Juicing is quite popular these days, making fruit and vegetable smoothies. I was wondering if it is healthy to just drink your meals 3 times a day or do you need some more bulk and fiber in your diet.

There are a few popular diet plans that suggest that drinking their special shakes can be primarily what you need to lose weight. But even these plans suggest that you take some solid food. As a dietitian, I recommend that the majority of the population take in a combination of healthy foods and drinks (which could include smoothies). It is true that you could essentially make a smoothie in a way that encompasses all the food groups (green smoothie including kale, banana, yogurt, dried egg whites, almond paste, and wheat germ). This type of smoothie could take the place of a regular “meal” but I would still recommend that you consume some whole foods also. The act of chewing various consistencies can improve your overall satisfaction at a meal. For example, I adore sushi rolls…partly because of the consistency of it. When you take a bite you get the squishy feel of the soft rice and crab, crisp crunch of cucumber, and the chewy nature of the seaweed. It is the perfect bite for me. The act of chewing also allows one to slow down at each meal, which can also help with feeling satisfied after the meal. It is easy to drink down a smoothie in less than 10 minutes but chewing automatically paces you and can help you to better focus on the flavor of the food that you are eating.

I will admit that I do have many patients who can only take liquid foods by mouth. Some have head/neck cancer and because of treatment are forced to drink smoothies and shakes because their mouth and throat are sore. Some of my patients don’t have teeth and they are forced to strictly drink their meals as well. But, I work closely with our speech therapist who agrees that the act of chewing and swallowing is important to help keep the mouth, tongue, and jaw muscles all strong and active.

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