Fruits and veggies are nature’s perfect little bundles of vitamins, minerals, fiber, and disease fighting antioxidants. Aside from all that, they are mostly water so provide us with fluids and fill us up with very few calories.
If you consistently read my blogs you know that I regularly recommend people eat more fruits and vegetables. This is not a new, exciting recommendation. You’ve heard it many times before. But, have you ever really made small, gradual changes and made eating more fruits and vegetables a true lasting everyday habit?
It seems so simple, but most of us don’t get anywhere close to the recommended amount for better health. For me personally, I have to make very conscious choices on a daily basis to include both fruits and vegetables whenever I can.
So, how much should you be getting? A very simplified current recommendation, and one that I encourage clients to think about, is to fill half your plate, at each meal and snack, with fruits and/or veggies. More specifically, an adult eating around 2,000 calories should be shooting for 2 1/2 cups of vegetables and 2 cups of fruit per day. (Sorry my wine loving friends but wine, although made from grapes, does not count as a fruit serving! 😉
Take a minute and think about what you ate yesterday. Did you include fruits and/or vegetables at every meal and snack? Did you get anywhere close to getting the amount recommended above. Most of us don’t.
I find that most people are either fruit people or vegetable people and so they lean towards one or the other most days. Both are good and it isn’t a horrible thing if you like one more than the other, but each has its benefits and in a perfect world we should strive to get some of both.
One common concern that I hear from people is whether fruit should be moved to the “do not eat list” because it contains sugar. With all the attention to sugars in our diet this has become a growing concern.
Let me clear it up right now, fruit is a good thing. It is added sugars that we should focus on getting less of. Added sugars are found in obvious things like sodas, sports drinks, energy drinks, coffee drinks, candy, cake, cookies and also added to many foods that aren’t even sweet with the addition of high fructose corn syrup. Natural sugars like fructose, found in fruit, and lactose, found in milk, are not really a concern.
With that being said, you can get too much of a good thing. If you lean completely towards being an all fruit eater maybe try to branch out and switch some of that fruit for vegetables. Try to be positive and open about trying new fruits and vegetables and new ways of preparing them. Both cooked and raw veggies are great.
Having the right kitchen tools for cooking vegetables is key to getting them on your plate. One tool that our family uses regularly is the Progressive Prepworks microwave steamer. We’ve had ours for a while, but just recently I bought one for my Dad and found it for just a little over $11 on Amazon. It is a fantastic tool that helps to easily prepare perfectly steamed veggies. Here is the link: http://www.amazon.com/Prepworks-Progressive-International-GMMC-450-Microwavable/dp/B00FOI42RK
I also roast vegetables in the oven a lot. Just about anything is good roasted. You can do a mix of veggies, like say for instance mushrooms, red peppers (or a mix of red, yellow, and orange), and zucchini or just do one at a time. Brussels sprouts are also great roasted in the oven. Carrots are good too.
Just set your oven to 400, sprinkle your veggies with a little extra virgin olive oil, a little salt, and some pepper and pop them in for around 10 minutes. Give them a stir about 5 minutes in for an even very-light browning. Roasted veggies are great as a side or to throw in your eggs in the morning. You can make a big batch and have them on hand for the week.
Increasing our intake of fruits and vegetables is a strategy that can help promote weight management and reduce our risk of chronic diseases, like heart disease and cancer. Try to go about eating healthier this week by thinking more about the good things you need more of instead of focusing on the negative things you need to cut out.
One approach is to take it meal by meal. Start with trying to include a fruit or vegetable at breakfast and when you have that mastered move on to lunch. Set your mind today to finding new and interesting ways to fill half your plate at meals and half of your snacks with fruits and veggies in a variety of colors.