If you are struggling with weight loss and chronic health conditions, and you think that a healthier diet might help, but you are not sure how to implement that diet into your lifestyle, here is an inspiring story for you.
I have found Katherine’s website when browsing the web looking at other healthy eating/green smoothie websites.
I was intrigued by the name “Green Thickies” and wanted to know more about what they were and what’s so good about them. When I read that Katherine lost 56 pounds without going on a diet, as well as healed herself of chronic fatigue syndrome in 6 months – I definitely wanted to know more.
Still, when I read that she uses oats in her smoothies, I was skeptical. I prefer my smoothies to be just lots of greens and fruits, without any other ingredients. However, since lately I’ve been experimenting a lot with other ingredients in smoothies, such as root vegetables (beets, carrots), nuts, non-dairy milks, etc., I thought, “Why not? I’m going to try one of these “thickie” recipes!”
The first time I tried it I did not love it – I think I added too much oats, so the taste and texture were overpowering. But I tried again, adjusting the amount a bit, and adding some more liquid (non-dairy milk) – and I was sold. Right now I make green smoothies with oats for my son almost every day in the morning before he goes to school. I want him to get more calories than just in a green-fruit smoothie. He doesn’t like oatmeal or other healthy cereals that I try to offer to him, and he always asks for those highly processed ones, with lots of artificial colorings and sugar. He also doesn’t particularly like eating nuts, seeds or drinking non-dairy milks. So right now, he eats all of these without even knowing it. Problem solved.
So, I’m using the thickies to increase calories consumed in smoothies by my 8-year-old son (who is very tall for his age, and very thin), and my intention is for him to gain some weight in a healthy way; but the surprising aspect of Katherine’s story that is that is completely counter-intuitive is that these thick smoothies can actually help you lose weight.
Read the full interview with Katherine Natalia, the founder of GreenThickies.com.
(Joanna) Can you tell us a little bit of your story: how did you come up with the idea of green thickies. What lead you to creating your first recipe?
(Katherine) While I was pregnant I had lots of time for making and eating healthy food. I used to have a green smoothie every morning followed by a bowl of oatmeal to fill me up. When my baby was born, not only did I not have the time for 2 breakfasts, but eating a bowl of hot porridge while looking after a baby just wasn’t practical. So one day I thought ‘Why not just add the oats to my green smoothie’. I had seen oats being added to fruit smoothies and being called ‘Thickies’ so this was my new invention, the Green Thickie. It worked perfectly, I could drink my healthy smoothie when I had time in the morning, not have to worry about it going cold and knowing that I was getting all the nutrients I needed for nursing my baby.
What diets did you tried before green smoothies? What were you eating? and what were the results?
Before green smoothies I had tried so many different types of diets to lose weight ranging from Weight Watchers, to Atkins and I never felt good on any of them. I had the wrong motivations as I was just trying to lose weight. When I became a vegan and started drinking green smoothies, my motivation was to become healthier, and that led to a long lasting change of my diet that is now just a way of life for me. A side benefit has been losing 56 pounds but if that had been my only motivation, I’m not sure I would have had the same success.
How was your health back then? You talk on your website how you healed yourself of Chronic Fatigue Syndrome in 6 months. Can you talk a bit about that… Did you have any other health issues?
Before I became a vegan my health had been getting slowly worse for a few years to the point where I could barely get out of bed. I had chronic fatigue syndrome and a whole range of other symptoms that led to debilitating health problems. I would collapse with stomach aches and be in pain every evening. I also spent all day long scratching my face non stop due to chronic allergies. I wrote a list of all my health problems and had over 50 symptoms. Whenever I went to the doctor they didn’t take me seriously as they couldn’t pinpoint exactly what was wrong with me. I had to give up my job and felt utterly useless.
I realized I had a dairy intolerance so I became a vegan and straight away I did notice a massive improvement in my health, but I still didn’t feel 100% as I was in need of a serious detox to clean out my system completely. So I went on a raw food diet where I ate nothing but fruit, veg, and some nuts and seeds for 6 months. I drank green smoothies for my breakfast and lunch every day. After a horrible detox period I started to feel amazing and within 6 months I had never felt healthier and stronger in my entire life. I was over the moon that I’d finally found something that had turned my life around.
Did you (do you) count calories in your smoothies or calculate nutrients that you consumed during the day?
When I first started the raw food diet I would log all my food to make sure that I was getting all the nutrients that my body needed and that I was actually consuming enough calories. My intention was never to lose weight, but just to get healthy so I ate enough calories to sustain my weight, however the weight still fell off and in 4 months I had lost 56 pounds. That proved to me that you don’t need to restrict your calories if you are eating healthily, your body will reach it’s ideal weight easily. After that I never counted calories again. After my pregnancy I had gained some weight again and managed to lose it by cutting out processed food and drinking green thickies.
How are you feeling today? How is your health? How is your energy? How is your skin, etc? Are you able to maintain your ideal weight?
