Are smoothies bad for you? Well no, but you should avoid smoothies in winter. Read along to find out why & the alternatives to green juice & smoothies too.
If you’re a health-conscious individual, you’ve probably had a green juice or smoothie (perhaps in the past 24 hours.) Once on the fringe and only sold at your nearby hippie juice bar, green drinks now hit the mainstream, available everywhere from Starbucks to Target. What progress we’ve made!
If you aren’t sure the different, green juices are juiced vegetables and fruit with the fiber removed and green smoothies are blended.
Green juices typically comprise of various leafy greens and an apple for sweetness to make it more palatable for the average person (though I always recommend choosing a pure green juice.) Though green juices pack more veggies than smoothies, they can cause more of a spike in your blood sugar levels, especially if they are fruit-filled because the the fiber of the fruit has been removed.
Green smoothies are blended fruits and vegetables. The most common you’ll find contains a frozen banana or berries, non-dairy milk, handful of greens, ice and other customizable ingredients, from cacao to spirulina. They’re a great option for a quick and easy breakfast (how else will you get two handfuls of kale in before 10am?) but the calorie count can easily escalate, especially with nut-butters, coconut oil and other ingredients.
Green drinks are often considered the “holy grail” of healthy eating and the first thing that pops to mind when we think of a clean diet. With pounds of spinach, cucumber, apple celery and lemon in each bottle, what’s not to love, right? There is no question that green juices and smoothie are packed with nutrients. But are they good for us all year round?
According to Ayurveda, the world’s oldest health system, smoothies are not good for you all year round
Our environment dictates our body’s requirements. If you live in a hot, humid environment year-round like Miami, then you won’t really have to change your diet much between seasons. But if you live somewhere like New York where the winter air is so cold it hurts your face, then you absolutely must change your diet with the season’s wardrobe.
In the hot summer months, we take on more heat-like qualities, related to the Pitta fire Dosha. Dosha is the Sanskrit term for energy and is used to classify the various mind-body types.
Don’t know your dosha yet? Take my free Dosha Quiz here
We need to consume foods with the opposite quality of our Dosha, which is affected by our environment. This comes more naturally then you would expect. What do you crave in the summer? A hot bowl of chili or fresh watermelon? Most likely the latter. We naturally crave cooling fruits and vegetables because our body is seeking to regain balance.
Green juices and smoothies are very cooling in nature. Think about the qualities of leafy greens; light, airy, moving. When do they grow? The spring and summer. Nature provides us with the foods we need at that time of year. The warmer months are the best time to enjoy green juices and smoothies, which is why we crave them the most at that time of year. They’re refreshing, cooling and hydrating- exactly what we need.
But in the quest to be healthy, many of us keep up this habit year round. However, in the colder months, our bodies change along with the weather. The temperature cools down and the air dries out. Similarly, our bodies follow suit. We begin taking on more qualities of the Vata Dosha, comprised of air and space energy.
This is why we begin craving pumpkin-spice everything, cozy teas and butternut squash soup. Our bodies require more grounding and warming foods to counterbalance Vata’s cold and dry energy. Root vegetables are grown under the ground, hence have the most warming qualities (which is why we love pumpkin so much come fall!)
Now, what happens if we keep up our summer diet in this cold weather? We’ll freeze from within, hampering our digestion and causing imbalances from bloating to constipation.
Have you ever noticed after drinking a coconut water or a green juice your body temperature actually goes down? That is because it has such cooling properties that you are feeling a temperature shift. If we continue to eat our cooling summer diet of juices and smoothies in the cold, dry winter months, our Vata Dosha will fall out of balance, causing constipation, bloating, gas, dry skin, cracking joints and even anxiety.
I remember a winter in college while I was living in freezing cold Boston following a raw vegan diet. Literally, I couldn’t sustain. I was so uncomfortably cold at all times, even indoors, and didn’t understand why everyone wasn’t as freezing as I was. But it was due to the cooling nature of my diet- lots of green smoothies and salads.
Ayurveda views our digestion like a fire, called agni in Sanskrit. In the winter-time, our fire is not burning as bright so we need a little more heat and grounding in our diet. Drinking cold juices and smoothies is like throwing ice water on an already weak fire. It makes our digestive system even lower, leading to further Vata imbalances (the constipation, bloating, gas dry skin, cracking joints and anxiety I mentioned above.)
Even if you are not a Vata type, in the cold, dry months ALL of our Vata energy naturally increases because of our environment. This is why we need more warming and grounding ingredients in our diet. Kapha types similarly have cold digestive fires, needing more warming ingredients to prevent weight-gain, sluggishness and water retention. Pitta types can get away with smoothies and juices the most but should still stick to more warming ingredients in the winter months.
I explain EVERYTHING you need to know about how to eat for your unique mind-body type in my 12 week program.
Alternatives To Smoothies & Green Juices
Instead of juices and smoothies in the winter, replace them with blended vegetable soups. They are practically green smoothies but warm, cooked and grounding and much better for your digestive system.
To make a blended vegetable soup:
- Roast or boil veggies such as squash, sweet potato, spinach, carrots, cauliflower or onions.
- Blend them with spices such as garlic, turmeric, ginger and garam masala with either vegetable broth or water. I’ll teach you how in a recipe below.
Easy Warming Veggie Soup Recipe (Vegan)
- 3 large carrots
- 2 chopped onions
- 2 tablespoon sesame oil
- 1 teaspoon pink himalayan sea salt
- 4 garlic cloves, pressed or minced
- 1/2 teaspoon turmeric
- 1/2 tbsp grated ginger
- 1 tsp chopped chili (not for Pittas)
- 4 cups low sodium vegetable broth or water
- Handful cilantro or other herb
- Option to add any other veggie (see below)
- Boil all ingredients in water. Reduce heat and allow to simmer for 20-30 minutes
- Serve in a bowl and be happy you just made a delicious, warming meal with little to no effort! Option to blend soup as well.
Other ingredients you can use in your warming soups:
- Ginger (the most warming root of all)
- Butternut Squash
- Sweet Potato
- Shallots/ Leeks
- Sesame oil
If you absolutely can’t do without smoothies and juices, be sure to add the above ingredients to make them more warming.
No matter what (all year round) avoid adding ice to your smoothies. I know it gives it that ice-creamy texture but it literally puts out your digestive fire, making your digestion more sluggish for the rest of the day. Overtime, this will lead to toxic accumulation, including weight-gain, acne and hyperacidity. If you use frozen fruit, thaw it out first so it’s room temperature or run it under hot water so it’s not still icey when you consume it.
Hope that helped clear up any digestive issues and comment below if you have any questions!
To learn more about how to eat the right foods for your unique mind-body type, environment, weight-loss goals, digestive issues and season, check out my 12 Week Eat Right For Your Mind-Body Type Guided Online Program. It has recipes, meal-plans, instructional videos, guided meditations, private Facebook support group and everything you need to reset your body and finally gain balance, effortlessly. Learn more here.
Keep it toasty! (Digestive fire included)