With various nutrition recommendations flooding the media, finding an appropriate diet regimen can be a daunting task. However, one fact has remained abundantly clear since the early days in the field of nutrition science: the more fruits and vegetables a person eats, the better. Many nutrition experts recommend consuming five to nine servings of fruits and vegetables every single day. This may seem like a nearly impossible feat, but some simple guidelines can make meeting the requirement of these nutritionally dense superfoods less intimidating.
The first step to increasing intake of fruits and vegetables is to establish a goal. This goal should be reasonable and individualized to one’s own preferences in order to encourage successful outcomes. Nutrition experts recommend consuming five to nine servings of fruits and vegetables every day. However, meeting this requirement may be too ambitious for people who currently only get one or two servings per day. In this case, it is much better to start small and work up to the recommendation than to dream big and fall short. Start with an attainable and specific goal. This can be anything from aiming to pack a vegetable snack for lunch daily to deciding to pick up a new kind of fruit each week at the grocery store.
Next, use psychology as a tool for increasing daily consumption of fruits and vegetables by utilizing a fruit bowl. Prepare a bowl of different fruits at the beginning of each week and make them easily accessible on the kitchen counter. This technique encourages choosing fruit as a healthy snack due to the fact that they are simply more visible and accessible. Any variety of fruits can be chosen to include in a fruit bowl, but items like bananas, apples, and oranges are typically selected for familiarity. This technique can also be applied with vegetables by slicing up some carrot or celery sticks and leaving them on the kitchen table for a between meal snack. Pairing them with a side of a greek yogurt vegetable dip is a great way to optimize their appeal. The key here is to prepare for success by planning ahead and making a healthy snack the obvious choice.
Meal and Snack Ideas
Smoothies can make a fantastic breakfast or snack item and they are a great way to fill up on a few servings of daily fruits and vegetables. They can also be a great way to express creativity through trying new flavor combinations. Simply choose a couple of different fruits – berries (frozen or fresh), bananas, pineapple, mango, etc – and for an adventurous spin combine with a dark leafy green like spinach or kale. Next, individualize the smoothie even more by adding vanilla, cocoa powder, yogurt or even peanut butter for a protein boost. Finally, throw everything in the blender with some ice and the result will be an easy, on-the-go meal in a cup that can fulfill part of a daily requirement for fruits and vegetables.
Another great way to incorporate more vegetables into the diet is to try adding them to a breakfast meal. Having vegetables at breakfast may seem like a foreign concept, but there are so many great breakfast recipes with vegetables that can help rejuvenate a boring morning routine. Adding vegetables like spinach, mushroom, tomato and onion to scrambled eggs is an easy and delicious option. Another great way to add vegetables to a breakfast meal is by preparing a vegetable quiche. This can be especially helpful because it can be made ahead of time and re-heated in the morning.
Another great recommendation to increase daily fruit intake is take advantage of their sweetness and substitute them as a dessert item. Fruits like cherries, strawberries, blueberries, raspberries, and blackberries can make great dessert items alone. They can also be combined with frozen greek yogurt for a nutritious way to increase fruit consumption while satisfying a nagging sweet tooth.
Finally, try packing a lunch with fresh vegetables and a side of hummus for dipping. Not only is this a delicious snack that will surely feel indulgent, but it is packed with protein and helps check off another serving of vegetables for the day. Nearly any vegetable works great for dipping in hummus, but cucumbers, carrots, celery, and broccoli pair perfectly.
Making healthy choices concerning diet can certainly be confusing and overwhelming at times. However, amidst confusing nutritional recommendations, the health value of fruits and vegetables has stood the test of time. Consuming more of them on a daily basis is a great place to start when designing a healthier lifestyle. By using behavioral change techniques and finding creative ways to incorporate fruits and vegetables into meals throughout the day, achieving optimal nutritional health can be accomplished.