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Why Aren’t You Eating Your Veggies? July 25, 2010

Posted by Jen in Healthy Eating.
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You know you’re supposed to be eating lots of fruits and veggies, right? They’re beautiful, they taste good, they’re great for your waist line, and including a bounty of colorful veggies is one of the keys to losing weight and keeping it off for good.

So why aren’t Americans eating enough of them? Why aren’t you?

Here is Dr. Andrew Weil’s Food Guide Pyramid. I’d like to the USDA’s Food Guide Pyramid, but I don’t trust the government’s recommendations for nutritional, especially when they’re in bed with the meat and dairy industries.

But I digress. Because no matter what guide you look at for healthy living, it’s going to emphasize eating plenty of veggies, and at least moderate amounts of fruit. (And if you’re following a plan that doesn’t recommend consuming these foods, run!)

Yet Americans are still only eating an average of 4.4 servings of fruits and veggies a day, and although the article I just linked to doesn’t mention it, the two most popular “vegetables” Americans consume are French fries and ketchup. Um, I don’t think those should count.

Honestly, it’s not that hard to get the servings of fruits and veggies you need – around 7 to 9 servings. That sounds like quite a bit, but half a cup of fruit is a serving, and you could easily eat a cup of fruit with breakfast, meaning you’ve already covered two servings by 8 am!

Here’s how I fit in my fruits and veggies yesterday:

Breakfast: Overnight oats topped with grated carrot (hey, we eat it in cake, why not in other foods?), cherries, and blackberries. It tasted good, really. Fruit and veg servings: About two.

Early lunch: Brown rice with cranberries and cashews, steamed broccoli, shredded carrots and cucumbers. Fruit and veg servings: At least two.

Afternoon snack one: Green monster (a smoothie with greens, usually spinach or kale, blended right in) with half a frozen banana and a butt load of organic spinach, plus some peanut butter. Fruit and veg servings: Two or so.

Afternoon snack two: Peach and whole wheat tortilla (homemade) Fruit and veg servings: One

Dinner: Indonesian Gado Gado from Spring Street Cafe. This was peppers, onions, and summer squash with tofu sautéed in peanut sauce and served over cooked kale and fresh spring mix. Fruit and veg servings: At least two.

And there you have it: Around nine servings of fruits and veggies. Maybe that sounds like way too many veggies for you at this point. How about taking some baby steps to increase your produce consumption?

  • Always, always, always include a cup of fruit with your breakfast. Cut up a big banana and put it on your cereal. Make a fruit salad. Dump a cup of berries over your yogurt. Make a fruit smoothie. Start your day off right!
  • Add veggies to everything you eat. Making an omelet? Add spinach, onions, and peppers. Having tacos? Add tomatoes, romaine lettuce, black olives. Having spaghetti? Add peppers and onions to your marinara sauce. Making lasagna? Layer in zucchini and summer squash instead of noodles, or just add veggies in each layer. Add veggies to your stir fry, lettuce and tomato to your ham sandwich, and roasted veggies to your burger.
  • Add fruits and veggies to your baked goods. Ever hear the trick of buying a box of cake mix and mixing it with a can of pumpkin instead of the required eggs and oil?  Tastes great and is very moist, is much healthier, and also adds vegetables to your diet! Add applesauce instead of oil to baked goods for a lower fat dish with the addition of more fruit and fiber. Instead of making chocolate chip muffins, make blueberry ones!
  • Make French fries at home. You don’t have to give up French fries as a veggie, just make them at home! Wash and cut up a potato or sweet potato in wedges, toss with a little olive oil and spices, and bake on a cookie sheet for about 15 minutes per side in a 400 degree oven.
  • Make fruit your dessert. Instead of a piece of cake before bed, how about another cup of fresh fruit? Or, if you must have ice cream, have a small serving with berries poured over it. Or try making banana soft serve.

See? You can do it!

What’s your favorite way to eat fruits and veggies?

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