HOW TO BUCK THE SMOOTHIE CULTURE TREND
And Why You Should
Here’s a harsh truth: Smoothies are exceptionally delicious, but they can be deceitfully bad for you. For starters, they’re high in sugar, and since smoothies are liquids, you get the calorie intake without the benefit of feeling full. That doesn’t bode well if your end goal is to lose weight.
In Eastern medicine, smoothies are considered to be bad for your digestive system. So does that mean you should shun smoothies forever? Not necessarily. Read on to learn more about smoothies and how, with some moderation and effort, you can still enjoy them and stay healthy.
What Eastern Medicine Has to Say About Smoothies
Eastern medicine teaches that raw, cold foods — think cruciferous veggies like broccoli or cabbage — are harder for your body to digest and therefore can weaken your digestive qi. Basically, foods that are naturally “cold” require your body to heat them up to room temperature before they can be digested. It’s an extra step for your organs to undertake, so it means you consume more energy.
Smoothies also skip the first step in the digestive process, and that’s chewing. When you chew your food, your saliva kick starts the process of breaking it down and signals to your digestive tract that food is on its way.
So, smoothies aren’t terrible for you, but they also aren’t the best if you’re frequently using them as meal replacements. Don’t fret, though, because you can still enjoy your cold concoctions with some mild discipline!
5 Tips to Slow Down Your Smoothie Intake
Here are some ways you can replace smoothies altogether, or make some changes in your diet so that you’re drinking less of them and still staying healthy.
1. Bookend Your Day With Warming Tonics
A lot of people swap out a meal or two (or three) with smoothies. The logic is that, by consuming a ton of fruits and veggies in one smoothie, you satiate your appetite and avoid eating other unhealthy foods for breakfast, lunch, or dinner.
If you like to mix your smoothie with ice, though, you’re ingesting a lot of cold liquid and raw foods, which require a lot of energy to digest. That’s also a lot on your stomach first thing in the morning.
If you like starting or ending your day with something healthy and refreshing, try swapping out smoothies with a warm tonic instead. In the morning, keep it simple and mix lemon, warm water, and ginger. In the evening, get more experimental and try adding ginger, aromatic bitters, herbs (like rosemary, sage, or mint), and something acidic, like orange juice, apple cider vinegar or kombucha.
The acidity is great for adding to your stomach acid, which improves digestion. Bitters signal your body to produce digestive juices and will add a blast of flavor, and herbs each have their own health benefits, too.
2. Eat a Warm Soup for Lunch
Eastern medicine is all about replacing cold foods with warm foods, as they’re easier for your body to digest. Rather than getting your veggie fix in a cold smoothie, add them to a delicious soup. You can also keep a jar of dried veggies, nettles or sea vegetables by the stove and throw them into your soup or other meals.
Here are some great soups to try that are healthy, filling, and not too difficult to find in-store or to cook on your own if you’re feeling adventurous:
- Minestrone soup
- Black bean soup
- Bone broth
- Chicken noodle soup
- Vegetable and tomato soups
- Miso soup
You can add as much protein and veggies to these soupy broths as you like. Cook them and then take them to work to replace your usual smoothie.
3. Drink Nutrient-Rich Herbal Teas for an Energy Boost
If you’re hesitant to cut out smoothies because you rely on them for an energy boost, look no further than nutrient-rich herbal teas, like matcha tea or yerba mate.
These beverages come packed with antioxidants and caffeine, making them great supplements to drink before, during, or after a meal.
To make your life easier, you can also find teas that blend yerba mate and matcha. This will give you the boost you need, be it in the morning or in the middle of your work day.
4. If You MUST Have a Smoothie, Make it TCM-Friendly
If you love your smoothies too much to kiss them goodbye, then try making some minor adjustments when you make them at home. Here’s how:
- Don’t add ice — add water or coconut water instead
- Add warming herbs that support digestion, like ginger, turmeric, vanilla, cinnamon, nutmeg, clove, or cardamom
- Thaw out any frozen foods or veggies before blending them
- Try adding cooked ingredients, like pureed pumpkin or butternut squash
When it comes to drinking it, sip on your smoothie so that it lasts a little longer rather than guzzling it down.
5. Balance Smoothies With Warm Meals
Again, if you insist on having smoothies, try limiting your smoothie intake to only a few times a week. When you do decide to have them, balance it out with a hot meal.
So, while eating a warm breakfast, wash it down with a room-temperature smoothie. You can also have it ice cold, but try limiting those icy refreshers to only two to three times a week.
At the End of the Day, It’s All About Moderation
Smoothies aren’t terrible for you, but they shouldn’t replace all of your meals. Experiment with soups and warm tonics and if you still miss your smoothies that much, find a way to incorporate them into your diet. Moderation is key, so save smoothies for when you really crave them and try some other alternatives!
Do you have more smoothie suggestions or alternatives to try? Drop them in the comments!