About a year ago, I became one of those insufferable people who drink green smoothies. I'm a bit embarrassed about it actually.
Like most Green Smoothie drinkers, I don't just confine my drinking to private spaces like my home. Instead, I schlep my over-sized glass bottles of green gloop to work and drink them at my desk or in meetings, in full view of my co-workers. Somehow I've become that person. The Green Smoothie Flaunter.
What's in my green smoothie? I'm so glad you asked because green smoothie drinkers love nothing more than to detail all the healthy goodness we're ingesting. Kale, cucumber, chia seeds, mint, lemon, pear, apple, flaxseed oil, sunflower seeds and coconut water. With ice. Lots of ice.
I make a batch every two days and store them in the fridge in glass bottles, grabbing one as I head out the door to work every morning.
In case you're wondering (let me tell you even if you're not!), I've discovered many benefits to drinking green smoothies. I love not having to think about what I'm going to have for breakfast and I love how portable they are. I can drink them in the car, in the bathroom while I'm getting ready for work, at my kids' soccer games and in airports. And I even love the taste although my husband said they can make my breath smell like I've just been chewing on the lawn.
My smoothie drinking began about a year ago after a friend convinced me to buy a Vitamix which is not just a blender. Oh no. A Vitamix is a superblender on crack that turns even the most chunky ingredient into a thick glug which you can then thin out with coconut water or almond milk or the tears of Swiss virgins.
I'm not usually big on kitchen gadgets due to my dislike of, well, cooking but I have been known to take my Vitamix on holidays. Apparently it does a batch of other fancy stuff too like making soup and whatnot, but all I use it for is smoothies, which have become my everyday breakfast for one main reason: to cram a bunch of nutrients into me that I couldn't be bothered eating throughout the day. Such as salad.
Truthfully, this is the main reason I'm a green smoothie devotee.
It's efficient. And easier than salad.
Carbs and tea have long been the main ingredients of my diet and, fearful of scurvy, it occurred to me a while back that I really had to step up my greens. Also, I'd been seeing lots of celebrities on Instagram drinking them and I am, at heart, a sheep. I wanted to share photos of my breakfast too. That's even more important than drinking them, apparently. You need an audience or there's no point.
And this is where I start getting twitchy. And embarrassed.
Reading all this back, I want to punch myself. Every time someone asks me about my smoothie, I also want to punch myself because green smoothies have somehow become a lifestyle statement and it's not one I'm comfortable with.
Green smoothies have become shorthand for "smug" and the people who drink them have become shorthand for "Gwyneth".
Does my green smoothie make me better than you? You who eats Weet-Bix or Nutella toast or a Starbucks double mocha frapuccino for breakfast?
I don't think so. Hand on heart, I don't. I have a bunch of reasons for drinking kale every day (see above) and none of them include moral virtue or a desire to feel smug and superior.
Frankly, I've had a gutful of the idea that what you do - or don't -eat makes you somehow better than someone else. It doesn't. You are NOT what you eat just like you're not what you don't eat (sugar, gluten etc).
Those people who loudly wear their food choices as a badge are becoming tiresome. All that posturing about how their diet transcends them to some higher moral plane, way above those who eat dairy or carbs or gluten or sugar or - gasp - FAST FOOD.
The sub-text, of course, is that being thin is the same as being good. Well bollocks to that, I say. Your weight has no bearing on your innate virtue. Stop acting like it does.
Yes, treating your body with respect and eating as healthily as you can is something positive to aim for. I'm all in favour of that. I'm also in favour of moderation and perspective. Eating a cupcake is not a moral decision. Nor is it one that has the ability to impact greatly on your health (unless you eat several every day in which case you might want to pull back). Similarly, choosing NOT to eat a cupcake does not win you smug points.
It's just a cupcake.
The only people who could possssibly lay claim to any kind of connection between morality and their meals are vegans and vegetarians who genuinely do believe they are preventing the suffering of animals via their dietary choices. Animals are living things with brains and feelings. Sugar and kale are not and that's why their consumption is not a moral issue. It's a personal one. Altruism does not live here.
Perhaps this is the reason for the intensely negative reaction so many people have to Gwyneth Paltrow and other hardcore health pushers and 'clean eaters' with their worthy #cleaneating hashtags and Instagram meal photos. Implicit in everything they say or recommend is this idea that there's a particular way to live that's the best. The most worthy. The most moral. And that eating in this certain way will make you A Better Person. It won't. Not on a spiritual level. By all means eat - or don't eat - whatever floats your boat. But whether it's a juice fast or a detox or a colonic, don't kid yourself that you're doing it for anyone other than yourself.
You can't cleanse your soul or change your karma with a juice fast. Even if it's organic.
This post originally appeared on The Glow.