I’m guessing you KNOW that eating more fruits and vegetables is important for good health, but do you STRUGGLE to make it happen? If so, I want you to follow these 3 Easy Steps to Eat More Fruits and Vegetables that are outlined below so you can make eating more fruits and vegetables a lifelong habit!
While nutrition professionals may not agree about every little thing when it comes to eating healthy, there’s one thing we can all agree on and that is the importance of eating more fruits and vegetables.
Health Benefits when you Eat More Fruits and Vegetables
Research studies show that eating MORE fruits and vegetables can help LOWER your risk for heart disease, which is the #1 cause of death in the United States!
A higher intake of fruits and vegetables can also LOWER your risk for Type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, and certain types of cancer.
If that isn’t enough, fruits and vegetables are high in fiber and prebiotics, which help “feed” and increase the healthy bacteria that live in your gut. This helps improve the function of your digestive system and immune system.
All of that is enough for me to want to make sure I’m eating enough fruits and vegetables.
How about you?
How Many Fruits and Vegetables Should I Eat a Day?
According to the dietary guidelines that are put together every 5 years under the direction of the USDA (United Stated Department of Agriculture), adults should be consuming 2 cups of fruit and 2 ½ cups of vegetables every day.
Does that sound doable?
Average Fruit and Vegetable Intake in the United States
Unfortunately, most people are not doing a great job eating enough fruits and vegetables.
Data gathered by the USDA shows that the average adult eats less than 1 cup of fruit each day (0.9 cups to be more exact), and only 1.4 cups of vegetables per day.
Another study revealed that less than 10% of adults (or 1 in 10) eats enough fruits or vegetables on a typical day.
We’ve ALL got some work to do right?
I want to encourage you to TAKE ACTION to increase the amount of fruits and vegetables you’re eating. Your future, healthier self will thank you later!
Follow these 3 Easy Steps to Eat More Fruits and Vegetables starting TODAY!
STEP 1 – IDENTIFY!
Knowing WHAT needs to be changed is the first thing to do.
Think about a typical week of eating and identify some of your usual meals or snacks that are low in fruits and vegetables. For example…
- Is it that you quickly grab a bowl of cereal or piece of toast for breakfast without anything else?
- Is lunch a simple deli sandwich that has little more on it than meat, cheese and a yummy spread?
- Or, do you grab a granola bar or a handful of almonds for your afternoon snack because those are the quickest to grab?
- Maybe it’s dinner where you lack fruits and vegetables because you’re just doing all you can to avoid the drive-through, which means worrying about making a vegetable isn’t at the top of your list.
STEP 2 – SWITCH!
Choose ONE of the meals or snacks that you identified above as being low in fruits and vegetables. Then, think of a simple switch you can make with that typical meal or snack to add just one (1 cup) serving of a fruit or vegetable.
Don’t make it complicated – the key here is keeping it simple so that it’s a no-brainer to make the switch. Here are some ideas…
- Add a piece or two of fruit to breakfast, whether it’s a couple of easy-to-peel clementines, a cup of grapes, or a banana. If you think adding food to the meal will make you too full, then eat a little less of whatever else you’re eating to make room for the fruit.
- Rather than the deli sandwich for lunch, build a healthy salad instead. You can basically use all the same components of your typical sandwich, but skip the bread and swap salad dressing for the sandwich spread. Use pre-cut bagged salad greens to make it a snap to toss together. Worried it won’t fill you up? Make the salad heartier by adding some toasted nuts or chopped avocado.
- Instead of your regular afternoon snack, choose something like the following…
- a cup of your favorite raw veggies (buying pre-cut is fine!) with purchased hummus or guacamole
- an apple with peanut butter
- a cup of cherry tomatoes WITH your handful of almonds
- For dinner…
- There are so many quick-prep vegetables available in grocery stores that can be added to a dinner meal. Browse around to find one that sounds good and add it to your meal.
- Or, if you’re already making something like noodles or rice to go with your meal, switch to making cauliflower rice or zucchini noodles instead (you can buy pre-cut versions of both those options!).
STEP 3 – TAKE ACTION!
Don’t just think about step 2 – put it into ACTION in step 3! Add whatever fruits or veggies you need to your next grocery list so that you have them on hand and can actually eat them!
Focus on (and DO!) that ONE SWITCH you came up with in step 2 for several weeks so that it becomes a regular habit for you. Don’t just do it for one day and call it good.
Then, once that ONE SWITCH has become second nature to you, repeat the steps to think of another switch you can make with another meal or snack that is lacking in fruits or vegetables. Put that switch into action and then repeat it all again.
You get the idea, right?!?
If you follow these steps and really focus on putting them into action, your meals and snacks will quickly go from being LOW in fruits and vegetables, to being CENTERED around fruits and vegetables!