I’ve now seen several people who have either caused themselves to be diabetic or to have other phenomena associated with excessive consumption of carbohydrates, all by innocently indulging in a carbohydrate-packed smoothie every morning.
Kay, for instance, has a smoothie of a half-pint blueberries, a banana, a scoop of whey, low-fat yogurt, a cup of milk every morning. The rest of her diet was fairly healthy: salads with oil-based dressing for lunch, salmon and asparagus for dinner, only an occasional carbohydrate indulgence outside of her morning smoothie ritual. Yet she had a HbA1c (a reflection of prior 60 to 90 days average blood sugar) at the near-diabetic range of 5.9%.
The mistake most people make when making smoothies is relying too heavily on carbohydrates like fruit. A smoothie like the one made by Kay can easily top 50, 60, or 70 grams carbohydrates per serving, more than sufficient to send blood sugars up to 150 mg/dl or more.
So what can you put in your smoothie and not send you over the edge to diabetes, small LDL, and all the other undesirable phenomena of excessive carbohydrates? Here’s a list:
–coconut milk, unsweetened almond milk. Less desirable: milk, full-fat soymilk
–oils: flaxseed oil, coconut oil (melted), extra-light olive oil, walnut oil
–extracts: vanilla, almond, coconut, cherry, hazelnut
–spices: cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger
–herbs: mint leaves, cilantro
–cocoa powder (unsweetened)
–nut or seed butters (peanut butter, almond butter, sunflower seed butter)
–exotic ingredients (ingredients you wouldn’t expect in a smoothie): spinach, kale, cucumber
How do you sweeten a smoothie? This is what trips up most people. If you resort to fruit like bananas, pineapple, or apple, you will readily send your blood sugar skyward. Honey, agave syrup, and sugar, of course, all increase blood sugar and/or have the adverse effects of fructose. Be careful of yogurt, also, for similar reasons.
Therefore, to sweeten your smoothie, consider:
–Small servings of berries, e.g., 8-10 blueberries, 2 strawberries, a few wedges of apple, half a kiwi
–Non-nutritive sweeteners like stevia, Truvia, sucralose, xylitol, erythritol. Also, sugar-free (sucralose-based) syrups like those from DaVinci and Torani are useful. (Just be aware that non-nutritive sweeteners can increase appetite–use sparingly.)
Also, note that, if you have divorced yourself from wheat, cornstarch, and sugars, your desire for sweet should be much reduced. Foods other people find just right will taste sickeningly sweet to you. You might therefore find that foods like peanut butter or coconut milk have a mild natural sweetness; added sweetness is only minimally necessary.
Coming next: I’ll share a smoothie recipe or two of mine. Anyone want to share a recipe?
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