Have you been caught in the whirlwind of food & health trends? Are you for or against some of these trends?
Being a part of the holistic health industry, I have learnt that part of being successful is in being resilient to certain trends and to stay in touch or in tune with your own fundamentals of life and health. Through trial and error- I have found that if you don’t stay in touch with yourself and your body, you will end up being thrown through a loop or an emotional holistic health roller coaster from one super food or diet to the next. & the thing is- even with these fundamentals in tact, you may still get thrown around from time to time! So, try your best to be strapped in and have a technician come in every now and then to make sure everything is working well and is connected efficiently.
When I first started my education at the Institute of Holistic Nutrition (IHN) to become a certified holistic nutritionist, I was a little less grounded in terms of my health fundamentals and eating habits. Not to say that I was unhealthy, but I was still very much recovering from years of eating disorders and imbalanced eating. So, it was only a matter of weeks before I was on the smoothie & juice train! If you have a Vitamix or are an avid smoothie-maker, you know what it is that I am talking about. The bulk of my diet consisted of these magical, colourful and decadent smoothies whose ingredients ranged from berries & bananas, kale & maca to chia seeds & spirulina! Don’t get me wrong- this was all quite wonderful to wake up to these delicacies day after day. That, and they were so convenient. Blend them up in the morning and bring them with you to class (or work) in your very own personalized mason jars! That easy!
So, why am I not still enjoying these daily smoothie kicks?
Every now and then, I will enjoy a smoothie or a juice. The point is that I don’t do it everyday! Why not? After smoothie-fying my life, day by day for about 3 months, I started noticing that I was feeling quite ‘backed up’ (for lack of a better term), lazier and slower (and I felt like I had gained some weight). I couldn’t understand how this could be- and couldn’t get myself to put the blame on the healthy smoothies. How could they be the culprit? I had spent so much time learning about how amazing they are for you, and all of the ingredients I was using were organic and of high quality!
Why was I feeling like this? Why was I experiencing negative effects from something so good for you like a smoothie?
What I have noticed about smoothies, as they have become more and more popular and ‘trendy’ is that they are becoming more and more intricate in the type AND amount of ingredients that they are made of. Every morning I usually scroll through my Instagram feed before my eyes are even completely open! Lately I can’t help but notice that a) everyone is making smoothies and b) the smoothies are so complex! Not to say that they don’t look and sound absolutely mouth-watering-ly delicious!
I am going to use two key philosophies to break down the issue of smoothies and health and their effect on the body. There are two philosophies which were introduced to me by Food Philosopher extraordinaire– Sherry Strong. The first of these concepts is Nature’s Principle.
What the heck is Nature’s Principle?
Nature’s principle relates to the resources on the planet and specifically in relation to each other. So, when you think about the most abundant resources in the world– air, water & greens (plants)– those correspond to the three most important nutrients for the human body (and the most easy to obtain)! Have you ever had to think about where you are going to get your next breath of air from? (I sure hope not!) This concept is emphasized by the fact that the earth is 70% water, which correlates to the fact that the human body constitutes of 70% water. Makes sense right?
Moving forward in this concept- there is also a hierarchy in nature- of which dictates how much of a resource humans should be consuming on a daily basis. So, when we dive into the plant food group– there is a hierarchy. Vegetation and greens grow in more abundance than do fruit- therefore, nature has a way of telling us how much of which plant we should be consuming. Not only is is easier to get to plants (from the ground) than fruit (from a tree), but greenery and vegetation generally grow much faster and in more climates around the world- than fruit does! For instance, in colder climates (like where I am, Vancouver) you wont find tropical fruits on your morning walk in the woods!
The other philosophy of Sherry Strong which aids in this explanation is the ‘consumption concept’. This concept dictates how much of a resource we should be having on a daily basis. In simple terms, would you be eating the same thing you have on a regular basis if you had to go out in nature and obtain them? Think about how long it would take to a) find all the ingredients in your smoothie b) gather them (nuts, seeds, fruit) c) and then blend them all up together like a smoothie does. Would you be having the same meal every morning? There are not enough hours in the day my friend! Not unless you have a super efficient time machine and/or a really fast mode of transportation and superhuman powers!