Today I am still feeling very healthy. I still don’t have any of the problems that I used to have. My allergies have never returned, my asthma and eczema are gone, so is my insomnia. My IBS stays away as long as my diet stays healthy. I have enough energy for all the jobs I need to do each day, my skin is clear. I don’t have any more acne and have only had a couple of colds since I changed my diet. I used to spend each winter ill with one bug after another and I feel so much better now. I don’t feel quite as good as I did when I was on the raw food diet, but that might be because my baby has caused me a lot of sleepless nights. But despite not getting a good night sleep, I cope just fine with very little sleep where as I used to feel extremely ill if I missed just one hour of my sleep. I used to have an extreme reaction to the sun, feeling dizzy within 5 minutes of being outside but now I love being out in the hot sun. I used to have extremely long and painful periods but now they are very light and I have no symptoms at all. I used to have very low blood sugar and would feel sick and dizzy if I didn’t eat straight away in the morning. Now I can go a lot longer without food when I’m hungry without feeling ill.
What does your typical day look like: How much smoothies smoothies/thickies do you drink on one sitting? How many times per day? Do you drink them all at once or do you prefer to sip them throughout the day?
During a typical day I would usually drink between 1-2 pints of green thickies for breakfast and 1-2 pints for lunch. It depends how hungry I am and how filling the smoothie is but I generally just sip them for about an hour in the morning and about an hour at lunch time. That way I can get on with other jobs and look after my baby while I’m drinking them.
Healthy nutrition is not just about the smoothies. What else do you eat during the day? (I know that you tried eating raw foods exclusively for a while, but that didn’t quite work for you.) How much of your food is raw food? What cooked dishes do you enjoy making?
Sometimes at the weekend I enjoy sitting down at lunch to a big salad or a big bowl of soup if I have more time. In the evening I make a healthy vegan cooked meal, but I have a small portion of it on top of a big green salad. I love getting as many greens as I can in my diet as they give me so much energy.
Although I don’t follow a 100% raw food diet anymore I do believe that raw fruit and veg is extremely good for us so I try to consume as much as I can. I have raw fruit and greens in my thickies and in my salad at night. I’m not sure what percentage of raw food I eat but I do eat a lot more in summer.
The cooked dishes I enjoy making are quinoa, stews, chili, gluten free pasta, risotto, baked potatoes etc.
What are the foods that you never or rarely eat?
Food that I try and stay away from are meat, dairy, eggs, most processed foods especially with long ingredients lists, white flour/ most flours, refined sugar, vegetable oils, gluten, wheat, anything too stimulating such as cacao, or powdered super foods and chocolate. I have a terrible chocolate addiction that I usually only indulge on special occasions but I do suffer for it so always end up regretting it.
I have a very weak body that can’t tolerate many ‘normal’ foods, but I’m just thankful that my body is letting me know so strongly which food is good for me so I can enjoy good health.
I noticed that you never use any animal products in your smoothies and you talk about being vegan on your website. While most weight-loss program recommend eating “lean animal protein” and low-fat cow’s milk is heavily promoted as “weight-loss food” – this is not a popular choice. What were the reasons for you to go vegan? How important being vegan is for you and your health?
I was pretty much a vegetarian when I realized that I was intolerant to dairy so I initially gave up dairy and continued eating eggs. However I was reading lots of vegan books at the time that convinced me to become a vegan. So my reasons are mainly health reasons for being a vegan, but after reading about the animal cruelty and sustainability, this has also become a strong motivator in my decision to stay a vegan. I do believe people can still be healthy with limited animal products from healthy sources in their diet as long as they ate a mainly unprocessed diet, but I’ve never liked meat so I can’t see this ever changing in my life.
What is your daughter eating? Does she like green thickies and green smoothies?
My baby loves green thickies and always starts the day with a one. She also eats a lot of fruit, and pretty much whatever I’m eating. She doesn’t like salad however. She is a vegan at the moment but as my husband isn’t a vegan, this may change in the future especially when she makes her own choices. So far she’s been extremely healthy with no health problems.
How important is physical activity for losing weight? Do you exercise regularly? Can one lose weight by drinking smoothies without having to exercise?
I think diet has a lot more to do with losing weight than exercise does and I do believe you can lose weight easily without doing any exercise. When I changed my diet I didn’t do any exercise to start with as I was going through a hard detox but as soon as I got my energy back I couldn’t help myself as I had so much energy to burn. I would do an hour of P90X and go out for an hour long run each day. Something I never thought would ever be a possibility for me. I felt so fit and so healthy. I think for ultimate health and state of mind, exercise is extremely important.
However since having my baby I’m afraid I don’t get to do as much exercise as I would like to. I do get out for long walks with her and go through periods of doing workouts on DVDs but my baby doesn’t need any more sleep than I do, so she’s up all evening which doesn’t leave me any time on my own. I’m accepting that at this point in my life I don’t get as much time for focusing on myself, but it won’t be this way forever and I’m just trying to enjoy playing with my baby which is a workout in itself.
Is there anything else you’d like to share with people who are struggling to lose weight and improve their health.
I would suggest just trying to change one thing at a time. If you try and change everything all at once it can lead to failure. So just start off replacing your breakfast with a smoothie, then try and eat one more piece of fruit a day. Then replace all your snacks with fruit and then have a look at your meals. If you make everything from scratch with healthy ingredients you know exactly what you are eating and will be more likely to lose weight. If you are concerned you are eating too many calories you can always track them online using something like cronometer.com but if you try and fill at least half of your plate (or glass) with leafy greens they you will crowd out other foods and your body will start to naturally lead you to healthier choices.
If you want a quick detox and to kickstart your weight loss, a good place to start would be to take the 7 Day Green Thickies Challenge. You can find the details here: http://www.greenthickies.com/7-day-green-smoothie-challenge.
Questions? Comments? Suggestions?
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