In the winter, I pride myself on explaining to absolutely anybody who will listen that I am gluten-free, dairy-free, soy-free, legume-free and basically Paleo but NOT vegan due to my various dietary needs and allergies. Oh yeah, I’m one of those. But in the summer, let me tell you, there is one food group and one food group only that I enjoy consuming and that is juice.
What could be better than basking in the sun (wearing a solid layer of SPF, of course), whilst skimming through a book that makes me feel intellectually enlightened and letting my lips find a re-usable straw through which I sip a green juice filled with veggies I’ve never heard of before (for example, what is spirulina?). Talk about health. Please refer to the image below for a very exact mathematical representation of how I feel before and after I drink said green juice.
That is, it was my favorite past-time until I had “the talk”. I’m referring to it as such because it’s like “the talk” where you break up with your boyfriend but instead I broke up with juice. Condolences during this hard time are appreciated. It turns out, juice is not necessarily the nutrient-dense, low-calorie, healthy meal replacement option I once thought it was. Read on for the various reasons I had to break up with my juice, and why I am now recklessly flirting with smoothies, instead.
Who would’ve thought? Let’s skip past all the surface-level reasons behind such a break up (like he didn’t text me back on January 9that 5:08pm) and get straight to the real reason. It turns out, there is one very important characteristic I require in a relationship with a beverage, and that is fiber—something which juice is lacking entirely. During the juicing process, the fruits and vegetables are stripped entirely of their fiber content (which usually resides in the skin of the produce). Consequently, you are receiving all of the carbohydrates, with none of the fiber. This causes your blood sugar levels to rise and crash very quickly (because fiber is responsible for slowing digestion), and will also mean that you likely will not feel full after drinking your juice.
Due to the high amount of carbohydrates in juice (and the low amount of fiber), juices can often be very high-calorie. In fact, many store-bought juices can have the same calorie and sugar-content as a soda. Discovering that secret is really when my relationship with juice took a turn for the worse. Furthermore, our bodies don’t register liquid calories in the same way as solid foods. This means we can consume the same number of liquid calories as solid calories, but not feel as satisfied. That’s the last thing I need, considering I tend to eat all day no matter what.
What’s more enjoyable than biting into a fresh, juicy peach anyways? A great analogy by (insert name here) explains that one glass of fresh-squeezed orange juice is made from four to five oranges. In reality, it is better to eat one orange with a glass of water, as it will have fewer calories, and higher fiber to slow down digestion and prevent a blood-sugar spike. A whole fruit contains all of the nutrients and benefits of juice, plus the fiber-content, which will regulate your blood sugar and help you feel full for longer.
I handed in my juice and traded up in the world, my friends. Blended fruits + veggies are a better alternative to juices as they incorporate the skin of the produce, and therefore the fiber (did I mention fiber is important???). In addition, you can add healthy fats (like coconut oil) and protein (like protein powder or peanut butter) to a smoothie, which will complement the fruits + veggies, and create a well-rounded meal. This will also stabilize your blood sugar, and provide the macro-nutrients your body needs.
Don’t get me wrong. I still crave a juice now and then, and there’s still definitely a time and place for that green delight in my life. The key, is everything in moderation. If you’re going to grab a juice, use it as a supplement to add some much-needed nutrients to your diet. Drink it as a snack, not a meal replacement. Make sure it is low in fruits, and higher in veggies- this will mean less sugar, and less calories overall. Finally, combine your juice with a source of protein and fat—like a handful of nuts, or a sprinkle of chia seeds and hemp seeds in your juice. This will, you guessed it, stabilize your blood sugar and help you feel fuller, longer.
COVER IMAGE: Pinterest