(from February 2018)

I’m currently living on a (mostly) liquid diet and I’m pleasantly surprised by how it is going. I started following Jason Vale’s ‘super blend me’ plan three weeks ago with the intension of replacing meals with smoothies for seven days, but I haven’t really gone back to eating from a plate again yet!

The plan is promoted as a health/weight loss plan with various suggestions for how to incorporate it into your own lifestyle. For me, the primary reason for getting started was to give myself a break from cooking. Living alone and for the past three years, I’ve been solely responsible for feeding myself – there’s no taking turns when you live alone, no-one else to offer suggestions or discuss meal plans with, no-one to share the washing up & sadly no-one to share a meal with.

Just after Christmas, still grieving the loss of my Mum, I reached a point where I just didn’t want to be a grown-up anymore! I was so sick and tired of being responsible and started to feel particularly anxious about food. With Jason Vale’s latest book in my hand & my new blender shouting encouragement from the side-lines I decided I would give myself a one-week ‘holiday’ from food.

My plan was to then sign up to a food/recipe box delivery company so that I had someone else taking on some of the work-load but three weeks later I’m still blending every day, still enjoying the benefits and feeling so much less anxious about mealtimes.

In case you’re interested in giving it a try, here are some of my thoughts on blending. I’m not on commission and I’m sure there are other blending plans available but I genuinely think this approach might be a workable solution for so many people who are struggling around food, or trying to lose weight or facing digestive issues. By the way, I’m also not a doctor so please do not read this as medical guidance or advice and do your own research before embarking on any radical dietary changes.

Pros & cons:

I was worried I’d be hungry, but surprisingly I really haven’t been. My appetite has definitely decreased over the past three weeks and I’m grazing far less than previously. Now that I’ve started to add in some solid foods again I notice that my portions are much smaller with more focus on adding lots of green vegetables.

I made sure I planned ahead by bagging & freezing the ingredients for individual smoothies on a Sunday, ready to simply add the liquid and blend them as required. The first week I made up bags for all the smoothies suggested for the seven-day plan which was great because I didn’t have to think at all about what I was eating – I just opened the book and blended what I was told to blend! Thereafter I’ve made more decisions about which ones I liked best and bagged them up accordingly.

I’m not a fan of packaged milk alternatives, so I make my own almond milk (I’ve been freezing it in small bottles so there’s no waste) and I’ve been adding coconut ‘meat’ and water to my smoothies when coconut milk is in the recipe. If I don’t have nut milk available, I just use filtered water which works just fine.

I did find myself feeling very cold after the first couple of days (I think my body has been holding back a throat/chest infection for a couple of months so the coldness might have been more to do with this than the smoothies) but as soon as I started adding in a simple green soup (see separate blog post for recipe) in place of one of the smoothies, I felt much better.

I have had to substitute avocado in place of bananas as I had a pretty extreme reaction to bananas at the end of the first week. I’ll spare you the details but can happily report that avocado is a really good alternative.

One of the best things about the plan is that I can take my breakfast with me on a morning. I never really feel like eating before I head out to work but usually do it because I think I should – and because I can’t really eat a bowl of apples and yoghurt whilst training a client or driving!! With a smoothie, I can head out and drink it when & where I want to.

My stomach feels so calm and peaceful right now, no doubt as a result of having less digestion to do and a lighter load to process. I also feel that I’m getting a far higher ratio of nutrients than previously when my evening meal would often be a piece of cheese, followed by an apple, followed by another piece of cheese, followed by some nuts, followed by a packet of oat cakes…

I feel that my blood sugars are more even right now. I haven’t had any ‘hangry’ moments in recent weeks and I think it is down to the level of nutrients and the less sporadic eating patterns. Given that my Mum died as a result of a condition linked to her diabetes (type II) I am more than a little concerned about my own blood sugar levels and tend to use how I feel as a benchmark for whether I’m eating the right things.

I didn’t set out to lose weight but I suspect that it’s happening anyway (I don’t have scales so I have no ‘weigh’ to check but my clothes feel a bit easier as far as I can tell when I effectively wear pyjamas all day)

There has been a drastic decrease in spending on food over the past three weeks and no waste at all, which is great. Bagging and freezing the ingredients as soon as I buy them, means that there’s nothing left in the fridge being unused. The reduction in waste has also meant that the only things going in my household bin are the outer wrappers from fruit and vegetables (& if I had easy access to a fresh food market it would be reduced further).

Washing the blender three times a day is a bit dull (& obviously only a first world problem) but it’s a small price to pay. I tend to hand wash it the first two times and then place it in the dishwasher at the end of the day so it’s really not enough of a negative to get in the way of blending.

I’ve started to add in some ‘solids’ most days now but I’m still enjoying liquid meals most of the time. I usually have an apple or two or an apple and half and avocado over the day and most days I’ll eat a few almonds too. This week I’ve made myself a bowl of salad on two occasions just to add some different flavours (olives, hummus, feta cheese, balsamic vinegar). The big thing I’ve noticed now is that instead of hoovering up my food I’m really enjoying the process of chewing it. As an added bonus everything tastes great – I’m much more aware of my taste-buds now and it is helping me to connect with food again.

The longer term:

I think I’ve always had a pretty strange relationship to mealtimes.

As a child there were fairly old-school rules around eating (having to eat everything on my plate, not being allowed to get down until I had, being made to eat things I really didn’t like, being ‘tricked’ into eating things I said I didn’t like – and laughed at for doing so, etc, etc) but as a teenager I became more interested, once I could cook my own food. As an adult I have always tended to work at traditional mealtimes – first as a chef and then as a fitness class instructor – so I think I never really got into the habit of regular meals.

Now that I have no-one to cook for I realise that cooking has always been about cooking for someone else. Cooking for myself feels like a massive effort & frankly not worth the bother.

Blending, on the other hand feels like a quick and effective way to get nutrients into my body. It is really well suited to a vegetarian/plant-based diet and it gives me flexibility for my working hours. I think, for me, it is the way forward – probably not every meal forever but certainly one or two meals a day for the foreseeable future.

If you decide to try it, or you already do it, I’d love to know how you get on