By Ashley Harvard, BB&W Health and Wellness Editor
Incremental shifts lead to monumental changes.
I don’t remember where I first heard that, but it is a brilliant reminder of the power of starting small. In fact, it’s one of the core concepts that I’ve used to guide my own journey to better health over the past couple of years. It’s how I guide many of my nutrition clients, too.
My philosophy is simple: by deliberately making a series of small, realistic and sustainable shifts in how you go about nourishing your body, you will radically transform your health and life. This is because collectively these shifts will positively revamp so many of your old and tired habits that before you know it, you’ve got yourself a brand new way of living, taking care of your body, mind and spirit in ways you never used to. And it feels damn good.
Now don’t get me wrong. I’m not saying that huge, radical, “I’m going balls to the walls at the gym…starting tomorrow!” changes in a person’s life don’t work. They can and sometimes do for lots of people. Some people need, and actually revel in, making massive health/nutrition overhauls in their lives overnight. But most of us don’t operate like that – I know I don’t. That’s okay.
So let’s take a relatively big improvement that people often try to make to their diet, which is to eat more dark, leafy greens. This is a great improvement to make since I believe one of the single best and easiest things we can do to improve our health, in a relatively short period of time, is to eat more dark leafy greens. They’re bursting with antioxidants, phytonutrients, vitamins, fiber and lots more. It goes without saying that they’re nutritionally amazing and that we all know we should eat more of them.
But when some people hear this they immediately think they need to start making lots of picture perfect kale salads for lunch, scour Pinterest for intricate recipes using Swiss chard and start doing wheatgrass shots. They then go out and buy a ton of greens…which just end up sitting in the fridge for days….until they go bad and must be tossed out. I can’t tell you how many times I used to do this.
But there are plenty of ways to get more greens in your daily diet, almost effortlessly, without overwhelming yourself. So let’s start small. I suggest starting with making green smoothies for breakfast. I’ll write a future post on other ways to eat more greens, but for now let’s focus on this one small and completely doable shift.
If you’re completely new to green smoothies, or if they don’t sound appealing….please, PLEASE, at least try this one before completely banishing them from your life forever! I used to turn up my nose to green drinks, but a good friend gave me a sip of hers in class earlier this year and my opinion on them changed in less than five seconds.
Smoothies are awesome for breakfast because they’re portable and quick to make (many, including the recipe below, can even be made the night before). They’re also very nutrient dense and a great option for people who don’t like to eat a lot, if anything at all, in the morning.
This smoothie is green, yes, but it doesn’t taste like lawn mower clippings. It’s sweet, fresh and includes some healthy fats to keep blood sugar levels stabilized and hunger at bay until lunchtime. Remember, this isn’t going to taste like a chocolate milkshake…I mean this recipe includes kale in it after all. But for a green colored drink, it’s surprisingly tasty.
I hope you enjoy it as much as I do.
SWEET GREENS SMOOTHIE
Makes approximately 22-24 ounces
Blend all ingredients in blender until smooth (I use a Nutribullet, but any decent-quality blender should do). Add more water if consistency is too thick. Feel free to use a few drops of liquid stevia to enhance sweetness. Enjoy.
Once you’ve made it a few times, you’ll start finding yourself making little improvisations and tweaks here and there (i.e. adding some carrots or blueberries) – adding a little more or less of this and that, swapping out one ingredient for another and so on. Don’t be afraid to experiment with this!
*(Many thanks to my good friend Joanna B. for sharing her original recipe with me. Mine is a slightly modified version of it.)
Ashley Harvard lives in the Washington, D.C. area, holds a bachelor’s degree from Bowdoin College, and is currently working on a master’s degree in nutrition from Maryland University of Integrative Health. As a nutritionist-in-training, she meets with clients, both in-person and via Skype, from all over the country to help them regain control of their health. When she’s not working with her amazing clients, you can find her whipping up new smoothie recipes, training for her first 5k, or working her way through her latest Netflix addiction, Pretty Little Liars.
To schedule an in-person or Skype-based nutrition consultation or to ask a question, email her at [email protected]