As I was flipping through the many movies and TV shows Netflix offers, a documentary titled “Fat Sick and Nearly Dead” quickly caught my attention. I clicked on its title card, and the first thing I saw was a guy buying a handful of veggies from a street vendor. He then opened the trunk of his car and showed his small juicer while telling the camera his mission to complete a 60-day juice fast — and I got hooked.
I’ve been struggling with my health for the better part of my twenties. I tried a lot of balik-alindog programs, from joining a local gym to training for marathons. Unfortunately, I couldn’t keep an active lifestyle while working nine to five, doing passion projects, and getting stuck in EDSA traffic every day. So when I saw that juice-cleanse-documentary, I thought, why don’t I try that instead?
Honestly, I don’t like eating fruits and vegetables. I used to cry whenever I had to finish a bowl of pinakbet or laing at home. But now that I’m getting older, I know I have to change my carnivorous diet. And I think it would be easy to start liking fruits and veggies if they’re in the form of juices or smoothies.
So I took up a four-day healthy smoothie challenge. I also tapped another MF writer, Karol, who gladly obliged to do this challenge with me to give her body some sort of break from convenience food. For this challenge, Karol and I pledged to have at least two smoothies as meal replacements per day. We still ate “real food” for one meal a day to keep our sanity and prevent feeling “hangry.”
I started Day 1 (Friday) with an orange + carrot smoothie. I am not a fan of citrus fruits and carrots, but I liked their combination for some reason. Their natural sweetness and zesty taste helped me finished one glass without a fuss. I almost forgot I was gulping down one of my most hated vegetables of all time.
In the office, I had no access to a juicer or a blender. So I went out to get a Go! Salads green smoothie. I chose Hummingbird, which is a combination of banana, pineapple, nutmeg, cinnamon, coco sugar, greens, and coconut water. I thought I wouldn’t like it because it is too green (i.e., the color). Thankfully, the Hummingbird smoothie tasted great! I felt hungry after four hours or so, but I finished my day at the office without going to the nearest convenience store or fast food restaurant.
Karol, on the other hand, had a breakfast meal at home and two smoothies while at the office on her Day 1 (Tuesday). Surprisingly, she didn’t feel hungry nor crave for anything. She usually goes out with friends for lunch or eats oatmeal when pressed for time. But she managed to stick with her apple smoothies to get through that day.
Day 2 was a Saturday for me, so I had more time in my hands to try out different smoothie recipes. For breakfast, I had pineapple + banana + orange smoothie, and it was good! Well, I can eat those fruits, so I didn’t have a hard time taking them in as a smoothie. At lunch, I decided to go for a greener smoothie with pineapple and pechay combo. I didn’t mind that there was pechay in my drink as the sweetness of the pineapple overpowered that slightly bitter taste that I don’t like about green, leafy vegetables.
On her second day, Karol had a smoothie for both breakfast and lunch. She mixed apples with granola and yogurt to make yummy smoothies. I asked her if she found it hard to focus on work when she’s been only drinking smoothies during office breaks for the last two days.
“Hindi naman mahirap mag-focus because the smoothie itself was pretty heavy. But I had some candy in between smoothies. The smoothies were pretty filling, but I was still a little worried that my blood sugar would drop or something. And I can’t afford for that to happen because I need to write,” she answered.
Sunday was a tough day for me as I had to attend the MIBF 2018. And I was afraid that I would go to the toilet frequently while at the event (my bowel movement for the last two days had been, er, too healthy). So I decided to eat solid food for breakfast and lunch. But I made an orange + carrot smoothie for dinner at home.
Karol had a challenging Day 3, as well. “I was originally going to have a smoothie for breakfast and lunch. But I gave in and had actual food for lunch,” she explained. But she was back in the game with an apple + banana smoothie for dinner.
It was a Monday, and I was on leave. So I decided to make up for a not-so-good Day 3. I had the pineapple + pechay smoothie for breakfast, and I went for another green smoothie for lunch. I saw a recipe that combines apple, pear, and spinach. Unfortunately, I failed to buy spinach from the nearest grocery store because according to the staff, their store stopped offering vegetables that are too pricey (hello, inflation!). I bought malunggay instead — and I regretted it.
While malunggay is packed with essential nutrients, it doesn’t taste good when mixed with apples and pears. This is the only smoothie combo that I failed to finish drinking. I wonder, though, if malunggay would taste delicious if paired with other fruits.
Anyway, at least, I ended the challenge with the curiosity to try other healthy smoothie combinations.
On her last day of the challenge, Karol didn’t feel an overwhelming sense of relief. “I didn’t go ‘my gosh, tapos na’ because I actually had fun with the challenge,” Karol shared. She finished the challenge with her go-to apple smoothie — and with a whole new appreciation for healthy food.
What Did We Learn After the Four-Day Healthy Smoothie Challenge?
“The challenge definitely made me feel more aware of what goes on in my body. I didn’t quite feel lighter, but I did feel cleaner. Now, I’d probably think twice before ordering that double cheeseburger or opening that bag of chips,” Karol said. She also told me that on the third day of the challenge, she tried eating fried cheese sticks for merienda, but her stomach did not like it at all.
For me, the greatest realization is that I really should watch what I eat.
If I want to be healthy and enjoy life for the next four decades or so, I have to take care of my body now while I’m still young. This challenge also reminded me that in today’s fast-paced world, convenience isn’t going to mean comfortable in the long run.
My awesome challenge partner echoed the same sentiment on fast and processed food, “They’re the most convenient, yes, but they’re not the best.”