So leafy greens. They’re good for everyone. But I’ve never been able to eat them in the quantities recommended, let alone a higher dose given my diagnosis. I’m not quite sure what it is, if its the taste, texture or something else completely random (and potentially not rooted in fact), but I just can’t get them down. If I have steamed spinach, I have to have it with eggs so I can drown out the green with runny yellows or creamy scrambled eggs. In salads, I always leave some green behind in the bowl/tub/plate, I just can’t bring myself to finish it. I’ve even tried over the last few weeks to use a few less in my lunch salads and put a bit more in my breakfast (its a scrambled egg/veggie/meat hash thing) – I’ve eaten more in the breakfast, but still can’t finish off the salad at lunch. Even since eating paleoish over the last few months I haven’t been able to shake this one, despite now enjoying nuts and bananas where I previously couldn’t stomache those either. I completely gave up a few days ago, my meal 2 is now just veggies and meat in my salad tub.
But smoothies. They were one of Christie’s recommedations from the 60 Day Challenge and by golly am I glad I took up both the challenge and the smoothies. In smoothie form, I can chug down up to 2 cups of leafy greens, which means I’m getting a good dose of usable iron and vit K, both of which are so important for blood clotting/health, especially when you’re prone to loosing lots of blood in short periods (oh dear, that was an unintended pun. Please excuse that). And the fibre content! Given I don’t seem to be able to eat the contents of my smoothie and would otherwise miss out on it, getting this in my diet has been so good. Rectal bleeds, be gone!
As I’ve talked about before I factor my condition into my daily decisions – will this food/activity/etc make it easier to live with VWD or harder? Sometimes I’ll go with things that make it harder, because they’re fun or I just want to, or I have the time and effort to deal with any potential side effects. But mostly I go with the ‘easier’ options, because I really don’t like living with the issues that arise from my condition. Even boring old, run of the mill bruises. Remembering to not touch that knee or be aware of the arm with the bruise on it for 4-6 weeks while it heals to get around pain and delayed healing is just not what I classify as a good use of my time and brain power. And its not fun.
The inclusion of green smoothies in my food intake has dramatically improved my healing ability. I’ve really noticed how much better bruises heal, I no longer get ‘spontaneous’ bruises where I used to get a lot, and I’ve even not bled or bruised in situations where I’d expect to, like kitchen injuries or general scrapes. Not having to explain to people what that purple splodge on my leg, arm or face is is just such a releif. And not having to treat it and be mindful of it (mine tend to hurt for the whole healing process) is also marvellous. And no rectal bleeds. I can’t put into words how awesome this is. I’m absolutely convinced its the leafy greens (and green supplements) that are having the effects I’ve mentioned. No other food I’ve ever eaten has had such a dramatic effect on my bleeds – on the flip side, I’m sure gluten and grains have a negative, systemic inflammatory effect, so I’m glad I’ve gotten rid of those.
So what do I put in my smoothies? When I make them at home (not at the moment, there was a slight blender death about 5 weeks ago. I’m still upset about that one, maybe I’ll be able to post about it soon! But I’m saving up for a Blendtec! Woo!) I use the following:
Kale. Kale is my preferred option, given the low oxalates and the good dose of vit C that it contains along with the vitamin K and iron, making both more absorbable in the body. Vitamin K is essential for successful blood clotting, and while I’ve never had a test done to see if I’m deficient, given my VWD more is only a good thing. Iron is awesome for women, given even ‘normal’ menstruation you’re loosing blood once a month, and when you loose a bit more than normal in one hit, iron deficiency and even iron deficient anaemia can happen. Neither of which are fun. I do vary my sources of iron (I eat red meat which is also high in iron) but I love this benefit from my smoothies. And I definitely prefer to eat my vitamins (iron, espeically) than supplement them with drugs. Gotta be more healthy, right?
When Kale is not an option (which hopefully I can get around given I’m growing my own), swiss chard, spinach or whatever else is available goes in.
