What is MEAL Density?
I used to call myself the Smoothie Queen, would drink one every day. Actually, I got pretty scared of drinking anything BUT a smoothie (because where would I get all of my NuTrIieEntS?!)🤦♀️ Oh dear, how far we have come!
But I found there were times it wouldn’t fill me up the way I wanted it to (even when I added all of the extra protein, carbs, and fats). It was the same story with my quick, easy, snack-y type meals that really ’should’ have been filling based on how nutrient and calorie dense they really were.
This, my friends, is the concept of MEAL DENSITY.
Some people feel incredible on morning smoothies, I have had clients LOVE these and swear by them! But, we all digest food differently and need different TYPES of foods to feel nourished. The density of a meal is how hard your body has to work to break down those foods, with lighter, blended, or pureed meals, we don’t have to work as hard to break it down. This is the difference between eating peanuts vs eating peanut butter. A light, raw salad filled with chickpeas, tomatoes, and cucumbers, vs a warm grain bowl with chicken thighs and roasted carrots. Do you see the difference?
For example, you can take a blood sugar balancing smoothie that has ample protein, carbs, + fat but is pretty light, airy, and quickly consumed without chewing and you can find yourself hungry in an hour despite just having good energy intake. OR you can have a breakfast of the SAME calories and macronutrients (I don’t track these nor do I have my clients track these) of eggs + bacon, potatoes, + greens.
The second requires more chewing, and more breakdown INSIDE the body, which may make you feel more nourished, based on how your individual body functions. Chewing is an essential step in digestion (fun fact, this is why I add chia, flax, hemp seeds, cacao nibs, bee pollen, or granola to my smoothies- because chewing STARTS digestion, we gotta make that happen!), so when we are sipping instead of chewing, this can impair the first portion of digestion, not releasing all the enzymes needed to break down what we are eating.
Personally, I enjoy both, and there are a few things that can shift what I crave:
- Stress levels (warming, hearty foods can be more calming and comforting)
-Time of month (most women find themselves craving and doing better with more dense, cooked foods during their luteal and menstrual phases of their cycle)
-Time of year (In summer, give me all the light, airy foods to combat the heat! In winter, those same foods no longer feel nourishing and I tend to push them away)
Maybe this is a week for experiments? Try it out, which do you feel more nourished on, light/airy/raw-er meals, or cooked/chewable/heavier meals? There is no right or wrong, there is only preference and what works for your body.
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