long ago we were in a gift shop. After listening to her daughter whine that she wanted a stuffed animal, the mother in front of us just bought the toy to shut the child up.

I applaud you for caring. Too many parents would rather put whatever it will take to "shut their child up" in front of their children instead of actually thinking about what the "food" they're feeding their child will do to them in the future. Its a lot easier to put the blame and responsibility on others, like the teacher.

Only you know what is best for your child. Others should honor and respect your choices. I don't think you're radical at all.

Rant all you want to rant!

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