When I told my readers over at BGG2WL that a smoothie could potentially be as unhealthy as a can of pop, all hell broke loose.
In what appeared to be a mass exodus for the “unsubscribe” button, I realized something – actually, a few things.
Part of what I do, as a health counselor, is aid people in understanding the choices they make for their bodies, and help them create an environment that is conducive to achieving their goals in as seamless a transition as possible. That being said, it’s really easy to see why people were so upset – they were told smoothies were, without question, the best thing for their bodies and improving their health.
So, when the quotes came out from UNC-Chapel Hill regarding the dangers of a poorly-planned smoothie, people felt betrayed! How dare you get me hooked on the deliciousness of fruits and vegetables, convince me to buy this expensive blender, and then tell me it’s all a lie?!
I’ll share a few of the things I’ve realized from the kerfuffle, and ways that you can still allow your smoothie to be an occasional part of your healthy living lifestyle, sans the scares.
1. People don’t really understand what makes soda problematic. It’s not just that it’s a processed food, it’s not just the lack of vitamins and minerals, it’s not just the added sodium, and it’s not just the exorbitant amounts of sugar. It’s all of it combined. Smoothies may not be processed food, may be infinitely more nutritious, may not have the salt… but, depending upon how you make yours, the sugar may be comparable if not outrageous. And, as we’ve discussed before, sugar is highly problematic.
2. People fail to understand the value of natural dietary fiber. Fiber is, by definition, the components of a carb that cannot be digested. Dietary fiber can be found in everything from fruits to grains to veggies and beyond and, according to research, protects your blood sugar from spiking and protects you from developing type 2 diabetes. Present in fruit, you will find vitamins and minerals, yes, but also sugar and fiber. The trick, here, is the fact that putting a fruit or vegetable in a blender destroys the fiber, delivering you nothing but sugar. The situation leaves you just as susceptible to weakening your pancreas and eventually developing type 2 diabetes as that sodapop might’ve. I know. It sucks.
3. Some people, who have swapped out sodafor smoothies, have done so successfully due to the fact that they’re still satiating a sugar addiction. If your smoothie is still super-high in sugar, you haven’t changed much – you’re still furthering the addiction, you’re still flirting with emotional eating, and you’re still not changing the real problem, which is the fact that you may potentially have an addiction in the first place.
4. People sincerely believe that the amount of vitamins and minerals in your smoothie make up for the fact that it’s high in sugar. They believe that “getting in all of your servings” makes a big difference and should, somehow, mitigate the effects of the sugar. This, unfortunately, is not the case. It’s fantastic to get in your vitamins, but if you’re ruining your pancreas in the process – something that can’t be reversed with a bunch of blended spinach and bananas - then what?
5. People are emotionally attached to their smoothies, and for good reason. Some have managed to lose weight from them, some genuinely feel a boost of energy now, some have been freed from the grips of processed food, and many others se improvements in their hair, skin and nails. This isn’t about demonizing smoothies, but it is about awareness. Furthermore, it’s about progress and advancement – if smoothies were your first steps into fresh (or frozen) produce, at what point do you advance to chewing it all? Learning to cook? Is the goal to be attached to a blender your entire life?
Want to know how to make that healthier smoothie? You’ll have to stop by next week for that one!
Erika Nicole Kendall is the writer behind the award winning blog A Black Girl’s Guide to Weight Loss, where she blogs her journey from 330lb couch potato to certified personal trainer and nutritionist. Ask her your health and fitness-related questions on Facebook and Twitter.