Wednesday, October 8, 2008

When 5 Fruit and Vegetable Servings aren't Enough

For optimum health experts are saying 10-12 servings of fruits/veggies is a minimum. So is it possible to get all these fruits and vegetables every single day?

The average person doesn't even meet the 5 fruit/vegetable serving recommendation and to be honest that isn't all that difficult. It's fairly easy to have 5 servings covered before you even eat lunch with the right strategies in place. Front loading vegetables early in the day can gaurentee they'll be consumed. Think of the person that exercises first thing in the morning. Many argue this isn't the best time to exercise, but who cares. If that is a time you can dedicate day in day out, why not? This works similarly with planning your meals.

So how exactly can this principle be applied and what else can one do to sneak in all those fruits and vegetables.

  • Eat vegetables at breakfast. Start the morning off with some spinach and tomato mixed in some eggs (or other veggies of your choice). Have a piece of fibrous fruit on the side like an apple and you are well on your way to kick starting your day. If you like avocado it makes a great side for this meal. Heck this meal alone will trump the average dieters vegetable intake for the day.
Wheaties can't compare
  • Add berries to shakes. Bridge the gap between your meals with a berry smoothie protein shake. Couple that shake with some greens powder and three easy servings can be had right there.
  • Use unconventional eating methods. Call it lazy or call it efficient. Either way don't feel bound by society's constraints on the way foods SHOULD be eaten. There are plenty of vegetables that aside from a quick rinse need no food prep and you can just shove them directly into your mouth. A few quick and easy veggies are carrots, mini cucumbers, snap peas and even bell peppers. Try eating a bell pepper much like you would an apple. The tri colored ones are sure to satisfy with their subtle sweetness. You can eat a cucumber much like a banana (except it's even more convenient, no messy peel!). Eating spinach directly out of the bag is for the dangerously hardcore.
Go ahead, take a bite
  • Steam Frozen Veggies. Frozen veggies can be just as nutritious as fresh because they are typically packaged immediately and flash frozen. They can be had fairly cheaply and you can feel free to stock up when there is a sale as they keep for a long time.
  • Use Vegetable based condiments. Things like salsa and pesto pack a good punch for your meals and also pack in some veggie servings. Just be careful to check the labels for added sugars and other additives. You'll find most grocers sell fresh salsa and this not only tastes better, it typically has a better ingredient list. Feel free to make your own salsa or pesto this way you can control what goes into it. NOTE: This is not a good way to rationalize going hog wild with things like ketchup because it has a bit of tomato in it.
Using these strategies will hopefully get you thinking about how you can add vegetables and fruits to your own meals. What strategies do you use? Please feel free to post a comment and share.

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