For those who are new to the idea of eating to enhance and support wellness, integrating more veggies into the diet can seem like hard work – and it is if you don’t have a plan! As getting lots of nutrient-rich foods into your body is critical, I’ve come up with a few tips on how to painlessly increase your veggie (and some fruit) intake, from sun-up to sun-down.
Five-to-seven servings of high quality, preferably organic, fruits and vegetables every day. Take these tips to heart and in time, eating your daily dose of health-sustaining foods will become your default setting and one that’s all gain, no pain:
1. Buy more, eat more (veggies, that is).
Just like chips and cookies, the more fruits and veggies you have in the house, the more likely you are to eat them. In other words, leave the bad stuff on the shelf and load the shopping cart with veggies and some fruits (my favorites being the berries). The less access you have to junk food, the more likely it is you’ll make a health-supporting choice when hunger or a late-night craving strikes.
2. Change your approach.
If you’re one of those people who has to fool themselves into eating more fruits and veggies, then make a game of it. Look at every meal or snack you eat and think about where you can sneak in an extra serving of fruits and veggies. Think salads are a bit of a snooze? Then wake ‘em up by tossing in some almonds, walnuts, pine nuts, apples, pears, oranges or even dried cranberries.
3. Make cooking ridiculously easy.
After shopping, wash and chop your just-bought raw or frozen veggies and store them in the fridge, preferably in glass or BPA-free containers. When it’s time to put a meal together you’ll be able to just grab your pre-prepped, salad-bar style veggies and toss ‘em right into whatever you’re cooking. The result? A much healthier meal with virtually no extra effort. Another bonus? With lots of ready-to-go veggies on hand, you’ll be able to eat perishables in a more timely fashion, so you’ll waste less food.
4. Make it your way.
One thing that I’ve found over the years is that the healthier one’s diet becomes, the less you eat out. The more attention you pay to the quality of the ingredients and how healthfully the food is prepared, the less appealing restaurant dining becomes. Bottom line: You’ll save money and eat better by cooking at home most of the time. When it’s time to go out for a meal, be it a special occasion or treat at the end of a long week, boost the nutrition of your meal and customize it to your specifications by ordering extra vegetables.
5. Make breakfast in 60 seconds
If you have 60 seconds, you have time to blend up a healthy, fruit and fiber-packed breakfast. Reserve a few minutes over the weekend to pre-package your breakfasts for the week so you can move quickly on workday mornings. One of my patients assembles 5 days of smoothie ingredients into individual servings so in the morning all he has to do is grab a container, dump the contents into the blender, add water and press blend. Time elapsed: 1 minute, including blending!
6. Drink your vegetables
Instead of buying processed, sugary juices (veggie or fruit), experiment with whole fruits, veggies and nuts to see how many you can add to super-charge your fruit smoothies with nutrients. Among my favorite, easy-to-blend-in items: