By Tanuja Dabir, R.H.N
Most people I talk to or see are into smoothies these days. It’s the “in-drink.”
Why not? Drinking smoothies is a power-packed, nutrient-dense, easy and palatable way to incorporate vegetables and fruits into your diet, especially the ones you don’t like to eat or would not like to “see” yourself eat.
Spinach, for example, is one green many people/kids don’t like to eat, but when blended into a smoothie, it imparts no taste at all! It’s a great way to disguise the presence of spinach. Yes, it might turn the drink green, but then that’s how you boast of being a healthy eater, isn’t it? “Look my drink is green” — this is the new symbol of being “hip!”
So where’s the problem, then? Why am I calling it a culprit? You will see as I correlate it to weight gain and digestive symptoms of bloating and gas.
Fruit, one of the main ingredients, is readily available sugar for the body. Yes, it is a healthier sugar compared to the infamous refined table sugar, but it is still sugar after all. So if your smoothie consumption is excessive and/or you are replacing meals with fruit-based smoothies, you are taking in extra calories, especially from sugar, which is the reason for the unwanted weight gain. I, too, gained weight when I first started drinking smoothies — thanks to my love for fruits, and the over-enthusiasm about drinking a “healthy” drink.
Now, onto the reason for bloating and gas, many people go overboard by stuffing their smoothie with a variety of vegetables and fruits. The fewer the ingredients, the easier it is for your digestive system to break it down and utilize all the nutrients from your smoothie. If you try packing in too many things, like kale, spinach, bitter greens, fruits, protein powders, etc., all into one drink, you are over-burdening your digestive system, leaving behind undigested food, causing bloating and gas.
Kale is a tough green to digest. Yes, it is a super food, but that does not mean “everyone” can digest it easily; more so, if you have a weak digestive system to begin with. Ninety per cent of the clients I work with have a weak gut and don’t even know it. When they work with me, we dig deep and uncover the root cause of the symptoms and the reason for weak digestion.
But back to kale, all that tough fibre from raw veggies is too much for their already-weakened digestive system to handle. The solution, then, for such people (besides strengthening their gut) is to make the smoothie with three to five ingredients, max. Keep it simple. Vary the ingredients each time so that you are still taking in a variety of foods. The other solution is to lightly steam the tough greens like kale, cool them and add them to the smoothie. This way, the tough fibres are broken down and easier to digest.
So continue to enjoy your smoothies, and listen to your body and its needs. Your body tells you exactly what you should do and what to avoid.
Tanuja Dabir is a Registered Holistic Nutritionist & founder of Saakori Lifestyle.
Her passion is to help people “Eat Right, Feel Better, Look Good” by offering easy and practical dietary suggestions. She specializes in sugar imbalances, digestive issues and family nutrition. For more info, visit www.saakori.com