Eating by Drinking: Liquid Meal Replacements

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The great thing about working at IFIC is that my coworkers are reality show addicts just like myself. And when your only outlet for discussing what happened on last night’s guilty pleasure is Twitter, this is pretty big deal.

A few weeks ago we were discussing the very first season of “Real Housewives of Orange County,” specifically the girlfriend of a cast member’s son. I don’t remember much about her, but what I did remember was pretty astounding. She only drank her meals. Even though I was watching this show as a somewhat impressionable 17-year-old, I knew drinking your meals was not healthy. But little did I know that I would pick up this habit 10 years later.

I’ll bet you’re a little confused right about now, but don’t worry. While hers were little more than juice, mine can easily replace a meal.

When you think of breakfast, what do you think of? Some oatmeal, a little yogurt, and some fruit? Or maybe you have a banana and some peanut butter for a snack. Well, that’s actually what I eat, just in liquid form.

In the morning, I may have an “apple pie” smoothie. It’s just some apple, milk, and oats. Or for dinner, if I don’t feel like cooking, I’ll blend together a banana, cocoa powder, peanut butter, brown rice flour, and milk for a healthful, but filling, chocolate peanut butter cup smoothie.

What makes my liquid meal replacements actual meal replacements is that they tick off all of the necessary components of a meal: healthy fats, protein, carbohydrates, fiber, and vitamins and minerals.

Unlike some meal replacements, which are only juice-based and seriously lacking some necessary nutrients, smoothies can actually make for a great meal so long as they include fats, protein, and carbs. The easiest way to do this is with some grains for fiber and B vitamins, protein to support lean muscle, and fruits and/ or vegetables for vitamins and minerals. Here are some yummy meal replacement smoothies that I’ve made:

Fruits or Vegetables
Fun Additions
Apple Pie
Cherry Tart
Brown Rice Flour
Vanilla bean
Chocolate Fudge
Ground Flaxseeds
Cocoa Powder
Peanut Butter Lovers
Whole grain cereal
Peanut Butter
Almond Oil
Pumpkin Spice
Chia Seeds

Personally, I think desserts are the easiest to recreate into a nutrient-packed smoothie, but I’ve seen more savory smoothies, as well as some based ondrinks (think mojito or bloody Mary, minus the alcohol). If you don’t have a blender or aren’t really into making them yourself, you can find ready-made liquid meal replacements at the grocery store. Just make sure you read the label to ensure that it is rich in at least two macronutrients (protein, fat and carbohydrates) and a variety of vitamins and minerals.

And one more thing—it’s important to note that while these kinds of liquid meal replacements can replace a meal, you shouldn’t rely on them to replace all of your meals. This would make it difficult to meet you your nutrient needs, without breaking the bank in terms of calories.

Also, if you choose to drink smoothies with meals or as snacks, keep an eye out for calories. Consuming too many calories (whether solid or liquid) can cause weight gain, along with the related health problems. So remember the golden rule of nutrition when enjoying your smoothies: everything in moderation.

This article was written by Kamilah Guiden and reviewed by Kris Sollid, RD.