Green Smoothies – friend or foe?

In my last post, I wrote about just one of the reasons I believe we are all as a society, a little bit stumped as to what is actually healthy eating. Everything seems to be good or bad for you sometimes in the same sentence. And we all have something to say on why we should eat this or that (me included!) and reasons why we do simply must do so.

Because we all have complex nutritional ideas from our upbringing, where we live, who we are friends with, personal experience with food or the interest level in our own Health. The science of Nutrition is ever evolving: scientists discover more about how food affects the body every day and often this means complete about-turns about the nutritional value or inherent harm of a food or nutritional supplement. And as consumers, we get confused.

This has been something I have wanted to write about for a while. I acknowledge that while this is my personal opinion, there are pros and cons to every food philosophy and we all have valuable personal opinions about what works best for us. This is the great thing about bio-individuality – we can choose for ourselves what works best for us and we own that privilege.

In light of this, I have a confession to make, one that might make even the healthiest of health nuts choke or make some others nod their heads in agreement…

 

green smoothies, green, health, green vegetables, nutrition

I can’t stand green smoothies.

There I said it. Surely I must be the only one? Can I really be graduating soon as a Health Coach, have a health focused blog and profess to enjoy and encourage others to eat more greens, all with an aversion to green smoothies? I am indeed all of the above and no less passionate about fruit and vegetables being tasty and nutritious without paying $15 for my organic green smoothie.

I’m not going to lie, some people love green smoothies and that’s awesome. If they have no ill effects or are a reason for indigestion then blend and sip away! But if it’s not your thing, put that green smoothie down, abandon the smelly green powders, save your money and breathe a sigh of relief. It’s going to be ok.

I have tried to enjoy green smoothies but it was always an effort, I felt cold and miserable afterwards, there was no energy surge that advocates swear by, my skin got worse, I had indigestion and my stomach was so bloated after each one. And I always wanted to eat some toast afterwards so I could actually chew something. They just weren’t for me.

But so-and-so swears by Green Smoothies

Green smoothies are not the worst thing out there, but popular culture and the explosion of juice bars could persuade you that this is something you mustn’t miss out on.  I just don’t believe (yes just my little humble opinion) that they are any better or should replace eating vegetables with a knife and fork –  you know the old fashioned way if that suits you better. If I can save one person who thinks they are the odd one out, who prefer a stir fry to a green smoothie then my work here is done.

Nutrition and food trends are constantly evolving and also heavily influenced by what particular diet book is No.1 on the New York Times Bestseller List. Pop culture and celebrity endorsement of various products or styles of eating trickle down the chain to us and affect us more than we often realise. If Noni juice is the secret to Miranda Kerr’s glow, we should all be drinking it then right? (I wouldn’t advise it myself, it has quite the profound aroma and acquired taste but again give it go if you like!) Did Coconut water come out of anything but a coconut 10 years ago?

Green Smoothies – the good and the bad

The Pros:

  • convenient
  • portable
  • hydrating
  • dense nutrition in one meal – peace of mind
  • high fibre = filling
  • easy to disguise greens with a stronger flavour in a smoothie
  • easy to adapt each day with different add ins
  • good to use up produce that is on the verge of going off
  • with added protein (of some kind) it can make a complete meal
  • a tasty snack if that’s how you like it!

green smoothie, green, greens, health, healthy meals, nutrition

 The Cons:

  • lack of chewing – which is a big problem because chewing is essential to digestion (imagine trying to chew 3 cups of vegetables properly in one sitting as well as a cup of almond milk, 1 cup of berries, 1/4 cup of nuts, some coconut etc – that’s a lot of chewing and a very full tummy afterwards!
  • satiety – despite being ‘full’ after a smoothie we aren’t satisfied because the brain thinks we haven’t eaten yet
  • no chewing + lots of fibre = indigestion and bloating
  • too many raw cruciferous vegetables ie. kale, broccoli, cabbage, spinach are thyroid hormone inhibitors
  • fruit used to balance the bitter greens can turn a smoothie in to a sugar bomb
  • raw food can be difficult to digest – lightly cooking vegetables breaks down the outer cellulose layer
  • cold food in general is difficult for lots of people to digest
  • green powders from unknown/suspicious sources ie. algae from unclean water
  • mindless eating – too easy to gulp down on the run
  • expensive – some places charge $15 a smoothie!

Evidently, there are pros and cons to green smoothies which I have shown a snippet of here. One man’s food can be another man’s poison. Experiment yourself and see how you respond – do you feel energised or tired afterwards; do you feel light or heavy, is your stomach content or bloated, did the fibre help keep you regular or bind you up; and ultimately was it an enjoyable nourishing experience?

I have no personal vendetta against green-smoothie lovers I promise! I do however, find myself chatting with friends and colleagues about such topics and how public opinion can be swayed easily into thinking ‘that this one way is the only way.’ Just because something works for your best friend doesn’t mean it has to work for you. Listen to your body and it will wholeheartedly tell exactly how it’s feeling.

How about eating our greens?

We survived long enough eating our greens before someone decided to see what kale would taste like in their morning smoothie. (In Australia, I’m not really sure anyone knew what Kale was until very recently let alone it being available here!) Despite common belief, convenience is not just found in a smoothie cup where we can get 3 cups of vegetables in one go, blended for you in a minute. It can be found in a steamer or frying pan for not that much longer.

Experiment with food, enjoy the experience, savour the look, aroma, flavour and sensation of food. We are so fortunate to live in a world of abundance here, and if kale doesn’t do it for you then find another green veggie that does. Variety may be the spice of life but if you’re sitting down to the usual easy stir-fry you whipped up after work, and you love it, there is absolutely nothing wrong with that. Try adding in a different vegetable next time or swap from a soy based sauce to an oyster sauce or just enjoy it as it is.

 

greens, vegetables, green vegetables, veggies, green veggies, eat your greens, greens are good

 

Drizzle some butter and toasted almonds to your broccoli next time, stir some spinach leaves to your curry, throw a handful of peas in that omelette or grate some zucchini into your Bolognese sauce. There are easy and convenient ways to incorporate more greens in your daily food choices that you already love.

The bottom line is, healthy food doesn’t have to be fancy, restaurant style, involve a pricey shop or involve today’s latest superfood powder to be Real, Nutritious, Wholesome, Nourishing, Tasty and Enjoyable food. As always everything in balance and go with what works for you and what makes you feel good!

  3 comments for “Green Smoothies – friend or foe?

  1. Kaye
    July 29, 2015 at 2:18 am

    Interesting article and I will agree with you regarding the bloating and indigestion. When I began with green smoothies it was pretty rough on the stomach. No offense to kale lovers but that is one rough veggie. And, I’ve seen recipes out there that have more calories than a milkshake.

    So, I took a step back and conducted some additional research. This lead to keeping my green smoothies simple, with leafy greens that were easy on my stomach, filtered water, a small amount of fresh fruit or veggies, and chia or flax seeds to boost. I blend one each morning and so far, so good.

    Thank you again for your article.

    • Dana
      July 29, 2015 at 9:08 pm

      So glad to hear that you listened to your body and discovered what was best for you. I think that keeping it simple is always best and glad you have seen positive results from that already with your simple green smoothies. As I mentioned, they can be a great and enjoyable way to eat more fresh produce but I’m glad you heeded the warning signs and worked out how you could make it work for yourself. Keep it up, and thanks for letting me know too!

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