I review food logs from clients all the time and they often tell me that the feedback I give them is not always what they expect. The number one feedback I give is to eat more fruits and vegetables. And here’s why. It’s often hard to remember that we really should be eating somewhere in the range of 8-10 servings of fruits & vegetables combined per day. I’ll say that again. 8-10 servings of fruits & vegetables per day.
Why have you never heard it to be so much? Well, the Department of Agriculture who sets the dietary guidelines for Americans (http://www.health.gov/dietaryguidelines/) know that Americans don’t come close to that. When they did their aim for 5 campaign they thought that 5 was a more realistic target. The current recommendation continues to be that amount.
The problem with that is it sets people up to eat even less than what is actually recommended. How many servings of fruits and vegetables do you get per day? I can guarantee you that everyone, myself included, could be eating more.
Here are 9 simple ways to get more servings of fruits and vegetables
1. Eat a fruit or vegetable (or both) at every meal. This is the easiest tip to remember and even easier to follow. Before you eat a meal – look at your plate. If you have a fruit or vegetable, you’re good.
2. Have fruit instead of fruit juice. Juicing a fruit (or vegetable for that matter) removes the fiber from that fruit or vegetable. The fiber is just one of the many reasons why fruits and vegetables are good for you. If it ain’t broke – don’t fix it. Mother nature intended you to eat the fruit and vegetable whole (not juiced).
3. At breakfast, have fruit with your cereal, yogurt, or along with whatever breakfast you’re eating. (You’ll feel a lot less guilty about that bacon, egg & cheese if you balance it out with some fresh fruit).
4. Have a fruit of vegetable as a part of a snack. For example, carrots and hummus, peanut butter and apples, a banana and some nuts, chocolate and raisins (you can include dried fruit as a part of your overall intake).
5. Have fruit as or a part of your dessert (I’m not saying to get rid of the brownie or ice cream – just have the brownie with a side of strawberries or peaches with your ice cream).
6. When ordering out, start with a salad or order a side of vegetables to go with your meal. There’s always a way if you look for it (most restaurants will have a side of spinach, broccoli, or some type of green, or even a side salad). Sometimes it is not on the menu & you have to ask. One time I found myself in what people would describe as a food desert & with only option for lunch. I asked them if they could make me a side of vegetables to go along with my rice and beans. When I came back to the office with my lunch everyone was ooh-ing and aww-ing and saying “I didn’t know they had vegetables there!” Well I didn’t know either – I just asked.
7. Stop at a farmers market. You eat things that taste good. Period. No vegetable or fruit tastes better than when its been grown locally and picked at its peak ripeness.
8. Keep frozen fruits & vegetables in freezer. One, frozen fruits and vegetables are also picked at their peak ripeness therefore they are just as nutritious as fresh fruits and vegetables. Two, unlike their fresh counterparts, they last longer.
9. Join a CSA. I talk a lot about this but when you have signed up for a share of vegetables from a farm and they are delivered weekly to you, in your refrigerator, without your having to pick them out yourself, you are much more likely to eat them.