I use either 1.5 cup minimum when adding supplements to my smoothie, or sometimes 2 cups of greens. So a nice good hit of leafy goodness.
For my taste, fruit is definitely needed, but I stick within a 2 serves of fruit per day rule. So if I want fruit in my breakfast, or am having it in or with another meal (especially on non-active days) I’ll reduce the fruit content in my smoothie. I use a combination of the following (or whatever else takes my fancy!):
Mango (in summer only, and not much is needed as they’re so sweet!)
Berries (raspberries are my favourite, but blueberries have also made an appearance).
During the challenge, I used 1 x 350ml carton of coconut water (then topped up with normal water if I was making a 1L batch), but I’ve since used just straight water. When I get the Blendtec, I’m going to experiment with green tea too.
Avocado. I tried coconut oil once and was fighting my gag reflex. Nuf said. You might like it though.
Having fat with the vitamins and minerals in the vegetables and fruit in my smoothie ensures they are correctly utilised by the body (there are much more knowledgable people (including the Hartwigs) who can explain the relationship between fat and vitamin uptake).
I use a combination of the following to bulk up the smoothie:
Small dose of chia gel (from 1.5 teaspoons of dry seeds)
I add in the supplements for the same reason I have a high dose of greens – iron, vit k, vit c, (and from the chlollera) chlorophyll, a plant source and a haem-like substance.
My Whole30 Disclaimer
I mentioned in this post I’m keeping them in my Whole30 despite Whole9’s ‘no smoothie’ rule, but as part of my attempt to make up a Bleeding Disorder Protocol for Whole30 (given I can’t seem to eat my greens any other way).
The two things I’ve picked up from ISWF on why smoothies are bad are the tendancy for them to be too high in sugar (natural or artificial is irrelevant), and that as a liquid, they don’t allow the body to process them as it would food – the liquid format allows for a much quicker nutrient and sugar uptake by the body which can peak and crash you very quickly.
I beleive that my green smoothies don’t fit into that mould. I only include as much fruit as I need to to dull down the bitterness of the greens, and I wean back on this as often as I can. As soon as I start to notice the sweetness of the smoothie I start using less fruit. The more veggies/greens/superfood the better, especially for bruise and injury prevention. I also don’t use my green smoothies as a meal replacement. Outside of a Whole30, they’re a snack, mostly post or pre workout, and this month, I’m having them as almost exclusively as part of a meal (the side salad to go with meat and other veggies, just blended). The content all fits within the meal template, and the fruit content never goes over my 2 pieces a day allowance (this seems to work best for me). If I find one day I can’t get to real food quick enough, I might have one as part of a post-workout snack. But I’ll have real food soon after too.
I also don’t remove any fibre from my smoothies, its all in there, and its part of my requirements for digestive tract health (yay! The joys of being a risk for digestive tract blees!. If I was able to get the greens down, I’d happily have it as a real side salad, with the pile of greens, some avo, a bit of apple or banana, cucumber and celery, a large glass of water and my steak. But I seriously, despite all knowledge and effort cannot get it down my throat. So this is my comprimise, and given my medical condition, for me its a great solution. Not hormonally perfect, I’ll admit, but given my specific body (and knowing how well I’ve moved from a SAD-style diet to paleo in the last few months), I’m much more concerned about my clotting response than my ability to process a lot of liquified vegetables and a little fruit. And its not to say I won’t keep trying. I will! After my Whole30, I might try a raw/cooked piles of greens reintroduction as well as dairy. And in 6 months, and in 2 years, just to see if I change. In the mean time, the greens as liquids are a substitute.
So while its not technically part of the Whole30 concept, I fully believe the smoothies make me healthier. Which for me is a much better standard to ahere to than rules people who may never have heard of my condition made up.
So that’s me and green smoothies! If you eat (or drink!) something with the specific intent of improving your health or medical condition, I’d love to hear about it.
Happy weekend everyone!