So, in terms of super foods (which are highly popular at the moment)- these philosophies really do open up an awareness. At no point am I saying that superfoods, smoothies or fruit are not good for you! Quite the opposite, actually. In contrast- super foods are amazing foods! They have such HIGH concentrations of nutrients, vitamins & minerals. The point is though- they are not growing in abundance all over the world, all of the time. They are select areas of the globe, they are generally not easy to grow or obtain- and they usually rely on very specific climates and resources in order to flourish.
Do you see any goji berries, maca and/or cacao beans growing in your apartment or outside in your backyard?
If you have answered “yes”- then cudos to you, you lucky thing! There are so many things that come into question when it comes to these superfoods and their popularity. Now a days, you can go to a regular grocery store and you may even be able to find bags of them. For instance, you can buy quinoa in BULK at costco for a really reasonable price. Should it all be about convenience and price though? Do we really need all of these foods in such large quantities? This is SO not natural. & it really makes you think about how they’ve been obtained and what has been done to the areas (in terms of exploitation, damage, harassment of the locals and their homes, money, resources) in order for us to enjoy them in our morning smoothies or our daily meals. This is not to say don’t ever enjoy these things and go and live in the forest today (and become a hunter gatherer). I am writing this to increase awareness on health, consumerism & nature, spark up conversation and share with the world things that interest me.
Back to me– why did I feel those negative effects from drinking a few smoothies a day?
Well, there’s a few answers to this question. There is no concrete answer. At the end of the day, everyone is different- what works for one person may not work at all for the next person. Some people’s bodies work very efficiently off of a high fruit diet! I am not here to ever say that one thing is better another. However, when it comes to me– this is my interpretation of my experience.
First of all, I started at IHN in January, 2012- therefore, I started my smoothie diet well into the winter months. Although my smoothies were quite simple, most of the time, they were made mostly of frozen bananas, berries and some greens! Sometimes I would add things like pineapple, mango, orange & apple. I would also use a greens powder mix and some other mixtures of certain supplement formulas.
So why did I feel that I gained weight?
This is actually pretty simple. Your body is so smart! It knows what to do with what you put in it (most of the time) and as long as it’s whole, fresh food that is recognizable, it will know what to do. However, the thing is — when you are constantly consuming foods that are so HIGH in concentration of minerals, vitamins, antioxidants, phytonutrients & all the rest- your body will go into overload– and instead of getting rid of these nutrients, it will store them away until it has the time to figure out what to do with it. I think this is what happened to me! Especially when my smoothies were so high in fruit (and therefore, glucose) and supplement formulas.
The other thing I think about a lot now a days- is how things are in nature. Are smoothies a product of nature (aka are Vitamixs’ and blender grown in nature)? I don’t think so. Nature tells us what to eat and how much to eat of it. That simple! For me, smoothies (especially the decadent ones) are like coffee, alcohol and sweets. Love them, enjoy them and have them every now and then. After all, life is about living in the present and enjoying every moment! If having a smoothie is making you happy and increasing the joy in your life, then carry on! As I’ve said many times- every one’s body is unique and may work brilliantly for one may not work so magically for another! Stay in touch with your body, listen to it’s cues and messages and love it! After all, there is no diet or trend that will do what eating healthy & by the laws of nature will do to your body!
What are some of Chloe’s tips on smoothies?
1. Keep it simple! Don’t over-complicate your breakfast smoothie with a list of ingredients.
2. In the winter, try sticking to seasonal and local ingredients (aka bananas & pineapples aren’t growing in the winter)
3. Switch it up, don’t always have the same thing. Try out a vegetable smoothie!
4. Enjoy it! If smoothies make your world go round’- then all the power to you!
Last but not least- please feel free to comment! Ask questions, lend me your opinion, continue the discussion! I would love to hear it all and more!:) What are your favorite smoothie recipes?