I have experienced a bit of a personal nutrition revelation over the past month and want to share it with my fellow colleagues in diabetes. As a dietitian, which I’ve wanted to be since middle school, I have always enjoyed trying new foods and never really had trouble with eating fruits and vegetables. It always amazed me in counseling diabetes patients how many of them never ate fruits and vegetables on a daily basis.
With two kids (2 ½ and 4 months), I find myself leaning towards fruits and vegetables that are more palatable and easier for my toddler to eat. While we do have quite a variety, leafy greens are just really difficult for a toddler to eat since they can be tough, a little stringy and hard to swallow. I was really discouraged because leafy greens, like spinach and kale, have so many wonderful vitamins. So I pretty much gave up on leafy greens...until now. Enter green smoothies!
My husband hardly eats vegetables and is an extremely picky eater. He knows the benefits and wants to eat healthy, but the smell and texture of most vegetables make him nauseous. He asked me to make a recipe he found online for a green smoothie with lots of berries and spinach. He actually drank it! It was truly amazing how you could not taste the spinach. Since that day about a month ago, I made him a green smoothie just about every day. I am amazed how easy it was to get to him to eat his fruit and vegetable servings! The added benefit is my toddler loves smoothies and now pretends to make smoothies in his play kitchen.
So my revelation is to recommend smoothies to those who have an aversion to vegetables or “don’t cook” in order to get more servings of fruits and vegetables. The challenge is a lot of recipes add orange juice or sweeteners, which just adds extra calories and carbs. We make ours with a little flax seed and chia seed (high in omega-3), then add spinach and kale, then some frozen berries, and water. I haven’t figured up the calories yet partly because it varies day to day depending on what frozen fruit we have but I can say that both my husband and I have lost weight since we have added this to our diet. I think all the fiber and fruit and vegetable sweetness has curbed our appetites for other higher calorie snacking.
For patients with diabetes, I recommend measuring out the fruit and vegetable servings and then doing a pre and post check of blood glucose. Since it is so high in fiber, they may be able to have a bit more carbohydrates than usual. Use precaution recommending adding extra leafy greens to those on Coumadin and those suffering from gout due to the uric acid in spinach.
I would love to hear your experience with smoothies for your patients and to share your recipes in the comments!