Instagram vs. Reality: How to Make a Smoothie Bowl With Healthy Portions

You’ve seen it on Instagram, the explore page, and on everyone’s Snapchat. The smoothie bowl trend is in full swing among the foodie hashtags on Instagram. Sure, smoothie bowls are a healthy and yummy breakfast— who doesn’t love the fresh fruit and filling toppings— but are the smoothie bowls you see on Instagram providing real health benefits?

When Instagram Portions Get Out of Control

When you’re scrolling through your feed and see a scrumptious smoothie bowl pop up, you decide, “I’m gonna make that.” That’s the beauty of Instagram — see it, want it, try it! But before you copy the exact post you’re inspired by, consider the portions.

Smoothie bowls on Instagram are often shown in giant bowls, overflowing with toppings. This creates a non-realistic serving size that is portioned for a pretty picture, not with your health in mind.

Here’s a nutritional breakdown of a smoothie found on Instagram.

photo via buzzfeed

Oversized portions and added sugar can turn this delicious and artistic breakfast into a sugar bomb. When you get up off the couch to recreate the recipe you are inspired by, there’s a risk of copying the photo as you see it exactly and possibly overeating.

We’ll recommend healthier alternatives to top your smoothie bowl with, but first, let’s differentiate natural sugar from added sugar.

Consider the Sugar in Your Smoothie Bowl

Every fruit smoothie contains sugar, period. However, some ingredients contain added sugars that you should steer clear of.

Natural sugars are found in most fruits, vegetables, and dairy products. These types of sugars are unprocessed, good to eat, and easy to incorporate into your diet. The lactose in milk and yogurt contains some natural sugar too, but it’s minimal.

Added sugar is defined as, “sugars that are removed from their original source and added to foods usually as a sweetener or as a preservative for longer shelf life.” There are now over 60 different names for sugar that can be listed on the ingredients label. Some of the common nick-names for these sugars include cane juice, dextran, corn syrup, and fruit juice concentrate. These are sugars that should be avoided as much as possible.

Photogenic smoothie bowls are good at hiding how much sugar is added to them. When you’re whipping together a smoothie bowl, consider what each ingredient contains and beware of added sugars. Flavored yogurts contain preserved fruits with a higher amount of sugar than yogurt on its own. Instead of adding sugary juices to your smoothie bowl, pour a sugar-free beverage like hint water® into ice cubes and freeze. That way, you’re still adding flavors like pineapple, but skipping the added sugar content.

Toppings You Should be Using

If you’re cutting down on the amount of sugar in your homemade smoothie bowl, consider the toppings. Piling on the granola, dried fruit, chocolate chips, and coconut flakes adds up. Instead of eating granola with added sugar, try making your own from oats, seeds, and nuts.

When fruits are dehydrated, it’s easier to eat bigger portions. Dried fruit is 75 percent smaller than its original size. Keep an eye on suggested serving sizes to make sure you don’t go overboard on portions. When buying dried fruit, double check the ingredient labels to make sure they aren’t coated in sweeteners. Replace sugary smoothie bowl toppings with almond butter, chia seeds, pumpkin seeds, sliced almonds and goji berries.

How to Portion Your Smoothie Bowl

It’s key to remember that an average smoothie bowl is 500 calories. To keep your smoothie bowl low in calorie count, make sure to measure out ingredients. If you keep serving size and toppings in mind, your fruity breakfast will become a protein-packed start to your day.

Instead, try serving up your smoothie art in a smaller bowl. This will help keep in mind how much you actually need to eat, versus what just looks “Instagramable.”

If you need guidance keeping your portions in check, use measuring utensils when making the recipe. Measuring out may help you visualize how much of each ingredient you are actually mixing in to your smoothie bowl.

Smoothie Bowl Recipes With No Added Sugar

This chia seed, acai, strawberry mash-up from The Awesome Green looks irresistible. Its tropical vibes will have you transported to your destination vacation in seconds.

photo via

This versatile smoothie bowl recipe from SELF will be the perfect start to any day. Sometimes you just need a go-to base for a smoothie bowl. This will be the best way to set up your toppings for that realistic photo finish.

Add some protein to your breakfast with this classic 4-ingredient PB&J bowl from SELF. If you are craving a more savory smoothie bowl, peanut butter (or almond butter) can tone down the fruitiness. This classic recipe will have you flashing back to your grade school lunches.


Next time you’re mixing up your smoothie bowl, be conscious of added sugar. Trust us, it will be just as good.

About the Authorrachel-becker

Rachel Becker is a student at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. She is an Editorial Intern at hint and writing for The Quench. She enjoys living a healthy lifestyle, traveling, and following the latest trends. Keep up with her @rachel_becks.

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