January 26 is National Green Juice Day! Get the most from the day with this advice from Galina & Roland Denzel, authors of Eat Well, Move Well, Live Well.
We see more and more of our readers and students opt for a green drink in the morning. The reason? Convenience for most! It’s much easier to tip back a delicious liquid while putting one shoe on and sending a child out the door to school than sitting with a crunchy spinach and kale salad, isn’t it? While there is nothing inherently “bad” in a green drink, here is how to ensure you make the most of your green habit:
- A green drink is not a complete meal. While electrolytes and water abound in green drinks, sodium and potassium will only get your body going so far. A complete meal for an average size female may contain 500-700 calories with a combination of protein, healthy fats, and carbohydrates, including fiber. A green drink, even when large, will provide mostly carbohydrate in the form of simple sugars, no fiber and none of the other macronutrients. Consider having your juice and still adding protein, healthy fats, and fiber to create a complete meal.
- Remember to chew. Juice is extracted from an actual plant, and before juicers came around, we relied on our teeth to get the liquid from inside the plant cells. This allowed time to mix the food with saliva, and since carbohydrate digestion starts in the mouth, the process of carbohydrate breakdown could begin properly. When we drink juice, there isn’t enough time for saliva and carbohydrate to mix, so it’s key to remember to “chew” your juice. Hold and swish it in your mouth for a while before swallowing.
- Chew other food. Chewing is key for keeping your teeth and jaw healthy, mineralizing bone and exercising your facial muscles. If you drink all your vegetables, you are missing on the natural movement of chewing –often wanting to catch up with crunchy foods like chips and pretzels – which make the loud noises you are missing, too! Believe it or not, making noise is a part of the food experience and we do miss it! If you don’t want to have one of those days that starts off with a green drink and ends with a bag of chips, remember to have enough raw and cooked veggies at your other meals and keep juice as a special occasion a few times a week or when you are really in a hurry.
- Make your own juice if you can. It takes effort and time to select, wash and juice your own veggies: I like to mix kale, spinach, green apple, celery, cucumber, lemon, ginger, turmeric, and a bit of pineapple. There are several benefits of doing this. First, you have complete control of the quality of the veggies, how they are grown and washed. This keeps your juice clean and free from contaminants, as well as parasites and viruses that can hop on food when it’s not properly handled. Washing, chopping and juicing gets you to
touch and get in contact with your food – leading to better digestion, connection with the food, and satiety. The process of mindful eating starts well before we’ve taken the first drink. Last but not least, the physical work that it takes to wash and cut the veggies and fruit is movement our bodies need and can use – so many of us feel the effects of a sedentary lifestyle, and outsourcing juicing to someone else means missing out on a great movement opportunity.
- Discard of your pulp in a smart way. I have friends who work it back into meatloaf or creamy soup in order to increase their fiber content or even make dog treats. We use juice pulp to feed our worms in the worm compost outside. They say they love it!