Fruits and vegetables. It’s not easy to get enough of them every day. Most of us don’t even come close to getting enough.
Maybe you eat a small side of vegetables with dinner. Or maybe you make a habit of always having a salad for lunch. Maybe you even drink a smoothie for breakfast. But is that enough?
There’s no way of getting around it. Eating enough fruits and vegetables is the number one way to get the fiber and nutrients our bodies need to operate like it’s supposed to.
We've been told for so long that protein is king and everything else is secondary on the food scale. But the reality is, no one ever gained too much weight, or got high cholesterol, or saw their blood pressure go up from eating too many vegetables.
Eating enough fruits and vegetables is exactly what we should be doing to make sure we stay at a healthy weight, manage our blood pressure and keep our cholesterol in check.
According to the USDA, a minimum of five servings of fruit and vegetables is the recommended number of servings we should all be eating. Every day. That’s a whole lot, and it’s not easy to do.
We get around this by making sure fruits and vegetables dominate our diet. No one’s talking about becoming a vegetarian. What we’re talking about is eating as close to that suggested servings of fruits and vegetables as we can get. By any means necessary.
When we don't get our recommended servings of vegetables (and fruit) a day, we end up missing most of the vitamins and minerals we need to really manage good quality healthy. The plan is much more than the vitamins and minerals we can pull out of them and stuff into a multivitamin. When we eat enough plants, we’re giving our body everything it needs to function at its best, as designed by nature.
As the author Mark Bittman once said: "It's not the beta-carotene, it's the carrot."
It can be hard to meet the recommended number of servings every day. We’ve been so conditioned to add meat to everything that this week might feel a little strange. But the more you look for ways to add fruit and veggies to the meals you'd eat anyway, the more you'll end up eating.
Start here with six easy ways to make that happen.
Put vegetables in everything.
Some ideas include an omelet with onions and peppers for breakfast. Or try getting extra lettuce/tomato/pickles/onion on your burger. Try mixing steamed cauliflower into your mac and cheese or throwing a handful of spinach into your daily smoothie. Have some apple slices or carrot sticks with peanut butter for a snack. There are no wrong answers. Get creative!
Drink enough water.
This might sound strange on a list about fruits and vegetables. But fiber only works with water, and you’ll be getting a lot of extra fiber with your servings of fruit and vegetables. That means when you start upping your vegetable intake there should be a complementary upping of your water intake. Aim for about 2 liters daily.
Eat the rainbow.
It’s more than just a cute saying. It actually MEANS something. It’s great that you love broccoli, bananas, red peppers and mushrooms. But what else are you eating? Every plant will get you a different variety of nutrients. Mix it up by eating lots of different fruits and vegetables as often as possible. In this way, you’ll make sure to get the balance of everything fruits and vegetables have to offer.
Add Balance the Superfood Shot.
For those of us who are far off from the daily goal, Balance the Superfood Shot can be the answer to all your fruit and vegetable dietary problems. One of these will get you half of what you need for the whole day. It’s like having a fridge full of everything you need distilled down into a 2-ounce, portable shot. It’ll even make sure you’re getting a wide variety of fruits and vegetables, so you’ll never miss getting a solid mix of nutrients.
Eating half of a little side salad at dinner isn’t enough. Vegetables need to be part of every meal. If you’ve been pretty good at getting vegetables in twice a day, find a way to squeeze in a third. If you always eat a fruit at breakfast, try adding in a vegetable in the morning also.
Aim for one all vegetarian meal in a week.
Experiment with a salad that doesn’t have chicken. Try a veggie burger instead of a beef burger. Make an all bean chili instead of one with ground turkey. Once you’re feeling comfortable with eating a meatless meal once a week, add in a second one in the week.
These all work. Maybe not all right away but keep at it. Once you get in the habit of remembering to pick a vegetable it will become second nature.
Shani Jordan-Goldman, MS RD CDE
As subtle as a dark chocolate bar with 85% cocoa. Shani will make sure you get your diet right. Zero guilt and no intimidation, just 100% good science-backed health guidance designed to always be as unique as you are. Work with Shani directly at www.thingsweeat.com.