Why Greens Are Good

I’m re-reading Victoria Boutenko’s Green for Life as I review what I eat, and how and why I came to eat this way. Boutenko compares the SAD (standard American diet) to a chimpanzee diet. Because chimpanzees are our closest primate relative she thought their diet could give her clues about beneficial foods for humans. She discovered chimps eat mostly fruits and greens (note: greens not veggies), and occasionally insects, which they eat as a last resort. Some might see insects as the chimps only protein source, but Boutenko discovers greens have just about everything a human body needs, from amino acids to vitamins and yes, proteins as well.

She began the research because, though she and her family had experienced real benefits from switching to a raw diet, their satisfaction plateaued and they began eating more nuts, oils etc. to fill the perceived gap. Her search to find what was missing eventually led her to greens.

Greens were part of their diet but no one really liked eating them. It was difficult to eat them raw, even though she knew how beneficial they were. She knew about

From the Brooklyn Botanical Garden. ©Valerie Spain

Wigmore’s energy soup and wheatgrass juice, but even though Boutenko has great respect for Dr. Wigmore, and knew blending greens makes them easily digestible, she also knew no matter how wonderful the benefits, no one would eat unpalatable food. [Note: Many people find energy soup and wheatgrass juice palatable. Once Victoria began eating greens she enjoyed both, but like many folks, the first time she tasted them she felt nauseous.]

While experimenting with blended drinks, Boutenko combined greens and fruits. That’s when the light bulb switched on–the combination was immediately delicious. And there’s no need to worry about food combination issues–greens happily combine with fruit and any other food group. Victoria does a great job of explaining why here.

I start my day with a green smoothie. Often it’s more of a pudding (I just don’t add liquid) and top it with ground sesame and flax seeds. My two other meals of the day are a salad of sprouts, fiber crackers, greens, avocado, and other veggies, and an omelet with fiber crackers, sautéed onions or other veggie. My condiments are dressings made from an oil/vinegar base, nutritional yeast and powdered kelp/dulse mixture. My blood sugars are fairly stable on this, and my energy is good but I’m also beginning to feel I’m eating more nut butters and crackers, so I plan to experiment by adding more greens. 

I want to be very clear that I do not advocate any particular diet. In these posts I discuss what works for me. Of course I have ideas and feelings about the benefits of various natural foods, but my focus is to empower people to find out for themselves what works for them by teaching mindfulness techniques–my particular areas of interest are diabetes, obesity and eating disorders.

I can say definitively that any and all processed foods should not be eaten, but do I occasionally eat them? Sometimes. I consider most health bars processed foods but when I need food fast because of falling blood sugars I’ll buy whatever is necessary-even a coke. So there’s no perfection!­ To know what works for you, whether green smoothies, or a raw, cooked or vegan diet, you must find out for yourself.

Even the Buddha said, “Don’t blindly believe what I say. Don’t believe me because others convince you of my words. Don’t believe anything you see, read, or hear from others, whether of authority, religious teachers or texts. Do not give up your authority and follow blindly the will of others. This way will only lead to delusion. Find out for yourself what is truth, what is real. Discover that there are virtuous things and there are non-virtuous things. Once you have discovered for yourself give up the bad and embrace the good.”

You have to experiment and explore. The only way I know to do that is to embrace mindfulness; look within, be present, understand what’s important, and discover “there are virtuous things and non-virtuous things.” How you let go of what doesn’t work and embrace what does is the journey we’re all on together.

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