My relationship with food, and the ongoing journey that I am still traveling, can be measured in my relationship with smoothies. They’re a litmus test for how unhappy or happy I was with my body, how much I knew about my chronic illness, and what my thoughts on what “good” and “bad” food was.
A year ago is when I started this journey. Technically, this journey has been occurring over the entire course of my life. According to Ali Bonar, body liberation thought leader and granola butter inventor, 89% of women have dieted by the age of 17%. I believe my first diet was around the age of eight, when I first looked down at my belly and compared it to others. This was when other kids started making comments about my body, too.
The health “truths” of the early-to-mid 2000s, which is when my self-hating coming-of-age began, was that: healthy eating was boring and miserable, smoothie and juice cleanses were totally healthy for you, less food the better, and the pain that they brought on was part of beauty, and that thin and white was the highest standard of beauty. This all, of course, was rooted in the idea that beauty was the only part of us that gives us any power.
Due to this being my health education and upbringing, a year ago today I still had a lot to learn. I thought that a smoothie would be enough for breakfast. A typical smoothie I would have may actually not be bad, but my thinking around it would be. I was having a “harvest” smoothie a lot, which was frozen teamed cauliflower and sweet potato, pumpkin puree, almond butter, various powders, and almond milk. It was actually delicious, and nutritious. I would recommend this smoothie – but with the recommendation that you think about how each of the ingredients would nourish you and help you, and that this new flavor is a new world to explore. Promise me that you’ll think of food as an explorative journey, of new flavors to explore and ways to nourish yourself. Change your mindset from what you can’t eat, to what you can explore.
Even just less than year ago, in January, I still believed that cleanses would be a good “fix”. I still believe in restricting. I did a “cleanse”, which was only smoothies for breakfast and lunch, and a vegan, “cleaning” soup for dinner. I used to eat vegetables to gain brownie points with myself and society like there was some nonexistent judge that would grant me access to heaven if my plate was full of veggies, and I was thinner.
In March, I had my first appointment with an endocrinologist about my thyroid. Still – a few months ago – I thought that thyroid meds would be a quick fix. I thought I would go on medication, and drop weight. I’ve been on it since then, and feel healthier, but have maintained my same, healthy weight. I did have another smoothie milestone here. We went through what I ate in a day. It was mostly planted based, and I was still sacrificing my daily meals to this all-knowing by nonexistence veggie God. My doctor recommended I balance my diet with more meat, carbs, and dairy as many plant based alternative contain hormones that raise my already-imbalanced hormone level.
Then, I ditched smoothies for a while and started eating things like bacon, eggs and fruit for breakfast. My diet became very simple. I think I was identifying as paleo at the time. After a summer of trying “paleo”, with “cheats”, which were just binges, sprinkled in, I saw a dietician. She then gave me another opinion that I, of course, dropped everything for and thought was my new quick fix. This was only three months ago, in August.
Like all of my other visits, she gave me some good advice, but also some advice wrapped in a bullshit, diet culture, foil. She taught me not to be afraid of carbs, because we’re allowed 30-45 grams of carbs per meal if we want to lose weight. This gave me relief, but also a new obsession- counting my macros.
Once I moved to Providence and started a new job, I’ve really been testing out my new kitchen. I look at food differently now, on my own accord. This week, I am excited to try a cauliflower crust pizza with vegan ricotta, zucchini, and delicata squash. I’m not eating this to pray to the vegetable God, but just to try out some autumnal recipes I saw on instagram. I’m getting more and more into the activity of cooking, exploring new flavors, and not giving labels to food. Many of my recipes are more “health” minded, and that’s okay. At the end of the day, I do still want to consume healthier products, but not just for me. I do it for the environment, for my family, for the future and also for the past. What do I consider myself now? The only label I’m into is anti-diet.
How do I look at smoothies now? Here’s a recent recipe from my instagram. I was feeling this delicious, fruity, dare I say healthy, smoothie the other week, and just went ahead and made it! I was inspired by B.Good’s “Lucy Blue” smoothie, who had inspired me to mix blueberries and nut butters. I also wanted to try a famous “drip” from Kween and Co’s granola butter. It’s a spread made with spiced, baked, gluten-free oats and coconut oil and collagen. It is delicious, and makes for a good picture.
2 tbsp greek yogurt
1/2 frozen organic berries
2 tbsp nut butter
1/2 cup almond milk
top w @kweenandco granola butter
This smoothie recipe is not adhering to any diet plan. I intuitively chose something nutrient-dense and delicious, and I challenge you to do the same.